Ever wish you could flip a switch to activate your motivation? Some days are just more of a struggle than others. We get it. We've been there.
And while there's no magic switch, there are quite a few things you can do to get yourself going -- especially in the morning.
Willing to give it a try? Start your mornings off right and set yourself up for a productive day with these seven quick morning motivation exercises.
7 Morning Motivation Rituals
1) Get up early.
Research shows that early risers are more successful, more proactive, better planners, and better at anticipating problems. Not to mention that many uber-successful people also get to the office uber-early. Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour is out of bed by 5:45 a.m., GE CEO Jeff Immelt gets up at 5:30 a.m., Xerox CEO Ursula Burns at 5:15 a.m., and Apple CEO Tim Cook sets his alarm for as early as 3:45 a.m. to get a jump start on their days.
Yes, waking up early gives you more time to work, but there are other benefits as well. You’ll be able to eat a healthy breakfast (see #2), fit in a workout (#4), or even spend time doing an activity that’s not work-related (#7). The more time you give yourself in the mornings, the less you’ll have to rush and the more ready you’ll be to tackle the day.
Not an early riser? Not to worry -- here are 19 tips for becoming more of a morning person.
2) Eat a good breakfast.
You are what you eat. According to research from the Health Enhancement Research Organization, people who have consistently healthy diets are 25% more likely to have high job performance and 20% more likely to be more productive. Plus, if you eat a lousy meal or no breakfast at all, you’ll be hungry all morning -- and it’s difficult to concentrate when you’re not feeling at your best.
My colleague Lindsay Kolowich put together this infographic on the best foods to eat to keep you on your game. Eat eggs, bananas, yogurt, or blueberries for breakfast to start your day off right.
3) Optimize your alarm.
Your surroundings have a huge effect on your mood, and while you can’t control the weather, whether you have enough hot water in the morning, or if there will be traffic (another reason to get up early!), you can control your alarm clock.
The right wake-up call can set the tone for your entire day, so get rid of the traditional grating beeps and replace your alarm with a song that fits the mood you’d like to wake up in. Classical music is hypothesized to increase your intelligence, pump-up songs like Queen’s “We Will Rock You” make you feel more powerful, and “feel-good” songs improve your mood by actually causing your brain to release more dopamine.
If you’re not sure where to start, my colleague Carly Stec has compiled six playlists for you, each of which corresponds with a specific mood and different productivity-boosting effect.
4) Work out.
It goes without saying that exercise is good for you. Exercise increases the production of serotonin and dopamine, neurotransmitters that decrease the risk of depression and improve your mood and long-term memory, respectively. Exercising in the morning forces you to wake up earlier, gives you a totally natural mood-booster, and increases your energy.
And exercise has benefits beyond improving your mood. A 2006 study showed that regular physical exercise led to increases in willpower and self-regulatory behavior.
5) Start with “why.”
It’s hard to get excited about getting out of bed in the mornings when you’re not totally sold on what you’re getting up for. And even if you love everything about your job, the daily grind can make it hard to keep your eye on the prize all the time.
Boost your intrinsic motivation -- behavior driven by the enjoyment of a task -- to keep yourself going. Intrinsic motivation is a more powerful force than extrinsic motivation, which drives you to act because of incentives like money, recognition, or praise. Remind yourself why you got into sales -- for example, you could tape a list to your bathroom mirror and reach for it at the start of each day, or write down one thing you’re excited about every night to read the next morning. The important thing is to be able to quickly remind yourself of what drives you to be great at your job.
6) Remind yourself of your wins.
It’s all well and good to know that you love sales because you believe in your product, but on days when you’ve dealt with rude prospects, been reprimanded by your boss, or lost a big deal you’ve been chasing for weeks, you’re going to need a more concrete reminder.
Greg Fung, a HubSpot sales rep, keeps a list of wins and losses in an Evernote document that he refers to when he’s having a bad day.
“Keep your list handy and add to it as new good and bad incidents come your way,” Fung says. “You’ll be surprised by how quickly the 'rights' outpace the 'wrongs,” and you now have a great tool to lean on during tough times.”
To adapt this exercise for a boost of morning motivation, keep a “master list” of your biggest wins and keep it on your nightstand or somewhere easily accessible so you can refer to it on mornings when you just don’t want to go into the office.
7) Do something that makes you happy.
Breaking news: We do better at work when we’re happy in our personal lives.
Multiple studies have shown that happiness is closely correlated with job performance, and of course, happiness is closely tied to our personal health as well.
So set aside some time each morning to do something that makes you happy. Whether it’s reading a chapter from your favorite book, spending 30 minutes on a side project, or just eating a really, really good breakfast sandwich, if you dedicate time to improving your personal life, it’ll pay dividends in your career as well.
How do you motivate yourself? Let us know in the comments below.
Originally published Feb 13, 2016 8:00:00 AM, updated June 10 2021