Do you hate when that alarm goes off in the morning and snooze it fifteen times?
Are you someone who consider yourself not a morning person?
I had both of these issue. Like me you might have tried to wake up early and failed after few attempts and went back to your standard routine.
You probably have seen post all over the internet showing you morning rituals of successful people. Familiar with those posts like “10 things successful people do in the morning”?
Some of them are good posts and provides good information. But, aren’t you tired of seeing them everywhere?
I certainly was.
Did they help me?
Only to understand why successful people like to wake up earlier than average and unsuccessful people.
I was tired of reading that successful people mediate for 20 minutes in the morning, read 20+ pages from a book or do workout in the morning. This all sounds great, but big question for me was, how on the earth do I do it?
Every time I tried, I failed at it miserably.
At this point, I didn’t care what Steve jobs or Bill gates do in the morning, I just wanted to wake up little bit early so I can work on myself before the busyness of the day begins.
In this post, I am not going to explain benefits of waking up early as you have already seen 1000s of posts on that.
Instead, I am going to show you how I went from waking up just before work to wake up at 5:30am every weekday morning and how you can do the same.
Find your why
Do you know why you want to wake up early?
If you don’t, then you aren’t going to be successful in waking up earlier than your regular routine.
For one year, I tried to just wake up so I can do something for personal development. As I didn’t have “Why” clear in my head, I struggled at it. Sometimes, I was able to get up once or twice a week but failed most of the time.
Now, I know exactly why I want to wake up at 5:30am. I know I need to do more research and writing. For most mornings, I am just excited to wake up in the morning.
You might want to read more books, learn to meditate, exercise, or work on your guitar playing skills. Whatever it is, finding your why is the first step to become a successful early riser.
“Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” – Earl Nightingale
When I was starting out, I started setting my alarm to 5:30am. Guess what happened?
I failed 99.99% of the time.
I just couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. After some time, I realized that I am trying to bench press 225lb without having the ability to do even 100 or 150lb first.
I changed my approach. Instead of trying to wake up at 5:30am, I started to subtract five minutes from regular wake up time every week. For example, I used to wake up at 7:30am, so for first week I targeted 7:25am, 7:20 for the following week and so on.
By end of first month, I was able to wake 20 minutes earlier than my regular wake up time of 7:30am.
For the following week, I didn’t make any change in wake up time because I wanted to make it as much easier as possible. I kept waking up at 7:10am for that week.
I started subtracting five minutes for remaining weeks. By end of month two, I started to wake up at 6:55am.
If you want to reach your goal faster, you can cut down your time by increments of 10 minutes but don’t go over 10 minutes.
There’s nothing wrong with you taking extra 2-3 weeks to reach your target wake up time.
Choose your morning activity wisely
Do you know why most people fail when they begin to wake up early?
They choose something that’s super hard and not enjoyable at all.
We have told our brains for so many years that waking up in the morning sucks. Some of us also have “I’m not a morning person” label on our backs.
How can we expect our brain to support us in something that we have presented as a bad thing to it?
First, we need to teach our brain that waking up early is fun and useful. We can only do that by choosing an activity that is easy and fun to begin with.
If you have never worked out, read a book or meditate in the morning, simply don’t start with it.
Pick a very simple activity to begin with.
Here are some fun activities that helped me to overcome the initial stage: –
- Light walk instead of a full workout (I still hate working out in the morning)
- Listening to my favorite music on full blast
- Listening to my favorite podcast instead of reading a book
- Calling up friend or family member who’s in different time zone
- Drinking coffee at home instead of wasting time in lineup at a coffee shop
If you are thinking that some of these activities won’t help in making good use of my time, you’re right.
But, remember our goal here is to rewire our brain so it sees waking up early as a fun activity not something that it has to do. These activities are just examples and you don’t have to pick any of these. Find out what works for you.
You might already have an activity that you absolutely love but can’t find time to do it. You can use the time you have created by waking up 10-15 minutes earlier for that activity.
We all know this very well that we can’t expect to wake up early if we don’t make to bed on time.
What some of us might not know is that we also have to prepare mentally to wake up early. Waking up when everyone is sleeping isn’t an easy task.
Now, I am not going to suggest that you do a 30 min meditation session or sleep at 8pm.
I suggest that you create some kind of ritual for yourself. This can be very simple.
Here’s something you can do: –
- Know what you’re going to do with extra time you are going to create by waking up early. For example, read a book, walk, meditate etc.
- Create your power mantra. This might sound bizarre but I have created simple statement which I repeat every night when I lay down on my bed. It goes like this: “I’m going to wake at 5:30am to work on XYZ”
- Prepare as much as you can for your morning activity. For example, if you are going to write, have your notebook ready at your working station or if you are using a computer, set it up in such a way that once you power it up, it opens up word or notepad and you start writing immediately.
- Make sure you are hydrated properly before going to bed
- Try to avoid the use of electronics while you are in bed
It’s okay to fail
Did I wake up every weekday morning at 5:30am during last 6 months or so?
Of course not.
I failed at it many times but I didn’t let it discourage me.
What do we do when we miss a workout?
We pick it up on a next day. We never say if I miss a day, I am going to miss a next day or a whole week.
Similarly, you are going to miss mornings when your mind is going to play tricks on you and won’t let you get up early. May be your body is too tired to get up.
Golden rule that I learned is try not to miss two in a row. I’m still not sure who invented it but it works for me in all aspects of my life.
Sometimes it best to listen to your body. Let it rest if it’s too tired from working late last night or due to night out. Don’t try to be super hard on you in the beginning.
The key is to keep trying. You will be amazed at your progress in couple of months.
Remember this nice quote from Stephen McCranie, “The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.”
Now, I don’t expect you to remember the whole article, so I prepared some action steps for you which can help you to achieve your goal of waking up early.
- Find out why you want to wake up early. Write it down somewhere so that you can see it everyday.
- Set alarm for 5 minutes earlier than your regular wake up time. Decrease time by five minutes for every week.
Tip – Set your alarm for a whole week so you don’t have to decide every night. Take out that extra decision making.
- Find an activity that you will enjoy to do in the morning. This is very important for beginning weeks. Once you have a habit formed, you can switch it with something else.
- Build your shutdown ritual. Use your power mantra.
- Put alarm clock away from your bed and get up as soon as you hear it. Go directly to washroom and if you can, start brushing your teeth immediately.
- If you miss a day or two, don’t get demotivated. Pick it up on next day. You will be surprised by the amount of improvement in your first month.
Now over to you. What do you struggle most with when trying to wake up early? What have you tried in the past? Or how can you use information from this post to achieve your goal?