Are you the superhero you want to be?
If you’re not quite where you want to be, it might be because you aren’t waking up early enough.
So many of the world’s best are those who wake up early. It’s not just the traditional view of success (the rich business person, the successful entrepreneur and the like), although that’s often the case. It also goes for the world’s greatest athletes. It goes for monks and yogis. It goes for balanced and fantastic parents.
What is it about waking up early that seems to elevate so many to the top of their game?
I resisted this notion for a long time, in part because I’ve always been so damn awful in the morning. I struggle to wake up, I wander around in this pained state, half-conscious, groggy, desperately wishing I had more hours to sleep in, and often getting frustrated at life, or my job, since it’s all their fault how terrible I am in the morning.
But I couldn’t deny it. Everywhere I turned, there was more and more evidence of morning people kicking more ass than me. It wasn’t just other people either… I had evidence in my own life. As terrible as I generally am in the morning, every time I’ve pushed myself to wake up early, I’ve gradually seen the benefits in my life. Really practical and obvious ones.
When I’m waking up early, I’m in better physical shape. I’m more productive. I’m in better mental shape. When I’m not, I’ve been lazier, more prone to drinking, I get less done, and I generally don’t feel as good. Don’t get me wrong, I have waffled back and forth, I’ve gone in and out of phases, and it’s still not easy for me. But the pattern is pretty clear.
If you take stock of the people around you, or perhaps yourself, you might notice this pattern too. There are exceptions as there always are, but odds are in your favor that you will be a better person if you wake up early.
Here’s my take on what’s going on.
When you wake up early, before your daily life kicks into full gear, you have this magical distraction-free time where you can tackle what’s really important to you. It may be just one thing… maybe it’s exercise, or it’s yoga, or it’s meditating, or it’s doing the reading you’ve always wanted to. Maybe it’s plain old getting work done. Maybe it’s some other hobby or interest you can’t regularly make the time for. Maybe it’s a bunch of these things. Or maybe it’s just alone time before the world starts piling its demands on you.
It’s not just that it’s distraction free time — the other important element is that it’s some of your most energetic, self-motivated hours of the day. Even if you’re not a morning person, once you’ve adjusted to the schedule, and the morning groggies fade or you’ve had your cup of coffee, at that moment you have as much energy and focus as you’re likely to have all day. The reality is that motivation and willpower often fade throughout the day. Our batteries get depleted and need to recharge, and the only time most people truly get to rest and recharge is when they sleep at night.
So the key is that you carve out some time in the morning and you pay yourself first, similar to the way financial gurus tell you the best way to save money is to pay yourself first. You do it by taking care of something you really want to accomplish, by building a habit that is really important to you. And it’s so important that you commit to putting first things first — which means whatever is absolutely THE MOST IMPORTANT THING to you personally, that’s the thing you should do first thing. THAT is the single best way to ensure it happens.
Maybe you want a smokin’ body, so your morning is about exercise. Maybe it’s about wisdom and clarity, so it’s about meditation. Maybe it’s writing that book, building that business, learning that language you’ve always wanted to conquer – whatever is the most important thing to you. You probably already know what that is. (Even if you don’t think you do, you know it deep down.)
I’ve been waking up at 4am for some time now, which gives me anywhere from one to three hours to myself depending on when I have to get in to work. Some days I focus on meditation, some days on writing, some days on exercise or yoga, some days it’s a blend of those. By the time my family is awake, I am usually feeling pretty good about myself. I’ve accomplished something, or I’ve had some of the “me time” I usually don’t get for the rest of the day.
I’m not exactly Superman, but I like the results nonetheless. I’m certainly more productive. None of my creative projects would get any attention if I wasn’t waking up early. But that’s not the most compelling thing for me. It’s more in the impact to my attitude, my self-confidence, and my overall sense of contentment and wellbeing.
For example, I find I’m more patient and more able to be present. I take an extra moment to appreciate my son when he bounds downstairs and stomps toward me to relay some exciting thought he has. I’m less likely to slide into those negative feelings about being overloaded at my day job. I take things more in stride in general.
That’s some of what it is for me, but it could be so many different things for you. So why not try it out and see where it goes? You might find you’re the superhero you are at your core.
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