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[A guest post written by my friend Jonathon Knepper]

You’re familiar with the saying you are what you eat, right? Well, another saying we should be familiar with is, “You are how you start your day.”

Over the past few months I’ve spent over 100 hours researching, reviewing and reaching out to entrepreneurs to see what their morning routines look like. I always knew that a morning routine was something that could benefit me, but I just wasn’t sure where to start. Since some BIG changes are coming my way – mainly a new baby daughter any day now – I knew my window was closing.

My desire to start a morning routine, love of learning by example and a weird quirk that has me always making projects out of goals, created the perfect storm for a morning routine ebook – Win YOUR Day: Insights, Inspiration & Data From 100+ Entrepreneurs to Improve Your Morning Routine & Daily Productivity.

Below I’ve outline the top 5 morning routine building blocks plus included an infographic that outlines some of the most important stats. Enjoy!

Top 5 Morning Routine Building Blocks

  1. Nourishment

Even though everyone surveyed did not have breakfast, it should come as no surprise that food/drink we’re at the top of the list. The research aligned with what reports like those from the Huffington Post have found- about 90% of people eat breakfast each day.

Your first meal after not eating for a while has a big impact on your metabolism. Beyond that, it can also greatly impact your productivity and more.

The biggest surprise came via the most common drinks: hot water with lemon (including Benny), green smoothies and ice water. The top three foods mentioned were eggs, yogurt and granola.

  1. Physical activity

The spectrum of responses were vast. From 7 minute workouts and jumping up and down for bone health to full-blown gym routines, entrepreneurs are a creative bunch. Regardless of what you decide to do:

  • Makes sure it’s enjoyable and fun.
  • If possible try to combine something else with your exercise, like listening to a podcast, learning a language, etc.
  • And remember that even 15 minutes of light exercise per day can increase your lifespan.

For someone like me who rarely finds time to make it to the gym, this was a huge breakthrough. Before, I was always down about my exercise habits. Now I feel more hopeful and positive about what I am able to do. If you’re struggling to exercise regularly, I’d suggest you look into this free, customizable 7 minute workout app from Johnson & Johnson.

  1. Reading

“I read something thoughtful, philosophical or spiritual. For example, I’m re-reading The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer in 10-15 minute increments most mornings.”Jason

Beyond improving your knowledge, reading (even fiction) had some surprising benefits. Did you know reading literature can improve your ability to understand what people around you are thinking? Neat!

  1. Checking Email

This was hands down the deepest divide amongst entrepreneurs. People like Harrison (and myself) check it first thing:

“I tend to always check my email first thing to see if there is anything of urgent matter to attend to. I feel that skill was ingrained in me while I was working at corporate office at Target, where you would look over the emails, and prioritize based on highest urgency to lowest.”

While others like Rajiv avoid email and alerts to start all together:

“Around April or May of 2015, I decided to not check my email until after 2-3 hours of being awake. Now my phone stays on ‘do not disturb’ until 9 AM.”

Whatever side of the line you land on, just be sure your morning routine works for YOU.

  1. Planning & Goal Setting

Provided you haven’t been living under a rock and have read your fair share of the GBL blog, you’ll already have some knowledge on goal setting. If not, brush up on past articles.

For the entrepreneurs with a planning/goal-setting ritual, it was an important part of their morning:

“I find [that planning] especially really helps me focus on the day ahead. Once I see everything I need to do in writing, I can begin to tackle everything.” – Joe

Learnings From 100+ Entrepreneurs [Infographic]

The infographic below points out some of the biggest takeaways from examining over 100 morning routines. If you like the quotes above or the data below, I invite you to check out Win YOUR Day on Amazon. For a limited time you can download it for $1!

morning-routine-infographic
Jonathon Knepper is a digital strategist, efficiency nerd, hot sauce fanatic and lover of great eats. When he’s not working (and sometimes when he is) you can find him traveling with his wife, daughter and soon to be newborn daughter. You can learn more about him on dudewiththehair.com or connect on Twitter.

[Today is a guest post by David Moore]

Goal Setting?  

Do a Google search and you’ll find 89,100,000 results.  You’ll find S.M.A.R.T. goals, workbooks, workshops, tips, techniques, and tricks.  All of these CAN work if you DO the work.  Even with 89 million results, I’m about to share something different because it comes directly from my personal experience.

I think I enjoy the goal setting process, the writing, planning and scheduling, nearly as much as the achievement.  Have I achieved every goal I’ve set?  Of course not.  If anyone has ever done that the goals weren’t big enough.

Regardless of the goal setting methods you use, the following thoughts can help you refine and strengthen your process.  Combined, you improve the chances of achieving your goals.

1. RESEARCH

Not that you don’t already know what you want to achieve, but so some research about others who have done the same thing.  You will see a trend in how long, on average, it takes to achieve this goal or something similar.  If the research indicates that most achieve this in 6 months, it doesn’t make much sense to set your goal for 6 weeks.

For example, I recently set a goal to complete a half marathon.  I have run several 5K’s over the last few years and just completed an 8K.  So I started entertaining thoughts of completing a half marathon.  As I did my research,  I found several training programs that lasted 12 weeks.  So now I know what kind of time frame I needed to be properly prepared.

2. CALENDAR

This is my favorite part.  I go to the calendar.  I prefer using the Google monthly calendar and print out each month on a separate page.  I’m able to make notes on it and number the weeks.  I like to use different colored markers.  You can write in vacations or special events that might delay the goals progress.

Now that I knew the average time needed for my half marathon training, I was able to make detailed plans on my calendar.  I found an event that I wanted to run.  It happened to be 32 weeks out.  I took the 12 week training program and modified it for 24 weeks.  This gives me plenty of time to train and has plenty of “margin” for any emergency or injury that might occur.  This level of detail and the “extra” time for contingencies also helps with the positive mindset.  So if a setback occurs, you already know you have that built into your plan.

3. TESTS

As you progress towards your goal, it’s nice to have some checkpoints along the way just to figure out where you are.  Look at it like a ‘mid-term’ exam.  But you need something as close to the ‘real world’ or ‘real-time’ as possible.  You find out where you stand, how far you have come and what it’s gonna take to finish.

For me, this is smaller races like the 5K, 8K, or 10K’s.  I don’t plan on “peaking” for these races.  They will substitute for one of the weekly training runs under “game conditions”.   When I used to play competitive golf, this would be weekend invitationals or even practicing under certain conditions.  You then use this ‘real-time’ feedback to make any needed adjustments in your planning.

4. SUPPORT

Support of a “team” could mean the difference between success or failure.  You’ve got to have a support system.  It makes the process so much more enjoyable.  You don’t feel like you are climbing this mountain of achievement by yourself.

Hopefully, this support will come from your spouse/girlfriend, family and close friends.  Training partners (business partners) understand in an intimate way the struggles you face everyday as you press on.  Supporters can encourage, cheer for you and hold you accountable.  They can be that someone who gets in your face if you get lazy or just need a kick in the ass.

5. HUSTLE

You may not be the smartest.  You may not be the richest.  You may not be the most talented.  But you can bet your sweet ass, that nobody can work harder than you.

Pete Rose was my childhood hero when I played baseball.  So much, in fact, my nickname was “Pete”.  I wasn’t the biggest, fastest or strongest.  But nobody could out hustle me.  And I knew, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that on THAT day and during THAT workout…nobody was working their ass off harder than I was.  No one was going to out hustle me.  Hustle doesn’t take talent.  And you can’t teach hustle.

6. SACRIFICE

There is a price to pay.  Expect it. Prepare for it.  There will be sacrifice.  Hopefully it won’t be something as important as a marriage or other vital relationships. But many times, you’ve heard the stories, relationships don’t get the necessary attention because that quality time has been diverted toward the pursuit of a goal.

The bigger the goal and the bigger the stretch, the more laser-like focus and tunnel vision required.  For me personally, during the pursuit of a major goal in the mid-80’s my marriage suffered.  It didn’t fail, but it was seriously tested.

Consider all the above…and answer this:

Will you enjoy the journey and the attainment?

What lessons have you learned from success and failure during goal pursuit?

Tim Ferriss talks about the benefits of “transfer”? How can you use this goal to transfer the benefits to other areas?

Lastly, Was it worth it?

 

This is a guest post by David A. Moore from Living a Better Story with davidamoore.com.  He writes about living a more adventurous and inspirational life story…starting today!  You can learn more About David and follow him on Twitter @davidamoore.

 

Photo by Air Combat Command

[Today is a guest post by Chad Ettebrick. He created an iPhone app after reading about my story. I wanted him to share his experience.] 

Let’s face it.  We all have an idea that we think will take us from the ranks of blog readers and wantrepreneurs to the ranks of business owners, entrepreneurs, MILLIONAIRES!

If you have read Benny’s awesome posts about his luck from creating apps, then you may be interested in chasing the dream of mega-app in the app store.  I recently released my first app, and wanted to share a little about the process to hopefully inspire you to chase your dreams.

First, a little about me.  I’ve done a little of everything.  I spent time doing the corporate grind.  I’ve worked in Mom & Pop businesses.  But for me, the real goal has always been to create something.  For a couple of years, I have carried a Moleskine notebook around and recorded ideas.  The first major idea that I thought would work was an online music instrument store.  It taught me a couple things.

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[Today is a guest post by finance blogger Carrie Smith.]

Some people can weather failure better than others, but I’m not one of them. It takes me a long time to work up the courage to try something new, and if I fail I will be even more careful in the future.

That’s not a good way to approach life, and I’ve been diligently working to change that for several years. It’s been a little over 2 years since my divorce. We were high school sweethearts, and I was madly in love with him from the moment I met him.

We thought we were the perfect dream team, but we didn’t take our relationship seriously, and all the pressures of life caved in on us. The biggest thing I’ve realized, while I may have been very naive, is that I gave up too quickly.

The vows of marriage should not be taken lightly. Many things in life, especially relationships, take work, dedication and trust, all of which I didn’t fully understand. Here are the biggest lessons I’ve learned on my journey.

Take your time

Whether it’s committing to a relationship or new job, or trying to get over a failed one, you have to take your time. You don’t want to make any rash decisions, or commit to something you might regret later. Only now, am I able to think clearly about the whole situation and everything that went on. I’m learning not to let other people’s views tell me what I should or shouldn’t do with my life.

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Yoda

When Yoda speaks, we should listen.

(Today is a guest post by author and entrepreneur Steve Rice. Thank you Steve!)

“I’ll try” or “I’m trying” is a cop-out as Yoda points out in this succinct insight from Star Wars.

It is a way for us to hedge our bets on life. The problem is that life is an “all in” game.  There are no hedged bets. You have to play through. There is no other option.

Take Action in the Face of Fear

Facing fear head-on can be debilitating. In college, I remember walking to my freshman speech class in a cold sweat, with my legs shaking and heart pounding. I bargained with myself. If I can just get through this, I won’t ever have to speak in public again.

Fate has a cruel sense of humor.

Two years after I graduated, a friend encouraged me to join her Toastmasters club.  I didn’t know very much about the Toastmasters organization.

She described it as a communications and leadership organization focused on personal development. I was intrigued by the “personal development” part, and I guess I kinda glossed over the “communications” part!

Despite my fear of public speaking, I decided to stick it out. My skills improved, and I gained greater confidence in my speech making abilities. I went on to lead the club and represent it in various speech competitions.

Create Positive Experience “Landmarks”

What I found in facing my fear of giving a public presentation is that taking direct action by doing the thing I feared most allowed me to construct positive experience “landmarks” (ie positive feedback and applause) around the feared action.

These positive experience landmarks helped me build a different relationship with my fear. Instead of being paralyzed by it, I could look back and see the progress I had made in spite of it.

These landmarks them motivated me to continue building my skills.  As my skills increased, so did my confidence.  As my confidence increased, my fear in the unknown abated and my general anxiety subsided.

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Five

This is a guest post by Gregory Ciotti

I have had the fortune to meet a lot of successful businessmen (and women) at my time working for First State Innovation, and nearly every time I’ve talked with a successful entrepreneur I feel like I’ve walked away having learned something very valuable about pursuing my passions and making them work as a successful business.

While that may be a lesson in itself (seeking out advice from those with experience), I knew I had to take the bits of insight that I had picked up from being surrounded by successful people and use them to compile a list of my own personal “rules” that I would abide by to find my own success.

I wanted to share them with you today, along with some personal examples that were given in their telling, in hopes that you can be inspired to adopt and create some of your own rules that you will follow on your path to success, wherever it may take you.

1. The Best Investment Is In Yourself: Invest In Training

There are so many things to invest your money, and more importantly, your time into, but none are so valuable as the resources that you invest in yourself.

You are your own product, and just as you must market yourself correctly, you must also improve yourself.

Make sure that the current version of “you” out their on the market is the latest release, and assure others that updates will be coming out regularly, and they will trust in your abilities, and in your ability to deliver down the line.

But investing in yourself does not stop with skills and knowledge, it also means investing in your health, which encompasses both mental and physical.

On entrepreneur who I admire but haven’t met is Noah Kagan of AppSumo. I bring him up because he once mentioned what he considered a few aspects of a potentially good employee were, and one of the traits he came up with was a person who worked out consistently.

I was unsure of what he meant by this at first, but it didn’t take long for me to fully grasp why after he gave his reasoning.

When you take care of yourself, it shows to others many things, but most importantly, it shows you are willing and able to put in consistent effort everyday to make sure things stay as they should.

This is not to discount the work ethic of some people who aren’t too keen on working out, but consider this: if you can make yourself go to the gym everyday, an activity you may or may not enjoy, in order to take care of your health, what does that say about you?

To me, it says you are willing to make a commitment to something for your betterment, despite the fact that it may be something you don’t exactly jump for joy looking forward too (let’s be honest, even those of us that love the gym aren’t looking forward to it every single session, but yet we make ourselves go even on days when we’d rather stay home).

So, taking care of yourself by keeping your body, and mind, up to snuff, says a lot about your commitment to self-improvement, and it speaks volumes to others in ways that you might not think.

Noah says that he always asks his potential employees about whether or not they consistently work out, and while you may not hold those around you or whom you employ to the same standard, I think the idea of bettering yourself as a way to teach good work ethic is something that we can all support.

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