The outcomes of your life are governed by principles.
Stephen Covey explains principles like this: “They’re a natural law, like gravity. It’s different than a value. Values are subjective; principles are objective. Gravity… if you drop something, gravity controls.”
What this means is that if you repeatedly take certain actions, you’re going to get a particular outcome, regardless of whether you’re scared, anxious, excited, a good person, a bad person, deserving or undeserving.
Your thoughts and behaviors alone do not create the outcomes of your life — it is how those thoughts and behaviors interact with the outside world that determines your future.
Ultimately, there are certain principles of the highly successful that are pretty consistent. Chief among them is a morning routine. Here are some of the most significant things many of them do before the rest of us are even awake.
1. They get a lot of sleep
Highly successful people are notoriously well-rested. Trying to function with too little sleep renders you ineffective at best.
Many of the world’s most successful people are super strict about their nighttime routines, ensuring that they get to bed early enough that they’re able to both get enough sleep and rise as early as they want.
2. They identify the priorities of the day
Highly successful people recognize that it is not their time, but their energy, that is limited each day. Be that as it is, each morning, they identify what they need to get done, and what they would most like to get done. Those tasks are prioritized first, because otherwise, distractions will take over.
3. They meditate
Many highly successful people report finding their inner solace in a meditation practice. Everyone from Oprah to Arianna Huffington to Ray Dalio begin their morning with a few minutes of intentional breathing and quiet.
Meditation not only helps to regulate the body’s functions and help you find your center, but it also assists in gaining clarity of mind, to help make better decisions as the day progresses.
4. They engage in some form of physical activity
Whether it’s yoga, an hour of cardio, lifting or even just walking to work, most highly successful jump-start their day with some form of physical activity.
Aside from generating energy and waking you up, putting exercise first thing in the morning is not a random decision: by doing it initially, there’s no chance of procrastinating and running out of time or motivation at night.
5. They forego making as many small decisions as possible
Successful individuals such as Barack Obama or Mark Zuckerberg swear by eliminating their morning decision-making. They do this by wearing the same outfit (or having it pre-selected for them) eating the same breakfast, and attending to the same tasks.
By making their mornings as streamlined and simplistic as possible, they’re ensuring that they won’t become stressed out or exhausted before they’re even at their workplace.
6. They eliminate distractions
Whether it’s clutter, push notifications, a complicated closet or a hectic routine with the family, highly successful people understand that they need to begin their day as efficiently as possible, and that starts with eliminating as many nonessential distractions as possible.
7. They delegate tasks
Everyone knows the stress of an early workday when your email is flooded with people waiting for responses, tasks that all seem to rival each other in importance, and little energy to work with.
However, a crucial aspect of being a highly successful person or leader is knowing how to delegate. You should not feel bad for holding people accountable, and ensuring that they do the job for which they are being paid. Trying to take on everyone’s responsibilities is not a sign you are the most proficient, it’s a sign you’re the most insecure and the least capable of managing your time efficiently.
8. They make decisions with the big picture in mind
Highly successful people do something called “reverse engineering.” Rather than just taking actions each day and hoping that they eventually lead to their goals, they first decide where they would like to be and when, and then break down what’s required each year, month, week and day to achieve that.
When highly successful people wake up in the morning, they avoid indecision by keeping their long-term values in check. They make decisions based on their future well being, rather than obeying their temporary feelings and desires.
9. They practice gratitude
Highly successful people understand that being grateful magnetizes more to be grateful for. It places you in the energy of “I have” rather than ” I want.”
Practicing gratitude is perhaps the most important aspect of finding success because, without the willingness to appreciate the present moment, no achievement will ever make you feel truly fulfilled.