An Inside Look at my Morning Routine & the Life-Changing Magic of Discipline

My morning routine and the life-changing magic of discipline

Each morning I wake up at 6 AM.

I take an ice cold shower, drink two glasses of water, turn my phone off, and sit down to blog for two hours. 

This routine has been life-changing for me. It has helped me publish 200 blog posts in the past year, grow an online audience, land my articles on CNBC, Yahoo Finance, Business Insider, and helped me earn over $1,000 in blogging income in the past 60 days alone. 

But more importantly, this morning routine has helped me cultivate a mindset of discipline.

Some days I wake up before my alarm even goes off, excited to get started on a new post. Other days, the alarm screeches and my motivation is nowhere to be found.

But here’s the magic of discipline: by practicing the same morning routine for several months in a row, I have trained my body to get up and start moving when the alarm goes off, despite how I’m feeling.

Whether or not the motivation is present, I get up anyway. I hop in the shower (which immediately jolts me awake), drink water, turn my phone off, and sit down to blog.

Once I sit down my brain knows it’s time to focus. Oh, I just went through my morning routine, so now it must be time to blog

Just Start

Here’s where more magic happens: whether or not I actually have an idea for a blog post, I just start typing. Sometimes (this isn’t a joke) I’ll literally start typing about random things just to get in the rhythm of typing. Here’s a bit I typed earlier this week before I got started on one of my blog posts:

Okay here were are sitting at my desk, just getting my fingers warmed up. I don’t know what to blog about so I’m just typing about nothing. There’s a water bottle on my desk, a world map slightly above my head, and a book I got at the library sitting in the corner. 

I continue to write sentences like this literally about nothing just to overcome writer’s block and let my subconscious know that I have shown up at this desk to write. As I keep typing, I start to focus more and ideas begin to come to my head. It’s almost unexplainable. 

Once I get going on a blog post, momentum picks up. More ideas come, words start flowing, and the content almost creates itself. I’m just a guy with a metaphorical pen who transcribes ideas that come to me.

Training the Subconscious

I think archery is a nice metaphor for blogging. My end goal is the target (a finished blog post), but first I have to pull back the string (go through my morning routine) before I can shoot the arrow (start writing something meaningful). 

The whole process of turning off my phone, taking a cold shower, drinking water, sitting down, and typing about random things is all just a fancy process for pulling back the string. The real work I want to do is write, but first I have to go through my morning routine so my subconscious knows it’s time to write.

This routine also makes it very difficult for me to do anything other than write once I’m sitting at my desk. I’m wide awake, I can’t go back to sleep now. It’s still dark outside, there’s nothing else to do. I have physically put myself in a position where the only thing that makes sense is to write. So that’s what I do. 

Show Up Every Day & Try

In The War of Art, Steven Pressfield writes:

“The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.” 

I don’t always produce a complete blog post each day. I’m not always proud of the content I create either. But that’s fine. I care more about sticking to my routine and showing up each day at my desk. All I care about is trying my best.

I have already seem some early success with this blog in only a year and I expect more successes to pile up in my second year. But any success I have or will have in the future is because of my morning routine, which forces me to sit and work, whether I feel like it or not.

My morning routine keeps me disciplined. And discipline holds the potential to be life-changing.

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13 Replies to “An Inside Look at my Morning Routine & the Life-Changing Magic of Discipline”

  1. Discipline is one of the hardest traits to acquire, but it has so many benefits. I just finished the book “Overlap” by Sean McCabe and it talked about this principle of a structured life. Too often we frantically get through the day without structuring our time or to-dos–which means we waste time, forget things, and generally feel frazzled.

    If you wake up and make time to do the things that are important to you, they can get done.

  2. Zach, still laughing about your “I’m sitting at my desk” writing. You and I are alike in that regard. I’ll sit down and start writing with no idea where I’m heading. Then (usually), there’s a Shazam moment and things just flow. Being in the flow is what I like most about writing. I suspect you know exactly what I’m talking about.

    1. It’s great to hear there’s someone out there who uses absurd writing tactics like myself. I know exactly what you mean about getting in to the flow of writing too. It’s almost like you just have to trudge through the first 10-20 minutes of writing to get to the “good stuff” you actually want to write about.

  3. Each morning I wake up at 4:31 AM.

    I take an indulgent hot shower, drink one cup of coffee, turn my phone off airplane mode, and sit down to read your blog (with another cup of coffee) — all before the unanticipated chaos of adult life begins.

    Well said about “pulling back the string.” Loved this post — my favorite thus far, Zach.

    So much is accomplished just by getting up, dressing up, and showing up. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Love the analogy of “pulling back the string of the arrow.” Often times the hardest part is getting started, but once we’re started it feels harder to stop than it does to keep going! Great job setting up a morning routine that gets you prepped for successful writing sessions.

    1. Thanks, Matt! Getting started is by far the hardest part. Setting up this routine was a bit tough the first week I tried it, but over time it has become easier and requires virtually no extrinsic motivation anymore. Cheers to habits 🙂

  5. I give you a tremendous amount of credit for sticking to your morning routine every day. I recently read to Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. This book has changed my life. I now meditate, write and read every morning. At first it was difficult, but you made a great point about training your body. My body has now adjusted to waking up every day at 6:30 to start my morning routine.

    Keep up the great work!

    1. That’s actually a book I have been meaning to read, several people have recommended it to me. I always like to think if I can conquer the morning, I can conquer the day. As long as I can go through my usual morning routine and get some decent work done, the entire day feels like a success. It’s good to hear there’s a fellow morning person out there 🙂

  6. I know many people have different ways of being successful but it seems discipline is ranked high up there. I have none (by choice) but am in awe of people like you that do!! 🙂 I have heard many people tout the idea of a cold shower (Tim Ferriss Is a BIG fan) and it’s benefits and it looks like those are working for you! One thing you mentioned, “I don’t always produce a complete blog post each day. I’m not always proud of the content I create either.”, is important. The habit is to write each day. If you aren’t proud of what you have created, there is no pressure to publish. Tomorow is another day. Judging by the content here, you are doing just fine in that regard. 🙂

    1. Cold showers are so underrated, give them a try some time! 😉 And you’re right, the habit of writing each day is what’s important, not necessarily the end result. Obviously I aim to produce content worth reading, but even when I fail to do so I still get a chance to practice honing my skills.

      Thanks for the kinds words, Miss Mazuma 🙂

  7. Zach, I’m enjoying your blog posts that I know resulted from a cold splash in the face at 6 a.m.! But, seriously, if you are only 24 then you’re fast on your way to financial freedom. Your work ethic and articles are inspiring–even for us baby boomers who are working at setting up multiple streams of income at this stage in life.

    Keep up the good work!

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