Saturday, August 17, 2013

Rising Early

 "Whether I retire to bed early or late, I rise with the sun." - Thomas Jefferson 
He told of a fifty-year period in which the sun had never caught him in bed; he rose as soon as he could read the hands of the clock kept directly opposite his bed. Following this remarkable man's example, my current challenge is rising early , wake up whenever I set my alarm. This I need to be able to do regardless of what day it is, or if I have anything 'serious' to do that day.

I picked this challenge because I think it's the best possible habit I can implement right now. I will gain loads of time I otherwise will be sleeping away. I think waking up early consistently will make me want to go to bed earlier automatically. Rising early is a so-called keystone habit for me. It rearranges the day, and spills over to other habits.

In order to complete and succeed in changing a habit you need laser-like focus. Light when bundled and focused can cut through steel but when it's too diffused, it doesn't work.

That's why one should only try to change one habit at the time. When I started self-developing myself in 2010 I got all excited about all the things that would be beneficial to implement into my life. Rising early, the pomodoro technique, alternative sleeping cycles, cold shower challenges, and many more things I read about back then.
The problem with having so many things to work on, is that you don't have enough willpower to be able to do it all at once. Changing a habit needs a conscious act of willpower in the beginning to be able to set the new habit in motion. For me, with the 'rising early' challenge, that was: actually taking out time to practice getting out of bed 4 times in a row.  

The trick is conditioning, as beautifully portrayed in this post. You want to bypass your 'fogginess' and general incapability to think straight in the early morning. You do this  with conditioning to stand up right away when the alarm goes off, thus not allowing yourself to even think, but rather: react automatically! Quite a revolutionary concept for me as well. I previously thought waking up early was some strong feat of willpower, and in a way it is, but not as you might think. 
In the morning you won't always be able to muster up the necessary amount of willpower to reason yourself out of bed and conquer the warm bed sheets. So train yourself into this wonderful habit, through simulating waking up a several times. When you're still thinking about it, as Steve Pavlina says, you have to practice some more.

Over the past few days I have managed to wake up as soon as I heard my alarm. I was used to waking up around 11:00 naturally, and going to bed around 2:00. I've been tuning it down day by day: first 9:00, then 7:30 and this morning 6:30.  I think I'd like to wake up around 5:00 in the end, for optimal productivity and fulfillment. The drawback is that it doesn't account for going out and having an irregular/party night.

The goal is to be able to implement the rising early habit into my day. I think the day is a very good level to work on. You can have big dreams and great plans, but doing something good on a daily basis can have a much bigger impact over the years. All years are made up of days. Out of good daily habits, success flows naturally. 
Sustainable change is attained by taking small but consistent steps. I'ts like planting a seed and watering it consistently and looking after it regularly with loving attention.
This approach, I've noticed, works way better to accomplish projects than the rushing and hurrying through what you're doing. This principle can be applied to the even the most mundane sort of things like doing the dishes.

My 5 fundamental habits that put my day in the right direction are:

1. Rising early
2. Meditation
3. Using the 43-folder system
4. Intermittent fasting

5. Gratitude

When school starts again and the pressure is on again, I'm not sure if they'll stand the test, but we'll see.

Sources:, The power of habit - Chris Duhigg, The Power of habit - Jack D. Hodge, 

1 comment:

  1. You published this great article at 11:09 AM, could it be possible if you had woken up "naturally" at 11:00 AM? Good luck ;)