How to Upgrade Your Morning Routine
A good start to a productive, successful day depends on your morning habits and rituals. Here’s how to make your morning routine healthy, inspiring, and best of all, easy — using triggers and habit chaining to kick-start an amazing day.
How Do You Wake Up?
Waking up may be the very first habit you ever established, and it’s a pretty solid one! You’ve probably done it every day of your life without even trying (for the most part).
- When you open your eyes in the morning what do you usually do in the first few minutes?
- Do you go back to sleep, then reach for your phone and jump out of bed because you’re already late?
While the latter may be the most alarming part of your current morning ritual, there are several other repeating habits that are most likely in the mix.
You probably start each day with a few of these:
- Use the restroom
- Brush your teeth
- Wash your face
- Take a shower
- Get dressed
- Do your makeup and/or hair
Think about it, do you mix up the order? Probably not very often. And you’re usually on autopilot.
Triggers and Habit Chaining
Each one of these long-standing habits is a trigger that cues the next behavior. A trigger tells your brain to automatically start the next thing in your ritual.1
By using the power of a long-standing established habit and then adding a tiny, new step to it, you can build a new habit that lasts.
This method is called “habit chaining.” In its simplest sense, you attach a new habit to an already established one. BJ Fogg, the director at Stanford University's Persuasive Technology Lab, describes it like this: "Find a trigger — something that you already do as a habit — and graft the new habit onto it.2
Sounds easy enough!
The deal is, willpower and motivation are not enough to create new habits. The best way is to identify your established triggers and chain new habits onto them.
Add a Tiny Healthy Habit
Think back to your typical morning routine, and you’ll find that you may have several potential spots to add a tiny new habit. The tiny habit could be:
- a few mindful breaths
- setting a priority for the day
- a moment of gratitude
- one push-up
Once your tiny habit gets chained to your established triggers, it’s easier to expand. So maybe the one push-up turns into five over time. But the beauty of it is, every time you wash your face, the urge to hit that push-up next will start to become a habit.
So, what tiny habit are you going to chain onto your morning routine? Let’s do this, and be Healthy for Good!
1The automatic component of habit in health behavior: habit as cue-contingent automaticity, Health Psychology, 2010
2Triggers tell people to “do it now!”, BJ Fogg’s Behavior Model, 2016
Last reviewed: March 2018
Article copyright © 2016 American Heart Association.