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Winning your morning

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Sam Makhoul 5 minute read

Winning your morning sets you up to winning your day. And your day is ultimately a snapshot version of your entire life.

So, developing a ritual for your first 30 to 45 minutes can be the difference between a mediocre life and a motivational one filled with exciting achievements and exciting people.

Here are 10 rituals to give you unstoppable energy for the day.

Win your night first

Winning your morning starts the night before. Here are three tips to help you win your night.

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• Do a brain dump in your diary. Most people find it difficult to disconnect when they get home and end up having a restless sleep and tired the next day. My tip is to write your to-do list for the next day before you get home. This gets things out of your head and gives your mind permission to switch from work-related thinking to recreational activities like playing sport, social cooking, or spending time with friends and family. (I rarely watch TV, and if I do, it is usually a TED talk or the food channel.)

• Don’t eat after 7pm. If you eat too late, you will either fall asleep with a stomach full of unprocessed food, or you will have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. Either way you will wake up lethargic and have energy dips throughout the next day. Your digestion rises and sets with the sun. So your ultimate goal is stop eating after sunset. This is not easy. But if your goal is to operate at peak performance then it is so worth it. You will wake up feeling fresh.

• Sleep more and sleep less. The best form of relaxation is sleep. It is essential to recharge your energy. But here’s the thing: the hours you sleep before midnight equal two hours after midnight, which is why you should sleep more before midnight and less after. My tip is to leave the blinds or curtains open so the morning's first light becomes your alarm clock.

Winning your morning — the power of rituals

The following is my morning ritual that sets me up mentally and emotionally to tackle the day like an athlete. I follow this ritual no matter where I am in the world. Workday, weekend or on holidays. You should develop a set of rituals that work best for you. For example, some people like to hit the gym first thing in the morning, whereas I prefer to work out midday or after work.

• Deep breathing. I start my morning going outside barefoot on the grass breathing in for three seconds, holding it for four and out for five. I do this five times. I also set a reminder to do this throughout the day because I find myself shallow breathing in front of my computer. Deep breathing oxygenates your cells and signals your mitochondria to release energy. If you do it with tall stretches, it will make you feel even better.

• My morning detox elixir. Drink your first liter of water in the first hour of the day. Dehydration equals low energy. So don’t reach for a coffee. Go for water instead. It’s cleansing and helps activate your metabolism. This is my morning elixir recipe that has helped me avoid cold and flu for the past 12 years: cup of warm water with lemon juice, turmeric and crushed ginger. Sip this during your morning routine before you leave the house.

• Supercharge your central nervous system. I either jog for 15 mins or do five mins of 100–150 push-ups/squat jumps, followed by a semi-cold shower or a swim. Yes, it is cold in winter! But the effects of cold water are so invigorating and much more sustainable than caffeine. It really is amazing. Google Tim Ferris who did a body hack on this.

• Meditation is detox for the mind. I then spend 10 mins meditating using the Headspace app. This helps me filter out any background noise and helps me zone in on what is important. It also helps me live in the moment for the rest of the day so I can really listen to people.

• Journaling equals clarity. I spend five minutes re-reading my goals and my bucket list, and then I write and visualize what I want to achieve for the day, not just for work but in all aspects — e.g., what I will eat, when to exercise and my social agenda with family and friends. I also use the journal to reflect on how I feel if something is bothering me. It helps me witness and process my feelings. We all experience negative emotions. The key is to what you do with them.

• Prepare and pack. The number one reason why people don’t eat healthy or work out is because they are not prepared. Taking 20 mins to prepare food and workout gear is probably the best thing I do to set my day up. It puts me in control. My prep also includes a liquid breakfast (i.e., superfood smoothie) that I sip throughout my morning. Please email me if you would like the recipe. It contains a powerful combination of nutrients.

• Podcast your commute. Whether I am driving or on a plane, I am always listening to a podcast. For me, it’s the equivalent of reading three books per week. My favourite podcasts are The Tim Ferris Show, TED Talks Business and TED Talks Health (and Comedy Central Stand-Up). There are hundreds of good podcasts to choose from.

I hope you use these tips to help you fly.

Remember: People who think they have no time to eat well and exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.

Winning your morning
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Sam Makhoul

Sam Makhoul holds a Master of Laws degree (major in finance law) and is a director of MSA National, a law company specialising in mortgage processing. He has also advised and acted for the ‘who’s who’ of financial institutions and holds particular insight into the mortgage process developed and refined throughout his career. 

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