Wakey Wakey, Sleepyhead!

Wakey WakeyAbout 2 1/2 years ago, I switched from working on my personal development mostly in the evenings to early mornings. I had been struggling with staying committed to my goals, in large part due to decision fatigue (which you can read more about in my last post here). As I’ve said before, creating this new morning habit was one of the best things I’ve ever done to improve my life.

For most of my life, being a night owl was such an important part of my identity that I couldn’t even imagine a big enough reason for ever wanting to get up early.

Thankfully, age and experience have changed my outlook. Each day I get older, I have an ever-growing list of things I want to accomplish and a deeper sense of urgency to get them done in my short lifetime.

When I first started rising earlier, I went from waking at 7 am to 6 am. As I settled into this new routine, I enjoyed my new levels of learning and productivity so much that I wondered if I might be able to start waking even earlier. So I tried getting up at 5:45 am, then 5:30 am…and now I rise at 5 am most weekdays. 5 AM PEOPLE!!!

If you had told me even just a few years ago that I’d one day become a crazy early riser, I would have fallen off my chair laughing hysterically. Really. But I am telling you – if I was able to do it, anyone can.

You just need an amazing reason to get out of bed in the morning. Find that one project or goal that lights you on fire – whether it’s writing a book, starting your own business or getting healthier – and make a commitment to work on it as soon as you get up.

“It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom.”

Aristotle

The key to waking earlier is to be gentle and forgiving with yourself (something I really struggle with). If you’re too rigid and unforgiving, you’re much more likely to give up the first time you miss your target waking time. It’s not going to be easy (especially for night owls), so you have to be persistent and just keep at it. I went from waking from 6 am to eventually 5 am over a period of about one year. And I will admit – it’s been damn hard getting up at 5 am during the dark, cold winter months. I’ve hit the snooze button way too many times, but most days I’m out of bed by 5:45 am.

A few tips that may help you as you transition to becoming an early riser:

  • Do it gradually. Don’t go from waking at 9 am to 5 am overnight. Get up 15 minutes earlier tomorrow morning, and once your body adjusts to this new time over the next few days or weeks, get up 15 minutes earlier after that, until you reach your target waking time. Give yourself as long as you need to reach that target.
  • Go to bed earlier. You can’t expect to get up earlier if you’re going to bed at the same old time. This was a hard one for me, because I was so stuck on my “night owl” identity. When I finally accepted that I needed to get to bed earlier (i.e., 9:30 pm versus midnight) in order to get enough sleep, I started having the best sleep of my life. Like, wow. This was a totally unexpected benefit.
  • If you’re a snooze-button addict like me, place your phone or alarm clock across the room so you’ll have to get out of bed to turn it off. Then don’t go back to bed.
  • Find an accountability partner. Ask a friend, colleague or someone in one of your social networking groups to take the challenge. Take turns texting or messaging each other as soon as you wake up in the morning.

A few resources that can help you on your path to becoming an early riser:

  • The Morning Miracle: Hal Elrod has a great podcast and has written a book on this topic. I haven’t read the book yet, but will be reading it this month for a book club I’ve just co-created with one of my meetup groups.
  • The 5 AM Miracle: Jeff Sanders also has a great podcast and book (which I’ve read and recommend).
  • seanwes: Sean McCabe has an amazing business podcast, and he has discussed becoming an early riser in several episodes. Like me, he was a hard-core night owl who became a hard-core early riser once he saw his productivity go through the roof. Listen to episodes #207 and #75 or read the show notes – they’re chock-full of information.
  • A Year of Productivity: A great article and tips for waking early from Chris Bailey.

Are you currently making or have you made the transition from night owl to early riser? Has it improved your life? Do you have tips to share? I’ve love to hear your story!

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