Do you hit the snooze button repeatedly, drag yourself out of bed and glug down an espresso before you've so much as got in the shower? If so, you're probably not a morning person.
But while you may think the only drawback is feeling groggy until elevenses, you could be missing out on much more.
Learning to love early starts could help you feel happier and healthier, says Hal Elrod. He wrote The Miracle Morning after being in a near-fatal accident at the age of 20 and ending up in debt. 'It was the year my life fell apart,' says Hal. 'Mentally, physically and financially – I hit rock bottom.'
Soon after, a friend suggested he go for a daily run to boost his mood. Feeling instantly better, Hal decided to find out what the world's most successful people did every day. It was his light-bulb moment. 'I read that they all wake up before they have to and work on themselves,' he says.
Hal researched the six best things he could do, and started waking up an hour earlier to spend 10 minutes a day doing each of them. In the following months, he doubled his income and went from depressed to the happiest he'd ever been.
Here, he shares his tips. Just think – if he can do it, so can you!
Most of us spend our mornings feeling rushed, hectic and stressed. But feeling glug down an espresso that way before you've even started your first task is setting yourself up to fail. Beginning each day with a few minutes of quiet calm can reduce your stress.
Hal calls it 'purposeful silence' – a few minutes of undisturbed quiet – and insists that it will not only allow you to focus on the day ahead, but it will even give you the mental space to contemplate the bigger questions in your life. There's no correct way to sit in silence – you can try meditating, practising mindfulness or simply listening to the sound of your own deep breathing (but maybe leave your bed to do this so you don't fall straight back to sleep!).
Many of us read for pleasure but, according to Hal, reading with a goal in mind could be the key to a more successful life. Whether you want to be richer, happier or have a better relationship, there are thousands of books out there just waiting to help you – and reading for just 15 minutes in the morning can give you the dose of focus you need.
Before you pick up your next book, ask yourself why you're reading it and what you hope to gain. Circle, highlight, underline and re-read the pages that really stay with you to get the most out of your reading session.
It might sound a bit mumbo-jumbo, but visualisation simply means using your inner mind to affect positive change in your outer world. Often used by athletes, it's the process of imagining what you want, before mentally rehearsing what you need to do in order to achieve it.
It sounds easy enough – but how often do you take time out of your day to think about how it would feel to live the life you really want? Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and imagine how it would feel to have the job of your dreams or be at your goal weight. Then visualise how you'll achieve it – whether it's exercising a few times a week, giving up your evening chocolate habit or going back to college to learn a new skill. Think of this as kicking your affirmations (see point 5) into the next gear.
Working out for just a few minutes in the morning can have a transformative effect on your day. As well as boosting your energy levels and alertness, it can enhance your self-confidence and emotional wellbeing, too. This sounds great in theory, but somewhat trickier to achieve when you have the school run to do!
Only you will know the activity that will motivate you in the morning – be it jogging on the spot or putting on a workout DVD – but aim to do five to 10 minutes of exercise the moment you get out of bed (before your inner voice talks you out of it!). Hal suggests yoga or star jumps to give you a much-needed dose of endorphins.
We all have thoughts running non-stop through our heads – be it a mental to-do list or anxieties over our performance. But while you might think they're innocent enough, these thoughts can have a huge impact on how happy and successful we are in life.
As many as 80% of women have self-deprecating thoughts throughout the day, says Hal, be it about body image, performance or future prospects. Butif you allow yourself to be drawn intoa spiral of negative thinking, you risk allowing your fears and insecurities to jeopardise your future.
Affirmations – or repeating positive thoughts – are one of the most effective tools for becoming the person you want to be. Ask yourself what you really want from life, whether it's from your career, your relationships or your health, and how you'll commit to achieving these goals. The more specific you are – 'I'm going to join my local gym and go to two classes a week' – the more likely you are to succeed.
Getting your thoughts out of your head and on to paper can give you valuable insights and perspectives on things you'd never have noticed otherwise. Many people who keep diaries or practise journalling write their entries at the end of the day – but by that time you may feel too tired to string a sentence together, let alone commit your thoughts to paper. Hal suggests writing early in the day about your goals for the future, family or work issues, plus life lessons you've recently learned.