The Art of Personal Development

My sister told me something crazy a couple of months ago. She told me she willingly got up at 05:30(!) to spend her first hour of the day following some program to give her more focus and to get a kick start. This was from a book called Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. She lent me the book and after reading it, I decided to try the program myself. I’ve completed 37 Miracle Morning routines now, and I think it’s safe to say that it has changed the way I live my everyday life in a very positive way.

Taking some time for yourself is important!
What it all boils down to is that you should take time for yourself. I believe a lot of people these days rush to work as soon as they get up. One of the moments I realised this was when my room mate came back from his holidays. I had been alone for the biggest part of June. At this time I started the program and spent every morning in solitude (well, my cat was there, but she stops bothering me after I feed her). When he came back from his holiday we always had a little overlap between the time when I got up and when he got up for work. His routine was something along these lines: Get up, brush teeth, take a shower, eat breakfast, hit the bricks.

My routine has become entirely different from that rushed routine that I found myself stuck in as well. Now every day starts with a sense of calm and finding focus on what’s important for me that day, and in the future. When I get up, the first thing I do is still brushing my teeth, and putting my contact lenses in, but then I no longer have any rush. I changed my working hours so I start at 09:30, which gives me three whole hours to start my day properly.

This quote is below my affirmations, just to remind me that it really is about your way of thinking!

Three hours to start your day and get to work, isn’t that a bit excessive?
Nope, it’s not. My alarm goes off at 06:30 and about ten minutes later I’m sitting on my couch, spending about five minutes in silence. During this time I do a meditation routine. After that, I spend five minutes reading a set of goals that I set for myself. Following this routine of affirmation, I take another five minutes to visualise what my life will look like when I reach my goals. All sounds pretty hippy, right?

The stupid thing is, I’m a very down to earth guy and consider myself to be a man of science and logic, but there’s no denying that the psychological effects of meditating, and taking the time to prime myself to believe in my goals are there. I find that I have more clarity and I get shit done. Following those three steps, I spend five minutes to write in a digital journal and jot down whatever’s on my mind that day and what I want to achieve. There hasn’t been a single day where I didn’t finish my To-do-list that I wrote down for my journal, unless there was a very good reason for it outside of my sphere of control.

Perhaps one day I'll attain that same level of control over mind and body as Dhalsim. :P

Perhaps one day I’ll attain that same level of control over mind and body as Dhalsim from Street Fighter!

So, you’re just being mindful, that’s not new.
True, although I was sceptical at that whole mindfulness fad that blew over the internet some time ago, this isn’t that different. But the good thing about being a sceptic is that you can always get back to certain topics and say: “Maybe I was wrong, it does work for me!”

To be honest, that is only the first half hour of my day. After I’m done scribbling in my journal, I spend about twenty minutes reading non-fiction, in hopes of learning something new. At the time of writing this article, I’m busy reading “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman. A very interesting read about the working of our mind and how we make decisions (review pending). The fact that I’m spending at least twenty minutes a day reading means I’ll most probably read about ~3.000 pages a year (not counting the weekends) of non-fiction. That’s roughly ten books worth of knowledge!

Just think of all the knowledge you can attain by reading only 20 minutes a day!

A healthy mind, and a healthy body
The last part of the Miracle Morning routine (at least the way I scheduled it now) is exercise. I rejoined my old gym at the start of June and now I like to spend time there at least three times a week, before I head off to work. Usually I arrive there somewhere around 07:30 and stop working out at 08:30. That’s a whole hour of exercise, which is a big upgrade from the zero hours of exercise that I enjoyed during the first half of this year. I just didn’t have the energy.

Once the clock hits 08:30, I hit the showers and about fifteen minutes later, I’m ready to drive to work, which is about a forty minute drive. All in all, I might be awake a long time before I start work at the office. But during that time I’ve already done so much, both mentally and physically, that it feels as if I have already won that day, just by spending so much time working on myself.

Focus on what’s important
If this routine has taught me anything so far, it’s that it’s important to constantly strive for improvement of yourself. You can be so much more than you think you can. I’m not aspiring to become (or sound like) some sort of life improvement guru, but I can tell you that this works for me.

I wrote down a bunch things that are of great importance to me. My friends and family, writing, health, my career outside of writing, and maintaining the discipline to keep this new, healthier lifestyle up. If I can do it, I’m pretty sure you can too. So, when are you going to take the wheel and steer?

Happy Miracle Morning!