In recent conversations, many men have expressed struggles with maintaining morning routines, whether it’s getting to the gym or spending time with the Lord. Reflecting on my own life, I’ve noticed that starting the morning right often leads to better days. Conversely, rushed mornings result in missed commitments, poor eating habits, reduced productivity, and less intentional relationships.

The personal development space emphasizes the importance of morning routines, and for good reason. However, some routines from influencers, like Mark Wahlberg's 2:30 AM start, can seem unrealistic and discouraging. It’s crucial to find a routine that works for you instead of trying to mimic these extreme examples.

reactive vs proactive mornings

Many of us can relate to the chaos of a reactive morning: hitting the snooze button, rushing through our routines, and starting the day stressed and unprepared. These mornings can negatively impact our entire day, from work performance to diet and stress levels.

To combat this, it’s essential to shift to a proactive morning. This means waking up with a clear vision and purpose instead of reacting passively to the day’s demands. Here are some tips to help you build a proactive morning routine:

1. Plan the night before

Spend a few minutes each night planning your next day. Write down your schedule, including specific times and locations for your activities. This reduces excuses and helps you wake up with a clear plan. Commit to your morning routine the night before to avoid making decisions when you’re tired in the morning.

2. Make a plan for your alarm

Set your alarm across the room to force yourself out of bed. Have a plan for what you’ll do immediately after turning off the alarm, such as opening the blinds, making your bed, or drinking a glass of water. These actions can help you wake up and start your day proactively.

3. Stay off your phone

Avoid checking your phone first thing in the morning. This can lead to distractions and unnecessary stress. Instead, set a rule to stay off your phone until a certain time, allowing you to focus on your morning routine and enter the day with a clear mind.

4. Take some time to get your mindset right

Spend time with the Lord through prayer, scripture reading, or another spiritual activity to set a positive tone for your day. Additionally, connect to your goals and dreams by reviewing a goal sheet, journaling, or practicing affirmations. This helps you start the day with purpose and motivation.


In my recent conversations with different men, I have heard a lot of them talk about the difficulty of consistently getting the gym in the morning, or difficulty waking up to spend time with the Lord. 

In fact, a lot of the issues that these guys have been bringing up, a lot of times can be traced back to the way they start the morning. I have been thinking a lot about this in my life as well. In doing a reflection on the past few months, it seems like the times my mornings start off right, my days usually end up being a lot better.

When my days start off scrambled and rushed, I usually don’t stick to my commitments, I usually don’t eat as well, I’m usually not as productive at work, and I usually am not as intentional with my relationships.

In the personal development space, you probably hear a lot about morning routines…the power of the morning routine. It has definitely become one of the more talked about topics in this space. And I think for good reason. But also, you sometimes hear these crazy morning routines from some of the influencers out there and they just seem insanely unrealistic.

You hear stories of guys like Mark Wahlberg who gets up at 2:30 AM every morning. Kobe Bryant used to wake up at 3:00 AM to go workout. You hear stories of guys who do a meditation time, a journaling time, working out, and planning and in total their morning routine is like 3 hours long and you are just trying to figure out how to find any extra time in your day with all the different responsibilities you have in your life….let alone 3 extra hours. 

So sometimes when we hear people like this, it can be discouraging and you just decide that it’s not worth it. 

Can you relate? Have you tried different morning routines only to slip back into your old habits after a couple of weeks?

Have you committed to working out each morning only to hit the snooze button multiple times and stay in bed?

I have been there before and it can be frustrating because you have good intentions but just can’t seem to follow through.

I believe that a morning routine is a powerful tool. I would always recommend having some sort of routine that you do each morning to get you ready for the day, but you have to find one that works for you. And I think that there is a different way to think about it. 

In Intentional Man, we often talk about living a proactive lifestyle instead of a reactive lifestyle. And I think that is the whole key and the whole point of doing a morning routine. You want to make sure you are going into the day proactively and with a purpose instead of reactively and with passivity. The morning routine is one of the greatest tools to help you do that. 

Take a moment to think about your mornings….are you waking up proactively? Or are you waking up reactively? Are you waking up with a clear vision of the man you want to be and what needs to be done that day? Or are you coasting through your day and just handling the things when they are thrown at you?

Let me paint a picture of a more reactive morning.

Let’s say you have to be at work at 8:00 AM. You set your alarm for the last possible time that you can wake up. So let’s say you set it for 7:00 AM thinking you’ll have some time to shower and eat breakfast and get ready. The alarm goes off at 7:00 AM and you are dead tired so you hit the snooze button. It goes off again 9 minutes later and you are still feeling tired so you grab your phone and you start scrolling social media or the news. Then all of a sudden, it’s 7:30 and you jump out of bed, get ready as fast as humanly possible, and then rush out the door without eating any breakfast or packing any food. Then your stressed on the drive because you are going to be late to work so you are speeding down every road. When you get there, you’re still stressed out and jump straight into email and react to the first email that is sent to you and start working on that with no real plan for the day.

Does that sound familiar? Maybe not every single part but there are probably times where you can relate to some of those elements or emotions? Feeling rushed and stressed to start the day is a horrible feeling but we do it to ourselves all the time because we are not being proactive enough to start the day.

That scenario that I just laid out to you is one I like to call a reactive morning. It’s something that is very easy to do if you are not careful.

These reactive mornings have more of an affect on your day then you probably realize. Starting the day stressed can carry over to the rest of the day. Not eating breakfast can make you sluggish and hungry in the morning work hours. Not packing food can lead to eating out which can be expensive and unhealthy. Jumping right into emails can get you going on a path where you are only doing things that are on other people’s agendas all day instead of your own.

A lot of things follow from the way our morning starts. So I want to give some tips on how to be more proactive in the morning instead of reactive. This is going to be very high level so you can take these elements and really build them out for yourself, but they key is that you start to take control of your morning and make sure you are entering the day in attack mode instead of reaction mode.

So the first way to make sure you are being proactive to start the day actually starts the night before. 

I highly recommend some sort of quick planning session at night to make sure you know your schedule for the next day. I use my Intentional Man planner and write in what I plan on doing for every hour of the day. I get pretty specific with the time and location. The more vague, the more wiggle room you have for excuses. 

You don’t have to take hours on this part either. It can be pretty quick. Just make sure you are looking at your upcoming day and setting your intentions. Be as specific as you can be.

Writing down that I plan on being awake at 6:00 to spend time with the Lord, then at the gym at 6:30 to do an upper body workout, and then back home by 7:30 to get ready and to to work is going to be much more effective than going to bed hoping you feel motivated to go to the gym when you wake up. 

The other thing I like to do at night is to just quickly review that schedule and set my intentions for the morning. I quickly tell myself that I am committing to waking up at 6:00 AM and going straight to the kitchen table to read my Bible and then I will go to the gym right after. Make the commitment then and there. 

Any decision that is left for the morning is not a good idea. When you are lying in bed dead tired, you are most likely not going to make many good decisions. None of us do. Make the decision ahead of time. 

So number 1, get some sort of planning session in the night before and then set your intention…set your commitment for the morning of exactly what you are going to do.

Another way to build a proactive morning is to have a plan for your alarm clock. Know what you are going to do when that thing goes off. If you have habitually snoozed your whole life and you are trying to break that habit, you need to make a plan and anticipate the obstacles to give yourself the best chance of success. 

Again, don’t just hope you have the motivation to turn it off and jump right out of bed if that is something you have struggled to do. That would be reactive. Being proactive means anticipating the obstacles ahead of time and having a plan.

So that could look like, setting your alarm across the room. That forces you to get out of bed to turn it off. 

The next thing would be to establish exactly what you are going to do when you turn the alarm off. For me, it is just open the blinds in my room and make my bed. I know that is exactly what I am going to do after walking across the room to turn off my alarm. 

Then build out the rest of your routine down to every little detail so that you know exactly what to do. 

Some things you can do right after waking up that might help get you started is to drink a glass of water right away. Have a glass of water poured on your counter that you can immediately drink. You could also just splash cold water on your face, dunk your head under the bathtub faucet, or take a cold shower…tougher one to actually motivate yourself to do but very effective if you do it! 

It could also be put your workout clothes on right away. That is going to be your trigger that you are going to go workout. Maybe it is just go straight out and make a cup of coffee. That can be effective if it’s something you enjoy.

So when we talk about morning routines, I don’t want you to think you have to budget 3 hours for something, but I do encourage you to actually write out exactly what you are going to do in the morning and commit to it. When you know what you are going to do, then it will start to become habitual and it will eliminate those debates that we have in our minds when we first wake up…that we usually lose to our tired self.

The next thing I would highly encourage you to do to make sure you are being proactive to start the day is to stay off your phone when you wake up. The last stat that I read said that 71% of Americans check their phones first thing in the morning. 

When you check your phone first thing in the morning, you are priming your brain for distraction. That distraction is going to carry over into the rest of your day. You are telling your brain that when you tired or unmotivated during the day, that the answer to that problem is to check your phone. Your brain saves that response as the reward and it will make it harder and harder to stay focused throughout the day.

It can also trigger unnecessary stress when you check your phone first thing in the morning. Maybe you see an email that stresses you out, or you look on social media and see that your friends are on an amazing vacation and you have to go to work so it gives you a bad attitude. 

It can also make you late in the morning if you spend too much time on your phone and then you are scrambling to get out the door. 

There are a lot of reasons why you should refrain from your phone in the morning. Setting a hard rule for yourself that you won’t check your phone until a certain time in the day can be a great way to be proactive instead of reactive. 

The last recommendation for starting your day out right is to do something that gets your mindset right. As christian men, I would say this should absolutely be spending time with the Lord in someway. To make sure we are focused on Him throughout the day. This could be in prayer, scripture reading, going on a prayer walk, journaling, or reading a book. The method doesn’t so much matter, but taking time in the morning to spend time with the Lord will get your mind prepped in the right way.

I think you can identify the difference you feel when you wake up and have a great time with the Lord versus spending 30 minutes on social media or email. There is a massive difference about how you will enter the day, but so often, that is not the way we actually start the day.

I would also recommend doing something quick in the morning that connects you to your why and to your goals or your dreams. This could be reviewing a goal sheet, it could be journaling, it could be affirmations or visualizations. I’ll save some of the details of those for another podcast, but I believe it is powerful to consistently connect to why you do what you do and why it matters. This will only set you up to be more proactive and to live with a higher sense of urgency each day. 

This is not an exhaustive list, so I would love to hear what you do in the morning to make sure you are attacking each day with passion and purpose. 

But to recap some of the ideas I just shared, 

  1. Plan your day the night before and commit to sticking to the morning schedule.
  2. Make a plan ahead of time for what you are going to do to beat the alarm clock. Establish the exact first few things that you will do when you wake up.
  3. Don’t start the morning on your phone
  4. Do something to get your mindset right…spend time with the Lord and then connect to your Why and Your Dreams.

I purposely left these pretty open so you can build them out for what works for you, but the purpose is to make sure you are being proactive with your morning instead of reactive. I highly encourage you to make sure that you take some time to build out a simple morning routine if you haven’t yet. Start simple and build some consistency and then you can add things from there. 

Thanks for joining me today! You were created to do something great! I know you were because God made you and he doesn’t make mistakes! 

Please share today’s training with others if you found this to be helpful and leave a comment with some of your best morning routine habits! 

Go live a live you are proud of by living intentionally.

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