I failed TWO 90 Day Challenges that were intended to get me waking up like a boss.

Both called The Early Morning Challenge(s). The title were about as well thought out as the design of the challenges themselves. They weren’t able to withstand the complexity of life. The rules were to wake up at the same time every morning, to implement what Steve Pavlina suggested in this post. Seems I wasn’t ready to take that step!

Then I came across a podcast episode on Eventual Millionaire where Jaime (Host) interviewed the author of The Miracle Morning, Hal Elrod. I haven’t read the book, but I decided to implement the idea anyway.

The ‘Miracle Morning’ Concept

  • Wake up early.
  • Never sleep in.
  • Design a morning routine that includes the following:
    • Exercise
    • Meditation
    • Affirmations
    • Visualisation
    • Reading
    • Reflection

He cleverly found a way to make these into a mnemonic anagram: SAVERS, as in “life savers”, because for him, he felt like they really were.

  • Silence (i.e. meditation)
  • Affirmations
  • Visualisations
  • Exercise
  • Reading
  • Scribe (i.e. journaling/reflection)

It’s a surprisingly valuable mnemonic. The blurry morning mind has a hard time holding on to any list, let alone one as conceptual as this. It helps to think, “What’s next? S-A-V-E… oh yeah. Exercise.”

The Beast Version

Give 10 minutes to each.

Making your whole routine a total of one hour.

I almost never did this, even during my 90 Day Challenge.

The Lite Version

Give 1 minute to each.

For when you’re in a massive rush, or feeling incapable of facing a whole hour.

This is very smart. From what I’ve learned about habit acquisition it’s far more important that you don’t break the chain, than it is do a whole thing. B.J. Fogg describes how to use this concept in every area in his TEDx talk at Fremont on ‘tiny habits’. I had incorporated this into my 90 Day Challenge Philosophy already, so Hal and I were agreed on that.

My Version

For me, the visualisation part of things was too difficult to focus on, without obvious ROI (and anything you spend energy and willpower on in the morning IS an investment, be sure of that!), so I replaced it with a written statement of my ideal day, something that’s been preached by Frank Kern, Dan Peña, Daiyaan, Tim Marc, and Eban Pagan.

I saved that statement as a .mobi file, and made another for my affirmations, so that every morning I would be able to carry out the whole routine without opening my laptop, since I wanted to maintain the ‘professional distance’ I had developed towards my laptop during my Work First Challenge. Plus, the relative difficulty in altering a Kindle file encouraged me to think carefully about what I wrote in there, and to stick with it.

Waking early was not a necessity for this Challenge. I’d tried and failed that too often with the Early Morning Challenges. So, I built in some flexibility, some “deliberate leniency”, and decided on the rule to set my alarm the night before, and to be out of bed before switching it off. It didn’t matter what time I set it for, as long as I stuck to that routine. I tried to keep it regular, but didn’t require it, meaning the Challenge had the flexibility to deal with occasional disruptions in a sane way.

 

Results

Were so-so.

At least, they seem to be now.

A wonderful problem with the 90 Day Challenge is by the time you reach the end, you’ve become so used to your new habit that you might forget what you were like before.

If I really think about it, I’ve improved a lot. I wake up when I choose to and no later, and I never sleep in without planning to the day before. Now that the challenge is over, I’m sure to tweak my morning routine, maybe drop one or two of these ‘life savers’ sections that aren’t doing much for me, but I’ll bare in mind Hal’s advice, and his sobering point that a massive amount of successful people include them all into their own routines, so it might be true that they’re all essential for ordinary bums like you and me to incorporate, if we want a hope in hell of reaching the peak of our potential.

In short, this Challenge has sent me down the path of the ideal power-building morning ritual.

At long last!