In Robert Kiyosaki’s book, Rich Dad Poor Dad, he shares a strategy that involves paying yourself first. That is, before you pay taxes, bills, loans, etc., make sure to pay yourself by putting 10, 15, or 20% of your income away automatically into savings the moment it arrives. Then, you pay your obligations, and you learn to live on what’s left. According to him, most people do it the other way. They pay everyone first and then save if anything is left.
His point is that we work so hard for that income and then we don’t even pay ourselves (savings) until everyone else has been paid. This is quite discouraging. Of course, we know the government takes their cut before that automatic savings deposit, however, the point is to make sure to put something away for your future, ASAP.
I started practicing that as soon as I read it and reverse engineered how to live on and enjoy what was left. Doing that for years allowed me to create a financial runway to reinvent myself again.
However, I also wondered if this idea applies to other areas of our life. And it occurred to me that it applies to morning routines as well. As I reflected on that idea, I realized that my morning routines (documented here) have almost always “paid me first.” That is, before I started my official workday, I had already paid myself some combination of a great workout, some reading, a great breakfast, progress on a personal goal, meditation, etc.
When you start your day by doing something for yourself, you effectively pay yourself first.
Never Dread Monday Mornings Again
During a difficult period in a previous job, I remember I barely had time to complete my preferred workout. Due to a long commute and early start, I didn’t have much time to do anything for me. After a few months of that tough situation at work, I started to get really down about work and my energy was mostly flat by midday. The night before, I always dreaded the next morning. By Sundays at 6pm, I was already feeling down about having to go to work on Monday morning.
Then one day, I happened to have a really great commute to work. One bus and two subways were perfectly on time, no traffic, and few people. Not sure why that all worked out, but I was quite ahead of schedule. So I decided to get off at an earlier stop and walk the rest of the way. Since I had those extra 20 minutes, I decided to go into a Starbucks for a latte and even treated myself to an open seat by the window. I stayed there for about 10 minutes and then walked another 10 minutes to work.
That felt amazing! When I arrived to work, I was in significantly better spirits. I had more energy and patience to deal with the drama and challenges at work. And from that day on, I designed my mornings so that I would always be just a little earlier so that I could sit down, enjoy some coffee, and walk part of the way to work. After about a week, I added reading to that coffee ritual.
Essentially, I was paying myself first. We only get 24 hours in a day and spend about the first 5 or 6 sleeping. If we go straight to work and get home around 6pm, 18 hours have gone by and we have yet to do anything for ourselves. So by giving myself these 20 minutes in the morning, I was paying myself with time before I started my workday.
Pay Yourself First, Especially During the Tough Moments
Work will not always be great – there will be tough moments. Sometimes, it’s so bad that we dread Sunday evenings because we know that Monday morning is around the corner. That is not an acceptable way to live our precious lives. By paying yourself with time every morning before work, you give yourself something to look forward to the evening before.
What small thing can you do tomorrow morning to pay yourself first?