My ‘Change-Making’ Morning Routine

Do you remember how you spent your first hour awake today? 

Do you remember how you felt? 

Rushed and off to work, or clear, calm, and focused, welcoming the day ahead? 

Your morning can define the remainder of your day—I know mine does. 

If I wake up with no routine to follow, I’ll typically defer to what will give me the quickest dopamine rush—checking my email, scanning through social media, or checking the news for what wild thing happened yesterday. 

The first hour or two of my day will have passed, and all I have to show for it is Twitter rage, news headline mania, and a distracted and frazzled mind. 

However, with my routine, I feel calm, clear, and focused. Having taken care of my body, mind, and emotional state first thing, I feel more welcoming and prepared for what’s ahead with my day—whether that’s showing up for my partner, clients, and friends, being mentally present in meetings or recording a handful of podcast interviews for Grow Ensemble (like my interview with atlasGo Co-Founder & CEO, Thomas Querton!). 

Even with my morning routine, every morning looks a little different. And while the routines and habits I’m about to share with you don’t look the same each morning, I will do some (if not most) in varied depth every single day. Likewise, this is a routine that works for me! I’m not hoping to prescribe what you should do with your morning, but just provide you with some options or general principles that may work for you. 🙂 

If something here inspires you in your change-making every day, I’d love to know! Feel free to comment here, reach out to me over at Grow Ensemble, or my personal site, coryames.com.

And with that, good morning to you. 

Interview with Thomas Querton

The Morning Routine that Preps Me for a Change-Making Day 

 

1. Make the coffee…butter coffee

For me, everything begins with my cup of coffee. Of course, how you make coffee depends on your preference and what tools you have at your disposal. This has varied for me over time, but no matter how I’ve done it, I always appreciate the methodical nature that goes with this process. It’s almost as if I could make the coffee for my girlfriend and me with my eyes closed, or asleep—and that’s what makes it such a great habit to ease me into the morning. 

Oddly, or not, depending on who you are, we take our coffee with a slice of grass-fed butter and MCT powder (I prefer the powder from Quest Nutrition). 

This is because we abide (in the most part) by the ketogenic diet (a high-fat, low carbohydrate diet), and the butter and MCT powder serves as our only caloric intake for the morning unless we enjoy a brunch on the weekends. 

Of course, I can’t recommend this to everybody. You’ll have to see if eating butter in the mornings makes sense for you, but for us, this “breakfast” is quick and easy to prepare, keeps me light, and leaves me unconcerned with hunger until mid-afternoon (for some further reading, check out the Bulletproof blog—the folks who popularized this high-fat morning beverage).  

2. Drink water (put it in my Cupanion 😎)

Coffee and water. That’s what I’m running on for the first part of my day. And, for some added stimulation, I’ll add in some pink Himalayan salt and sometimes a small spoonful of magnesium. 

After a night’s sleep, your body is typically low on these nutrients and a bit dehydrated. Even slight dehydration can significantly affect mental performance and energy levels. I find this a perfect combination with my full-fat coffee for getting my brain and body firing. 

Add in a fish oil supplement for some additional brain food, and I’m good to go for a little namaste. 

3. Brief Yoga & Mobility Routine

Water and coffee prepared, I roll out the yoga mat in the living room to loosen up and wake up the joints and any sore muscles. 

I’ve gone back and forth through having a prepared routine and just hitting the poses and stretches that feel important. For 5-10 minutes, I’ll be saluting the sun, channeling our dog, and waging a life-long war with my tight hips. 

Between coffee, water, and light stretching with yoga, the body gets its initial morning nourishment.

4. Ball! With my favorite people: my partner and our pup! 

Ahh, a newer routine in the grand scheme of my morning routine’s existence, and this has perhaps become my favorite. 

Each and every day, my girlfriend and I grab our coffee and head to the park or school nearby to throw the ball for our pup, Milou. 

We’ll throw the ball until Milou reaches exhaustion, all the while chatting of our day ahead, politics, interesting questions, and funny jokes. 

The benefit here is two-fold…

1. Valuable time spent connecting with my favorite person. 

2, Getting outside, early in the day. 

Of course, whatever it is, a walk or a quick jog (with a friend, if you can!) getting out in the world early is another thing that’ll perk you up to start the day. 

We would walk to start the day, but Milou was a maniac on the leash without getting some serious energy out first (did you see the previous photo?!?). Also, has anyone seriously leash trained their dog? No way

5. Back home for meditation 

Meditation was the first habit I added to my routine when the whole thing began in late high school. I’ve tried a variety of ways to practice for 10-30 minutes, and I almost always come back to some sort of guided audio. 

At the moment, I’m subscribed to the “Waking Up App” from Sam Harris, but I have gone through countless apps and audios—whatever I can do to keep things fresh and create a different experience now and again. 

My girlfriend says Sam’s voice is well-suited for guided meditation, so take that as you may.

The researched benefits of meditation are plenty, and anecdotally, I’d confirm their validity. 

6. Read, 30-60 minutes (news, books, etc.) 

Once I’ve had some meditation time, I’ll then turn to reading. I’m always in 2-4 books at one time, so I’ll usually jump between a few. It’s been a major priority of mine to ensure I never feel bored or tired of reading. So, when that happens, I’ll jump to a new book. 

I believe that continuously attempting to make my reading complement my interest keeps reading speeds and comprehension high! 

Taking in some information in the mornings this way helps me to make some interesting connections between what I’m reading, the work I’m doing, or any upcoming podcast I have. It starts to get my brain connections moving before I dive into work.

7. Free Write (5 – 20 Minutes)

Once satisfied with reading for the morning, I’ll turn to my journal. Once on moleskin, now an app on my computer, I’ll open a new document for each day. 

This journaling practice has followed many frameworks but has remained broadly consistent and has remained one of my favorite and most therapeutic practices. Although I rarely ‘come up dry’ for things to process or things rolling through my mind, I’ll often times jump to some gratitude reflection, or some questions I like to fall back on that inspire some critical and deep thought. 

Good questions or prompts may be…

  • What do I value? 
  • What am I doing that really lights me up, gives me energy, and leaves me inspired? 
  • What or who am I grateful for? 
  • What are things that take my energy, things I should maybe stop doing? 

8. Review goals, objectives, and the day! 

With some words on the page, I turn to where I’m trying to ‘go.’ I’ll take a few moments to review any goals and objectives that I’ve set for myself or Grow Ensemble, then translate those to what I should accomplish for the day ahead.

In doing so, I’m hoping to achieve some clarity of focus and direction every single day, and hopefully keep myself on course with projects and tasks for the day ahead that should lead me to those goals. 

And then, well, we begin to work! 

Ahh, are you exhausted yet? What a long morning! 

By the time I’ve finished, it’s usually 4 or 5 pm…KIDDING! 

The whole routine done in full takes 1.5-2 hours. And, as I mentioned before, this is something that you (and I) can make as bite size as necessary. 

How will you start the day?

 

It’s with these morning routines that I feel most prepared to do my best work and be most attuned to the needs of others and the world around me.

Of course, this must not look the same for everyone. Whether it’s exchanging the habits that make up the routine or the time of day (I see you night owls out there, and I respect you), the most important aspect of the morning routine is consistency.

Hopefully, a window into my morning ritual will spark some ideas for you about what kind of routines you can adopt to get the same benefits from your mornings. 

If the review of my practices is completely lost on you, I recommend prioritizing the following actions:

1)Do something that gets you out of bed and moving.

2)Do something that warms up your body and gets your blood flowing.

3)Do something that energizes your brain muscle. 

4) Do something that engages with the people you love.

Whether it’s my routine or the short list above, cheers to morning routines, and the change they inspire us and prepare us to make in the world! 

Cory Ames

Founder at Grow Ensemble

GrowEnsemble.com

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