Today I’ll be discussing how to get up early: six strategies to master the morning routine.
Here’s what I know; I know that most human beings are always looking for a way to cut corners – they only wanna do good things when people are watching. They wanna work hard when the boss is in the office. They wanna work out hard when that pretty girl is watching them at the gym. But when the lights go off and nobody’s watching most people are looking to cut corners and mail it in and not work for it.
Here’s what else I know; the most successful people that I know know that when everybody’s sleeping and nobody’s watching that’s when you gotta get to work. And getting up early is one of those things. Every single business leader that I’ve talked to over the last fourteen years – they’ve all told me the same thing: when they were getting after it, when they were in growth mode, when they were expanding the fastest, when they wanted something to change – getting up early in the morning, and not just getting up early, but having a morning routine – that was everything! It’s the first part of your day. And some of those guys and gals have been doing it for so long that it’s actually part of their identity. They now identify with getting up early and having a routine, because they understand that that’s exactly where it all starts – in the morning!
I know a lot of people are talking about morning routine – it seems to be the buzz word of the last couple of years. I don’t hear a lot of people talking about a strategy specifically on how to do it. So, here’s what I’m gonna do:
Today I’m gonna be giving you specific strategies on how to get up early.
There’s a formula that I use to do it and it starts with a plan. If I wanted to go and lose a bunch of weight, but all I told myself was that”I’m just gonna work out and eat better” and that’s all I did… that’s ridiculous, that’s never gonna happen because you need a plan. When there’s no plan, you’re not gonna stay committed. There are some mornings when I just pop out of bed and it’s not hard to do, but there’s a lot of mornings when I’m constantly negotiating with myself on why I need an extra hour of sleep. I’m sure you can relate!
I did it wrong for a long time. I was the guy that hit the snooze button 5 times. I was the guy that would take my phone in the morning and just start scrolling through social media, and I still sometimes do it, but more often than not I stick to my plan. But I used to occasionally lay in bed and pick up my phone and I’d be laying there, and I’d start looking through social media. If this is the first thing that you do in the morning it’s not gonna set you off to the right path. Everybody puts their highlights on social media, not their lowlights.
Picture this: There I am in the morning, I’m a little bit groggy, I’m starting to look through people’s highlights and I see a picture… there’s already somebody leaving the gym! I’m thinking “Man, I’m really outta shape.” I keep scrolling and it’s somebody being a perfect dad or a perfect mom and I’m like “Wow, I’m a bad parent.” I’m scrolling through and by the time I’m done, I’m laying in bed, I’m going “Man, I feel like I’ve already failed!” It just sets me back. It’s just another reason for me not to get out of bed. Which is crazy! Because it causes me to break the first promise to myself – that I was going to wake up at a certain time. And what that leads to is lower self confidence and lack of self belief. Which in turn stops you from setting intentions and goals, it can really spiral you off.
So I made a decision – I got really focussed on why I wanted to get up early. A lot of people say “I wanna get up early” or “I need to get up early” but why!?! What is it? What are you after? What is gonna burn so hot inside of you that it’s finally gonna make you realize that this needs to happen – this needs to happen! If you don’t make a decision that you need to get up early. If you don’t make that decision, then nothing’s gonna change.
These next six points I’m gonna give you – that are gold, by the way – these next six points aren’t gonna mean anything if you don’t know what drives you. You have to want to do it. So figure out what you need more of in your life and focus on that. Then these points will be a catalyst to help you get it.
Prepare the night before!
Getting up early is a conversation that you that you have with yourself the night before. Review your goals and plan for it. I lay out my work clothes for the morning, I pre-pack my protein powder or my my post-workout drink, I lay out my gym clothes, I put out my toothbrush, I put my little cup in front of the espresso machine so that when I wake up in the morning I don’t have to think a lot. I can just do. The less thinking that you can leave to yourself in the morning, the more likely you are to make good decisions. What are the little things that you could do to set yourself up for success?
Anticipate the challenges.
Look, we’re all gonna make excuses. Before I go to bed, I have a quick little conversation with myself. I ask “Okay, Holbrook, what’s gonna be your excuse in the morning? Let’s hear it, what are you gonna say?” I think about all of my excuses: “I didn’t sleep well last night because the kids had me up, or my biceps are a little bit sore, my back’s a little bit sore, I think I should get more rest. Or I’ve been working super hard and coming home late or I just need five more minutes.” What are the common excuses that you tell yourself that keep you in bed? Anticipate them. If you’re having a real struggle, write them down. Go through them each one by one.
When you have all those excuses that you’ve already thought of that you’re gonna have in the morning, and you’ve overcome them all, go put your phone in the other room. Go put your phone in the other room so when you get up in the morning, you have to get outta bed and go to your alarm. Then once you hit your alarm, between the time you hit ‘off’ and the time you head back to bed, you can remember those excuses and those those challenges that you’ve been anticipating. This will help to keep you from going back going back to sleep.
Rome was not built overnight. Figure out what your wakeup goal is. If you’re currently waking up at 7 am and tomorrow you’re gonna start getting up at 6, the likelihood of you sticking with that is slim to none. So, what I like to do is to set 15 minute increments per week. It’s super simple. So if you’re getting up at 7 am and eventually you wanna get up at 6 am that’s gonna take you 4 weeks to do it. This week, you get up at 6:45, and next week you get up at 6:30, the next week get up at 6:15 and then the last week you can get up at 6 am.
Don’t set a ten year game plan to get up early. I mean if you think too far out, it’s never gonna happen, you have to break it down into bite sized chunks. This is actually how I was able to quit alcohol. One of the reasons I quit alcohol was for health – I have no lower bowels, I had 8 feet of intestine taken out for my Crohn’s disease – but the real reason I quit drinking was just to see if I could do it. I knew it would be one of the hardest things that I would ever have to do and I didn’t have a problem with it, I just enjoyed to do it. But, I knew I had to give something up in order to have the life that I wanted, so I set a goal to quit drinking for a month, and then I did it. And then two months, and then 3 months, and you know what happened? I got on this winning streak and now it’s been almost 4 years since I’ve had a drink. I’m on a winning streak now and I don’t wanna get off the winning streak!
It’s like getting up early. You do one day, and then you do two days, and then you do three days, and all of a sudden, this brings me to my next point…
A habit only takes 21 days to form.
So, just remember, it’s step by step by step by step. You don’t have to worry about 2, 3, 4, 5 years out, you have to worry about today. You have to worry about tomorrow. You have to worry about the next day. But Once you get to 21 days, you have the habit. And once you have the habit, you have momentum.
Momentum is the hardest thing to get in your life, and it’s the easiest thing to lose.
Have an accountability partner.
You might go through phases where this will apply. Right now I’m in one of those phases – every single morning, at 5:30 am, a good friend of mine calls me. I know exactly what he’s doing – he’s doing what I’m doing – we’re in our kitchens at our respective homes and we’re reading our goals. His truck is usually started, because he parks outside and we live in Canada. We basically live in igloos and it get’s really cold in the morning, so he’s got his car started. We read our goals, we get into our vehicles and I go to the gym while he goes off to do his charity work.
I have an accountability partner because I know that if my phone rings at 5:30 in the morning and I’m not there to answer it, I’m not gonna just feel like I let myself down, I’m gonna feel like I let him down too.
Don’t let the exception become the standard.
There’s gonna be times where you need more sleep. I understand. If you need an extra hour and a half of sleep tomorrow or the next day, pre-plan it – as long as it’s pre-planned then it’s not emotion-based, it’s logic-based. Missing one day, you know what? We all do it. But you miss two, or you miss three in a row. Hey, the difference between a rut and a grave is only six feet.
I’m not perfect, but my goal every morning is to wake up according to plan. Wake up according to what I told myself I was going to do the night before. This helps start my day off on the right foot.