I just made a big habit change: waking up at 5:30

Now, I am not what you’d call a natural morning person. I am, however, an optimal living enthusiast. As a fan of biohacking and peak performance systems, a coach who teaches habit stacking, block scheduling, and healthy personal development, I’m game for trying most of the ideas in the field. But to leave my warm bed at 5:30 in the name of more productivity, wasn’t something I was interested in.

I believe we should add habits that will benefit our lives and not haphazardly make changes. And definitely not based on someone else’s social media influence. Which is why I ignored all those early risers extolling the productivity benefits of their 6:00 am wake up. I mean, I liked the idea of having more time but I wasn’t interested in getting up earlier to have it.

What finally made me do it

You could say wanting leaner thighs made me do it. I was getting bored with my treadmill, free weights routine and had begun to see cellulite creeping to my inner thighs. A sign that my workout routine wasn’t working. I looked at the class schedule at my gym and a 3x a week cycling class seemed like the perfect thing. I love cycling and know it’s great for toning and sculpting thighs. But why couldn’t they have the class at a decent hour, I wondered? In the last 2 years, Los Angeles winters have been getting colder and colder so after doing the math and figuring I would have to get up no later than 5:45 to make 6:00 a.m. classes, I decided to start in the spring (a few months from now) when the weather is warmer.

But my exercise situation begged for change sooner and in the last week of December, I used one of my self-motivation tricks to convince myself to try the class now. I told myself I would try it for just a week!

I gave it my best effort that week

To make it easy for me to get to the class on time, I slept in my workout tights, left my sneakers at the foot of the bed and hung my top and bra behind the door. By having my clothes set out, I could be ready in 2 minutes or less and in the dark, if I had to.

So here’s what happened those first few days:

That first Monday, I chickened out. I had forgotten to turn the heater on the night before and couldn’t 5-4-3-2-1-GO (will myself) to get up.

That Wednesday (the class meets on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays), my apartment was nice and toasty and I decided no excuse was going to keep me in bed. I got up, got dressed and even made it to the class a few minutes early. That was a good thing too because I got to chat with the instructor and checked out her playlist. When I casually dropped that something peppier and more current than the 80’s playlist she had planned might motivate me more, she obliged. Thank you, Debbie! After the class, I came home and didn’t know what to do with myself and the extra time on my hands.

Friday’s class was even better! On the way home, I stopped at Home Depot and picked up small trash bags for the bathroom. It had been on my list to do for weeks. Getting it done made me look around for other things I had been putting off. Lots of invisible check marks were made by 8:30 that morning.

The following week I forgot that I was supposed to be testing out getting up early and just fell it that routine like it was nothing. Huh?!?

I can’t quite tell you how it happened, but I’ve become hooked on early mornings.

Why I’m hooked

Getting up early became more than about making it a class to sculpt my legs and beat exercise boredom. I began to experience benefits I didn’t expect and I don’t see myself giving them up anytime soon!

I get more done before 11:00

Before 11:00 is most people’s peak performance window. This is true whether you’re a night owl or a morning person. Since getting up earlier, I’ve added 1.5 hours to my day 3x a week and 2.5 hours the other two workdays. That’s like getting 9 more hours each week. It feels like a pay-raise, a bonus or a gift. And you don’t give back those things!!!

Fewer distractions and wait time.

Because most people are still asleep, it feels quieter so I’m less distracted and more centered. When I called Hulu one morning around 5:45 because my subscription cancellation wasn’t going through, I got the VIP treatment. There was no wait. Ditto for T-Mobile another morning.

I jump out of bed!!!

I used to mindfully get up at 7:00. Now, I practically jump out of bed many mornings. I’m not just grateful for a new day, I’m eager to game the day. My days feel like they have more possibilities. Getting little things done like picking up small trash bags when I need them, makes me feel happier and more organized.

I get to emails and the world sooner

For a while now, one of my productivity habits is to check email after I’ve accomplished one important task. By getting important tasks done sooner, I can respond to people sooner.

Exercise consistency.

My gym schedule was never consistent before. Some days I could go at 7:30, some days at 1:00 and some days after 6:00 p.m. Those 6:00 pm workouts were iffy because I wasn’t always feeling it. I had to “work” my workouts into my life and around my responsibilities. Now my gym schedule is on lock and I can’t tell you how huge that is!

More sunrises

Seeing sunrises wasn’t a benefit I was thinking of but I like the experience when I do. They are pure and inspiring and now I get to see them more often.

I feel like a boss!

I find the term “leveling up” overused, but it’s the best way to describe what has happened since I started getting up at 5:30.

The zero-resistance trick to changing

Early mornings aren’t for everyone, that’s the truth. I’m still surprised by my benefits. It took me a while thinking about it before I did it and I needed a Why to start. So while I’m thrilled to share the benefits of getting up at 5:30, that’s not the main point of my post. It’s to share this encouragement with you: TRY.

Whatever it is that you’ve been resisting if it could benefit your life now, give it a try. Commit to a short trial period of a week or a month, just enough time to see benefits. You owe it to yourself to learn new beneficial habits. In video games, the term leveling up is a concept used to describe progressions your character makes in the game. When you level up you unlock new abilities, skills, get access to new items and to a new area of the game. It’s a benchmark of how far into the game your character is.

Habits that benefit your life do exactly the same thing.

We never know until we try whether a habit will benefit us or not. Waiting for the conditions to be right and the weather to get warmer, delays our progress. That isn’t a great way to play the game of life, is it?

Try right when the impulse hits you and if you have to tell your inner resistance, I’ll just try it for a week, do that! You’ll get zero or no resistance to that. And by trying, you get to see if your life benefits. It if does, you’ll stick with it, and if not, you’ll move on or know you’re just not ready.

If you haven’t done it yet, get my book, The Doer’s Lifestyle. It includes other habits that can transform you from a dreamer or procrastinator into a more productive version of yourself. I call it becoming a doer.

Until next time, I wish you success with all your goals and more follow throughs on your insights!



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