Self-Development Trap: What’s Wrong With Influencers’ Morning Routines

Like most others who get into self-development, I ordered a copy of ‘The 5AM Club’ by Robin Sharma…
Over the course of the next following months I then transformed from a night owl to a morning person.
Let me explain why this was a big deal for me.
– As a kid, I used to stay up late playing video games.
– In my late teens, I’d stay up late going out drinking and partying with friends.
– Then I spent a decade touring the world playing in/working for bands.
– Later as I settled in Norway, I spent 4 winters working late nights as a northern lights guide.
(Speaking of decades of not-so-great sleep habits…)
Anyway, as an anti-morning-person, it took a lot of work and coffee to become a now consistent 5am-person.
But what’s so magic about getting up early?
There so much buzz around specific morning routines and rituals on social media…  and whether you’re a morning person or not, routines are important.
But does it have to be an hour-long laundry list of to-do’s? Or is most of that stuff a waste of your time?
In this weekly article, we’ll explore what YOU can do to win YOUR day.
One thing before we start:
Table of Contents

The Problem With 'The 5am Club'-Style Morning Routines

If there’s one thing I want you to take away from this article, it’s to not jump onto something as soon as you read or hear it.
I did exactly that when I read The 5am Club, and have since gone from one extreme end of the spectrum to the other.
The general concept of the book is…

Take excellent care of the front end of your day, and the rest of the day will pretty much take care of itself. Own Your Morning, Elevate Your Life” - Robin Sharma

Years after reading the book, having played with morning routines a lot, I still back this quote. Though what I do looks way different now.
In the book you learn about an hour-long, 4-part routine that covers your ‘4 Interior Empires’:
  • Mindset (psychology)
  • Heartset (emotionality)
  • Healthset (physicality)
  • Soulset (spirituality)
… which as a general concept, I like! If you work on those four domains of health and well-being, you’ll likely get a benefit out of it.
But an hour is a good chunk out of your morning.
I would wake up early, go for a long walk, get fresh air, meditated, journaled, read, etc… All which became daily habits for me.
There was a lot of ‘preparing’ for the day, which felt good, but was also a lot to keep up with at times.
If you’re thinking: “An hour long morning routine? Ain’t nobody got time for that!”, you’re probably right! Most people don’t have a full hour to get ready to start their day.
You got work or school, you’re running on little sleep, the kids need to get ready, you’re hoping to chug some coffee and get some breakfast in…
Then, there’s the influencer stuff… Red light therapy, ice baths, grounding, lavender spray, adenosine receptors, and amygdala responses. It all sounds cool, but how much of it is both doable AND helpful for you?
The mornings are already crazy as they are. And now you have to ADD a full hour of stuff to ‘elevate your life’?

The Anti-Morning Routine

Look, I’m not hating on the book. It completely changed how I start my days for the better (more about exactly how later).
But I do think it can be a lot for people, that it’s not always necessary, and that it can become somewhat of a crutch too.
The latter happened to me. It became such an important part of my day, that if I missed even one of the steps, my whole flow got messed up.
And because of that, I dropped it completely for a while…
Suddenly, an hour of my morning had freed up (cue Step Brothers quote: “So much room for activities!”).
Now I could have my coffee and dive into work right away, which felt like a nice change. The early mornings were still early, but now acted as productivity blocks. This allowed me to get more important work done earlier in the day.
This was around the time I wrote my e-book ‘The Definitive Fat Loss Nutrition Guide’ (click to download). And let me tell you, the extra hour per day made a massive difference!
Turns out, you don’t need a specific morning ritual to seize the day. Sometimes, simplicity is key. There’s work that needs doing, so let’s just get to it.
Later, I heard Alex Hormozi talk about this exact approach.
If you want to move forward in business, you want to get more important work done. And what allows for more to get done? More time. So when you reduce the time between waking up and actually doing work, you can get more done.
Maybe you just need to get going for the day and be out the door to go to work or school ASAP. This approach allows for exactly that.
Let’s now talk about finding what works best for YOU though, because here’s the thing…

4-Part Blueprint for Crafting YOUR Ideal Day

Sometimes you need to make the all-or-nothing mistake before realizing that the answer as usual, lies somewhere in the middle.
I had gone from the hour-long ritual (all) to coffee-go! (nothing). And as much as I loved the get-shit-done mentality, I noticed some of my new healthy habits fade.
No more journaling or meditating, very few morning walks… all things that did benefit me when I practiced them daily.
Many successful people have morning routines, and success leaves clues. But you know what it is with this whole morning routine thing? It’s not the exact practices or order of doing that does it. It’s the fact that there IS a routine in place.
Also, there’s no ‘perfect’ time to execute on anything. It’s just that you’re more likely get things done earlier in the day.
Life will start to pull you in all different directions as your day progresses. That’s why the early morning can be a nice moment to get some stillness and alone-time, and do (self) work free of distractions.
So… WHAT will you include in your routines?
I could give you a step-by-step ritual like most others, but I’d much rather help you create your ideal day. Please know that this requires time, reflection, and iteration. You may end up finding certain practices unhelpful after trying them out for a while. Other times, you may end up loving your new habits.
Ideally, your routines pour into the four ‘buckets’ of self-mastery:
      • Health
      • Self
      • Wealth
      • Relationships
How will you improve your HEALTH?
Will you learn how to track macros, eat more whole foods, increase your protein, or sign up with a coach to get help? Do you need to introduce a morning walk to get more steps in, together with some fresh air and sun light? Improving your health can be as simple as introducing a daily big-ass glass of water in the morning.
What do you do to recharge and work on yourSELF?
Will you finally pick up that book you’ve been ‘planning to read’? Are you openminded enough to try out journaling or meditation, to work through stuff? How will you address your stress levels? Can you create a to-do list to finally stop procrastinating?
You won’t level up without self-improvement. What will you do to create WEALTH?
Do you need to learn new skills, or gain experience and knowledge? What will help you move forward in life? Can you get that promotion? How? Will you address your spending habits and put aside some money?
Are you taking care of your RELATIONSHIPS?
Do you practice gratitude towards the important people in your life? How often do you really show that you appreciate them? What will you do to improve your relationships?
Dedicate time and effort towards dialling in your day-to-day. It takes work, but it helps you improve your physical and mental health, be more calm and focused, get more done, and live a happier life. Also remember that no routine is special or perfect, don’t allow it to become a crutch. It’ll change overtime based on where you’re at in life.

The Importance of Having Good Routines

The hour-long 5am Club ritual, and copying successful people got me ‘into’ routines and self-development.
I then dropped my AM routine because it became a crutch, plus it took away from valuable deep-work time.
Finally, I found what I’m currently doing, which is more of a middle-ground approach. It combines the best of both worlds; the daily practices that ‘elevate life’, and the get-shit-done mentality to do important work.
The day starts at 5am. I feed the cats, chug a big-ass glass of water, make coffee, and dive straight into creating for 2 hours. It’s when I write these articles, social media posts, and resources for my clients and coaches. I’ll then read for 30 minutes and get into other important tasks for the day.
Later in the morning; it’s breakfast, supplements, Duolingo, meditation, and journaling. This acts as a nice transition into meetings, podcasting, and client work. I schedule these things in Google Calendar (time-blocking is key!) because otherwise… they won’t happen.
But this doesn’t say anything about your morning, does it? Reality is, you don’t ‘find’ what works for you. You CREATE it.
As a final note: never sacrifice sleep to squeeze in more ‘stuff’ in the early morning. At the end of the day, quality sleep will do more for your long-term health and well-being than any routine will.
As a human being, you’re drawn to the new things and quick solutions. It’s normal.
Just know that social media is full of clickbait-y claims and clips because it’s what gets most views. Most times, you’re better off focusing on yourself and what you need.
How will you set yourself up for success today?

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