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5 Morning habits of multimillionaires, and why you should try them

Why is the morning so critical? First, it’s a key window of time for uninterrupted proactivity. We all have 24 hours a day. Beyonce has the same 24 hours, so does Jay-Z, so does Tim Cook, so does the President of the United States. We don’t get any more time than that. And making time only for the routine of the day will leave only room for just that. There’s no room for Greatness. 

Over this last year, I have watched a lot of movies about someone seemingly stuck in the same day over and over again. At first it’s terrible, but then they get the hang of this great chance to start over, and make it something great by the end . You should really catch, if you have not already, Before I Fall:

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The morning is a harbinger of hope. What seemed so terrible and overwhelming the night before seems more hopeful in the lighht of day. Morning is renewal.

And that’s something ingrained in some of the most successful people in the world. They aren’t just rich in their bank accounts – they have this thirst to swallow the world and make every day count. Here are the five habits that we can learn from them.

1.Seize the day by waking up early 

“Over my 50 years in business I have learned that if I rise early I can achieve so much more in a day, and therefore in life.”

Sir Richard Branson

What do Michelle Obama, Tim Cook, Richard Branson, Tony Robbins, and Jack Dorsey all have in common?

Besides the fact that they are rich and successful AF, they all wake up before 5am in the morning. This isn’t a crazy coincidence – scientifically, waking up early and engaging in some key habits will make you more likely to be successful, happy and productive. 

According to a Harvard Study,, early risers are more proactive and are more likely to be successful. . They are more likely to anticipate and minimise problems efficiently, ultimately leading to increased success at work and in business. A proactive mindset leads to increased productivity, and workflow, a more alert mental state. An early start, coupled with a structured morning routine cultivates success, according to Inc’s “The Scientific Reason Why Being A Morning Person Will Make You More Successful”. 

Here are some ways waking up early makes you “great”:

  • You’re ahead of the curve – by the time other people have their coffee, you’ve checked major accomplishments off of the list
  • You will feel happier! According to a University of Toronto study, morning people reported higher levels of happiness.
  • You can catch up with all developments and communications in different time zones 
  • You can work without (work) interruptions 
  • The freedom of time opens up your creativity and ability to prioritize 
  • You get to end your day earlier and unwind instead of burning the midnight oil and having to log on after dinner.

woman bathing dog in bathtub
Dogs always know what’s up. Photo by Autri Taheri

2. Take a cold shower 

The first thing many successful people do in the morning is jump into a cold shower. That may sound as tempting by starting the morning by sticking a fork in your eye, but it’s the “seize the day” kick in the butt your body needs to 1) get out of your stinky PJs; 2) get your blood circulating and your brain into action. 

This is how it works. The deep breathing in response to the body’s shock helps you keep warm by increasing your oxygen intake. Thus, your heart rate will increase, releasing a rush of blood through your entire body, giving you a natural dose of energy throughout the day.

Plus, you won’t need as much coffee. Not only will the shower wake you up, but the delay in drinking coffee will make your cortisol rise naturally. Waiting a bit to drink coffee is also something I recommended in my post about cortisol and how to not let it mess with you 

Also, it may help you lose weight! I am sure you have run across people who make claims that keeping the thermostat low all year around activates “brown fat” burning, which is that stubborn fat that just won’t die in areas like your thighs. There is actually something to that, and the same applies to cold water. 

I look at the cold shower as a one-stop shop for all the crap I am too lazy to do individually in the morning. I’ll jump in the shower and wash my face, brush my teeth, and because I won’t be wearing clothes I will be forced to change into what I intend to wear for the next part of my day. This prevents me from being stuck in grubby flannel pants at 10am. That can actually lead to an increased tendency of depression, another thing that a cold shower can help with. 

silhouette of three women running on grey concrete road
A run at the break of dawn with a safe buddy system) is good for the soul. Photo by Fitsum Admasu

3. Exercise

This is a go-to way to start the day for many successful people because exercise wakes up both your mind and your body.  By exercising in the morning you are setting a positive tone for the day, both from a work and personal life standpoint. You will be less likely to be reactive and overwhelmed, having checked off a major accomplishment for the day. You will also make better decisions about food for the rest of the day, because a morning workout will make you crave healthier food. 

Also, other obligations are less likely to get in the way. Calls or meetings are rarely scheduled for 530 or 6am. One of my friends who has kids is able to get her workout in before they wake up for school. It’s YOUR time, and it may be hard to adjust to at first, but there are things you can do which I recommend in my post on how to make time to work out. 

Here’s an important question –  if you follow the cold shower advice, would that mean you shower before working out? It seems like that would make less sense, but this GQ article actually makes a good point that this will charge you more for the workout and also make the workout even better. Your wake-up shower doesn’t have to be a whole affair – 30 seconds or so is plenty, and you can save your “real shower” for after you work out, or if short on time,use shower wipes like these ones from Hustle Clean (which are also great for travel!). It depends on what kind of workout you are doing and how much you plan on sweating! 

Walking, running, or biking to your work destination can also be a great way to save time. Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, walks 5 miles to work every morning, and he has shared that this helps him clear his mind and open up his creativity. 

woman sitting on sand
Photo by Dingzeyu Li

4. Meditate and visualize 

Visualizing the day ahead can be a powerful way to get your mind right and actualize your intentions. Tony Robbins has a 10 minute “priming” routine to get himself ready for the day. It basically combines meditation, gratitude, and visualization, with breathing exercises. If you want to try it, you can check it out here:

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Or you can be more simple, and do a morning meditation of your choice. Meditation in the morning is like putting on an invisible armor for the world the rest of the day. Instead of feeling like you are fighting lions and tigers, everything else will be seen for what it really is – cats and dogs. 

Even if you don’t feel like meditating, doing an inspirational reading can be just as centering. I am a huge fan of Emmet Fox, and I read one of his daily reflections from Around the Year every day. 

Galaxy and cuddle
In the morning it’s cuddles and coffee witth Galaxy. As long as she has her designer blanket, she’s ready to roll.

5. Put a little love in your heart (and your phone away)

Spending time with pets, your loved ones, even calling your parents can give you the right perspective. This is a  good antidote to what many people do first thing in the morning, which is scroll through social media. That’s all about what other people are doing and most of them frankly don’t even know you. Same with checking emails – that’s OPP. Other. People’s. Priorities. Getting sucked down a rabbit hole of anxiety and feeling lesser than is like putting on a set of dirty, foggy glasses to navigate your day. On the other hand, a kiss, hug, belly rub, or quick message with a friend will get your dopamine firing and wonder what’s important in this world. And that’s not your phone. I leave you with some more nuggets of wisdom from Bill Maher and some additional resources:

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Additional resources:

Self-made millionaires swear by these 5 morning routines—and they all take less than 10 minutes (CNBC)

This is Tony Robbins’ 10-minute morning routine to ‘change your day for the better’(CNBC)

What everyone can learn from Richard Branson’s morning routine (Business insider)

Is waking up at 4am really the secret to being a successful person? (Virgin)

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