By Robert Pagliarini

How to Start Your Morning

Does your morning routine feel more like a "mourning" routine? The first 30 minutes of your day has a powerful grip over the rest of your day -- your morning behaviors and attitudes can influence how you feel and what you do for the rest of your waking hours. Instead of smashing the alarm clock, kicking the cat and cursing your life every morning, you can do five simple things that will start your day off on a better note and help you live your best life.

1. Kill the kryptonite.

You are no longer allowed to hit the snooze button. This is coming from a guy who had a bad habit of abusing the snooze button. I'd set my alarm an hour early (yes, an hour early!) just so I could hit the snooze button six times. I found that this little and seemingly innocuous button made me weaker and weaker every day. Every time I hit it, I was unconsciously reinforcing the belief that I was weak and that I couldn't get out of bed when I was supposed to. Break this habit and replace it with a much better one. Set your alarm for when you want to get up, and when it goes off, make yourself stronger by doing the shocking thing -- by getting up. Do this every day and you will grow in confidence.

2. First five seconds.

When it's dark and cold out, you need a burst of inspiration to get your juices flowing. The first thing you should do is feed your mind. Look at your DreamBoard, read an inspirational quote or Bible passage, go over your goals, etc. Do this first -- before you reach for your Blackberry, remote or toothbrush.

3. Get the blood flowing.

While your mind has been active all night, your body has not. The best way to get the mind engaged and primed is to get the body moving. Immediately after you feed your mind, do a few minutes of light stretching or yoga to get the blood flowing to your muscles and to get your joints loosened. You don't need to be Richard Simmons on crack -- slow and steady is good.

4. PowerJournal.

For 15 or 20 minutes every day, I want you to write, brainstorm and just think. One of the best ways to increase your happiness and sense of well-being is to express gratitude. A powerful and easy way to do this is by writing about those things for which you are grateful. You could also spend a few minutes daydreaming about your future. Instead of immediately getting sucked into the day's pressures, responsibilities and problems, a few minutes of quiet time focused on your perfect future can provide you with a sense of calm and peace that can last the whole day.

5. Breakfast.

I know. You've heard it before. But I'll risk repeating it because studies show about 40 percent of us still skip breakfast. The benefits of eating a nutritious breakfast are well known. Avoid bacon, sausage, pastries, and processed cereals, and go for something simple like a bowl of whole grain cereal with non-fat milk and add a banana and raisins.

If you don't have time for breakfast or want a little something extra, you can chug down a power shake. My shake takes about three minutes to make and about two minutes to drink. The cool thing is that you can load it up with just about anything and everything.

If you did all of these things, it would add maybe 20 or 30 minutes to your morning schedule. I know a half hour in the morning is huge, but look at this time as an investment in your day and in you. Doing these things will make you healthier, give you a more positive attitude, provide a much greater feeling of control, and grant you a sense of peace and calmness. Or at the very least, you'll have a better relationship with your cat.


Robert Pagliarini is a CBS MoneyWatch columnist and the author of "The Other 8 Hours: Maximize Your Free Time to Create New Wealth & Purpose" and the national best-seller "The Six-Day Financial Makeove"


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