There was a season of life where I felt constant knots in my stomach. I didn’t need a doctor to diagnose the issue. I knew the disease and its symptoms well.
I was feeling the stress of a life that was out of control.
I wrote down all the areas where I desperately needed improvement. My list looked something like this:
- I am not happy with my spiritual life
- I am not happy with my health
- I am not happy with my finances
- I am not happy with my writing
At first glance, you would think that those things wouldn’t be connected. However, for me the connection was obvious.
I could fix everything with an alarm clock.
Why mornings are important.
I love mornings. It’s the one time I get to recharge my introvert battery and focus on the one thing we often forget: Self Care.
If I could just wake up early, I could do exercise, spend time with my Heavenly Dad, work on the budget, and work on my writing.
The problem was the actual “getting up” part. It literally takes me 3 minutes once I am out of bed to shake off the sleepiness.
The danger zone is the time when the alarm clock has gone off and my feet have not yet hit the floor. It is like wrestling a hibernating bear out of bed. At that time I think: “Why in the world am I up so freakin’ early? What was I thinking? I need more sleep! I can get stuff done later.”
Of course later never comes because once the sun comes up, life is busy.
If I could push through those three initial minutes of sleepiness, I would be a more productive person and my life would change.
The Psychology of willpower.
There is actually psychology behind this. In Shawn Achor’s book “The Happiness Advantage,” he mentions that we tend to take the path of least resistance. It is part of human nature. Sheer willpower is not enough to create lasting change and good habits because willpower is a limited resource. You can only dish out so much.
Achor uses a tactic called “The 20-second rule” to help. He basically makes bad habits 20 seconds harder to do. An example is walking the TV remote 20 seconds away from the coach. Then he applies the same concept for good habits, like setting a book next to the place where he usually watches TV. I have seen this play out in my own life with the habit of getting up early.
Take control of your mornings
Taking a similar concept by not relying on my willpower, I came up with some tactics for waking myself up in the morning. Feel free to use some or all of the following to wrestle your own bear out of bed.
1. Set an alarm clock in a different room.
You will hate yourself for about 30 seconds as you wonder why your “night self” could be such a cruel prankster. However, this one is EXTREMELY effective.
2. Have your warm clothes ready.
One of the things that I hate about waking up early is the fact that the bed is warm and my house is freezing in the mornings. It helps if I sleep in the warm clothes so when I get out of bed, I am not as cold.
3. Drink a BIG glass of water.
Right when you wake up, drink a big glass of water. Not only does it wake you up, but it will stimulate your digestive system. Even if you go back to bed, you’ll have to get up 20 minutes later to use the bathroom.
4. Reward yourself.
Most people reward themselves with a cup of coffee. I have used everything from coffee to chocolate, to playing 10 minutes of my favorite video game. You’ve worked hard to get out of bed. You deserve a reward.
5. Have a motto.
Have a phrase that reminds you of why you are getting up. These seem to be very effective for me. One that has worked recently is, “Paul, either you can wake up now, feel tired, and feel like your ahead in life. Or you can sleep in and still feel tired and frustrated.” Another one that has worked for me is this verse:
“Do not love sleep or you will grow poor. Stay awake and you will have food to spare” Proverbs 20:13 (NIV).
6. Get Accountability.
If someone is waiting for you to wake up, it is easier to get out of bed. My brother-in-law and I used to go to the gym early. I knew he would be waiting for me to pick me up. It was easy to get up early so that I wouldn’t keep him waiting. Find someone who also gets up early or who wants to start. Keep each other accountable.
7. Have a plan.
There have been times where I wake up without a plan. Those are the times where I’ll do only one thing that was on my mind, then go back to bed. I’d wake up an hour later still feeling frustrated and tired. Plan what you want to do the night before.
8. Set up command central.
Prepare everything you need for your morning the night before. Otherwise, your laziness will win as you search for your computer charging cable and you’ll crawl back in bed. That has happened to me multiple times.
9. Use an app.
This sounds odd but worked well for me. There are sleep apps that read your movement as you sleep. Based on your movement, they will wake you up when you are in a lighter stage of sleep. That way you feel refreshed when you wake up instead of groggy.
10. Play the tape forward.
Ask yourself what will happen to you and your dreams if you never make time for your goals. What will it be like if you never get up early? The end of THAT film is terrifying.
Waking up early isn’t easy. I have been doing it for years, and it is still a struggle. Simply recognize that it is hard to get up early and choose to do it anyway. Use the some or all of the above tactics. Three minutes of pushing through sleepiness could literally change your life.
Everyone is an educator of something. If you want to increase your influence, download my FREE ebook: “Profe Pablo’s 25 Teaching Tips that will instantly make your life easier” or subscribe to my weekly podcast “Schooled Radio with Profe and Mr. Wallace.”