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Evening Ritual Challenge Day 5: Making Your Routine Last (a.k.a. knowing your why)

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White sprayed on text over a white line on a red background

Last day. Glad to have you back!

This week you have:

I hope you’ve had a week of 7 to 8 hours of amazing, restorative sleep. I hope the fog around your brain and the bags under your eyes have dissipated. I hope you’ve been in a better mood, been more insightful, had a sharper memory.

I hope the sports commentators had good things to say about your play-by-play productivity moves.

The latest studies say that sleep has:

  • reduced your chance of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer
  • increased your immune function
  • regulated your appetite
  • increased your pain tolerance
  • increased your ability to learn and consolidate new information

But why stop here?

It’s the small, smart, consistent choices made over time that make the real difference.

A week of 7 to 8 hours of sleep is great, but how would your year look if you got the amount of rest you needed every single night without fail?

Today’s challenge is to do just that. Imagine what if…

How could your life be different?

Family walking dog

What could you do with 365 days of amazing, restorative nights of sleep and the clear, energetic days that come as a result?

What would your relationships look like if you were in a better mood more often?

What would your career or business look like if you showed up at your best every day?

What would your health look like if you had more willpower to exercise and eat right?

How could better sleep allow you to connect more deeply with your friends, family, and romantic partner?

Stretch that out to 5 years.

What projects around the house would get done? Those projects you never had the energy to complete. The basement. The home office. The garden.

How would your kids behave with a well rested fully present, loving parent? What would they be like in five years with a parent who could remember all their friend’s names and all their important moments?

What about other parts of your evening ritual? What would 5 years of journaling or meditation or gratitude or prayer mean for your life? What would you be able to contribute with this new mindset and stronger resolve?

Stretch that out again to a decade. A decade of giving your body exactly what it needs to perform at its best. How would your health be in comparison to its current path?

Why is this evening routine so critical for you?

Shouting loud

What would a year of late nights that leave you? What opportunities would you miss in that year of poor sleep? What chances will you never get back? What memories will be lost? What lessons forgotten?

How would another year of poor sleep affect your finances? How would it affect you waistline?

What clothes would you be able to fit in 5 years from now if you let poor sleep drive other poor decisions in your life?

What about 10 years of living in a fog? Never mind the results you would get, you might be able to make up for that, imagine 10 years of not being fully awake. A decade of not being fully alive. You can never get that time back.

You’ll also never get those healthy days back. You are sick more often because your body isn’t strong enough to fight off disease.

Take a moment to write down your why.

Why is it so important that this evening ritual is strong. How does making the small, smart consistent choice to get the rest you need give you more of what you want out of life? More health. More abundance. More opportunity. More gratitude. More growth. More learning. More fun. More service. More romance.

More of you.

Action Items

1. Perform and track your evening ritual.

  • I know it’s Friday. If you have a later start time to your day on Saturday, you can push your ritual back a bit. To make it easier on yourself this Sunday, try to keep the weekend time shift at or under an hour.

2. Continue to make improvements to your sleeping environment. Install those blackout curtains you ordered on Amazon yesterday. Get that AC unit cranking.

3. Write down your “why” for this evening ritual. Set a calendar reminder to review what you wrote in a couple of weeks. Re-read and revise your “why” whenever you feel your motivation or execution slipping.


Note: The live challenge is over, but you can review all of the days here:

You can also enter your name and email address below to join us on our next challenge! 

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Posted by Barb  | August 9, 2016 at 4:01AM | Reply

Why? Because I love getting up early in the morning and getting three of my four core things I need to do, done: meditate, move and create. And to do that I need to get to bed on time and the evening ritual helps me do that. Thanks for this challenge, it’s really helped me get this working well :-)

Posted by Lenita  | August 7, 2016 at 11:18PM | Reply

There were some glitches for me during this challenge;.like my dog getting sick and choosing to be sick at 3am the last 2 nights. Well life has speed bumps and we have to go over them. Thank you for the challenge this week. It will get easier, just have to stick to it.

Posted by Katie  | August 6, 2016 at 11:17PM | Reply

Thanks for this course! It was easy to implement things one at a time and I’m excited to see how this simple change affects my life for the better.

Posted by Barb  | August 6, 2016 at 8:19PM | Reply

Thanks for this challenge. It’s really helped me set things straight in the evening and I have been a lot more consistent at sticking to my evening routine this week :-)

Posted by Liz  | August 6, 2016 at 1:35AM | Reply

Why I signed up for tis challenge wasn’t actually a better night’s sleep. I already had a quite set bed time and, most nights slept reasonably well.
I signed up to create more structure in my evening so I wouldn’t be wasting my energy making similar decisions every single night.

Posted by Randy  | August 6, 2016 at 12:32AM | Reply

Having followed this new routine as I am closing my work week with more energy, and I don’t feel like I’m dragging, you know. :-)

Thanks for the great tips, and advice.

Posted by Katie  | August 6, 2016 at 12:04AM | Reply

This was great :) I’m so happy with my new set PM routine.

My main goal with this was to create better balance in my night (i.e. finish working at a decent time) and get a good sleep so that I could work at my best during the day and achieve my education goals. And I feel like I’m on a good path to achieving it…. whilst keeping my sanity!

Posted by E. J.  | August 6, 2016 at 12:03AM | Reply

Thanks to AE Dojo. You all are amazing. Thanks to everyone ejob participated as well, it was inspiring to read your messages every day! Good luck to everything that you attempt from now on.

Posted by Shawn  | August 5, 2016 at 6:34PM | Reply

My reason? I wanted to achieve my goals and reach my dreams. That is why I wanted to be more productive and get better and faster results.

Appreciate for these 5 days challenge in creating my evening ritual. Thanks so for AE. :)

Posted by toetsie  | August 5, 2016 at 5:31PM | Reply


the feedbackon this 5 day crash course: its too much. There was also a reason why i didn’t take lots of time to wind down, every evening! Then too much comes/pops up. Ah well, there is always therapy.


Posted by Stewart  | August 5, 2016 at 4:43PM | Reply

This challenge has been a great idea – a cool refresh on some things I knew and did, some I didn’t and didn’t !

Either way I’ve established my ritual and picked an app (Productive). It also means I can de-clutter my OmniFocus :-) win win

Posted by Hema  | August 5, 2016 at 4:32PM | Reply

Wrote down my why in the project note space in omnifocus for ease of reference. Have timetabled the review. All going smoothly. Great challenge…looking forward to the next one…..

Posted by Kate D.  | August 5, 2016 at 4:08PM | Reply

The good news is that this intensive has helped me get off the couch when I need to. I seem to be sleepy at bedtime and I am no longer taking Ambien. (My doctor will thank you.)

The bad news is that no matter how long I sleep, I never wake up full of energy and ready to jump out of bed. So I’m not quite ready to say that an evening ritual is going to miraculously change my life. Maybe if I continue to be consistent, my energy level will improve, or at least my attitude :-).

Posted by Lori  | August 5, 2016 at 3:43PM | Reply

Thanks for the challenge! Last night I closed my bedroom window (I like fresh air while I sleep despite the street noise, so I was skeptical), and wore a sleep mask. Once the cat got done poking at the mask, I think I slept a lot better. Not necessarily more, but better. I’m going to continue with the same ritual time going into the weekend, and see how much I can carry over into a business trip.

Posted by Ellen  | August 5, 2016 at 2:59PM | Reply

Keeping my ‘why’ front and center–definitely a weak point for me. Thanks for the great tips and reminders!

Posted by Suzanne  | August 5, 2016 at 2:57PM | Reply

Thank you! I enjoyed the challenge and got me to bed on time. I am sharing this with my husband, kids and brother. Thanks again!

Posted by Catherine S.  | August 5, 2016 at 2:57PM | Reply

My “why” is simple: to drastically improve some awful sleep habits from the last school year and avoid burnout beginning this fall as a (college) sophomore.

This was a wonderful value-add you’ve provided to your clients and readers. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and experience!

Posted by Cecilia  | August 5, 2016 at 2:56PM | Reply

Thanks for this weeks challenge… I hope you repeat it! Because I will need a reminder at some time….

Posted by Adele  | August 5, 2016 at 2:52PM | Reply

Thank you for the excellent content in the challenge. According to my Fitbit I had been averaging less than 5 hours sleep per night. Being able to focus on the bite-sized actions in the emails made it possible for me to rethink my evening routine and I look forward to tracking my progress further with my new habit of 7-8 hours sleep per night. One other resource I would recommend is The Sleep Book by Guy Meadows – Guy describes a five week plan to improve the quality of sleep for insomniacs.

Posted by Evan  | August 5, 2016 at 1:39PM | Reply

Thank you for leading us through these challenges this week. I read a lot of “productivity” blog posts but am only occasionally spurred to action, even if the ideas I’m reading about seem valuable. This challenge format caused me to act and I now have a tangible change in my routine from which I’m already benefiting. The relaxation effects of the ritual are powerful :)

Thanks guys and look forward to more challenges.

Posted by Stephen Roe  | August 5, 2016 at 12:13PM | Reply

Thanks for a great final chapter! It’s so easy to see the benefits of additional sleep.

One tool I’ve used in the past was this neat app from Harvard:

It’s basically a simulation of driving and tests your reflex time. I certainly wouldn’t recommend depriving yourself of sleep, but if/when you do, it’s an interesting experiment to take the test and see just how slow your reaction is, then compare it to when you’re well-rested.

Scary stuff.

Posted by Janeson  | August 5, 2016 at 12:07PM | Reply

Thank you for developing the material for this challenge. It’s been very helpful so far. I’ve found the reverse alarm clock to be particularly helpful, but my absolute favorite was removing all the electronics from my bedroom. I not only go to sleep faster now, but it’s easier for me to get up and get going in the morning. No more temptation to fiddle with my iPad or iPhone :-)

Sweet dreams!

Posted by Roxanne  | August 5, 2016 at 11:16AM | Reply

Evening ritual (writing what I want to do for the next day) is critical for my next day’s productivity. If I project myself 10 years later (2026), and I do this one tiny habit everyday, it’s 3650 days of difference in terms of productivity. It’s cumulative. I can see that my days will be filled with important life tasks, instead of drifting around doing low priority tasks. This is extremely important in terms of living my life consciously. Our time here on this earth is limited. Let’s live our lives to the fullest:D

Posted by Katherine  | August 5, 2016 at 10:56AM | Reply

Going well so far. Even though I have little trouble falling asleep, I was not getting a full night’s restful sleep because of where I was sleeping half the night. I’m not as sleepy during the day now. The ritual is very calming.

Posted by Bruce  | August 5, 2016 at 10:19AM | Reply

A regular well executed evening ritual is the one thing that is missing from my life. It is the one habit that I am working on for the next 3 months.

Posted by Peter  | August 5, 2016 at 9:59AM | Reply

Thank you for the challenge. Some new things came up to try, so I changed the Evening Ritual from the past to the new version. In the next 30 days it will become for sure the “new habit”.

Posted by Eanna black  | August 5, 2016 at 9:18AM | Reply

Really enjoyed this week’s evening rituals challenge.
Great food for thought and actionable items in the blog posts. Next to introduce my wife to the concepts!

Posted by Rachel  | August 5, 2016 at 9:16AM | Reply

Thanks for this challenge: I have loved it! I’m in my second week of being smoke-free, and having this evening ritual to work on (along with the benefits of more and better quality sleep) has been invaluable in helping me with THAT particular challenge.

Looking forward to an energetic, optimistic summer – wish you guys the same!

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