I’ve written about morning routines, quite frankly, more than anyone should. That’s because I believe waking up early is about the most life changing thing you can do.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that most of the people I consider successful and happy, get up early and follow some type of morning routine. I challenge you to think about this too. Look at well known people, colleagues and friends. I bet you come to the same conclusion.
“But, I’m just not a morning person” you say. “I do my best work later in the day”.
I’m not buying it. For 99.9% of us, it’s much better to become a morning person.
Why? I think it boils down to these 3 things:
- Getting up early sets a tone for the day. It builds positive momentum from the get go, which then flows into the rest of the day. When I get up early and do things that are important to me (without distractions), the rest of the day usually goes well. I feel satisfied at the end of the day. When I get up late, I almost always drift into bad habits and have a bad day. I know I didn’t make the best use of my time and wasn’t the person I wanted to be.
- It allows you to make consistent progress on things that are important to you — whether that is exercise, writing, working on a personal project, reading etc. Morning routines build consistency, largely because of the lack of distractions (everyone else is asleep). Over time, that establishes habits.
- Getting up early builds a certain strength in character and mindset. You start to feel stronger and more disciplined than others. That breeds confidence and influences how you attack the day. It’s hard to beat the feeling of watching others come into work, knowing you’ve already exercised, worked on a personal project, got ahead of your email and done a block of focused work. Not only are you ahead on output, you’re ahead on mindset.
Jocko Willink, sums it up more succinctly than me:
“Discipline equals freedom, and that discipline begins every morning when my alarm goes off, well before the sun rises.” Jocko Willink.
And for proof, he posts one of these every day:
If you want it, GO GET IT. pic.twitter.com/aGLcRiVLV3
— Jocko Willink (@jockowillink) December 12, 2017
If you’re not waking up early, how do you start?
Simple and small.
Go to bed a little earlier. Get up a little bit earlier (i.e. 30 mins), and do one or two things. Meditate for 5 mins and take a short walk. Read or work on a personal project. Whatever is important to you. Keep it simple, easy and small for at least 30 days.
Once you get to 30 days, extend the time and perhaps add something else in. The biggest mistake you can make is to go from simple, easy and small — to complicated, hard and big. And I guarantee, you will make that mistake. Learn from it. Go back to simple, easy and small and then layer in a little bit more for the next 30 days.
It sounds unambitious, but it’s the best and fastest path to a longer, more impressive morning routine. By starting simple, easy and small — you establish the habit of getting up early and doing important things. And that’s the key to it all.
I just switched up my morning routine (part of what inspired this post). Here’s what it looks like:
- 04.30 — 05.15: GMB Elements
- 05.15 — 05.30: read a chapter from ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’
- 05.30 — 06.30: write
- 06.30 — 07.00: plan day
I’ve only done it a couple of times, and it’s feeling really good. It’s a good mix of exercise, working on myself, working on a skill and setting myself up for an awesome day. I should also note, I go to bed before 10PM so I can get up that early.
If you’re not waking up early — try it. I’m confident you won’t go back.
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