William Vanderbloemen in Forbes about How Successful People Start Their Day - And Their Year
By: Vanderbloemen January 14, 2020
CEO and Founder of Vanderbloemen, William Vanderbloemen, discusses with Forbes about how successful people start their day - and their year.---
Early in my career, one of my mentors told me, “How you start your day affects how the rest of your day will go.” I’ve learned a lot of lessons over the years that have proven true, but this one may be the most solid.
As we start 2020, I think this idea applies to starting your new year, too: how you start your first full week of 2020, what habits and reflection you put into January will affect the rest of your year.
After working with countless CEO’s and heads of cause based movements like churches and relief organizations, I have noticed that nearly all of them share a few key steps to starting the day off right.
Here are some ways to start your day - and keep doing them to form a habit, to start your year well:
1. Have a routine.
Productive days don’t happen by accident. The most successful people I know have a consistent morning routine, and they very rarely stray from it. The famous entrepreneur Jean Paul DeJoria (founder of Paul Mitchell, Patron, and more) says that no matter where he is or what his day entails, he starts it out the same way every time with quiet reflection. Successful people may or may not control their destiny, but they can control the first hour or two of their day. I’ve learned that if I will take control of my first waking moments, I will likely see a day that is in control.
2. Start a little earlier.
The key to a good morning routine is getting going at an hour before other people need your time. That means early, which I thought I could never do.
Earlier in life, I would have read that and cringed. I used to think that I wasn’t a morning person and that I should give up trying to be. What I’m learning is that nobody is naturally a morning person. The famous missionary Jim Elliot was once asked how he got so much done before noon. He said the secret was getting up at 5am. The person asking said, “How in the world do you get up at 5am?” Elliot said that he goes to bed at 10pm. The questioner came back and said, “I could never fall asleep by 10pm.” Elliot is reported to have responded, “Get up at 5am a few days in a row, and you’ll learn how.”
I have seven children (and two dogs and a cat). What I’ve realized is that the secret to a productive day is to get up before any of them need my attention so that I can prepare for them and the coming day. It’s been an irreplaceable piece of my success. After 15 years of getting up early every day, I’m able to go to sleep early just fine. Contrary to what my younger self would think, I wouldn’t change a thing about my early wake up time.
3. Read something positive first thing.
Entrepreneurs are known for speedy responses and a quick bias to action. That often leads to turning off an alarm on your phone and going straight to the inbox. But I have learned that is absolutely the wrong way to start the day. David Karp, founder of Tumblr, says he tries hard not to check email until his morning is well underway and he is at the office.
Why no email? I have become a big believer in a “first in, first out” principle.
That is to say, the first thing into my brain in the morning (the first thing I read) will set a tone for the day. As a recovering pastor, I recall days of opening emails first thing Monday morning. Usually Sunday night is when criticism-laden emails are sent, particularly in the church. Reading a negative message first thing in the morning usually sets the tone for the day. By contrast, if the first words I read are something motivating or uplifting, there are sure to be positive ripples throughout the day. So now, I start my morning by reading a short devotional in my bed before my feet hit the floor. It sets the tone for my mind.
4. Center on gratitude.
Following the principle of “first in, first out,” I believe it’s not only what we first read that sets the tone for the day, but also what we first say. Words carry great power. The Scriptures liken the tongue to the rudder of a ship - a tiny thing that can steer a giant boat. If I have had a bad day, I can almost always trace a straight line back to either reading or saying something negative in my first moments.
So I’ve learned that my first words need to be ones of gratitude. For me that means devotional time with God and giving thanks for all that I have been given. Most successful people I have met agree that it is difficult to have a bad day if you are in a state of gratitude. This extends well beyond those who share my faith. Tony Robins, the motivational guru, starts every day with a dedicated segment of time that involves saying out loud the things he is grateful for.
There are a number of other practices I follow like getting some form of exercise, drinking a glass of water before anything else hits my stomach, and brushing my teeth. But these practices are all well after the ones above.
I love variety, and that means I generally detest routine. There are few routines and practices that have stood the test of time for me, but after 15 years of refining this morning routine, I believe it is among the most critical to any success I've had. They are practices I’ve seen work in successful people’s lives, they have paid big dividends in my journey, and I believe they can help anyone get to the next level in life. More than that, I think you’ll see a big payoff in 2020 if you start doing these things and make them a habit - starting your year off right could very well mean it’s your best year yet.