What you do on a daily basis is driven by your habits and routines. In this episode, Jeff Wickersham of Morning Fire Academy joins Penny Zenker to discuss some game-changing habits to work smarter and unlock your true entrepreneurial potential and the routine to start your day. Jeff and Penny dive into Jeff’s work with his clients and how he became one of the most sought after morning habit ninja in the entrepreneurial game. Get an overview of the Morning Fire Routine and win your mornings every day. Tune in and learn how you can set yourself up for success from preparation to follow through.
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The Morning Fire: Routines To Help You Work And Be Smarter With Jeff Wickersham
We’re going to talk about routines and how routines are going to help you to be smarter in the way that you work and take back time. I have an amazing guest with me, who is the routine specialist. Jeff Wickersham is with us. He is one of the most sought-after morning habit ninjas in the entrepreneur game. He’s known for helping busy entrepreneurs to unlock their potential through the power of the Morning Fire Routine. We’re going to find out more about what that is. Jeff’s program guides clients to implement game-changing habits for more energy, focus and abundance to take back time in your day. He became a bestselling author with his book, Rise, Fight, Love, Repeat. Jeff, welcome to the show.
Penny, thanks for having me.
I like to hear a little bit about the history of people. A lot of times people do something in their career because it’s been a challenge for themselves. Are you naturally habit and routine-oriented or was this something that came hard for you?
It organically grew out of pain and frustration that I had. I’ve owned a gym locally in my area for a few years now. People would put applications in and then I would call, text, video message, email and 20% of people would come into the door. I kept coming back with this frustration of, “Why is that?” It’s mindset. It’s they can’t get out of their own way and so much is driven through our habits and rituals. It’s preprogrammed that they don’t even know what’s stopping them from getting in the door. It was a pain point for clients. I felt personally that I was tapping out of where I was at. I was capping at a certain level. I knew it all went back to what we do on a daily basis and so much is driven through our habits and routines. That’s how it organically grew out of pain and frustration.
This is in particular with people that you’re working with. We all know what to do in most cases. We don’t do what we know. We’re going to talk about the Morning Routine and speaking of that as a habit to start out with, the way you start the day. People say, “Win the morning, win the day.” Tell me, why is this important from your perspective?
I would even take a step back further. Many people think of the morning, but they miss the critical step of the night before and how you prepare and set yourself up for success the next day. Many people, the minute the alarm clock goes off, they’re playing defense. I’ve got two sons. I coached them in basketball. Playing defenses is tough. You’re in that squat positions, your quads burn. That’s what people do all day long. It’s no wonder why they’re exhausted, stressed. They flop on the couch and have nothing left at the end of the day.
If you take care of yourself, then you can take care of everybody else that much better. Click To Tweet I would say first, it’s how you set yourself up for success the night before. How do you plan out what does that first 30 to 40 minutes look like? In the morning, it’s taking time for yourself to wake up physically, emotionally, spiritually. Get some good nutrition in to create this positive momentum in the day. You can take on any bump in the road that occurs. We all know stuff happens throughout your day. If you bookend your days at night and in the morning, it creates this tremendous momentum, energy and focus that can carry you through the day.
Is it what you do? Is it when you do it? There are many different philosophies out there. It’s starting the night before. I get that. That’s part of the when you do it. Is it the same if I wake up at 5:30 than if I wake up at 7:00? Give us a little bit more about what makes a successful morning routine after you’ve planned it.
I would say, yes, it’s the same depending on when you wake up. I’m an early riser. Most mornings, I’m up at 3:40.
Some people are just going to bed at that time.
People are like, “I can’t do it.” I’m like, “Let’s say you’re a parent and your kids get up at 6:30, back off a half an hour, 45 minutes. Make sure you get up at 5:45 and then go through these simple, straightforward steps.” Are they easy by any stretch of the imagination? No, but when you take time for yourself and you go through this process, then you get all that momentum and that energy. It’s transformational. When people have it clicked, they’re like, “I can’t believe how easy this was.” It’s simple and straightforward to take time for ourselves. Many times, especially as adults, we put ourselves last, especially for parents. We’ve got kids. We’re taking care of them before we take care of ourselves. If you spend this time doing it. It’s truly transformational for people when they carve out that time to take care of themselves, then they can take care of everybody else that much better.
Do you have specific steps that you talk about that should be done in the morning to get you awake both physically, emotionally and spiritually as you said?
It’s very inline to my book and it’s my mantra. It’s rise, fight, love and repeat. It’s rise in the morning. I love the symbolism of Phoenix rising from the ashes, new day, reborn, new possibilities, new opportunities. It’s fighting for your physical, mental and spiritual fitness. Often in life, we get muted in that fight mentality. I remember being younger and I’m the oldest of three. When I would fight with my younger brother, it was, “Don’t fight with your brother.” It’s bred out of us of the things we hear. Fighting from that perspective, loving yourself, most importantly. We’re inherently tough on ourselves. When you love yourself, you can love all of those around you, being grateful for where you’re at, and that repetition piece. Repeating over and over again to allow those habits to sink in, go into your subconscious, then you’re on autopilot and you’re creating that positive momentum every day. It’s drinking a glass of water. It’s affirmations. It’s a little workout to get that body flowing, some meditation and journaling. It creates these little wins in your morning. It can create that tremendous momentum.
I’m a big believer in that too. It is the state of mind that you put yourself in and the physical energy that you create in the morning that carries through the whole day. I know when I don’t get to do some of those things for myself, the day is sluggish. It’s not going as easily or inflow, the resilience to bob and weave as needed. To you, this is 30 to 45 minutes to put all of this into practice.
It’s about that timeframe. I tell my clients, “This is a blueprint I’ve used. Put on that white lab coat, be that scientist and figure out what works for you.” Some people might like a longer workout. Some people might like shorter. They might have a different green smoothie recipe that they like. It’s a blueprint for what has worked for me and a lot of my clients. To your point, that energy of movement in the morning. I always like to tell people because vacations happen, travel happens for work back when we were traveling a little bit. I say, “Always do a couple of things regardless of where you’re at.” You can always drink a glass of water. You can always get a workout in. You can always meditate. Those are the three core things that if you keep going every single day, to your point, you’re going to have that energy. You’re going to get out of that sluggishness and be able to take all of that.
I always ask the question, and it feels like this would be a good spot to put it. What’s your definition of productivity and why? How do these habits and routines fit into that?
My definition of productivity is being focused on things that move the needle towards your goals and results. Many times, we do unproductive tasks that are busy tasks. I go through it. It’s a time management exercise as my clients go through my ten-week program. It’s so eye-opening when people document where they’re spending their time. It’s like if you’re going to go and track your nutrition and you put it into an app. You see the calories in that and the grams of fat, protein and carbs. It’s eye-opening and the same thing is for time management. Productivity is being focused on things that are going to move the needle towards your goals, results and trying to tackle those on a daily basis.
The morning routine and the evening routine, how does that fit into creating more focus on the things that matter?
One at night, you can journal or say out loud what you’re going to tackle the next day. The subconscious mind plays through it, works on it as you’re sleeping. In the morning, starting with some affirmations related to those goals or targets, writing in a gratitude journal about it. It’s the state of mind and you’re focused on that moving forward throughout the day. I have a methodology, when you wake up, you eliminate distractions. That means you’re not checking email, the news, text messages. It’s tough, especially initially when people come in. That phone is like a tractor beam. It’s like pulling you in. You see a message, “I missed something.” Don’t do it. Stay to the program and then you’ll create that forward momentum.
These little wins in your morning can create tremendous momentum. Click To Tweet I always talk about that too. Many do this in the morning. I always talk about, it’s not as much about what you do in the morning. It’s about what you need to not do in the morning. It’s like you said, no email, no text or social media, no meetings, no things that get in the way of those first initial energy boost that you need. I’m in total alignment with that. Again, if we know what to do, I always believe it’s what’s in the way of us doing what we know. If we can work that way, then we’re more likely to do the things that we know when we eliminate the things that are in the way.
When you create that, you have a choice when you wake up. You can be positive and happy or you can be negative. If you get an email that might not be the best email, it’s going to create that negative path down the road that you’re taking. It can derail you the entire day. Imagine if you spend 30 to 40 minutes on yourself getting energy, getting focus, and then you see that email, you’re going to be able to absorb it a lot more than if you started out the day that way.
Let’s talk about the evening routine. Tell me what that looks like to you. You said it was preparation for the next day, but there’s some more to it.
Preparation the next day and I get very granular where I’m like, “I want you to have your glass of water out and ready for you.” People are like, “That’s ridiculous.” I say, “No, it’s not.” What happens if you come downstairs in the morning and your favorite cup isn’t there or you go and everything’s dirty in the dishwasher? It’s your first opportunity for the mind to take the easy way out. It will try and take the easy way out every day. Preparing clothes out, phone away from the bed so you don’t hit the snooze button. You physically get out of bed. The odds that you’re going to get back into bed are much less because you’ve hit that cold air.
Preparing everything for smoothie recipes, all that stuff. I like to do it about 30 minutes before I’m going to sleep where I’m shutting off electronics. I’m not checking my phone. I’m reading, going through some nighttime affirmations, maybe journaling a bit and then I’m out pretty quick. It drives my wife nuts. I could hit the pillow and be out like five seconds. Part of it is I’m up at 3:45 in the morning. I’m tired by that point. Going through that routine, your body gets used to it. It gives you the ability to get a quality night sleep.
Do you have habits and routines that you think are important for people to keep in mind or that help them to put them into practice?
A couple of things, one related to habits. I’d start small. Don’t start off with these grand things that you want to do and start small. Let’s say if it’s exercise, for example. For two weeks, say you’re going to go for a walk for five minutes and the next two weeks, add on five to the equation. Many times, we get so intense in trying to create these new habits and they fall by the wayside.
We make too big of a list. It’s like all or nothing. We create this, “I’m going to be into this. I just went to this amazing workshop or read this book,” then they’ve got this long list. It doesn’t happen because we’ve overcommitted and overdid it.
Get some small steps that you can create this positive association with exercise. For example, when somebody goes to the gym and they work out 60 minutes for the first week, they are so sore that they inherently don’t want to go back. Start small. I would also say if you have a habit that you use already, pair that new habit with an old habit that you enjoy. I had a friend whose wife was pregnant with their second child and he’s like, “Meditation would be great for her.” He knew I’m almost up to 1,000 straight days of meditation. He knew I loved it.
I said, “How about have her meditate while she brews a cup of coffee?” It was decaf, but because she enjoys that, it’s going to give her 2 or 3 minutes. Her reward for meditating is coffee. James Clear has got a great book, Atomic Habits. He talks about habit stacking where you can stack a good habit that you already have on new habits that you want to adopt. It increases your likelihood of sticking with those habits. Those would be my two main ones, start small and try and stack it with a good habit that you already have.
Is there anything else that you wanted to share for the readers before we close out?
If they want to find out more information, they can go out to my website, TheMorningFire.com. They can go out to Amazon, grab my book, Rise, Fight, Love, Repeat. That is very similar to what I teach and preach in small actionable steps that you can put into place like tomorrow, not three weeks from now and get some forward momentum. We overcomplicate the heck out of things. If you get in and start taking action, these small steps can create some amazing things in your life.
A lot of people are looking for shortcuts. They’re saying, “I got it. Give me the shortcut.” What is the number one shortcut for you that makes things work a lot easier?
I feel like that’s a tough question because I have found there are not many shortcuts. It’s hard work and it’s being disciplined on a daily basis. A shortcut would be hiring a coach or somebody that’s done it before. If you want to struggle and play around and I played around with courses, books and podcasts for a couple of years, as I was trying to put this together. If you want to go faster and quicker, it’s hiring a coach or somebody or getting a mentor, somebody that’s done it. You can accelerate your growth. That’s probably the only shortcut I know. It’s hard work day in, day out.
There are not many shortcuts to success. It's hard work and being disciplined on a daily basis. Click To Tweet What it sounds to me, and tell me if I’m understanding this right, is when you hire a coach, you get somebody who has a process for you that makes it easier. Falling back on structure helps. It’s also accountability. That’s a shortcut. When you hold yourself accountable with external means, not just internal means, that’s also a shortcut. It holds you to do what you say that you’re going to do. That’s what I hear you saying. Am I understanding it right?
That’s a huge factor. We always let ourselves off the hook when we keep things internal.
All those excuses we make is to why it’s okay, “It’s okay if I hit that snooze button because I don’t need to be up for another twenty minutes.”
Nobody’s going to hold you accountable. Even posting on social media, I said I was going to do a Facebook Live every day at 12:30. Nobody’s going to hold me accountable to it. I didn’t want to look like a liar if somebody were to think of it. Every day, I went at 12:30. There was one time I was down in Jersey Shore in my truck with my laptop going live. I’m like, “I said I’m going to do this.” Accountability is a huge factor because we always let ourselves off the hook.
Thank you so much for being here and sharing these important tips around the morning routine and the evening routine. I like how you called it the bookends.
I appreciate you having me.
Thank you all for being here because you are the ones that this show is geared towards. I know that you’re going to be able to most importantly take some of these tips in preparing yourself for the next day, getting that morning routine and closing down your day. Remember, start small and see what you can do to hold yourself accountable and to stack those habits together so it makes it easier to implement. We will see you in the next episode.
- Rise, Fight, Love, Repeat
- Atomic Habits
About Jeff Wickersham
Today I’m joined by our guest, Jeff Wickersham, one of the most sought-after morning habit ninja’s in the entrepreneurial game. Hs is known for helping busy entrepreneurs unlock their potential through the power of the Morning Fire Routine. Jeff’s program guides clients to implement game-changing habits for more energy, focus, abundance and time in their days. .
Jeff recently became a best selling author with his book Rise, Fight, Love,
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