If you’re interested in the audio version of this article in these locations:
Do you know what most business travelers do one thing when they wake up in the morning on the road in their hotel room?
The first guess would be to hit snooze on the alarm and many do.
But Elite Road Warrior Group Research has shown that most business travelers…
Reach for their phone.
Why? Well, there’s a handful of reasons but no matter the reason and what they do, there is always one thing in common:
It hijacks their morning.
Why? Because it’s a time sucker especially if we jump into the news or social media.
It’s also filled with OPAs – other people’s agenda.
- What they want or need from you
- What they want to tell you
- What they want you to buy
Many lose easily a half hour or more and haven’t even climbed out of bed yet!
No condemnation here, Road Warrior.
I believed and justified in my head that if I could “just get ahead” looking at my email, calendar, Slack or WeChat, etc. it would help me.
Lies nothing but lies!
I used to be so unintentional and reactive to whatever caught my attention or the path of least resistance in the morning on the road.
And I was the advocate for how impossible it was to do anything but work on the road and especially no time for professional or personal development.
So I get it.
But here’s what I missed…
- I missed the gift of the morning.
- I missed the silence.
- I missed the solitude.
- I missed the chance to invest in me, the one thing nobody else can do for me.
And nobody else will guard unless I seize it. The morning is the perfect place for it especially if I’ve had a good night of rest.
Let me state upfront. Right now, my 1st hour in the morning on the road is filled only with energy habits.
The two largest of my morning energy habits are:
- MOVE – Increase M4X – Stand more / Walk more / Run more / Lift more
- DEVELOP – Sharpen the Mind / Process the Thoughts / Monitor the Heart
And my motto, my theme is two phrases used often with Road Warrior Nation:
Consistency Over Length
Something, Anything, is Better Than Nothing
There are two things I do immediately after single morning on the road:
- Hydrate – (Fuel – Continually Hydrate) with 16 oz water, lemon, sea salt, and greens powder
- Read – (Sharpen the Mind and Process the Thoughts) – my Bible then something inspirational (if it’s the day of a flight, I save this reading for the 1st 20-30 minutes of the flight)
Once those two habits are done of hydrate and read, I move on to my Elite Road Warrior Journal. It has two portions:
Think Space (Process the Thoughts) dotted page Notebook
Eight Questions Journal (Monitory the Heart) blank page Notebook
Here are some initial questions asked of my personal process:
Q1 – How long do you take to journal your questions?
Q2 – Where do you journal?
Most of the time in my hotel room at the desk but sometimes if my hotel is near a park, forest, water, etc. I’ll choose there.
One time I climbed Mount Spokane and journaled there – talk about silence/solitude/ and inspiring!
Q3 – What do you write with?
For the record, there will be a branded leather case for the pens and the pens included in the very near future. Just go to EliteRoadWarrior.com for details.
I use different colors for different reasons when I write for both my Monitor the Heart journal and Think Space journal.
Q4 – What do you write in?
The ERW (Elite Road Warrior) Branded Journal
Q5 – What does your layout look like?
Top Left – location (for example: Outer Banks, NC)
Top Right – date (for example: W.10.16.19)
I use two pages of my journal so there’s a lot of free space. Here’s an example:
Before we get into the Eight Questions I Answer Every Morning on the Road, let’s talk about WHY I do it.
The road has the ability to suck out any empathy, compassion, generosity, etc within a person and especially men.
I found that too often I was coming home jaded and it was affecting my wife and kids.
I was bringing home the stress of the road from the long hours to the draining people I encountered or dealt with and my family and friends didn’t really care for “that Bry or that guy” if you will.
I didn’t grow up journaling. I didn’t have examples of people around me who journaled. Notetakers yes but not journalers and there’s a difference.
I viewed journaling as a girl thing in a diary therefore not for me.
And when I eventually tried it after prompting from a mentor, I sucked at it.
I was SO inconsistent. Huge entry one day then days and weeks would pass with radio silence and major gaps.
Then my perfectionism would come out and I had to journal and do it “just right.”
And I quit.
A few years ago Scott Mawdesley, Elite Road Warrior subject matter expert for Develop energy habit, really challenged me its’ more important THAT I write, not what I write and I should try just journaling “just one line” per entry.
I could write more but Write One Line became my mantra.
And you know what? It worked.
Then another mentor of mine, Jonathan Milligan, encouraged me with key questions he asked himself every morning to give structure to his journaling and encouraged me to do the same – hence the Eight Questions I Answer Every Morning on the Road.
But WHY do I journal these questions and what comes as a result?
- Clarity – What do I want out of my life
- Themes – What’s happening on a consistent basis in my life – what are the patterns I wouldn’t normally see without reflecting
- Focus – where should I spend my time
MONITOR the HEART, the 3rd part of the Invest in You Formula of the Develop Energy Habit has three Checks of the Heart Engine: (think of check lights coming on your dash about your engine).
One – PULSE CHECK
Learning to ask: “How am I REALLY doing?”
We ask people all the time, “How are you doing?” We don’t really care or even want them to give an answer beyond fine or great. My father used to have a drop-dead line when someone asked that question. Here’s how it went:
Acquaintance: “How are you doing?”
My father: “Depends”
Acquaintance: (Confused and stops in their tracks.) “Depends on what?”
My father: “How much time you have. If you only have a second, I’m fine. If you have a minute or two, I’ll actually tell you how I’m doing.”
That interaction was always awkward to me as a kid, but wow, do I understand it now. On the road, we would change the word “fine” to “busy” then compete with each other on who is busier (aka who’s more important!).
Two – GRATITUDE CHECK
Learning to ask: “Who or what am I grateful for right now?”
We want to be grateful people.
We may even say we’re grateful people but here’s the proof – every single day.
Three – SOUL CHECK
Learning to ask: “What do I need to get out that I’m keeping in?
This is beyond touchy-feely feelings but making sure we get to the heart of you as an elite road warrior.
I have three simple categories for my questions:
Review Yesterday – 3 questions
Reflect Now – 2 questions
Rehearse Today – 3 questions
Question 1 – What Happened Yesterday?
I want to be able to track my time so I know what my day looked like.
NEEDED DISCLAIMER – These are bullet points, not sentences or paragraphs.
I want to be able to remember that specific day at a glance just looking at What happened yesterday listings.
I want to know:
- Was I productive?
- Were there the margins in my day and where?
- Did the six energy habits exist?
This is GREAT intel at the end of my month and the end of my quarter when I review my journal to see how I spent my time.
Question 2 – What Were My Biggest Wins?
These are the answers to what I actually accomplished.
Some days my response is “busy but not productive” – I detest these days on the road.
Notice it’s my BIGGEST wins, not any wins. I want to see forward motion on my goals for the week and the day to day big wins give me that intel.
Question 3 – What Were My Lessons Learned?
This may come from what I read or listened to yesterday or this morning.
It may be from my big wins or lack thereof.
It’s how I’m doing and what I’m learning in regards to the three focus areas of ERW: Work / Health / Home Life.
This is feedback on if and how I’m growing on a DAILY basis – is there a theme?
This 3rd question challenges me and sometimes it takes me a minute or two to think of something if the answer is not top of mind.
Note: sometimes I may need to move on to another question and come back to it but I always want to answer this key question.
Three Review Yesterday Questions – which, by the way, I write in red in my ERW Journal with the answers in blue.
Two Reflect Now Questions… which I write in black in my journal with the answers in blue.
Question 4 – Who / What Am I Thankful For RIGHT NOW?
This is the GRATITUDE CHECK
Learn to ask: “Who or what am I grateful for right now?”
I have to be honest, some days it’s easy to mail it in and put something generic but that’s not the goal.
It’s The Who and/or the What but also the WHY – why am I thankful for that person or situation?
I’ve learned through the years people I’m grateful for actually don’t know I’m grateful for them UNLESS I TELL THEM!
This is a GREAT chance to prompt you to take action RIGHT THEN to let them know – send them a text/email/voicemail.
Sometimes I actually take a picture of that answer in my journal and send it to them.
You’d be shocked how just this little gesture means to people especially people who you care about and are thankful for.
If I’m struggling to answer this question on a consistent basis, this is a heart issue on my part that needs attention.
Question Five – How Am I Feeling Right Now?
This is the PULSE CHECK
Learn to ask: “How am I REALLY doing?”
I know what you guys are thinking: here’s the diary “touchy/feely” part of the program. And you’re right – suck it up and try it. I’m not asking for you to write paragraphs and have a Kleenex available.
Mine are short bullets. For example:
- Exhausted from…
- Better rested because…
- Proud of…
- Disappointed in…
- Frustrated by…
- Missing home right now…
- Motivated to…
Nothing earth-shattering but I want a pulse on how I’m really doing.
Am I seeing patterns of day-after-day-after-day of being frustrated or tired?
This question is not nearly as hard as you think especially if you do it bullet style and lead with a key emotion word: proud, disappointed, tired, motivated, etc.
Three Rehearse Today Questions: which I put in green and answer in blue.
Why rehearse the day?
It’s like an athlete or a performer playing their game or performance in their mind.
Too often we just let the Road Day happen to us.
We’re not intentional then we wonder why our road day gets hijacked and we’re ALWAYS up until midnight working.
We want to be elite as a road warrior, it takes these type of moments and first thing in the morning to lock in how you want your day to go.
Question Six – What Are My Big 3 Today?
This is a concept from Michael Hyatt in his Full Focus Planner.
The Daily Big 3 are designed to come from the Weekly Big 3 which comes from your Quarterly Big 3.
I set quarterly goals in business but also in life so my weekly Big 3 and should influence your daily big 3.
If I have a heavy travel day, these are key.
What do I want to get done on my 4-hour flight?
If I have a heavy meeting or event day, maybe my Big 3 needs to happen 1st thing in the morning.
Pro Tip: almost every single business travel day one of my Big 3 is energy habit six: CONNECT – I want to make my family a high priority within my day which means I need to schedule it.
The first of the three target elements of the Protect Connect Formula in energy habit #6 is Connect Intentionally and by scheduling it as one of my big 3 it will get done.
When I schedule my Big 3 in my Elite Road Warrior Journal, I then enter it into my Full Focus Planner.
Question Seven – What is Today’s Highlight?
I learned this one from the book, Make Time.
The authors have three ways to determine your today’s highlight:
- Something URGENT that must get done today and will be a huge relief if and when it is done
- Something SATISFYING that will make you feel pleased and proud it’s completed
- Something that brings you JOY – what you look forward to = mine is usually my downtime activity
The point here is you have a focus point or a “highlight” on this specific day that is important to you and you look forward to, relieved, or proud when it happens or completed.
Question Eight – What Would Make Today Great?
I credit this question to Jonathan Milligan, my mentor and friend, who challenged me to answer this question each day.
And it was a challenge but now I depend on this last question.
- Your attitude
- Your effort
And oftentimes my response is one of those and often deals with the six energy habits.
I want and I need to make each day on the road GREAT.
I want to be at my best and no longer just get by but leverage each day on the road to get better.
To be honest, some days I just don’t feel like answering all the questions or what I’m going through or feeling doesn’t fit one of the eight questions or just needs to be worked through on paper. What do I do?
- Hate Being Gone Today
- This Just Keeps Happening
- Didn’t See THAT Coming
- Wow, I Regret THIS
This style allows me to still express what I’m thinking/feeling and have the freedom to go “off-road” on some or all the questions depending on what’s going on in my life. I find I use this approach the most on the weekends or when I’m just working through or struggling with something.
Let’s Land This Plane
Two Practical Actions:
One – Just start – write one line for each question.
Maybe you have your own questions and some ERWs have contacted me with the questions they’ve developed. But they often start with mine. Either way is fine.
And mine started with Jonathan Milligan’s questions. Start with my questions or a form of them to kickstart you in this Develop energy habit.
Two – Order the Elite Road Warrior Branded Journal – enjoy what you journal in. For me, I love the leather – the look and the feel. I love the paper in the journal. I love the pens I write with and the leather case they’re kept in. This makes a HUGE difference when it comes time to write. I’m also proud to carry it around and it promotes Elite Road Warrior. Order HERE.
If you’re interested in the audio version of this article in these locations: