For the majority of my teen and early adult life, I considered myself a night owl. Most of my mornings were inconsistent and a crazy rushed mess.
And that meant:
Groggy mornings… irritable mood… quick showers… improper, or sometimes no breakfast…. running to work…
In short, I had a messy start of the day.
Beginning my day in such a manner meant that my whole day was chaotic. I soon found out that not having a pleasant morning routine meant I was unproductive and disorganized throughout the day.
I knew it was time to change — because this kind of routine was draining my energy and robbing me of my mental well-being.
However, before I jumped in and made major transformation to my mornings, I decided to take baby steps. One thing I learned from reading about the lives of uber-successful people is that they ask themselves the right questions in the mornings.
Be it Steve Jobs or Benjamin Franklin, each of these dynamos believed in kick-starting their mornings by asking themselves some powerful and thought-provoking questions.
For almost 3 decades, Steve Jobs asked himself, “If today were the last day of my life, would I do what I was doing today?’’
And Benjamin Franklin used to start his day with the question, “What good can I do today?”
I was inspired with this idea. Taking a leaf from this, I thought it was a good idea to start my mornings by engaging in some worthy questions. Daily introspection will widen the horizons of our minds and make us aware of our current situation and the long-term purpose of life.
And so it began:
No matter what time I woke up, I would be sit still for a few minutes, take a few deep breaths, and ask myself one or two simple questions worth pondering.
It was simple and hardly took any time, but powerful enough to put some meaning into my day.
So I have made a list of questions that you can ask yourselves each morning. Pick one or two that resonate well with your life and watch your mornings transform.
Here are 10 thought-provoking questions to ask yourself each morning:
1. What is it that I am grateful for today?
Nestled in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we tend to ignore the bliss that the simplest of things can bring to us. We forget to look around and appreciate the surroundings, often taking them for granted.
Instilling a sense of gratitude in yourself not only enhances happiness but also augments your ability to accomplish goals.
A lot of research has backed up the positive effects of gratitude. If you are grateful for the good things in your life, you will be brimming with energy and contentment.
Hence, taking out at least five minutes to jot down three to five things that you are grateful for every day will bring in great results and take you long way.
2. What efforts can I make to ensure my well-being today?
It's pretty self-evident that if you don't nurture yourself first, you won't be be fully prepared to climb the ladder of success. After all, how can you be successful without being mentally and physically healthy in the first place?
One of the most productive ways to start your day is by taking care of your well-being first thing in the morning. Small positive habits practiced consistently can help ensure that your body and mind are at peak performance level.
For example you might develop morning habits including:
- Eating a healthy breakfast
If you are new to these morning habits, start with just one at first and begin slowly. If you choose exercise or meditation, begin with just five minutes a day.
If you want to improve your morning diet, don't begin with dramatic changes you won't be able to sustain. Make one small but healthy food change at a time, and begin slowly overhauling your diet to make breakfast your healthiest and most energizing meal of the day.
Developing new morning habits involves some specific skills. You might want to read Barrie's book, Sticky Habits: How to Achieve Your Goals without Quitting and Create Unbreakable Habits Starting with Five Minutes a Day, to help you get started.
Every single day brings a new lease of life, renewing the chances to chase your dreams. The first best step in this journey is taking the best care of yourself.
3. What are three significant things I should prioritize today?
The essence of this question is to plan a handful of important tasks and complete them with utmost diligence.
This idea, suggested by blogger and author Leo Babauta of Zen Habits, focuses on the benefits of choosing two to three most important tasks (MITs) to that you set as your highest priorities for the day.
Elite achievers believe in strategic planning and prioritizing rather than tackling projects and tasks randomly. As Alexander Graham Bell said, “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.”
For a highly productive day, take a few minutes to down these most important tasks you want to accomplish.
This activity will not only keep you focused on your ultimate target, but will also save you from wasting time on unnecessary distractions like social media or never-ending emails.
4. Are my today’s plans in alignment with my values and beliefs?
This is one of the questions I ask myself every morning.
A successful life is built by continuous efforts and tiny improvements in the right direction every single day.
You may have a journal full of your personal beliefs and values, but what good are they if they are not implemented in daily life?
A person's real character is defined by his or her values and beliefs, so it is extremely important to reflect your values in your daily schedule as well.
Not only do successful people show greater commitment to their values, but they strive hard to streamline their daily actions in accordance with what they believe in.
Living in alignment with your ideals bolsters the foundation of a happy and meaningful life.
If you aren't sure what your core values and guiding principles are for your life and work, check out this list of 400 value words to help you.
5. What’s one little thing I can do to get closer to my goals today?
Success in any endeavor is the result of tiny improvements made every single day. You may have huge goals, but it's all starts with taking baby steps every day in the right direction.
It is synonymous with running a marathon. It may seem extremely difficult to begin with, but if you start slowly by going a mile or two every day, things start easing out.
In addition to having your three most important tasks, be sure to include one small thing that will move you closer to your big goals!
6. How do I make today the best day of my life?
This is a simple yet profound question.
Asking yourself this every morning can help in setting a constructive mindset throughout the day. If we focus on enhancing the quality of every single day, our lives will automatically be enhanced.
At the start of each day, take a minute to consider how you can make this the best day of your life. This may sound like hyperbole, but use it as the carrot to be creative and thoughtful in the way you plan your day.
Brainstorm ideas and develop small, positive habits on a daily basis. Small shifts can bring a major change in your everyday lifestyle.
7. What can I do to be a better person than yesterday?
If you constantly compete with others, you can become bitter and disappointed. But if you constantly compete with yourself, you become a better version of yourself.
Many people make a mistake of comparing themselves to everyone around them. When you evaluate your life based on others, you can't see your own unique and valuable qualities.
In the end, what truly matters is putting your best foot forward to live to your own fullest potential.
In life’s marathon, YOU are your own best competition. Take measures to improve your own past performance, and keep amplifying your future potential.
Recognize that what we are today is a result of the decisions we have made up to this point of time. And tomorrow, we are going to be the result of the decisions we make now.
Begin your day by doing something that adds towards making you an improved version of yourself. The sum of these small steps will eventually combine to give you a giant leap of confidence, success, and wisdom.
8. How can I motivate myself?
Says motivational speaker and author, Zig Ziglar, “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing, that’s why we recommend it daily.”
One of the best ways to improve your personal effectiveness is by learning what inspires you in life. Without finding ways to motivate yourself, it is tough to stick to your goals.
Read Related: 25 Questions To Ask People To Draw Them Out
Not only will this give you an edge in dealing with life’s challenges, but it will also inspire you to keep moving forward. Having an inner drive helps you create new experiences and chase your dreams for your ultimate growth.
How can you motivate yourself when you aren't feeling it? One of the best ways is to measure your own progress and review that progress daily. When you see how far you've come and what you've achieved, you'll be inspired to work harder.
Take some time every morning to focus on your accomplishments, and give yourself a dose of motivation for the day ahead.
9. What can I do to make a positive difference for others?
It’s a priceless feeling to know that your actions improved the lives and well-being of others. Contributing something on a daily basis to make this world a better place is a wonderful thing to do. It provides meaning to our lives.
You can make a contribution through the work you do, the interactions you have with others, and the attitude you bring to everything you do.
Making a positive difference doesn't require you do something world-changing or dramatic. If you start your day with the goal of uplifting everyone you encounter, then you are creating a ripple effect of positivity that can make a profound difference.
Not only do your actions help others, but they also help you achieve inner peace, contentment and a greater sense of purpose.
10. Where can I expect to see myself in five years?
Stepping back to look at the bigger picture each morning helps you clarify where you want to be down the road. It can provide you with a clear road-map for the vision you have for your life.
Life is nothing but a sum of all our daily actions and habits, and you need to make sure these actions are moving you in the right direction.
Your goals may shift over time, and challenges or setbacks might require you take a detour along the way. It takes daily assessment and recalibration to ensure you are moving in the right direction and anticipating your best next steps.
Don't allow yourself to operate on “auto-pilot” with your dreams and goals. Pay attention, challenge yourself, and make sure you are asking the right questions that will keep you on top of your game.
Be sure to write down your long-term goals and keep them in a place where you can review them every morning. Ask yourself, “Am I doing what needs to be done today to move closer to these goals?”
Let’s face it — your success (or failure) depends on only one person and that person is YOU.
You have a choice to live a mediocre life like millions of other people. Or you can choose to rise above your weaknesses, face the inevitable hurdles and challenges along the way, and create a life brimming with growth, learning, and success.
Successful people are no different from us, except that they have learned how to create positive, consistent habits that serve their goals. It’s a life-long learning process, but if you adopt the strategies they use, there’s no reason why you can’t be successful too!
Taking this further, I invite you to join our free email course on 7 Strategies of Enormously Successful People. These research-based tips with practical action steps and free worksheets help you unfold the path to success.
Amy Julie writes for BrainyOwls.com on self-improvement and productivity topics. She believes in life long learning, loves reading autobiographies and lots of personal development books.