How I Became a Morning Person
Virtually every piece of literature about living a more productive and successful life recommends that you get up early and begin your day at least an hour before the rest of your family.
I must admit, I have had an on-and-off again relationship with getting up early. For years I would force myself out of bed each morning by setting multiple alarms. Even then, I would more often than not press the snooze button to the point of putting the kids and my wife, Jennifer, in jeopardy of being late for school. Talk about a madhouse.
About a year ago, though, I kicked that habit once and for all. Ever since, I’ve gotten up at five o’clock six out of seven mornings.
Note: At the bottom I offer you a free checklist and a morning routine form. Read on.
I’m sure there is some psychology around the suggestions I’m providing in this article, but thats not my focus. There are great books on the topic of habit formation, and if you want to learn from one of those people I suggest James Clear.
The following approach worked for me:
1) Fall in Love with an Idea
About a year ago, I really began to fall in love with the idea of helping entrepreneurs get over the fear of selling. Since then, I have spent about an hour each day researching the topic and collecting my own stories and suggestions in the area. The culmination of the exercise is my first book, which will be available on July 15th. We all should find something outside of the everyday routine of living that enables us to tap into a passion. That passion may be directly related to your work or it may be something completely outside that area.
Since her retirement, my mother has fallen in love with latch hooking. Put your food or water back in your mouth, and look at the image below. Each of those mats took well over 400 hours to make. They contain many thousands of pieces of cloth that she picked up at the local thrift store (old T-shirts, for the most part). She has fallen in love with an idea.
2) Rewrite the Story in Your Head
I used to be the person who went around telling everyone, I am not a morning person, and sure enough I was not a morning person. I used to tell people about my struggle to get out of bed, and sure enough I struggled to get out of bed. I would set my alarm for 5 a.m. but see images in my mind of me hitting the snooze button; I knew full well I was not going to get up at 5 a.m. Then I realized the power of rewriting the story in my head. I said that enough was enough, and I changed my thinking process by telling myself the opposite story—I am going to get up and work on something great.
3) Follow a Routine Before Going to Bed
I have been interviewed on a number of podcasts recently, and the number one thing I suggest is The Five Minute Journal. In the next tip I will talk about what the journal has done for my mornings, but I really believe that the morning starts the night before. Five minutes before going to bed, I break out the journal and write down three things that were great about the day and one thing that I could have done differently to improve the day. This exercise is a way of patting myself on the back for a job well done and, at the same time, identifying something to learn from. I go to bed with a positive mind-set.
4) Follow a Routine When You Get Up in the Morning
The first few minutes of my morning consist of making my coffee, which I’ll discuss further in the next tip. After that is in hand, however, I sit down and focus for 5–10 minutes on three things:
- Three things for which I am grateful
- What will make this day great
- An affirmation that I make up on the fly (e.g., I am so happy and grateful to be getting leaner and stronger each day.)
After completing my journal, I typically read for 20–30 minutes and then do some writing. I am actually writing this article at 5:30 a.m. I have my alarm clock set for multiple times during that first hour and a half to prompt me to move forward with the routine. The final alarm goes off at 6:45 a.m., when it is time to stop writing and make breakfast for the kids. Routines are powerful.
5) Create Associations in Your Head
For me, falling in love with a good cup of coffee worked wonders. I experimented with various coffees and eventually settled on a dark roast coffee from Jumping Bean, a Newfoundland-based company. I grind the beans the night before, and my Keurig powers up at 5:00 a.m. so that when I go downstairs I can just hit the start button. I’m sure some of you coffee drinkers are turning their noses up at this method. But, hey, it works for me. You can wait 15 minutes for your French press. The point is that I created an association in my mind between waking up early and drinking a great cup of coffee.
I have chosen not to focus much on psychology in this article. However, I am sure it is riddled with psychology. What it comes down to is that I’m a lot happier as a morning person than I was when I was telling myself I wasn’t a morning person, and these five steps worked for me. I hope they help you.
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