Your life is made up of a string of days. String together a succession of mediocre or average days and you build a mediocre, average life. String together a succession of good days and you build a good life. String together a succession of great days and you build a great life! Very seldom do great days happen on their own, without your involvement. You can get a great start on a great day by using the “Golden Hour” – the first hour of the day – to set the tone for your day.TheExceleratedLife.com
Hyrum Smith called them the “magic hours”, a block of uninterrupted time, usually in the early morning, when you can concentrate on things beyond the normal urgency and routine of the day. This may be a time when you read or meditate or plan the day ahead. Brian Tracy refers to this time as the Golden Hour — the first hour of the day which can set the tone for the rest of the day.
Making good use of the Golden Hour is a facet of Excelerated Self-Care™ — taking extremely good care of yourself. Excelerated Self-Care is not indulgent. It is necessary if you are to give your best to the world.
So how do you use the Golden Hour? Do you nourish yourself spiritually, intellectually, and physically? Do you reflect and plan for how this day may be used to your best advantage? Or do you jump up and jump into the cares and busy-ness of the day — getting ready for work, caring for the home and family, getting to your chores — without ever stopping to consider the kind of life you are creating? You don’t know how many days are left to you but it is a finite number. Putting together a succession of great days is how you create an Excelerated Life™.
Here are 10 activities you could do during the Golden Hour to help create the kind of day that leads to a good life. You don’t have to do all 10 . . . you don’t have to do any of these — you may have your own Golden Hour activity that helps you get off to the best start. Consider these as suggestions to get your own imagination and creativity started.
First five seconds. Start your day on the right track by reading or remembering something inspirational and motivational. Do this the first thing when you get up. Read a passage from scripture or an inspirational quote. Review your goal list. Read your affirmations. Do something that inspires you, before you do anything else.
Prayer and meditation. This activity can set a positive mood for the remainder of the day. Prayer or meditation helps you to quiet and clear your mind, center, and connect with the Creator. As Martin Luther is purported to have said, “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.”
Reading. Earl Nightingale once said that if you spent one hour per day reading in your chosen field, you would be an expert in just three years. “If you read one hour per day in your field, that will translate into about one book per week. One book per week translates into about 50 books per year. 50 books per year will translate into about 500 books over the next ten years.” [Tracy]
Exercise. Is there anyone today who doesn’t know that exercise is necessary for a healthy, happy life? Some studies show that morning exercise has more health benefits than exercise taken later in the day. Exercising has a positive effect on the rest of the day. By exercising first thing in the morning, it’s often easier to make it a habit, because you have fewer conflicts than might occur later in the day.
Journaling. Most people who keep a journal are pleased and often amazed at the results over time. It is a way to think on paper and often helps you reach into yourself to pull out new ideas and insights. What do you write about? Try one of these: Keep a gratitude journal, detailing the things you are grateful for today. Daydream on paper about your vision for the future. Read a passage of scripture, or other religious text, contemplate it and then write about your thoughts. Write down your thoughts and feelings about a problem or decision you are grappling with.
Planning. It has been said that every minute of planning and preparation saves you 10 minutes in execution. It isn’t often you can get such a return on an investment. Investing in planning is an excellent way to leverage your time. If you have an important project in the works, if you have big goals you want to achieve, if you want to use your day to it’s fullest potential, use your Golden Hour to plan them out in detail.
Thinking. Earl Nightingale said that most people, when faced with a problem, will do anything they can except think. His recommendation? Write the problem — or your goal — at the top of a legal pad. Then spend 15 minutes writing down every possible solution you can come up with. This isn’t easy, but it helps lubricate the thinking apparatus. One of the keys here is to do this consistently, at least 5 days per week.
Visualizing. Visualization is a powerful tool for creating and shaping the future. And the more details you can imagine, the sharper your vision becomes. “You become what you think about most of the time.” “To visualize is to make visual lies“, said Peter McWilliams. “Visual lies, however, have a way of coming true.” [McWilliams] Just be sure you are visualizing the process of getting to your goal, which has been proven through experimentation to help people achieve their goals. (As opposed to visualizing outcomes, which has been shown to be largely ineffective.) With process visualization, as you visualize the process of reaching your intended aim, you begin to see the steps you must take to reach the goal, and you begin formulating a plan. [Taylor] Visualizing the steps can in turn spur you into action.
Express gratitude. This is one of the earliest of the “happiness interventions” discovered by positive psychologists. We are shaped by sound evolutionary reasons to be more attuned to the negative aspects of our environment than to the positive ones. Many of the dangers lurking in our past are no longer a threat, but we are still on alert. To offset this negative influence, you can train yourself to be mindful of the positive conditions in your life, by expressing gratitude daily. Keep a running list of “three good things” where you list each day three positive experiences or things you are grateful for (and why you are grateful).
Connect. You may do this as a part of one of the other activities or you may do it as a separate exercise. Connect with God, or Spirit, or the Universe. Connect with the God outside of yourself and the God within. Connect with your place in nature and in the world. See the connection between yourself and all the others in your life — those you know and those you don’t know but who are connected nevertheless.
How you use — or IF you use — the Golden Hour is up to you. If you haven’t been approaching the Golden Hour consciously, please give it a try, using one or more of these suggestions or some other activity that appeals to you. It’s your day — why not make it a great one? That’s Excelerating!
Excelerated Self-Care™ — taking excellent care of yourself — is one step in creating your Excelerated Life™, a life of flourishing and well-being, and a life of meaning, purpose and service.
McWilliams, Peter. Do It! Let’s Get Off Our Buts. Allen Park, MI: Mary Books / Prelude Press, 1994
Taylor, Shelley E., et al, “Harnessing The Imagination – Mental Simulation, Self-Regulation, And Coping,” American Psychologist April 1998: Vol. 53 No. 4 429 – 439 http://www.culturedesoi.fr/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Taylor-et-al-Harnessing-the-imagination-Mental-simulation-self-regulation-and-coping.pdf.
Tracy, Brian, “One Hour Makes All the Difference”, 28 July 2008, 25 Oct. 2011 http://www.briantracy.com/blog/personal-success/one-hour-makes-all-the-difference/