We have talked quite a bit about how important awareness of habits is to our lives. Habits pretty much run our daily life, at least 70-80% of what we do on a daily basis is habit. Keystone habits are those that make our daily routines more effective, kind of like knocking over the first domino in a row to set off a chain reaction. For example a good keystone habit is exercising or working out. Generally when someone gets into a habit of working out they then tend to eat more healthy and start having more energy. Because they have more energy they start being more effective at work and taking on more projects. The one habit of working out sparks several other habits which is why it is a keystone habit.
One of the most powerful keystone habits that I have incorporated in my life over the past couple of years is the keystone habit of a morning ritual. This is a morning routine that I go through each morning to make sure I am in the most productive mental state possible. One of the most important ideas that I learned over the past few years is the idea of mental state and how it affects your entire life. Given the right mental state you can conquer the world, given the wrong mental state and you can’t fight your way out of a paper bag. So I want to make sure I show up to the day with the best mental state possible and the last thing I want to do is leave this up to chance so I created (or borrowed ideas from other uber successful people's morning routines) my own.
I get asked often by others (mostly other traders) what I do in the morning to prepare so I thought I could share my ideal morning routine. I hope it adds value.
Meditate-20 minutes - I practice transcendental meditation which focuses me as well as relaxes my mind. I have been meditating for a few years which has been incredibly helpful. When I started I couldn’t sit for 5 minutes but as I kept at it I progressed to 20 minutes twice a day. We deal with uncertainty everyday at Blackpier, in the markets, and in life so having a foundation of calm and awareness is extremely important.
Gratefulness 5 minutes - I write down three things I am grateful for in my life. Why? I have found that I sometimes can focus too much on what is going wrong in my life, this lets me focus on what is right in my life and be grateful for it.
5 minutes Spiritual - Reading something that is more spiritual pulls me out of my small life for a short amount of time and lets me look at the bigger picture in life and what is important. With this I want to gather perspective, what I have found is when I get anxious or frustrated, much of the time it is because I lose perspective on what is really important in my life such as friends and family.
5 minutes Development and Goals - Here is where I read something that inspires me to think bigger in my personal and professional goals. This may be a business or trading article that fires me up or something that focuses on self development. Most of the time when I get done with this I have tons of ideas for bettering myself and our firm by getting me to think bigger about what we can accomplish. This leads into reading over my personal goals as well as our goals for the firm to take time and see how we are tracking towards them. I have found that after reading something that inspires or pushes my mental limits I have a totally different, more effective outlook on my goals.
Take a cold shower 10 minutes - This one took a while for me to fully engage but it really does get things going. This habit alone is incredibly good for your immune system, nervous system, and mental acuity, but I like it because it just shows myself that if I can have the discipline to stand in cold ass water for 10 minutes, then I can tackle anything.
Daily Plan - After meditating, getting perspective, and getting inspired I now tackle my daily schedule. It is amazing what a difference in my outlook I have towards my schedule after I go through my routine. I view my meetings, calls, strategy testing etc. as a privilege and a challenge rather than a burden. Problems that seemed huge and insurmountable, aren’t so terrifying. I am more engaged and present in each conversation I have throughout the day which naturally makes me more effective, bringing more value to our partners and clients. On a personal level I am more patient, calm, and loving with my family. All of this from 45 minutes in the morning. That is the definition of a keystone habit.
Are there days where I miss some of it? Absolutely, and wow can I tell a difference when I miss. Everyone has different ways to get going, but I have found that the people I view as successful start their days off by design instead of by chance.