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27 Upgrades To Your Morning Routine That Will Transform Your Day

The morning is a special time. It’s a time when the world seems to be in slumber. When the demands of the day are not yet fully born. It’s a chance to begin life anew and fresh.

Research is starting to show what countless successful (and happy) people already know: that taking advantage of the morning hours is a stepping stone to having a great day. Our willpower is deplated as the day wears on. The morning is the best time to get important things done. When we are productive, we feel better about our accomplishments and our self-satisfaction rises.

There are a lot of articles out there talking about how important it is to wake up early. However, waking up is just the start to a morning routine. We need to pay close attention to how best to spend the time after we rise from bed.

Treat this article like a menu of ways to radically improve your morning routine and in turn, your entire day. I’ve tried them all for extended periods, and they work! However, you do not (and probably shouldn’t!) do everything on this list at the same time. That will be overwhelming and self-defeating. Instead, pick a few things to focus on. Over time, you can refine your approach based on what works best for you.

Let’s dive into it…

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6 Things You Can Do Immediately To Design A Better Life

lifestyle design

If you had your choice, what sort of life would you live?

Would you live in a city and work hard to climb the corporate ladder? Would you live as an artist in a coastal enclave? Would you be semi-nomadic, making your way as a digital freelancer - a modern day tradesman of sorts?

We have, at least those of us living in a developed country, some degree of freedom about where we live, what we do and how we do it. We may not be able to have everything in our life that we wish for, but we can definitely come closer and closer over time.

Optimizing your life requires a set of decisions. Decisions about what you want. Decisions about what you don’t want. Decisions about trade-offs you are willing to make.

This post shares a few steps that you can apply to design your optimal life. I’m not trying to tell you what you should do. Instead, I’m sharing the steps that I actually took in my own life over the past few years. I’ve moved closer to a lifestyle that is fulfilling and rewarding for both my wife and I (and our dog Duke).

I know that since these steps have worked for me, that they might work for many others.

So here they are.

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Minimalism and Living Well with Less

minimalism living well with less

I watched The Minimalists recently. It sparked something in me that I hadn’t been thinking much about lately. After the documentary was over, I glanced around my spartan rental home and started to notice all kinds of old and useless (to me) stuff that was taking up space. Books I hadn’t touched in years. Clothes I hadn’t worn in ages. Food that we would never eat.

So began another round of purging.

I lugged three big ’ole trash bags of books I don’t need and clothes that don’t fit over to Goodwill last week. I posted a few things of value on eBay. It’s true, someone out there wants your junk! Case in point, the person who just paid $35 (+ shipping) for my 3-year old laptop messenger bag. Food-wise, we skipped going to Costco this week, opting to eat down our growing horde of staples (still working on that 20-pound bag of brown rice and pack of 20 apples).

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Trying Hard Is Not Enough

It’s not even close.

We like to say this to ourselves nonetheless. We tell our employees, peers, and children, that if you just work hard, everything will be OK. Many of us learned this way as well. It’s a meme that has accelerated in the past decade if you pay attention to trends in employee development, education and schooling.

“A’s for effort.” “Participation awards.” “Perfect attendance medals.”

Just show up, keep your head down and push hard.

It’s a complete lie. None of those behaviors guarantee success.

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Why you shouldn’t quit your job to travel the world

Imagine walking into your office, meeting with your boss and telling him that you have had a good ride, but it’s time to go. You are leaving a perfectly good job on your own terms, as I did a few years ago, to live life intentionally and not unlike a vagabond.

Touring the state of Rajasthan in northern India. Thats a big fort off in the distance on the mountain top.
What sounds like kittens and rainbows, will be buttressed by the glorious stories of others who followed the same path. I’m guilty of perpetuating the one-sided story of the merits of extended travel myself.

I even went so far as to give a talk last year, to about 400 people, about why you should quit your job to travel the world.

This post is designed to be different. It’s way more enticing to tell people to “take the leap”, but few talk about the perils of doing so.

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Don’t Let Busyness Crowd Out Happiness

My trip last week into the mountains, a short two-night ski trip to our usual Nordic Ski trails, was looking more and more inconvenient the closer it got.

Skiing is good fun, even if it is of the aerobically-inclined Nordic variety that I often do. Unfortunately, I had a backlog of work and tax preparation that required a quiet weekend at home to plow through. I was on the verge of canceling the trip, something we booked months in advance.

Canceling would have been easy and logical. AirBNB would let me do it without penalty, even a few days before departure. Nobody was depending on me to head into the hills, and my wife was ambivalent about going too. I didn’t have to worry about letting others down. It would have been easy just to stay home.

I didn’t stay home.

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Become A Master At Work Life Balance

This blog post is all about the problem of work life balance, and what you can do to alleviate the problem. It is a problem not because I think it is a problem, it is a problem because I have personally experienced the issue during my years working in the technology industry, and studies show it is a critical factor in workplace unhappiness.

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