Jim Kwik is a New York Times bestselling author and memory and brain coach to Alex Rodriguez, Will Smith, and more.
Why is your morning routine so important? I strongly believe that if you jump-start your day by jump-starting your brain with a series of simple activities, you have a huge advantage. In addition, if you set up winning routines early in the day, you can benefit from what Tony Robbins calls “the science of momentum”: the notion that once you set accomplishment in motion, you can keep it in motion with much less effort than if you were trying to accomplish something from a standing start.
I have a carefully developed morning routine to help me win the day that involves priming my mind. I don’t do every single one of these things every day, especially when I’m traveling, but I always do most of them, and I know for certain that it gets me mentally prepared and poised for performance, productivity, and positivity from the minute I get up.
Let me walk you through a typical morning.
Before I even get out of bed, I spend some time reflecting on my dreams. Dreams are an expression of the work your subconscious is doing while you’re sleeping, and there’s gold to be mined from them. Many geniuses throughout history have regularly accessed and often gleaned their best ideas and made their greatest discoveries from their dreams. Mary Shelley came up with the idea for Frankenstein in her dreams. A dream was the source of Paul McCartney’s “Yesterday,” and Einstein’s theory of relativity.
So, the first thing I do every morning, even before lifting my head from the pillow, is think back on my dreams to see if there’s an idea or a perception or a new way of looking at something that can be useful to what I’m trying to accomplish. I know that some of you have trouble recalling your dreams, so I’m going to provide you with a quick mnemonic technique designed to help you do so. Just think of the word DREAMS:
- D is for Decide: The night before, make a conscious decision that you’re going to recall your dreams. If you set the intention, your chances improve dramatically.
- R is for Record: Keep a pen and paper by your bedside, or even have a recording app readily available on your phone. As soon as you wake up, record any lingering remembrance of your dreams.
- E is for Eyes: Keep your eyes closed right after you awaken. Dreams can disappear within minutes, and if you keep your eyes closed, this will help you reflect.
- A is for Affirm: Before you go to sleep, affirm that you are going to remember your dreams, because affirmation is a critical tool in accomplishment.
- M is for Manage: For lots of reasons but specifically here for the sake of remembering your dreams, it’s important to manage your sleep and establish good sleep routines.
- S is for Share: Talk about your dreams with others. When you do so, you bring them more and more to the surface, and you develop the routine of tapping into your dreams so you can discuss them later.
The first thing I do after I get out of bed is make the bed. This is a success habit, my first accomplishment of the day. It’s an easy win, and it has the added advantage of making my bedtime more pleasant, because it’s always nicer to return that night to a bed that is made. It’s why, in the military, they train you to make your bed first thing in the morning, because it sets you up to be excellent at everything you do.
After that, I have a tall glass of water. Hydration is so important first thing in the morning because our bodies lose a lot of water while we sleep through the simple act of breathing. Remember: Our brains are approximately 75 percent water, so if we’re going to fire up our brains, we need to be well hydrated. I also have a glass of celery juice, which boosts the immune system, helps flush toxins from the liver, and helps restore the adrenal glands (hat tip to Anthony William, the Medical Medium, for this idea). Right after this, I’ll take my probiotics to make sure my gut—known as the second brain—is getting what it needs.
Then I brush my teeth with my opposite hand. I do this to train my brain to do difficult things, because it stimulates a different part of your brain, and because it forces me to be present. I can’t be doing other things in order to do this well.
Then I do a three-minute workout. This is not my full workout, but I want to get my heart rate up first thing in the morning, as it helps with sleep and weight management, and with oxygenation to the brain.
Once I’m finished with that, I take a cold shower. I’m sure some of you will cringe at the idea of starting the day pummeling yourself with cold water, but cold therapies of this type do a great job of resetting the nervous system and have the added benefit of helping manage any inflammation.
When I’m out of the shower, I go through a series of breathing exercises to fully oxygenate my body. Then I do about 20 minutes of meditation to give me a clear mind as I enter the day. The process I use, Ziva Meditation, was developed by my meditation coach, Emily Fletcher, a three-step process that involves mindfulness, meditation, and manifestation. To watch a video of it, go to www.LimitlessBook.com/resources.
Next, I make my “brain tea,” a combination of gotu kola, ginkgo, lion’s mane, MCT oil, and a few other things. Then I’ll sit down to spend some time journaling, getting my first thoughts of the day down on the page. My goal in any given day is to accomplish three things for work and three things personally, and I set this agenda now. I follow this with about a half hour of reading. I set a goal to read a minimum of one book a week and making this a part of my morning routine to keep me on course.
Finally, I drink my “brain smoothie,” a combination of many brain foods.
Now, admittedly, this routine requires a good deal of time. As I mentioned, I can’t get to all of it every day, and I can appreciate if it seems like more than you can handle, particularly if you need to get others started on their day. But if your goal in reading this is upgrading your brain, then some variation on a morning routine of this type is an integral part of the process. Here are the keys:
- Check in on your dreams before you get out of bed. There’s so much gold to mine here, so I strongly recommend that you not skip this step.
- Get yourself hydrated and oxygenated.
- Nourish yourself with some of the brain foods mentioned in this chapter.
- Set a plan for the day.
If you do at least these four things, you’ll be well on your way to revving up your brain to operate at a high-octane level. Build as many of these things into the start of your day as you can. The most important thing is having a productive morning routine. I can’t stress enough how much of an impact getting your day off to the right start has on how the day goes for you overall.
Excerpted from LIMITLESS EXPANDED EDITION by Jim Kwik published by Hay House, Inc. Copyright © 2023.