The first decade of my career, I mistakenly believed I could obtain better results by pushing myself to my limits. I directed nearly all of my energy towards whatever professional goal was at-hand. I put forth as many hours and as much self-sacrifice necessary to achieve it. In the process, I minimized or sometimes completely disregarded my physical, emotional and mental health.

Most of the time, this approach seemed to work. I was delivering good results on deadline. I was getting promoted. So I kept forging ahead relentlessly. But this approach didn’t come close to working when it came to my health, relationships or well-being.

Too often, I found myself feeling used up. I had minimal, if any, time or energy to give to myself or others. In addition to accomplishing my goal, I accomplished stress, overwhelm, bodily exhaustion, poor health, and burn-out.

I vividly recall one vacation in particular. I had been working seven days a week for nearly a year on an intensely demanding project. At the last minute, I decided to arrive two days later than my friends so that I could get more work done. I stayed at work until 3:00am the morning of my departure. Once I made it to my destination, I immediately fell sick. My poor body was crying out to me, begging me to change my ways.

The workaholic model will not provide you with sustainable success in business or in life. It’s not even productive.  

A secret success weapon   

Thanks to the help of my executive coach, I discovered a secret success weapon. I tapped into the energy of a morning routine. Taking some “me-time” every morning to focus on self-care had a profound impact in all areas of my life.

My morning transformed from a mad, rushed mess to my favorite time of day. Once I fell into the rhythm of my morning routine, I noticed my results in work and life were improving, yet I was working less hours. And I felt exponentially better. I couldn’t believe it! How had I missed out on this amazing phenomenon all those years??! (Oh, I remember – I was too busy working!)

My morning routine not only allows me to magically do more with less, it positively enhances my mood, energy, creativity, interactions, and outlook on life in general.

As I learn and experiment with new things, as my desires shift, and as my professional and personal circumstances change, my morning routine evolves. For example, the birth of my son required a drastic overhaul. Notice that I said an overhaul, not an elimination!

Here are the 6 key components of my current morning routine, including modifications I’ve made since becoming a mom:

  1. Gratitude (1-2 min) – The first thing I do when I wake up is thank God for another day, my health, my family, the infinite blessings in my life…and whatever else pops into my mind on any given morning. It’s amazing how an attitude of gratitude can shift your entire perspective. This gratitude practice has become a habit that permeates my entire day, not just the morning.
    • Mom modification – I used to write in a gratitude journal daily. Now I simply think about it. It’s become second-nature to me.
  2. Visualization (2-3 min) – I spend a few brief moments (usually while brushing my teeth or getting dressed) visualizing how I want the day ahead to go.
    • Mom modification – I used to have an elaborate visualization practice with a vision board and journal. I’ve streamlined that exercise to a minute or two of thinking. Similar to gratitude, visualizing short-term and long-term successful outcomes has become second-nature to me.
  3. Inspiration (1-2 min) – I read a couple of inspirational e-mails from sites that I subscribe to.
    • Mom modification – I used to read more books the old-fashioned way, more often. I read more business books. Now, my reading focuses on the essentials, and I use I’ve learned that focusing on spiritual reading naturally translates well into my professional life.
  4. Exercise (30-45 min) – I work out at home using DVDs or online workouts, adjustable weights and resistance bands. I create a new workout routine each month to prevent boredom and plateau. Each week’s workouts include a balance of strength, cardio, balance and flexibility.
    • Mom modification – I used to work out at the gym with a personal trainer, in a group class or using cardio machines. Working out at home provides me with huge savings in time and money.
  5. Meditation (15 min) – I meditate using various guided meditation apps on my phone.
    • Mom modification – I used to meditate for 20 minutes. My first year of motherhood, I mistakenly eliminated meditation from my life entirely. I added it back this year and have noticed significant positive results in all aspects of my life. I started small with just 2 minutes per day and gradually worked up to 15 minutes.
  6. Breakfast (10 min) – My morning isn’t complete without a nutritious breakfast. I fuel my body with a delicious shake packed with nutrients and superfoods.
    • Mom modification – None necessary.

Just one hour of self-care every morning earns me a massive return on investment.

I am organized for the day, with a clear picture of what I want to achieve. I feel healthy and centered. I am focused and balanced. I feel energized and creative. I accomplish more in less time. I’m able to meet whatever challenges the day holds from a place of strength, resilience and optimism. My morning routine makes me a better mom, a better wife, a better professional…a better human being.  

At Intend2Lead, we know that self-care is the secret weapon of high performers. When you take care of yourself first, you have more to give to others. You’ll multiply your results in business and in life, and you’ll feel good while you’re doing it.

See you in the DoP,

Sarah signature

Morning is an important time of day, because how you spend your morning can often tell you what kind of day you are going to have.” – Lemony Snicket

Think different: How might your day be different if you started your morning on purpose?

Act different: What’s one small thing you can do tomorrow to start your day off better?