Off and on throughout my adult life, I’ve been persistent about wanting to learn the craft of how to become an early riser. However, I never actually learned it until about a year ago. It was tough.
It’s time to stop dinking around and learn how to become an early riser once and for all. Are you with me here?
I’ve made many attempts at waking up early and becoming a morning person. Notice I said attempts. I didn’t
I was chasing something that I had no idea about, something I wasn’t passionate about. All the successful CEO’s wake up early, right?
I assumed there had to be some fail-proof how-to guide for how to become an early riser, so I read blogs and books, talked to early risers I knew in real life, and watched popular YouTube videos that had millions of views and thousands of thumbs up.
Looking back, though, most of the online resources were all pretty much the same and didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already inherently know.
The early rising acquaintances and friends I spoke with, to be completely honest, weren’t all that helpful in my early rising quest either, but it wasn’t their fault. They were trying to be helpful, of course, but they didn’t understand what I was trying to achieve because even I didn’t understand it.
It’s been about year, but I finally figured out how to become an early riser. For realz this time.
Make the Morning Journey Yours
It is my goal with this blog post to be able to actually help you become an early riser, too, but I realize it is a fine line I must walk in order to remain helpful while still allowing you to light your own inner fire since this is your personal early rising journey – not mine.
The thing is, as I’ve come to realize, waking up early is highly personal; it’s a dragon that one must slay completely by him or herself. It’s not the how part of how to wake up early that’s difficult, it’s the why part. You can train yourself on the how part, as you’ll see in steps 4 and 5.
Sure, certain external, impulsive things can temporarily get you pumped up to wake up early on a certain day or for a certain occasion, but don’t rely on those things. You’re pretty much on your own.
To your dismay, you might have a job that requires you to wake up early, but that isn’t the same as doing it on your own every day whether you feel like doing it or not.
Successful people force themselves to do things they don’t want to do because they have a powerful purpose that runs deeper than their excuses.
How about a quick early riser quote?
There’s a quote about early rising that comes to mind: “Purpose is an incredible alarm clock.” I wish I knew who said it, but when I look it up, it always says unknown. Whoever you are, Unknown, you are absolutely correct and you’ve helped me more than you’ll ever know. Usually, I find quotes to be useless, but that one was a real life-changer and inspired me to finally become an early riser.
Thanks for Nothing, Motivation!
Back in the day, after consuming some quirky motivational content about early rising, I would get psyched and ready to take on the world. Man, those people are good at what they do!
What they don’t teach you is that real motivation comes from within, and it’s not motivation at all, but rather, grinding and flow states that help us make progress. *Womp womp*…
I would wake up early for a short while, sometimes for a month, but sometimes only for a few days. The passion fizzled out as fast as it ignited.
Then, like the infamous yo-yo dieter type I suddenly seemed akin to, I would slip back into my old, lazy ways, waking up at the last possible minute every weekday after snoozing the alarm 3 or 4 times. On weekends, I’d go back to sleeping as long as I felt like it; 8:00am or 9:00am became common. This was a far cry from the 5:30am wake-up I had promised to myself just a week (or less) prior.
What a flake. Why couldn’t I get myself to do what I had been trying desperately for years to do? All I had to do was get my butt out of bed when the alarm went off at 5:30. Maybe that sounds familiar and you’re in the same boat I was in not so long ago.
So how did I stop the madness and stop snoozing the alarm? It wasn’t one thing, but a combination of a few things, which I will share with you in this blog post. Since you’re not bored yet, I hope you’ll keep reading.
Step 1. Get nauseatingly specific.
What do you want to get out of the average day? Write down the play-by-play and have fun with it. Seriously, write out as much detail as you possibly can.
I thought long and hard about what I wanted my ideal day to look like. I literally made a sequential list, as you can see in the image below
For me, an ideal day is the following:
- Wake up early… naturally. Without an alarm!
- Drink hot lemon water.
- Engage in some form of low-intensity
exerciselike yoga or a walk around the block.
- Take a shower.
- Enjoy a quick, healthy breakfast and cup of tea.
- While finishing my tea, freely read or write (or both) about whatever I want.
- Intense, focused work for my own home-based business until lunchtime.
- Prepare a salad or something similar at home, or go out to meet a friend for lunch.
- Go for some quick paddle boarding at the beach or take a walk.
- Go back home to wrap up anything I want to finish for my business, and I stop working by
3pmor preferably earlier. If there’s no additional work to do, I don’t do anything work-related after lunch. I’ll read instead.
- Go shopping for dinner if necessary.
- Go to the gym or beach.
- Dinner at home, or out with family or friends.
- Relax at home with a movie or audiobook, and herbal tea.
- Go to bed; meditate (yoga
After I wrote out my day in detail, I compared it to how the average day in my life currently looks. Then, I analyzed that gap between what I wanted and the situation I had, and wrote down how waking up early could help close that gap.
For the first time ever, I viewed early rising as a tool – as The Way for me to sculpt my life into what I wanted.
Appallingly, before making that list, I’d never thought about the specifics of how I’d want my average day to go. I was just floating through my life, chained to a desk at a dead-end job. Kind of sad, really.
Many people I’ve talked to since I had this realization also admitted they have never thought about specifics of what they want either. Unbelievable!
I highly recommend you list out everything you want to do during a normal day, down to every minute detail. If it mimics a fairytale that is nothing like your current life, don’t worry! Make the day yours – a day you’re excited about living!
Step 2. Connect the dots.
How does early rising factor into your ideal day? Don’t do it just because. Is becoming an early riser going to help you reach that ideal day?
Currently, and at the time I first imagined my ideal day, my actual day looks nothing like this ideal. Since I have an
That’s ok. At least I know what I want for once in my life. Everyone has to start somewhere.
In the beginning, I didn’t yet own a business. I do currently have an in-progress business, but it’s not yet self-sustainable so that I can quit
That’s ok… I’m getting there one early morning at a time – and I’m enjoying every minute of it. I’m even enjoying being awake at the crack of dawn; it has really grown on me. And you know what? I’m getting pretty darn close to quitting my job…
The important thing here is that I’m making progress and this is what will be most important for you as well.
I have singled out early rising as the thing that will help close the gap between my ideal day and my current day. I suggest that you do the same.
Since I have a solid purpose (I really wanna go to the beach in the middle of the day, for example), I get up early every day, like clockwork. I no longer fight it. I just do it.
It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you lose the resistance that used to hold you back. I imagine losing this self-inflicted resistance is similar to being freed from jail. I feel I’ve been freed from a mental jail that I locked myself up in years ago.
Step 3. Eliminate distractions.
By distractions, I mean no social media, email, or anything that gets you upset – like heated discussions and other negativity. I recommend avoiding the Internet, in general, one hour before bedtime and one hour after waking up.
Instead, use the time to invoke more moments of clarity so that you can think about your goals and figure out which exact steps to take to achieve them. Eliminating distractions makes waking up early worth it.
Focus is so underrated. Focus will get you anywhere you want to be. Literally anywhere. Once you have identified your purpose for waking up early, getting focused is one important piece of the puzzle to make the magic happen.
Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, and emails tied to your dead-end job do not serve you and will throw you into a bottomless pit of mental illness where you are constantly comparing yourself to others and being at the beck and call of bosses and co-workers.
Start your days on your terms, and that means tuning out the things that don’t matter, or at minimum, dealing with them later when you absolutely have to and not a second earlier.
The quiet of the early morning is the perfect time to find clarity, get spiritual (if that’s your thing), and spark creativity… so long as you aren’t checking your social media or reading emails.
Forget all those distractions and deal with them later – or not at all if you so choose. I personally don’t do social media at all except for some YouTube videos that I plan to upload for this blog about waking up early.
If you stop getting distracted with social media and instead get focused on fixing your life, you will be a better person for it – and probably a newly minted early riser with minimal effort.
Your life will be making so much progress that you’ll be eager to face each new day. I know this to be true from firsthand experience.
Step 4. Admit that waking up early sucks.
Admit that you’ll never feel like waking up early – then do it anyway.
After I read Mel Robbins’ book The 5 Second Rule, my perspective has changed dramatically about everything. Waking up early is no exception. Everything in the world that is worth doing requires some grinding and persistence.
Mel shifted my mindset and helped me make that jump from wanting to wake up early yet always somehow talking myself out of it when the alarm goes off.
She made me realize that the problem is not lack of motivation, but rather, the fact that I’m relying on motivation to kick in.
It’s never going to kick in.
As Mel says, “motivation is garbage” and I completely agree. Long term, motivation has never done much for me throughout my entire life. It just gives me glimmers of hope here and there, but it’s always gone faster than it arrived.
I’m never going to feel like waking up early and you won’t either. Just own up to it, accept it. Instead of arguing with yourself in your head every morning, simply interrupt your destructive thought patterns by doing step 5.
Step 5. Re-wire your brain Pavlov style.
I saved my best tip for last. Practice getting out of bed during the day to the sound of your alarm. I realize how corny this sounds, but I’m suggesting it anyway because it works.
Train your subconscious mind to respond to your alarm by automatically getting out of bed as soon as you hear it.
And do the training during the day when you’re wide awake.
Pretend you’re in bed at night and even emulate the circumstances: Put your pajamas on, close the curtains or blinds, turn off the light, close your door, leave your phone in the other room, etc. Imitate your bedtime routine.
Then set your alarm for a few minutes from now (15 minutes ahead worked for me during my training.) Lie in bed just like at bedtime, close your eyes, and relax… just like you do when you’re trying to fall asleep. Do your best to make the situation as realistic as possible.
As soon as your alarm goes off, immediately sit up, take a deep breath, and stretch your arms over your head for a couple seconds. Then get up and turn the alarm off… and go straight to the bathroom!
Do this training 2 or 3 times a day for as many days as it takes for it to become second nature to pop out of bed when you hear your alarm clock. It seems silly, but it really does work.
My alarm clock sound is chirping birds, so whenever I hear it, I have a strong desire to get out of bed, turn off my alarm, and head to the bathroom. I do it without thinking. And it feels extremely weird if I don’t do this sequence.
Basically, I programmed myself to become an early riser. I think it’s pretty awesome.
Putting yourself on autopilot with this type of Pavlovian Classical Conditioning successfully silences the internal dialogue that always seems to have a way of keeping you in bed when you intended to wake up early.
The idea here is to condition yourself to bypass your conscious mind because it’s in a fog and is going to make horrible decisions at
Never trust your
Most importantly, never rely on useless motivation that will likely stand you up when you need it most.
Instead, rely on an automatic, conditioned response that makes you do what the rational, coherent part of you designed.
Popping out of bed 2 or 3 times as day during my waking hours was one of the weirdest things I’ve ever done, but also the single most effective thing I’ve done to become an early riser.
Autiopilot, my friend… it works. Give it a try. It’s the secret of how to become and early riser. 🙂