I’ve been in professional business for over 15 years and built two companies. I’ve interviewed highly successful people such as Adriana Huffington, Tony Robbins.

There was a time when my big question was, “what do I need to do to make steady and meaningful progress toward my life vision while not getting sidetracked by unproductive tasks?” It’s a topic I continuously assess and try to improve.

I’m sure you can relate to this scenario:

You wake up and the first thing you do before you even get out of bed is to reach for your phone and check your emails. You start your day by filling your mind with other people’s agenda, and before you finish your first cup of coffee you’re already putting out other people’s fires or off on tangents doing one task or another.

You find yourself spending the rest of the day in reactive mode or tackling on tasks that make you look productive. Often they’re driven by your interest rather than your long-term vision. For example, if you like creative work you might spend two hours pushing pixels on your website.

By the time everyone who showed up in your inbox is happy and you’ve dabbled with some tasks that catch your fancy you’re spent. You’ve no energy left to work on the important project that’s really going to make a difference in your life.

Even though you swear you’d get to it “tomorrow,” you’d revert back to autopilot every morning and go through the same motion – like the movie Groundhog Day.

“Reacting to “marching orders” has become a habit we’ve cultivated over many years”.

Running on Auto-Pilot

What’s really going on?

We’re supposed to be empowered, independent individuals who have the ability to take charge of our lives. How is it that we’re reacting like Pavlov’s dog?

Here’s some interesting food for thought. We’re conditioned from a very young age to be reactive – in school, we’re given assignments and tests; at work, we’re handed due dates and project requirements.

Reacting to “marching orders” has become a habit we’ve cultivated over many years. The “comfort” that comes with this predictability makes us shape our days around other people’s agenda, even though it’s not for our best interest.

Reaching for our phones and depending on our emails to tell us “what’s next” has become the default behavior to avoid the discomfort of uncertainty.

Fortunately, we can change that.

You can change this ingrained behavior and set yourself up for more success by consciously establishing a new habit to ensure that you’re taking the most impactful actions every single day to make steady progress toward your life vision.

After observing many successful entrepreneurs and experimenting with numerous productivity strategies myself, I realize that lasting results are built on three keys.

3 Essential Keys That Help Drive Progress and Results

  1. Morning Ritual
  2. Weekly Routine
  3. Power of Discipline

The Power of Ritual and Routine

The most successful leaders and entrepreneurs practice a daily morning routine that sets them up to be meaningfully productive.

As Tony Robbins told Change Creator Magazine, “knowledge alone is not power, it’s simply potential power. Execution will always create greater results than theory. And execution starts with your psychology.”

Establishing a morning ritual is a great way to set up a psychological framework for yourself so you can be disciplined about taking actions toward your goals because consistent actions taken over time is the key to massive results.

Your morning ritual is a habit that allows you to set yourself up for a productive day and take charge of what you do for your life, so you can focus on action items that are important instead of reacting to others’ agenda or putting energy into actions that don’t push you towards your vision.

I try to have the first 80 to 90 minutes of my day vary as little as possible. I think that a routine is necessary to feel in control and non-reactive, which reduces anxiety. It therefore also makes you more productive. (Tim Ferriss)

Your morning routine is not about checking to-dos off the list. It’s first and foremost about setting your mind and body up for success.

For instance, Tony Robbins has a morning ritual that includes taking an ice bath, breathing exercise, expressing gratitude and praying. Most successful people also take time to properly nourish and fuel their bodies so they have the mental clarity and physical stamina to face the challenges of the day.

When you consistently practice your morning ritual, it becomes your weekly routine that builds the discipline for you to do what truly matters.

A System For Success and Personal Growth

Ready to get started? Here’s how you can make steady, consistent and meaningful progress:

1. Define Your Life Vision and Meaningful Work

You’ve probably heard this before but it’s an essential starting point because it gives you a solid foundation to build on. Unless you’re clear on where you’re heading, you can’t define the necessary actions that will create meaningful progress for you.

You have to be crystal clear about your life vision. If you’re not sure, take a self-inventory. We walk through the process here.

Based on your life vision, you can now define the actions you need to take to achieve your goals and dreams.

When you identify projects and tasks that are meaningful, you can make a plan for consistent action.

Your “meaningful work” could be big projects that’d take years to accomplish. To make them less daunting, ensure you’re on track and give yourself the opportunities to course correct, divide your goals into categories of activities and digestible milestones.

Then for each task, you can assign a block of time – e.g. 30, 60 or 90 minutes – which you’d slot into your weekly routine.

2. Define Your Most Productive Hours

Studies show that alertness and memory, the ability to think clearly and to learn, can vary by between 15 and 30 percent over the course of a day. Most of us are sharpest some two and a half to four hours after waking. (Dan Ariely)

Allocate your most productive hours to doing the “meaningful work” you’ve previously defined.

Identify the three most important tasks you need to accomplish for the day, and focus your energy during your most productive hours to get them done.

3. Your Morning Ritual

Now you know what to do and when to do it, you have to do it!

One thing is clear about successful people: they follow routines with great discipline that allow their efforts to compound over time. Constant effort, not random tasks here or there, is where results come from.

Commitment to consistent action is essential to creating successful outcomes. It may be challenging at first to alter your established habits but as you practice implementing your new routine it’ll become your new second nature.

Block out time for your morning ritual and your most productive hours, and make them non-negotiable commitments.

4. Your Weekly Routine – Systems and Discipline Create Progress

Consistency is what separates the pros from the amateurs. You have to turn your morning ritual into a weekly routine that includes your morning ritual and the critical tasks you need to perform each week to move closer to your vision.

Make it a habit to define the 3 top priorities the night before, so you can focus on them right away. Instead of spending your mental energy on deciding what to do, you’d just sit down and do it.

Here’s how I plan out every day of the week – notice I make time to sharpen my mind, nourish my body, and taking action to grow my business:

We all have family, job, and relationships to juggle. I get it, not all of us can block out an hour in the morning for ourselves every day of the week. If you can’t fit in an extensive morning ritual every morning, consider following this 6-minute routine a few days a week.

If you’re a night owl and your “most productive hours” happen later in the day, design your schedule around it. You can practice a short morning ritual to start your day, and then do your meaningful work later on when you’re the sharpest.

There’s no one way to be successful, so design a system that allows you to be most productive consistently. Being consistent is key!

5. Get Meaningful Input

“Garbage in, garbage out.” If you don’t feed quality input into the system, you’re not going to create meaningful output.

One of my favorite ways to stretch myself, acquire new skills and learn from those who’ve created success is to take courses or attend inspiring events. You must keep educating yourself as your success can only go as far as your personal growth. I’ve taken writing classes, audience development classes, read self-help books, listened to podcasts and been to live events.

For example, I am currently a contributing writer to Influencive, where I noticed founder and established entrepreneur, Brian Evans, is holding a really cool event with people that will help you expedite your success.

Once you have your new routine established, make sure you’re consistently and continually improving yourself. Be sure to track results over time to learn what’s working and what isn’t.

Your turn – what action can you take TODAY to start forming a new routine that will help you make steady and meaningful progress? Leave a comment below and share your experience.