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I Read a Book for You: The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod

I Read a Book for You: The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod

Hey Guys!  I am back from a much needed mental and physical break and feeling better than ever!  

I've had some time to think about what I really want to do with this blog and podcast, and I think more than anything, I want it to be about personal development - in all areas.  I've been on a personal development journey and this is an excellent forum to share what I'm learning and hopefully inspire others.  

For today's post, I'm going to unveil a new project called "I Read a Book for You."  Basically, I'll be sharing my main takeaways from life-changing books, starting with The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod.  I really encourage you to read these yourself to get the most out of them, but I also understand that as busy people we tend to put off reading, so hopefully you'll get something out of this little "shortcut" approach!

So, to begin with, Hal Elrod is a motivational guru of sorts.

In 1999, when Hal was 20 years old, he was in car accident which killed him, for 6 mins.

But despite being gravely injured, he built himself back up to become a successful sales rep and eventually launched his own coaching business...

Unfortunately, the economic downturn in 2007 hit him hard, which was actually his lowest point; he even considered suicide.

One day, he confided his despair to a friend, who crazily, asked if he'd tried exercising.  

Look, I know exercise is important, but it might not be the most important thing to consider when your friend is down in the dumps.  Or is it?  That's what I liked about this book from the get-go, it promises the kind of counter-intuitive thinking that makes self-improvement so magical and appealing to me.  This stuff excites me!  The idea that taking up running or gratitude journaling can change your life is really inspiring and fun.

Like me, and so many others, Hal hates running but decides to do it.  It may have been the running or the podcast he was listening to during the run, or both, but he has an epiphany: you can only be as successful as you are developed as a person.

This is not exactly new, but it is fucking true and brilliant and inspiring.  The more you work on being the happiest, healthiest, bestest you you can be, the more external success you'll have. Right?  Well, yes, as long as we can agree that the definition of success varies from person to person.  It depends on what your narratives are. I know lots of runners, and none of them are millionaires!

So then Hal goes on to tell us how he decided on mornings to be the best time for all this self-development.  He does a good job of convincing me that, yes, while not everyone is a morning person, mornings really are where it's at.  Start of the day, fresh perspective, yada yada.  He preempts any bitching and moaning from non-morning people by explaining that he once hated mornings as ardently as we do but now feels like every morning is Christmas morning. I'm sold.  I'm not kidding, his genuine excitement and enthusiasm are palpable on the page, and I can't wait to get started.  I love, love love his enthusiasm!

His first Miracle Morning he gets up at 5 am. I decide right away that nothing in the universe save a flight or perhaps scuba diving is going to make me voluntarily do that to myself. My excitement doesn't stretch that far!

So what life-changing things does Hal do during this hour?  All the things.  He does all the things we all know we should be doing everyday.  To be specific:

  • 10 mins of Silence (meditation, silence, prayer or breath focus).  This makes him feel quiet and peaceful, not something he normally associates with mornings.

  • 10 mins of Affirmations - He reads the self-confidence affirmation from Think and Grow Rich and also writes his own affirmation, which makes him feel empowered.

  • 10 mins of Visualization - He grabs the vision board he created after watching The Secret and focuses on each image, conjuring up what it would feel like to manifest those things.  This inspires him. 

(Side note here, The Secret is no joke.  I decided to download the The Secret money app in September, and it's been the best fricking £4.99 I've ever spent!  In less than two months I doubled my monthly income in a very simple way that I never thought possible, just by being open to the idea that money doesn't have to be hard or always out of reach.  It's been a surreal experience, but we can talk about that in another episode!)

  • 10 mins of Exercise - Hal does a combo of push-ups, sit-ups and yoga, which makes him feel energized.

  • 10 mins of Reading - he chooses Napoleon Hill's classic Think and Grow Rich and is reminded that it only takes one idea to change your life, which he finds motivating.

  • 10 mins of Scribing - Hal focuses on writing down the things he's grateful for, which immediately shifts his mindset to one of gratitude.

Now this is where my all-or-nothing brain starts to interject sceptically. 10 minutes of exercise?  That's not enough!  Well, hello, how many minutes of exercise do I normally do on any given morning?  Hmmm, that would be roughly 0. Besides, it's the thing I talked about in the 5-min goals episode: the hardest part is getting started - committing to just 5 or 10 mins of something usually leads to more.  If I'm getting up every morning to do 10 minutes of yoga, I'm probably going to be in a better frame of mind to add walking or running later in the day or week.  Forming the habit is the hardest and most crucial part.  I think.

Hal goes on to explain that this one-hour morning routine is so wonderful and exciting that he begins to wake up at 4 am, which is just as easy.  This new focus on his personal development is really paying off.  In less than 2 months, he's able to create plans and strategies to turn his business around get his income back up to the level it was before the economy crashed.  Actually, no, higher than that. 

If I had read this book prior to the end of November, I would have laughed and questioned why on earth the author would insert such a ridiculous timeframe here, but as I explained earlier, I've recently experienced such crazy magic in my own life, so I totally believe him.  Weird shit happens when you let it.  

Soon, people start to hear about Hal's miraculous turn-around and he dubs his life-changing routine The Miracle Morning.  I love everything about this so far and can't wait to start - the only slightly annoying thing is people in the book deciding 1 hour is not enough and deciding to wake up even earlier.  I can't help but think this is because 6 things is too much.  How about 3 things one day and 3 the next day?  My brain is frantically trying to find ways to avoid waking up 2 hours earlier than normal.  

It dawns on me that like with my 5 min goals, I should probably add 5-10 mins of cleaning, organizing and tidying up and another 5-10 mins of self-care, - as these are two areas I REALLY struggle with.  

At this point I also start to feel a little down on myself - I mean how many times have I decided to embark on a life-changing journey?  But then I realize that these periodic "course corrections," where I reevaluate everything and decide to get "back on track" are what have helped me get to where I'm at today, which is a great place to be! And avoid being overweight, broke, unhappy, etc.  I never let myself slip that far down.  I always self-correct. I just want to shorten the timeframe between those course corrections, if you know what I mean?

Hal then uses some data to lay out the grim reality that 95% of people go through life struggling - physically, mentally, emotionally, relationship-wise, and financially.  Including his parents, who recently divorced after 30 years of marriage.   

What is the cause of all this is mediocrity and how can we fix it?

1) Rear-view Mirror Syndrome: 

Our subconscious believes that who we were is who we are, which limits us. We think 50,000 - 60,000 thoughts a day, but 95% of those are the same ones we thought yesterday.  We are stuck in a rut!  

Solution: Get clear on what you really want, allow yourself to think bigger than you ever have, and don't engage in self-limiting talk; instead tell yourself things like, "My past does not equal my future."  Don't worry if you don't believe it at first - stick to it, and your subconscious mind will begin to adopt this new world-view.

I think this is really important and would add that in the beginning, try not to have it all figured out.  For example, if you want a lifestyle where you can work from home, make oodles of money and travel whenever you want, just know that it's absolutely possible and being done by real people, and allow yourself to want it without knowing exactly how you're going to achieve it.  The first step is just allowing yourself to even consider such a lifestyle.

2) Most people cannot articulate their life's purpose. The secret to overcoming mediocrity is to live a life of purpose. At one point Hal decided his life purpose for the next 12 months would be to "become the person [he] needed to be to create the success, freedom, and quality of life that [he] truly wanted" and to "selflessly add value to the lives of others."  He found that living daily to align his thoughts, words and actions with his life purpose(s) led him to achieve record-breaking success in this sales job.

Your own life purpose can start small, and you can change it as you go.  And you can borrow from others.  Hal suggests taking time to craft your life purpose right away, as this will become your framework for everything else.

3) Isolating incidents:  We assume that bad decisions are isolated and do not affect the future or subsequent decisions.  This is not true because every single "thought, choice, and action is determining who we are becoming."

Those last few words hit me as creepily as I see dead people.  Because I know it's true, and it fucking terrifies me!   

Another great quote here from T Harv Eker's Secrets of the Millionaire Mind: "How you do anything is how you do everything."

Brilliant, also terrifying.

4) Lack of Accountability. Successful people are highly accountable and don't take the day off for recreation.  He cites the president here, which makes me think that I might have old edition?

We grow up being accountable to adults, like our parents and our teachers, but as soon as turn 18, we embrace freedom and continue to avoid accountability as much as possible.  If we want to be successful, we need to create our own systems of accountability in our lives.  This could be through a coach, mentor, friend or family member.  We don't implement most of what we read because we aren't accountable; the way we can change that is through an accountability partner.  Hal suggests finding one his website, which I cringe at but also think, yeah I should. 

5) Mediocre Circle of Influence:

We are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with in every way (weight, income, happiness, health, etc).  The best way to raise ourselves up is by spending more time around people who inspire us to be better.  We can do this through meetup.com, the Miracle Morning community, etc.  

This one hits me hard because since I moved to the UK and started my own business, I haven't really developed my own circle of influence.  As an international school teacher, I had a built-in network of friends wherever I moved, and yes, I suppose I was an average of the people I spent the most time around.  I am a bit of an introvert, so the idea of going out there and making connections is really daunting.  But I went ahead and joined the online Miracle Morning and Women Entrepreneurs Facebook groups. Baby steps!

6) Lack of Personal Development:

Hal reiterates the notion that our levels of success rarely exceed our levels of personal development.  I am not sure how much I believe this on a case-by-case basis, but I'm sure it's true for most people, on average.  I keep thinking of Donald Trump and it just doesn't add up.  But then again, he inherited a lot of his money to begin with; plus, maybe he does have a lot of discipline in addition to being a complete douche.  After all, it must be mentally and physically exhausting to run for president and be president. 

7) Lack of Urgency: 

Hal says that 95% of people procrastinate, and he emphasises that, essentially, there is no better time than now to get off your ass.  

8) Draw your line in the sand: Make a decision and say no more!  Hal believes the secret to achieving everything you want in life really does begin with taking time every morning for personal development - and I am starting to believe him.  Why?  Because everything influences everything else.  When you start off your day purposefully, everything else is bound to follow, right?  I think so.

The next bit I find pretty annoying because Hal launches into his controversial theories about how much sleep he thinks we really need and implies that we probably are just fine with like 4-6 hours; he thinks that it all depends on our expectations for how rested we'll feel on a certain number of hours of sleep rather than the actual number of hours we get.  He felt just as tired on 8 hours of sleep as he did on 4 hours of sleep when he set that expectation the night before.  

He recommends doing a nightly affirmation before bed to tell yourself you're going to wake up rested and refreshed.  Now, the affirmation part, I get, but there's been plenty of scientific research about how a lack of sleep is detrimental to the body and mind, so I think aiming for the medically recommend 7-8 hours is advisable.  I know I feel much, much better when I get 8 hours of sleep, so I'm going to stick to that.  

Hal then goes on to offer some tips on how to increase your wake-up motivation level, which include moving your alarm clock and drinking a full glass of water when you wake up - I think that for me, it's about having the motivation to go to bed earlier so that I can wake up easily - that's going to be the key.  

The rest of the book is really Hal going more into depth about each of the 6 practices in his SAVERS morning routine, offering his experience and resources for each.  He also discusses customizations, such as doing a shorter or longer morning routine, which is useful.  You might, for example, spend more time exercising on some days and less time visualising.  He says there are even benefits to doing the whole thing in just 6 mins, so no excuse to skip, ever!

Hal's explanation of habit formation and why so many of us fail miserably at New Year's Resolutions is excellent.  He thinks it actually takes 30 days, not the oft quoted 21 days, to stick to a lifestyle change and uses an anecdote of how he went from not being a runner to running an ultra-marathon in just 6 months.  

It think he's demonstrating that successful people often have the mental fortitude to push themselves further than most people.  

But you know what?  One thing I'm learning is that there are lots of ways to be successful.  And now more than ever, we can truly define what it means to be successful for us - and that may not be the grit and hustle model that we see so often.  

In fact, a lot of female entrepreneurs are demonstrating that we can be successful in any way that we want to be.  Just look at the incredible Denise Duffield Thomas, founder of LuckyBitch.com -  she epitomises the notion that you can be successful and rich (in every sense of the word) and have time to raise a family.  That you can be successful and relaxed.  

For me, true success means I can do whatever the hell I want to do.  Hal seems to truly believe success is a result of self-discipline and near ascetic dedication to being an early riser; and this may be true for him, but the amazing thing is that we're lucky enough to live at a time when we can truly create our own definition of success - and for me, that may involve frequent sessions of eating yummy food in bed while watching tv shows with my hubby.  But when I do finally climb out of bed, I'll make sure to do my Miracle Morning routine.

I hope you enjoyed this first instalment of "I Read a Book For You" - please tell me what you thought in the comments!

Until next time, have a fabulous week!

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