Successful People Do These 5 Things Before 9AM to Establish a Productive Mindset

Woman doing a breathing exercise


Profile Picture
Move up in your career
April 15, 2024 at 10:17PM UTC
There are often mornings where I wake up and before my feet hit the floor, I am already feeling discontent, uneasy, and restless. I’m willing to bet that you’ve had similar mornings.
Before we make the trudge out to the coffee maker or turn on the shower knobs, waiting for the cold water to heat, that voice in our heads has already plopped down on the sofa and gotten comfortable.
That voice in your head puts his cigarette down, throws the red-bull can at the trash, missing the can but hitting the growing pile of empty bottles and take-out boxes, before he says:
“Today’s not going to be a good day.”
We find ourselves nodding along to the voice, agreeing with this dismal outlook.
“Yes, you’re right. Today isn’t going to be good.”
That conversation I have scheduled with my boss won’t go well. It never does. That article I plan on posting? People won’t read it, like usual. 
We do this because whether we acknowledge it or not, we are experts at self-sabotage.
I recently had a friend share a meme that made me laugh and summed this reality.
Let’s be clear.
For most of us, we don’t wake up every day feeling like this. But there are definitely mornings where our alarms go off and we’re just unhappy.
Over the last few years, I have experimented with different ways to counter this discontent.
Here are the five ways that have helped me start my day off on the right foot.

1. Progressive Journaling

I know this habit gets a lot of print, but here’s a slightly unique take on journaling you might not have read before.
My favorite mornings are those which I have the time and space to sit down with a mug of coffee and my notebook for 15–30 minutes and just put down my thoughts to paper.
The practice of writing down what I am feeling and putting words around my emotions helps clear my head and center my mind. But sometimes I either don’t get or don’t make that space.
That’s where progressive journaling comes in.
If you don’t have a lot of time in the mornings consider breaking up a journaling habit into smaller chunks.
Leave a pen and pad of paper near your bed. When you wake up, before you head to make coffee or take a shower, jot down 3 things you’re grateful for.
Have a pad and pen by the coffee maker. As you’re pouring your coffee, write down 2–3 things that are stressing you out at the moment.
Have a sticky note pad in your car. Before you drive away, write down 2–3 things you want to get done.
This form of journaling isn’t the same as spending long quantities of time parsing through your feelings, but it is an avenue for helping get some of what’s cluttering your mind down onto paper.

2. Go for a walk

There are few things more restorative than going for a morning walk.
Healthline reports that going for a morning walk can help boost your energy, improve your mood, strengthen your muscles, heighten mental clarity, and can actually help you sleep better the following night.
When it comes to countering discontent, morning walks are great tools. When you have the opportunity to see the world waking up, it can help reframe your current circumstances.
Getting outside of your immediate bubble and even walking through your neighborhood helps remind you that the world is bigger than what is happening in your head.

3. Meditate

Meditation takes a good bit of practice but can be very effective at helping fight discontent if you know what you’re doing.
When we are feeling discontent or frustrated at the day to come, it’s usually not about what is right in front of us, the day ahead. Typically, we are projecting emotions, pain, or disappointment from previous experiences and letting that frustration cloud our view of the present day.
Mediation helps break through that cloudiness with calm and mindful reflection.
Meditation doesn’t mean you have to sit with your legs cross and burn incense to trigger your inner third eye. You can do all of those things.
But really all you need is a quiet place, limited distractions, and an intentional focus inward.
Make time for this practice in your mornings and your inner discontent can be pushed back.

4. Get breakfast with a friend

For years in my mid-twenties, I had two standing breakfast meetings every week with different groups of guys.
One group was more for accountability while the other was more for creativity and learning.
Having those breakfast meetings on the calendar often helped counter my discontent for two reasons.
It gave me people to talk to, people who often were just like you and me, and who were wrestling with similar struggles and emotions.
It also gave me a light of hope to look forward to most mornings. Having those breakfast meetings on the calendar helped center my mind on days that I woke up feeling discontent.

5. Take a cold shower

I put this last because this could either be your secret life hack of the year or this could be something that pushes you into even more of a bad mood in the mornings.
There has recently been a lot of study and research on the effects of cryotherapy.
Introducing cold temperatures to your body can help with your alertness, blood pressure, immune system, and can even boost your mood.
If nothing else, an occasional cold shower can help remind you of how good your normal hot shower feels, thus increasing your opportunity to be grateful.

Don’t let your first thoughts rule your day

You’re going to have good days and bad days. That’s just part of life. No one wakes up on the right side of the bed every morning.
However, that doesn’t mean you have to be subject to your every whim and emotion. If you wake up and you’re not feeling great about the day ahead, there are steps you can take that help with fighting back against those feelings.
The key is to experiment and find what works for you. It might be a combination of the steps above. It might be a completely different list.
Find your center. Find what can help bring you peace in the chaos and then use it. Your waking thoughts don’t have to rule over your day.
This article was originally published on Medium, then on Ladders.

Why women love us:

  • Daily articles on career topics
  • Jobs at companies dedicated to hiring more women
  • Advice and support from an authentic community
  • Events that help you level up in your career
  • Free membership, always