Morning Ritual vs Morning Routine

7 Steps to Creating a Morning Ritual instead of a Morning Routine

Morning Ritual: Why You Need a Morning Ritual instead of a Morning Routine


Morning Ritual vs Morning Routine

For years I tried to develop a “routine” I would actually stick to.  Usually around New Year’s I would commit to following a daily routine that would help me become more productive and guide me in the direction of the life I really wanted to live.  My newfound routine would last all of about a week.  It always felt like a chore rather than something I was excited to do each day, kind of like scrubbing toilets but different.  That changed when I discovered the power of a morning ritual over my normal morning routine. You see friend, rituals have meaningThey are a spiritual practice rather than just another item on your to-do list.  My mornings, in fact my entire life, changed as a result of incorporating rituals into my day.

What is a routine?

Routine is defined as “a sequence of actions that are regularly performed or followed” and “that are not for a special reason.”  Take a look at a typical morning routine:

  • Brushing your teeth
  • Taking a shower
  • Getting dressed for the day
  • Exercising
  • Making coffee or tea
  • Having breakfast

Everyone has a morning routine, some are more in-depth than others, but without fail every human follows one.  The struggle comes when we want to CHANGE our routine or CREATE a new routine that serves us better than the old one.  And that, my friend, is where rituals come in.

What is a ritual?

A ritual is a “series of mindful, sacred or spiritual steps undertaken for a specific purpose.”  Rituals carry the importance we ascribe to them.  In other words, they can be a very significant part of our personal growth.  They are a way to connect to our past and the brightness of our future while keeping us completely grounded in the present moment.

Wow, that sounds sooo much better than a routine doesn’t it?  What if I told you that you can incorporate all of the “routine” things you do into a morning ritual that YOU create and that YOU assign meaning to?

Building a Morning Ritual

Step One:  What gets you out of bed in the morning?

The single biggest obstacle most of us face in building a morning that supports our day is getting up earlier.  In order to start my day without hurry or worry I need to rise at least 90 minutes before I leave the house.  Problem is that I am one of those super fast people that can get ready and leave the house in 10 minutes flat if I need to.  That makes hitting “snooze” oh so easy.  I had to create a ritual that makes me want it more than sleep.  Think about the days you have no problem getting up—-Christmas morning, a long awaited trip, a special event or news you’ve been waiting to hear.  The trick is to capture that feeling every day (or most days at least…we all have days that we are tired, sick or otherwise less than enthusiastic, so please cut yourself some slack).  For me, it is the excitement of the discovery I will make in one of the steps below.  What’s yours?

morning ritual move your body

Step Two:  List all of the self-care practices that you perform.

Self-care is so important.  List out all of the things you want or need to do each morning to look and feel your best.  Here’s some examples.

  • Brush teeth
  • Take a shower
  • Fix hair
  • Apply makeup
  • Get dressed
  • Drink water
  • Workout

morning ritual togetherness

Step Three:  List all of the tasks you do for others.

Most of us have people and pets that depend on us for some or all of their needs.  Make a list of the things you do each morning to serve others.  This is what my list looks like:

  • Feed pets
  • Let the dogs out
  • Open the chicken coop
  • Pack lunches
  • Wake my daughter for school
  • Wake my husband for work (this is a ritual itself, my hubby is not a morning person so I wake him gently, and repeatedly, rather than him using an alarm clock….I enjoy doing this for him and he is a much happier man for it.)

morning ritual meditation

Step Four:  Choose a silent practice.

Connecting to God, the Universe or your spiritual source should be the cornerstone of your morning ritual.  It is the fuel that feeds the fire of your intentions.  If you aren’t a particularly spiritual person try just sitting in silence for a few minutes, allowing and releasing what comes to mind.  Here are some examples.

  • Meditation
  • Prayer
  • Visualization
  • Journey Work (this is the excitement that gets me out of bed! I promise I will write a post about this soon.)
  • Focused Thought

Step Five:  Choose a writing practice.

Use a writing utensil and paper!  Don’t do this on the computer, your phone or any other electronic device.  This is one of those things that needs to be done the old fashioned way.  You don’t have to use words, you can draw, doodle…whatever comes to mind.  Do this immediately following your silent practice. Choose what works for you!  This is not the time for a to-do list, this is expressive and introspective.

  • Journal
  • Free Writing (think Morning Pages)
  • Draw
  • Mixed Media Collage


Step Six:  How do you want to spend your day?

We all get 24 hours in a day.  Why do some of us accomplish so much more than others?  It’s all in how we spend our days.  You’ve heard the saying, “What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.”  How can you spend your day so that you are living as closely to your ideal as possible?  This is the probably the most difficult step to wrap your head around.  Let me break it down like this….you have to live as if what you want to do/be is already here.

For example, let’s say that you want to be a super fit, healthy person.  How does a super fit, healthy person live their lives?  Not by eating McD’s and sitting on their ass for 18 hours a day.  Even if you are 100 lbs overweight and out of shape you can live as if you are super fit and healthy.  How?  You do the things that a fit, healthy person does.  So, today you eat clean, drink water and walk around the block.  Tomorrow you do the same thing and you just go little further every day.  Spend enough days living as if you are fit and healthy and guess what?  You become fit and healthy.  Voila.

I wanted to be a writer.  My heart’s desire was to write, teach and share my passions with the world.  How did I manifest this?  I started living each day as if I was a successful writer.  I wrote for 5 minutes the first day.  I wrote some more the second day.  Then I wrote more.  I wrote every day.  Why?  Because writers gotta write.  I had to live as if I was already a writer.  Next thing I knew, I really was a writer, with completed books and everything!

Step Seven:  Set Your Agenda

Agenda:  a list or outline of things to be considered or done; an underlying often ideological plan or program

An agenda is so different from a schedule.  I don’t schedule my day unless I have to (some things have to be scheduled…appointments, practices for the teams I coach, mastermind group meetings, your day job, etc); rather, I have an agenda for my day that is based on my answers to step six above.

Write down your agenda for the day.  This can be a simple list or a detailed plan.  I keep it simple.  I use a daily sheet that I slip inside my planner and refer to it if I feel like I’m deviating from the big picture of my day.  Click here to dive deeper into creating an agenda that serves your life.

Pulling it All Together into a Uniquely YOU Morning Ritual

What does a morning ritual actually look like when you pull all the steps together?  I’m glad you asked!  Here is what my morning ritual looks like (yours might be completely different & that’s ok, do what works for YOU):

My alarm goes off at 6am.  I recently switched over from an audible alarm to a light based alarm.  (I can’t tell you how much of a difference the light alarm has made in my level of alertness first thing in the morning….it has banished that groggy feeling I used to have with the regular alarm.) I immediately think about my journey work practice and what I will learn during my quest that day.  This gets the excitement flowing and it is much, much easier to not hit snooze a dozen times.  I get up and throw on my yoga duds while I offer thanks to the Universe for another day to fulfill my purpose. I spend a few minutes in the bathroom and then it’s off to my sacred space.

My sacred morning ritual space for meditation and journaling

My sacred morning ritual space is a corner of our living room in front of the fireplace.

I have a basket of special things I use each morning—my journal, daily sheets, essential oil diffuser, candles, smudge bundles (sage, mugwort and lavender), pretty pens, my crystal collection and my blue water.  I light my candle (or the fire) and begin diffusing sandalwood, frankincense and clary sage in the background (all of these oils help to banish negative energy and are supportive of a quiet mind).  My crystals (quartz, celestite, amethyst and golden labradorite) go around me with a sodalite stone in my hand (it keeps my hands busy, which helps to quiet my overactive brain and it is a stone that helps with intuition and learning).   I settle into a seated position and drink my blue water, giving thanks for the love and healing it provides as I light my smudge bundle.  Its smoke wafts around me as I push play on my music and close my eyes.

I focus on my breath as I sway to the beat of the primal drum music.  I feel the air filling my lungs, pushing out all my cares with each exhale.  I spend a few minutes just breathing.  Then its time for the exciting part of my ritual—the journey.  (I discovered journey work quite by accident, I am not a shaman but I play one each morning!)  You can learn all about journey work here (coming soon!).  Most mornings I spend about 10 minutes journeying, but every once in awhile I find that when I open my eyes its been much longer.

My journal is the place that I record the lessons I learn during my journey.  Sometimes I simply draw, doodle and record impressions.  Other days I might write 3-4 pages of insights and ideas.  I write most of my books using this process.  Ideas that have been percolating in my head become crystal clear and sometimes things that I never even considered find their way onto the paper and into my life.  Keeping the big picture in mind (how do I want to spend my day?) I jot down my agenda items on my daily sheet.

After returning all of my meditation items to their basket, the music shifts to a faster beat for my morning workout.  I keep this pretty short and sweet.  {I’ve been thinking about incorporating the Wim Hof method into my morning workout,  I’ll let you know if I do and how it turns out.}  Then it’s off to the shower and my work day begins.

I spend 30-60 minutes on my morning ritual each day.  It is a special and treasured part of my day, hopefully it will be for you too!