A beautiful Monday to you all! It’s Day 14 and it’s Monday, that means another Guest Post! Today we are featuring a man that I really admire. An example of disciplined and committed husband and father; please welcome my friend Josh.
As I write this (my clock currently shows 4:59 AM), I’m reminded of how I decided to become a “morning person” over a year ago with one simple action: forcing my body to move when I had no desire to do so.
On March 3rd, 2016, I started waking up at 4:30 AM. Since then, there’s been fewer days than I can count on one hand where I’ve slept past 5:00 AM. As a software developer, my initial months were spent learning new programming languages and paradigms, and I still continue to push myself forward on that front.
After becoming accustomed to waking up early, I’ve continuously applied learned discipline to other aspects of my life, most specifically health; in August 2016, I moved to a ketogenic diet and dropped my weight from 185lbs to 155lbs over three months, worked through the T25 workout program, and since January 2017, have been doing CrossFit at a local box during the week. I applied these additional stressors after identifying opportunities for willpower, and I expect this to continue as I become disciplined in these areas.
Weekday mornings are fairly simple; I’m out of bed by 4:35 AM and on the road to CrossFit by 5:20 AM. On the weekends, I get up at the same time, but I work on personal projects, or spend time learning, and exercise at home.
While every night is different, I try to be in bed by 10:00 PM, resulting in at least six hours of sleep. On some days, I’m exhausted and am asleep at 9:00 PM; others, I’m awake until almost midnight. I wake up just the same the next morning.
When beginning an early-morning regimen, overcoming your desire to remain in bed is the most difficult task at hand. Thoughts might include “I didn’t get enough sleep” or “My bed is cozy”, and when dwelled upon, are a surefire way to derail the habit.
As your body adapts, willpower is the most important aspect of an early morning regimen. Turn what initially feels like a decision into an automatic response – one without choice – to instill willpower.
To aid in the decision to rise early, I’ve found three things key:
With a plan, the time available when the majority of others are sleeping (at least, in the same time zone) is directed; no time is spent in bed contemplating, “What should I do after I get up?” Based on what I’ve heard from others, this is the largest factor in being unsuccessful; without purpose, waking up early for the sake of waking up early isn’t valuable.
Accountability also plays a large part in the success of the regimen; find a way for you, or others, to hold yourself accountable. Social media, a friend or group you work out with every morning, or a dog needing to be walked all work well.
Finally, preparation to getting out of bed and waking up quickly is key. Be sure to set your alarm(s). Lay clothes out in the same spot so you know where to find them, and prepare whatever is necessary the day prior (grind coffee, purchase food for breakfast).
By automating things that are opportunities to say “no” early in the morning, it makes building the habit easier to accomplish.
A handful of weeks into early rising, the habit will start forming. Once a chore, you’ll find waking up early is less jarring, and perhaps something you look forward to. There’s a certain peace to the quiet solitude hidden in the cover of darkness. As your body adapts, your mind will follow. Conscious decisions become subconscious, and willpower becomes a tool to apply to other situations. This is how discipline is born.
Because of its forced acceptance of discomfort, rising early eases decision-making in other areas of life as willpower is available to apply to other situations. Instead of saying “yes” to unhealthy food or other bad habits, apply the willpower found forcing yourself to wake up to say “no.”
Even with the best of intentions, there will be times when you will fail. A late night might cause you to snooze through your alarms, or a transition in timezones due to traveling might throw off your internal clock. This is expected; we are all human.
The true test is whether you decide to stop, or adjust, or slip in accountability, after sleeping in or missing a day.
“The early bird gets the worm.”
Rising early is a long game, one that impacts many aspects of daily life. It reduces succumbing to bad behavior by fostering willpower, and provides time each day for introspection and building good habits. It, however, is not easy. There will always be opportunities to opt out (“I didn’t get enough sleep”, “My bed is cozy”), and every morning, you’ll have to make one simple decision: “Am I getting up now?”
Thanks Josh! Your wisdom and sharing is greatly appreciated!
If you have any questions or comments for Josh, you can contact him at sayhi(at)joshuaclayton.me
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