How To Design Your Perfect Morning Routine (The Only Habits That Matter)

Successful routines

After studying thousands of the world’s most successful people and pouring over the scientific literature, I have found the most essential routines you should do in order to succeed.

The truth about morning routines is that many of them are just hearsay. Let’s only focus on what’s been rigorously tested in labs.

I thought it might be useful to document out all my routines for success I try to do on a daily and weekly basis. This is simply what I aim for as a habit but I am far from being able to do most of this.

Make sure you follow these instructions exactly. In some lines, every work is there for a deep reason. When I say “with a deadline”, there’s a lot of reasons why you need a deadline. When I say “at least two times a day”, there’s a serious reason behind the frequency. When I say “in the present tense” or “with emotion” or “write in on paper”, there’s tons of reasons behind it.

I wanted to keep this as a minimalistic guide that simply gives you directions rather than making this too long or convoluted by adding the reasons behind it. It should be something quick and easy to reference.

If you want the deep reasons, many of them come from the books written by Napoleon Hill who spent 25+ years studying 500 of the wealthiest people in the world in person. These included legendary businessmen like Andrew Carnegie and Henry Ford.

If you’re looking for more in-depth reasons why I do these, look at all my other content across my platforms. Plus, I point to numerous books with hundreds of scientific studies in them and real world examples.

These are based on science, studies, successful people, books, and what I’ve learned actually brings happiness, not what society believes brings happiness.

Note: This list may change over time and be updated. This is also different from my Manifesto of Success article, which is more on principles and mindsets rather than habits and routines. A principle would be something that is more qualitative to be infused into your life like “you are the average of the top 10 people you hang around most.” of “daily exercise.”

A habit or routine is something that I have to check everyday and every week to make sure I am doing it. An example is “daily exercise.”

Daily Habits

  • Write down your big goal with pen and paper at the start and end of each day. Write at specifically and definitely as possible what you want (down to the dollar amount), what value you will give in exchange for your goal, the deadline for achieving it, and say it out loud with enthusiasm and EMOTION. Finally, imagine and feel as if you were already in possession of your goal.
  • 20 min+ Meditation – A staggering large amount of successful people do it. I learn of more every day. Plus, lots of science/psychology
  • Let the direct sun hit my skin as soon as I wake up – Helps set my biological sleep rhythm
  • 10 min+ of comedy/stand-up/video of something funny – Why? Longevity/happiness/well-being reasons rooted in science, which will help me succeed in other areas
  • 20 min+ of aerobic exercise – For most of the workout, you must be at at least 60% of your maximum heart rate (rough estimate: 220 minus your age). Why? Energy, living longer, health, and happiness.
  • 10 min+ strength training – Focusing on health. Necessary areas first (posture, under-emphasized muscle groups, etc.), aesthetics second
  • 10 min gratitude, happiness, and savoring exercise  – can be done throughout the day (nature walks or small things like food) – Happiness reasons. Dozens of the best can be found in the book The How of Happiness
  • Using my #1 strength in a new way every day (mine is Learner) – 2 to 15 min – Happiness reasons
  • 5 to 10 minutes Full body stretching, yoga, or flexibility exercises
  • Tony Robbins positivity affirmations – 10 min – “I AM AWESOME! I AM JUBILANT! I AM ENTHUSIASTIC! I AM FULL OF ENERGY” .. and so on.
  • Start the day off with my #1 most important task (rather than do it later in the day) and FOCUS on it – 30 min to 4+ hours
  • Do something I’ve never done and/or go outside my comfort zone at least once (preferably something I fear)

Weekly Habits

  • Volunteer Or Spend Money On Someone Else – 1x a week – Why? Happiness and well-being reasons. Backed up by science
  • Mastermind group – no one pays – With successful people who can cover my weaknesses
  • 30 min social, fun activity – (comedy club, board game club, etc.) – Focus should be on creating long-lasting friendships with the right people. Why? Social well-being which helps happiness, emotional resiliency, and creates friends
  • Spend money and/or devote time to EXPERIENCES with family or friends  – 15 min to 2 hours – Family time is important. Don’t want to live with regret because of no time spent with family.
  • Create an event I can look forward to every week – Happiness reasons
  • 20 min Yoga (optional) – Why? – Flexibility, posture, body alignment -> which improves health/longevity/prevents injuries. Alignment exercise example:

Monthly Habits

  • Reconnect with a long-time friend. Why? Social well-being, emotional resiliency
  • Find one new successful, positive person who values self-development to surround myself with. -You are the average of the 5 people you hang around most.
  • Meet with a mentor – Learn from those better than you.
  • Meet with someone who holds you accountable for what you set out to do – Accountability partners help you stay accountable

Get Started Now

This is simply a scan-able, easy to read list of must-do daily, weekly, or monthly routines. If you want to go above and beyond, you want to start moving some of the monthly and weekly things to daily.

The studies, experiments, and successful people who have recommended this can be found on your own or you can read my past and future articles, which go into detail on why.

In summary, these practices should become a habit. They can be broken down into a few main categories: happiness drills, success habits, and health habits.

Health is obvious: Exercise daily. You can find the details on how at any fitness website. What’s more important is why. Most of the stuff on the list comes down to this statement: do it because it helps you achieve success in multiple other areas of life.

There is a ton of science from years of study that show how greater health and fitness are related to greater happiness, productivity, energy, focus, and other important measures of success.

Yet there are a lot of unhealthy, wealthy businessman.

I think that they are missing out on their full potential by not exercising well and eating healthy. Having said that, people are starting to take notice and are getting better at this.

Happiness habits are less obvious but detailed above. These are drills that take effort to form into habits but are very important for my well-being. The happier I am, science has shown the better I perform in numerous areas of my life: work, parenting, exercise, etc.

Finally, success habits are also not as obvious. This has been extracted from dozens of books and thousands of interviews I have watched from successful people. Of course, I will be constantly tweaking this page as I learn more.

The point of this list is to show you all the things that are not natural that you must make an effort to turn into habits. The most important are probably meditation, writing down your goals on paper often, surrounding yourself constantly with the right people, focusing on your most important goal and task at a time, and subconscious programming.

There are probably hundreds of little mindset shifts and subtle things like having a growth mindset or thinking 10x bigger or not bowing to perfectionism that I have picked up over the years but not listed because these things are not really habits that I have to keep doing on a continuous basis.

I wanted to conclude with a few motivational photos you can share on Instagram or Facebook:

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By Will Chou

I am the the founder of this site and I am grateful you are here to be part of this awesome community. I help hard-working Asian American Millennials get rich doing work they love.


    1. Thanks for the suggestion but this is a list that compiles only the highly consistent patterns I see in hundreds of top performers (millionaires and billionaires). That idea does not cut it unfortunately

  1. Will, thanks for mentioning meditation. Besides the psychology findings behind meditation, there’s so much more than one can learn about himself through the practice of learning to sit still for 10-15 minutes each day. I found that my own practice quickly became a sticky habit because it really did show improvements in my life experience.

      1. Hey Will,

        I run a mindfulness/wellness project (see my author link) and have written there extensively about the benefits of meditation in my own life. One of the reasons I chose to start a project about it was because it helped me to overcome a longstanding addiction to drugs and alcohol. I can’t remember the last time I ingested anything stronger than a glass of wine, which can only be a good sign!

        I started meditating in 2012, and since have established a deeper connection with my surroundings which has tremendously improved my relationship with myself — less fears, less anxieties, and more understanding of what we as humans go through.

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