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?