4 Essential Reasons to Start Waking Up Early

“We all have 168 hours a week, but not all hours are equally suited to all things.”

- Laura Vanderkam

Imagine the following scenario:

This routine is all too familiar to me: in fact, it was me. I worked a lot of shifts at a lot of different jobs that closely resembled this.

In short, it was miserable. I want to encourage you to try a different scenario:

One key difference separates these two days: the morning.

Mornings are such a big deal because they set the tone for everything else. One event tends to snowball into the next, building into either a positive or negative attitude throughout the day, and a focused morning tends to start off better than a harried one.

Laura Vanderkam, author of What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, put it this way:

“The madness of mornings is a key reason most of us believe we have no time. We have time, but it’s consumed by sound and fury that culminates in few accomplishments beyond getting out the door… Learning to use mornings well is, in our distracted world, what separates achievement from madness.”

If you are interested in chasing a dream, pursuing some big career goals, or even just forming a new habit, I would like to encourage you to try doing it in the morning. Yes, this includes those of you with self-defeating mindsets around how you were simply born “a night owl,” or that you do not have the time or energy or willpower.

You have the capability. Here are 4 key reasons why you should:

1. Bad Habits Break

We all know it to be true: good habits are formed in the morning, while bad habits are formed at night. Laura Vanderkam found evidence on the subject in the form of the work of Roy Baumeister, a psychology professor at Florida State University. In Baumeister’s words,

“Diets are broken in the evening, not the morning. The majority of impulsive crimes are committed after 11:00 p.m. Lapses in drug use, alcohol abuse, sexual misbehavior, gambling excesses, and the like tend to come about late in the day.”

I have found this to be true in my personal life. If there is any one time of day when I am likely to buy energy drinks and candy, binge on Netflix and video games, and break every good habit I am attempting to build, it is late in the evening. I am frequently exhausted from the demands of the day by this point and have no energy to commit to healthier alternatives.

But imagine if you went to bed a little earlier, skipping over most of this indulgent time, and focused instead on what you are capable of in the morning. What could you accomplish? What incremental step could you take toward your big goals every single day?

2. Good Habits Form

Maintaining a habit is hard. You should not take on too many changes at once because of how fatiguing it can be to upend your entire routine. Think about the big life changes you have made, or that have been made upon you:

These were likely stressful and exhausting times because you had to make a lot more decisions every single day until you built yourself a new routine. The same is true with trying to form a habit like waking up early.

As Professor Baumeister put it,

“Getting things down to routines and habits takes willpower at first but in the long run conserves willpower. Once things become habitual, they operate as automatic processes, which consume less willpower.”

The cool thing about the habit of waking up early is that it begets other good habits. The reason? It becomes harder to stay up late when you wake up early, and mornings feel so peaceful and full of possibility that it is easier to push yourself toward other goals.

I do not recommend that you try to build the habit of waking up early so you can immediately begin a task you do not currently do. Making the morning even more daunting is bound to make both habits harder. Instead, make mornings the time you look forward to most!

3. You can focus on you.

“Successful people have priorities they want to tackle, or things they like to do with their lives, and early mornings are the time when they have the most control of their schedules. In a world of constant connectivity, of managing global organizations, the day can quickly get away from you as other people’s priorities invade-sometimes even those of the people you love dearly and share a home with.”

- Laura Vanderkam

Start slow and keep things simple. Mornings are a great time to do something easy and enjoyable: reading a good book and drinking some coffee, for example, or going on a walk and listening to your favorite podcast.

This time is when everyone else is sleeping in, and that is exactly why it should be all about you.

Once you have built your morning habit (which takes about 66 days), you can always add more to your mornings. Maybe, like me, you like to go to the gym first thing so you are no longer dreading it and can shower before work. Maybe you are working a side hustle and mornings are an uninterrupted opportunity to build on it. Maybe you just want to try meditating.

None of these things are what you must do. This is your time! Use it to craft the person you want to be.

4. Mornings are beautiful.

We pretty much always catch the sun set. Imagine getting to peacefully watch the sun rise before the day’s hustle begins.

I sure want to.

Originally published at https://www.novumopus.com on October 5, 2020.



I write about personal finance, career growth, and making the most of the new workforce. You can find my blog at novumopus.com.

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Dan Rice

I write about personal finance, career growth, and making the most of the new workforce. You can find my blog at novumopus.com.