What does everyone want? What do you want? Me, I want to be happy. I want success. Don’t you?

The problem is that most of us stumble on the meaning of happiness, because we don’t know what happiness really is. Is it getting praises for a job well done? Is it shopping for vintage Dior? Is it lounging on your bed all day?  Or maybe eating all you can in a five-star hotel?

For me, I am successful if I am happy. I am happy when I succeed.  I love accomplishing tasks because I know I can give myself rewards. Rewards = happiness. There has been a popular meme about how Beyonce has the same 24 hours you have, but her productivity is way better than yours, and that makes her the queen. The main idea is productivity makes you successful. I doubt that productivity alone will make you happy though, I’d like to add creativity and joy in the equation.

But when should we start our cycle of productivity? Morning routines differ. Some jump off the bed, check emails and then have brekkie. Some like to read a book, write down their goals and do exercises.

You may have heard Mark Twain’s quote:

Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.

To paraphrase Mr. Twain’s words, “Do your biggest tasks first”, meaning that if you start with a difficult task, the rest of the day seems awesome and achievable by comparison! Mornings are also a time when you have your self-control at its best. As the day flows, self-control gets depleted. Like a muscle, it gets exhausted when extensively used.

The National University of Singapore and Nottingham University conducted a study about self-control and performance. The results concluded that there is a significant effect on your ego depletion (not good, guys) on a self-control task performance, that which was, in turn, affected by effort perceived difficulty, outlook of negativity, fatigue and blood sugar levels. The longer the day goes, the more your self-control gets exhausted.

In the commencement speech he delivered in Stanford last 2005, Steve Jobs talked about his morning routine. It was like his products: simple. He asked himself:

“If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?”

And whenever the answer has been no for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue, starts her day at 5:45 am with an hour’s worth of tennis.

Margaret Thatcher starts her day at 5am by listening to a program called “Farming Today” on BBC Radio.

So last week, my fiance and I decided to have a morning routine going. Our main reason was that we needed it to have a sense of structure and certainty of getting productive (and being normal). We want to be successful individuals and of course, a successful team both in business and life. We decided to create a routine. It is simple and very achievable (read: ego boosting when done right!). It is to wake up at 8 and walk to the beach for exercise and then check emails.

How I wish I can go to the beach every morning too, but mine was a tad different, considering our geographical limitations. The past three days there has been no work (freedom!) so I can focus on my routine. These past days I have been waking up at 8:30, then do my exercise may it be yoga (this yoga), 7 Minute Exercise or just walking around the neighborhood and then shower, have brunch and work. I certainly feel better and because my routine is easy enough to accomplish, I do it all and feel good about myself. Success. Frog is eaten.

I know mine will evolve as days will flow, as with my fiance’s. What about you? What is your morning ritual?

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