Help! I want to get up early but I don’t have any motivation!

Sharon commented on one of my Early to Rise posts and said:

If there is one habit I wish I could develop, it would be rising early. Obviously, I don’t want it bad enough because I haven’t been successful. I would be embarrassed to confess what time I get up on some days. My husband and I have no children, and I don’t start my job until 3pm. I feel so lazy and would love to break my bad habit, but can’t seem to find motivation! -Sharon

I appreciated Sharon’s honesty and I think she’s likely not alone. As I contemplated my response to her over the past week, I wanted to share some thoughts for her and for others of you who want to rise early but just can’t seem to find motivation to make it happen:

1. Have a Reason for Getting Up

I read this comment the other day from Lou Holtz: “If you’re bored with life, if you don’t get up every morning with a burning desire to do things, you don’t have enough goals.”

Goals have given me purpose and passion for life. I have many short-term and long-term goals I’m working toward that I’m stoked about, so each day I wake up knowing it’s an opportunity to inch a little closer to those goals.

If you don’t have anything you’re aiming for, you’re probably not going to have much motivation. Why? Because you’re basically just wandering around without any real destination in mind. Or, you’re just trying to survive and make it to the weekend.

Consider where you hope to be in six months or a year from now? Do you want to be more fit, advance in your career, become a stay-at-home mom, write a book, pay off your credit card, develop friendships, learn a new language? Whatever it is that comes to mind, write it down.

Then, once you have a list of ideas, pick out the top 1-3 ideas that you would consider the greatest priorities to you. Make sure to choose ideas that are at least fairly realistic and very specific. Wishy-washy, pie-in-the-sky, or vague goals aren’t really goals at all; they are more ideas or dreams.

Take those 1-3 goals and break them down into bite-sized pieces: monthly, weekly, and then daily goals to help you work toward where you hope to be in six months or a year from now. Commit to spending 15-30 minutes every morning working on one of the goals.

2. Find an Accountability Partner

Once you have a concrete, written down reasons for getting up that doesn’t magically mean you’ll get up — but I hope it at least gives you a little extra excitement when your feet hit the floor in the morning. To attain longterm success, I strongly encourage you to find an accountability partner.

An accountability partner can be your friend or your spouse, but they have to be as committed — or more committed — to your success than you. They cannot be someone that will let you just fall off the bandwagon and slack off. They need to hold your feet to the fire. That’s what accountability is about, after all.

If you find it helps, you can even have two accountability partners that you check in with every morning. I’d recommend either emailing or texting them every morning when you get up with a report of what time you got up and what you’re planning to do to work on your goals that morning. Then, once you’ve accomplished your plan, you can email them with a progress report again.

This might seem tedious and time-consuming, but that daily accountability is going to be crucial in your initial success. You might even consider meeting your accountability for coffee or a workout early in the morning so you’re guaranteed to get up and at ‘em early in the day.

3. Set Yourself Up for Success the Night Before

A successful morning begins the night before. Get started on your bedtime routine early: take time to tidy up the house, lay out your clothes for the next day, write out a short list of projects to accomplish in the morning, set up the coffee pot, and go to bed early.

Taking time the night before to prepare for the next day will not only make your morning go much more smoothly, but it will also give you a boost when you wake up. There’s something about waking up with a simple plan in place and things in order that jumpstarts your day in a good way.

For more ideas, be sure to check out my post on 11 Things You Can Do Tonight To Set You Up For Success Tomorrow.

4. Make Sure You’re Getting Enough Sleep

I recently finished reading Sleep: It Does A Family Good and was reminded of how important good’s night rest is. So make sure that you’re not sacrificing your health for the sake of getting up early!

If you’re feeling tired in the middle of the afternoon, you’re probably not getting enough sleep at night. The book recommends going to bed 15 minutes earlier until you find your sleep ideal (i.e. the number of hours of sleep that your body functions best on).

By the way, remember that not everyone is at their highest productivity in the early morning. Some people are more disciplined and efficient at night. If that’s when you function best and that’s what works best for your family, go with that.

What suggestions and ideas do the rest of you have for Sharon?

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Comments

  1. Ann says

    I’d recommend, set reasonable expectations for yourself. If she’s not going to work until 3 pm, she might not get off until 11 pm. Given a little time to get home, unwind, and get ready for bed, midnight is almost a too early bedtime….which makes 8 am an “early” rise, and 5 am unreasonable.

    • Anne says

      I worked 3 to 11 for a time and found that 1AM was a reasonable bed time with a 9AM wake up. And it suited my body’s rhythms. Too bad I didn’t like the job.

  2. says

    I love early mornings…but I hate the rest of the day after early mornings! :)

    After experimenting with waking up at 5am for a few months, I became a cranky, angry, awful person to be around, so for the sake of my family I gave it up.

    My mom was a morning person. Her mom was a morning person. Her mother was…and so forth. I was destined to be a morning person! But, alas, I was not granted that gene. (Gasp, but I hate coffee, so that doesn’t help. It takes me about 2 hours to feel fully awake in the mornings :)

    But, instead of beating myself up over what I’m NOT, I try to make the most of what I am. I love to be organized so I’m still able to pack a lot into my days despite waking up when my kids get up. I have more energy and patience for my kids because I’m not exhausted all day. And, I’m not falling asleep at 8pm which is the only time during the day I get to see my husband. So, while waking up earlier might make me more productive in chores, I’m in a season of life with littles that requires more patience, joy, and pep than I know I’m capable of when getting up too early, and I’m okay with that :)

    • says

      I totally agree with this sentiment, Sara. For me, while waking up early sounds like a worthwhile goal, I have found balance without it. I’m with you – an early riser that is cranky in the afternoon, like I am, isn’t accomplishing too many goals to be proud of!

    • Barbara says

      I think the last part of this post should have been the beginning, not everyone is the same.

      I think you and Ann are right on here. I have two little guys who each wake up 1-2 times per night, meaning I get up 2-4 times (this is down from 4-6 times). I need the sleep more than I need to “do more.”

      When I had no kids, I also had a 2nd shift job. Getting up “early” was a different time for me than it is for others. Luckily we live in a time when we can get things done at almost any time.

    • AJW says

      Totally agree. I posted below that I am extremely productive when I work with my natural rhythm, even if that means cleaning at 1am. It’s who I am and I’m good with it.

  3. says

    Hey Crystal! I hope you are having a fab Spring so far – time is flying by! Girl, I LOVE this post! Great info and ideas. I am such a night owl that mornings are hard. Sill working on reversing that… ::sighs::
    ;)
    Hope to see you again someday soon, busy lady!
    xo, Claire

  4. says

    I am a night person and feel ill (sick to my stomach, headache, shaky and can’t think) in the morning regardless of how early I go to bed. (no, I don’t drink) I got up early for years and pressed on through feeling ill in the morning when I worked and had younger children. I’ve finally stopped feeling guilty about it and go with my natural wake up time now that my girls are in college and I am not working. I find that I am more productive on days that I get up what some would consider late and feel awful for most of the day when I get up early.
    I’m not sure why this person needs to get up early , especially since her job starts at 3 pm. If she works 3-11, she probably won’t be ready for bed until at least 12:30 and 8:30 is the earliest she should be getting up. I don’t believe someone can become a morning person any more than I can change my husband into a night person. Why fight it if you don’t have to?

    • says

      I’m with @pamdesignfanatic on this one.
      I am most def a night owl but since moving to Florida I’ve started getting up early to take advantage of working on my gardens while its cool. However, I’m still up late most nights so I most def don’t get enough sleep. On days I’m really feeling it, I nap.

      I’ve never understood why getting up early is perceived as better than getting up later. Crazy!! All people are not the same!

      As I’ve been following this topic I’ve noticed many of the comments are from parents of young kids. When these young ones are teens, I doubt their parents will be going to bed at 9pm….at least I hope they won’t!

  5. Ashley says

    Before I was a mom, I would sleep until 10-12 most days. Having a baby now gives me great motivation to get up early. I don’t have a choice anymore! lol
    I’m totally not a morning person though, so we’ve adjusted my daughter’s sleep schedule so she usually gets up around 9. There’s no sense in getting up at 6 or 7 when I don’t have to! But 9 I can handle, most days at least…
    But back to the question… I find that getting up and getting totally ready for the day really helps. And like you mentioned, having a goal or plan for the day makes it easier to not be lazy and stay in bed all day lol.

  6. Malissa says

    I think it’s perfectly ok to not be an early riser;) Doesn’t mean I’m bored with life and don’t have passion;).

    Maybe it means I’m not a morning person and my husband and I are fine with that. Maybe it means I’m pregnant and need my rest ;).

    Regardless, getting up early is definitely not remotely close to a priority in this house and I get plenty done in the day ;)!

  7. Vikki says

    When I shifted from a job that started at 7 a.m. to working a late shift (5 p.m. to 2 a.m.) I had to rethink “early.” I had to be firm (even with my husband) about when it was OK to call me and when my morning started. As for “setting myself up for success the night before,” I found that leaving the radio off on my way home late at night helped me to wind down more quickly so I could get to sleep faster. And I had a firm rule about no TV after I got home.

  8. Jessica says

    Sharon,

    I feel you on this. This past July I started a job that has me working 2:30-10 most work days. Man was it an adjustment. Mainly because I was still trying to lead a 9-5 lifestyle. What I mean is I would stay up watching TV when I got home and then try and get up at 7 the next morning. It didn’t work. Once I adjusted my expectations and realized that my mornings are most people’s evening it help. If I work til 10, I try and be in bed by 11:30 and up by 9:30. I function bet on 9 hours of sleep.

    Crystal makes some great points in her post but please don’t get discouraged if you behind the scenes doesn’t look like someone else’s highlight reel. Do what works best for you and make use of your time.

  9. cher says

    That good ole sunshine vitamin: vitamin D is super important! I read if your body is low on vitamin D you are likely going to have a tough time waking up in the morning. It’s such a simple thing but getting enough of this important vitamin that the body makes from the sun effects a person’s circadian rhythms and mood.

  10. says

    I find setting a reason to get up is always good, like getting in a gym session before working and taking advantage of everyone else being at work and the gym being empty.

    Or doing chores so that when you get back from work you can relax.

    It takes time, but you just need to change the routine of sleeping in, to be a routine of getting up at the same time everyday.

  11. says

    My guess is if she starts work at 3 she could be working late. Night workers sleep rhythms are very distorted. She needs to look at what works best for her productivity. Definitely set some goals. Definitely aim for 7 to 8 hours of solid sleep a night. Then decide what works best getting up early or staying up late. I know when my husband worked evenings it use to take him several hours to unwind so he preferred to use those hours to be productive while the rest of the household was sleeping and then he would sleep in until he needed to get up for work again. Also if she does want to get up earlier and make that her productive time, try working out first. Working out will make you alert, refreshed and ready to go. It does not have to be long or hard. A 15 to 20 minute walk outside or on the treadmill should get you going for your day.

  12. says

    I guess I’m with the others – if you’re working late at night, don’t try to get up before 8-9am at the earliest – depending on what time you go to bed. If you’re not getting to bed until 2am, then shoot for 10am or later even. Sleep is important and getting up later than everyone else can definitely be necessary!

    And I would like to second the physical activity part. Our bodies were made to move and getting regular exericse – even something as simple as a little gardening or a walk – can really help regulate our sleep cycles!

    Another thought – how much sleep are you getting? Too much can be a sign that you need a medical checkup – it was my cue that my body had what turned into a chronic illness actually, though it can be as little as a virus like mono or a vitamin deficiency (someone else mentioned Vitamin D). If you’re sleeping more than 10 hours or so a night, you might want to think about getting a medical check up. If you’re getting too little, why worry about getting up early? Get that sleep instead!

    Blessing,
    Lea

  13. says

    Wow! I love this post! I never thought of it that way – about how your goals give you that zest for life. But I totally agree now that I’m thinking about it. Awesome post!!!!

  14. jenn says

    I recently switched from an RN Weekend package position (Sat/Sun 6a-6p) to a part-time 3p-1130p position. I haven’t been a night owl since we got married so I have no problem coming home from work, loving on my dogs, talking to my hubby a bit and then heading to bed, usually by 12 (if I get out on time) or 1230 at the latest.

    I have a 6 year old that needs to get up, get ready for school and be at the bus stop by 750. I have to get up by 7 to M-F to ensure he is up and getting ready. Some days, depending on how I feel, I have laid back down in the morning after he leaves for an hour or two. This week, I actually took a 1 hour nap before work (from noon-1) as I was still fighting a nasty cold that had kept me home the day before.

    I admit I am looking forward to school being out so I will be able to sleep until 8 after a night at work!

  15. April says

    I would chime in with the others who say that if you’re going to work at 3 pm, a 5:00 wakeup time isn’t healthy for you. My opinion is that there’s nothing magical about getting up early in the morning – it works for some people just as working late into the evening works for others, and people should consider their family’s schedules, personal preferences, and lifestyle to find the wakeup time that’s appropriate for them.

  16. says

    Another option may be to schedule something around the time when you want to get up to give yourself a purpose for rising.

    For example, if you want to be up at 8am each day, plan to meet with a friend to walk at 9am or sign up for a volunteer opportunity early in the morning.

    Maryalene

    • says

      I enjoyed this post…
      it’s hard for me to see everyone saying how early they are getting up when that is just really not an option for me. I am much more of a morning person than my husband, but he is a musician and when he has rehearsals/concerts is often not back until 11 PM or closer to midnight with his drive. So getting up at 5 AM? Not really plausible! I still have to be getting my sleep. (I also work full time, day-time/evening hours.)
      So everyone has to find their sweet spot. While I might not be able to get up at 5 AM, I might be able to get up at 7 instead of 8 to get extra things done. :)

      And I agree with another commenter – running/walking in the morning is a great idea!

  17. says

    I used to teach piano lessons which didn’t start until the afternoon, so I can somewhat relate. I made a habit of getting up to make breakfast for my hubby–gave me a reason to get up (and I’m the type of person that once I’m up, it’s easy to stay up; the getting up is the challenge!). It was nice to see him off in the mornings and it worked for us. That’s just a suggestion to consider–not something that I think ought to work for everyone!

    And I think all the other commenters are on the right track–sometimes early rising doesn’t fit a person’s constitution. Figure out what works for you and lets you accomplish your goals, and if it’s a later rising time than some, don’t sweat it! :)

    • says

      p.s. by “breakfast” I mean toast with peanut butter and jelly, a bagel, or setting cereal out on the table. Not biscuits and eggs :)

  18. says

    You have to adjust your “early rise” to fit your schedule. 5 am is early for some people but late for others. 9 am might be early for you based on your late work schedule, so don’t beat yourself up because you don’t get up at 5.

  19. says

    Hmmm, I don’t know if I agree that if you’re bored, you don’t have enough goals. Right now I’m actually really, really bored, but it’s intentional. I’m working a TON of hours because we’re in a season of saving so that we’ll be ready to start a family in 2 years. That’s my goal, and it’s worth it — so I’m okay with being bored right now.

    Would it be more fun for me to set innovative, interesting goals each day? You bet! Do I sometimes not want to get out of bed and work an extra shift? Of course! But I’ve chosen this sacrifice now for the long-term payoff, and at the end of the day I’m happy with the choice.

    • says

      I think possibly our definitions of “bored” differ. To me, being bored means you don’t feel like you have much to do — which doesn’t sound like is the case with you. :)

      • says

        Well that makes sense! I think of bored as unengaged or uninterested – like, I’m “bored” at line in the post office, even though I’m doing something I have to do at that very moment. I’ve been trying to find a way to get everything done and also not be my-version-of-bored, but I think I just need to make peace with the fact that every single task can’t be entertaining!

  20. Christine says

    move alarm clock across room so you are forced to get out of bed. set it to the most annoying alarm or radio station, at high volume that let’s others continue snoozing.
    this helped me tremendously during the recent challenge here on msm. also if you typically close shades, curtains to keep out the a.m. light, leave them open at bedtime so you’re body starts to wake with the sunrise.

  21. Nichole says

    I am in my mid-twenties and have struggled so hard to get up early all my life. I feel like I have finally found what works for me and thought I’d share it just in case it could help someone else.

    First, let me say that I’m a little taken aback by the comments on this post! Most of us are very pampered in this day and age and we’re talked into believing that we need much more rest than we really need. Up until a few generations ago, the norm was to be up working hard long before the sun was up until well after it went down. Now all the sudden we must have our eight to ten hours of sleep with plenty of R&R through the day in order to function. Sorry, but that’s just not the case. The Bible speaks of the virtuous woman rising early yet staying up late. We just need some good old-fashioned work ethic. I think one of the main things to help you wake up early is a firm conviction that it is simply the right thing to do.

    But back to the things that help me… I am a livestock and pet sitter and am also heavily involved in a farming operation, so some days I need to be up until midnight and other days I need to be up in the morning at 4:00. So a set schedule doesn’t work for me. What I finally learned to do is to sleep for six hours each night. If I go to bed around 10:30, I’ll be up at 4:30. If I have to be up until midnight, I don’t get up until 6:00. I understand that some people do need more than six hours due to metabolism and health problems, but I find that even though I have to vary my times each day, my body is used to sleeping for a certain amount of time and that is enough. If I get drained through the week I will look for a time during the day to rest for awhile instead of just sleeping longer in the morning. On those mornings that it hurts to sit up and the house is freezing cold and I am so droggy I don’t even know what my name is, I just have to remember that once I’m up and have started my day, I can find some time to sleep a bit later if I still need to.

    Also, I spent the extra money and bought a CD /radio alarm clock so I can gently wake to music. It works! And I had always been one to sleep through regular alarm clocks screaming in my ear right next to me. There is just something different about waking to music that works. It sits across the room so that I can’t just roll over and turn it off.

    Other than those two things, Crystal’s post included everything else I’ve learned in order to be able to wake up. Having an organized evening routine like she mentioned helps me so much, too. I used to often fall back asleep in the mornings just trying to figure out what to wear and what to do first in the morning, so having it all planned out cures that.

    I used to sleep through every alarm, hate mornings, hit the snooze button for an hour, etc., and now I (usually) love waking up! :)

    • Meme says

      Personally I’m a little taken back by your comment. Just because God convicted you that getting up was the “right thing to do” doesn’t mean that its right for my family and I. God convicts and puts things on each of our hearts individually. Also back in the time your talking about most places weren’t open 24/7 so people weren’t working until 2-3 am and then getting up super early.

      • says

        From what I’ve studied, in the “olden days” people got a lot more sleep than most people do nowadays because they went to bed with the sun and got up with the sun. While modern conveniences like electricity are nice, they’ve also made going to bed a lot later much easier.

        I’ve personally suffered the consequences and burnout that comes from pushing myself too hard and not taking the time to rest and refresh myself. It took me a year to unravel the damage done. So while I’m a big proponent of being diligent and disciplined, I’ve also come believe that it’s very important that we get adequate rest. In addition, most people are much more efficient and productive when they are well rested than when they are just dragging themselves through the day.

        The most important thing is that we do what works for each of us — and be okay if it’s very different than what might work for someone else. We each have own on strengths and struggles! We can learn and be inspired from others but what works for me won’t necessarily always work for you because I’m not you and you’re not me. :)

    • Jen says

      I’ve been a night owl for as long as I can remember, and it always worked for me. My productive time was at night. Until I had children. I’m now a SAHM, and they get up early. For many years I got by on 5 to 6 hours of sleep, but now my body has “crashed”. I am barely functioning and have had several health issues reveal themselves in the past few months. I’m now in my early 40′s with two young children, and I WISH I could take back all those years of practically no sleep. I now realize how critical sleep is to health. I am making every effort now to get 8 – 10 hours a night, and I’m hoping and praying that it is not too late to recover my health.

      You mention that you’re in your mid-twenties, and I would caution you not to take adequate sleep lightly. You may do just fine for many years, and remain healthy on too little sleep. However, twenty years down the road may find you in my position.

      I agree with Meme. Every person and every family is different. What works for you, will not work for everyone. And what works for you now, may not work for you always.

    • says

      Wow, I felt like this could have been a comment from me…and not just because my name is also Nicole!! =)

      I am still working on pushing my wake up time earlier, so I haven’t quite achieved the victories you have, but I’m working towards it! I am also in my mid-twenties, and can sleep through every alarm clock known to man – but I haven’t tried music! Now I’m anxious to give that a try!

      I don’t have a family of my own, so that is not a motivation for me to rise early at this point…but I am working at getting my Etsy shop off the ground, so that is pretty good motivation! I agree with Crystal that having goals does make a difference!!

      I also agree with your thoughts about the Proverbs 31 woman. She worked hard for her family and I believe that should be the goal of women today. I think each gal needs to determine the right amount of sleep she needs to be able to adequately fulfill that responsibility – everyone is different. Grace should be given to mothers of young children, people with health needs, etc. that require more sleep. But we also need to realize that too much sleep is a possibility as well!

      Anyway, I’m rambling. Thanks for your comment, Nichole! =)

    • Ann says

      Right now, which is close to the equinox, the sun rises here around 7am and sets at 9pm. That would be 10 hours of sleep. In the summer it is more like 6 am and 9pm –9 hours of sleep; in the winter, it is 8 am and 6 pm, 14 hours of sleep. So I don’t think your call to six hours of sleep a night necessarily Biblical.

      And while I may get paid for 40 hours a week, as a mom of three I’m still “working” when I’m not at work. It’s about choosing to be productive with my time. I have found that I need an hour of “wind down” time between when the kids go to bed and when I do (though usually Im making lunches, folding laundry, paying bills, etc during this time). This makes it a difficult season for me sleep wise, as My son is now 10 and has a hard time going to bed before 10 (he needs an hour to wind down too, and baseball and scouts go to 8:30, with some travel time home), so it’s at least 11:30 ( more often 12 or 12:30…) until I go to bed, and I must be up by 6:30 to get the school age kids to school on time (I think school starting at 7:35 is ridiculous!)

  22. Kimberly says

    I haven’t read all the other comments (naptime is almost over!!)….but wanted to suggest considering signing up for something that means you HAVE to get up at a certain time, at least a day or two a week.

    Before I got married, it was too easy to stay home from Church, but I really wanted to go, so I joined the Choir—partly because I wanted to be in it, but also to make myself get up and get there every Sunday morning. :-)

    Also—before children arrived, I volunteered with our school district’s tutoring program one morning a week, and helping others would be a gift to YOU, too, as I’m sure you know!

  23. AJW says

    I tried to make this adjustment for a long time and I’ve come to the conclusion that I just don’t need to be a morning person to be successful. My children attend virtual school and we have never been breakfast people so we eat when we feel hungry. I work from home and make my own schedule so there is no need to get up and get moving at 6am. Most “business” that I need to attend to, doctor’s appts, or shopping can be done in the afternoon or online. Don’t get me wrong. I do cook meals for my family, I clean, organize, coupon, exercise, and study(pt college student). My children have activities they participate in and I have friends and family. We get out of the house regularly…lol! I just decided that working with what works for me naturally is much better than forcing something. If I do get up early just because it is unavoidable for that day, I do not feel guilty about taking a nap in the afternoon to get myself balanced again. I have never been a morning person and don’t plan on becoming one.

        • AJW says

          YEP! I love your blog! You offer great tips, very realistic methods and articles, and welcome discussions. I’ve had family members and friends tell me that I’m being lazy just because I don’t live based on their timetable and I’ve even had a few people throw religion at me as a reason I should rise at 5am, no matter what. I wasn’t trying to offend with the God comment. I just wanted to share my experience and the fact that it is empowering to understand one’s own natural rhythm (some would even dare to say God given), even if it is not necessarily as traditionally circadian as the next person. <3

  24. Shannon says

    Sharon, I felt the same way you did at one time and felt like a failure when I was unable to wake early and wanted to develop that habit like you do. I finally found that I needed something to really get me motivated to wake up early in the mornings to hold me personally accountable. My personal motivation was exercising like I once did before my son came along. So I found an exercise program that starts on PBS at 6 a.m. every morning and loved it. I intentionally did not buy any exercise dvd’s because I knew I would have to wake at 5 a.m. to drink my coffee, wake myself up, and be ready for this program to begin if I wanted to participate. To this day, I still do the same program for 30 mins and have even added a 1 mile jog into my morning because it helped my arthritis so much. I think you should choose the time you are hoping to wake up and try to either schedule something to complete early so you have a small goal to wake up for and once you start reaping the benefits of reaching your goal you will find that you have developed that habit of waking early before you know it.

    • Sharon says

      Thank you all for the tips! I didn’t know that I would get this big of a reply, and it is appreciated! I think my problem is that I’m bored and think there is nothing to do, so maybe making a list the night before will help me, or having some sort of accountability or reward system might work!

  25. says

    I had to laugh to myself when I saw this post, because I just wrote a post about being unmotivated and the reason why.