We can’t judge what’s right for others, but it’s important to know what’s right for you. If the way you are prone to living doesn’t match up to your idea of how you want to live, then it’s a call towards putting in the action towards rectifying what doesn’t feel right. There is nothing worse than drifting along a path that feels wrong to your innate instinct and wisdom.
Waking up early can be one such aspect in your life that you know is right for you, but have not been able to effectively implement.
Let’s look at 5 essentials that you may be missing out on that may be stopping you from achieving this habit.
Waking up early can make a huge difference to your efficacy in terms of being productive, energetic and relaxed.
There is a lot of pain involved in dealing with the dreariness of waking up late and scampering to the work-place, feeling foggy-brained, restless, irritated, stressed and rushed, with a gnawing sense of a lack of control.
Life, at a work-place, can be quite challenging in terms of unforeseen problems, the ensuing escalations, immediate demands for solution, impending dead-lines and critical meetings, combined with the collective stress of the people around you. The last thing you want is an addled, soporific, and a rushed brain thrown into facing these challenges.
Getting an early start, gives the brain a sense of space, an openness, a gap, which it can use to prepare itself, and poise itself, to deal with the requirements of the day. It’s most natural for the brain to start “slow” and then build up a pace, after it wakes up from a sojourn induced by sleep.
It’s painful to put the brain on top gear, without allowing it the time to rev up – by downing several cups of coffee (or your choice of stimulant) you may be jangling your brain into performance which leaves it even more tired and stressed, eventually, in the long run, you are setting yourself up for a burn out.
If you consciously realize the pain afflicted, to your body, brain and sense of esteem, owing to your habit of waking up late, and yet feel unable to make the change towards waking up early, then it’s very likely that you may be doing a few things wrong at the core of it. There are five essentials to become an effective early riser, here they are
1: Develop the Openness to Experience Pain
Waking up is not a pleasant experience – of course, there are some days when your brain might look forward to waking up, but on most days it would rather stay in the comfort of the bed.
To get out of the soothing comfort of your bed, and get moving, is like expending energy to put a static object in motion. The migration from inertia to movement, involves a phase of transition, and like any change it involves pain.
The core reason why we have difficulty waking up is the severe resistance to facing the pain of migrating from inertia to movement. Once you are in movement it’s easy to sustain the movement, but to change from inertia to movement will always involve a strain, an effort, a push, which makes you experience pain.
We inherently dislike pain, because it doesn’t feel good. But let’s face up to reality – “pain is a part of life, just as much as joy is”. In fact most of the meaningful joy is experienced as a result of the work/effort that you put in towards achieving what’s worthwhile.
Work is not always joy. It can involve elements like discipline, focus, meticulousness and endurance, which involve the feeling of pain. People who are not open to feel this pain are usually the ones who feel inadequate towards living their potential. Avoiding this pain may give you a short term joy but it comes at the cost of an inner sense of a lack of self-respect, esteem, worthiness and power.
The openness to feeling pain is crucial in the development of a being. It’s this ability to allow pain that deepens our maturity, that gives us character, that makes us strong within. Don’t be afraid of feeling this pain – yes, it won’t feel good to you initially, but as you keep allowing it in there will be a time when it becomes one with you.
Without your resistance, the pain has a very different feeling to it – it no longer feels painful, rather it feels like a natural aspect of living.
Develop this openness to pain, by experiencing it fully, by putting yourself through it. Don’t seek the comfort of your bed instead look towards experiencing the pain for making a movement towards getting up.
Look at it as a means to develop your mettle, your character, your inner strength.
2: Ensure that You Go to Bed Early
You can’t have it both ways – enjoying a late night and getting up early don’t go together.
You will have to let go of one for the other. Even if you pull it off once in a while, it’s not possible to consistently wake up early after pulling off a late night. It can be quite enticing to let your hair down, and enjoy food and drinks late into the night while watching movies or partying with friends. The cost of this indulgence is that your brain would feel drained when you force it to wake up early the next morning.
It’s important to understand the brain is a machine that needs its fuel and rest. The brain would refuse to wake up early, and would fight for its rest, if you don’t allow it sufficient hours of sleep.
For most humans, a minimum of seven hours of sleep is a requirement (which would allow for a 3-4 hours of deep sleep). Some people may need less, but they may need to compensate for it by taking a nap during the day. Especially if your job requires your body/brain to handle stress on daily basis, or requires you to think technically or creatively for several hours.
It’s a must to ensure a good amount of rest, otherwise you would end up burning out your brain and body in the long run.
It’s best to sleep before 10:30 pm, if you plan on waking up at 6 am. It would take 15-30 minutes for your brain to relax into slumber, so you would end up with seven hours of quality sleep. If you wish to wake up by 5 am, you should sleep at-least by 10 pm.
Some people can make do with six hours of sleep, you need to understand what really works for you, but anything less than 6 hours is definitely tasking for the brain.
Remember that the less sleep you get the more painful it is when you wake up, because now you have to fight the tiredness of your brain along with the pull of inertia.
3: Stick To A Routine
The brain is most comfortable performing the “familiar” patterns. Change is always stressful as it involves coping with unfamiliar territory.
Imagine how difficult it was to drive a car when you started learning, and how easy it gets once you’ve been driving for a few years. You can be lost in thoughts and your body/brain would still be able to maneuver the car out of tricky corners with relative ease. It’s all about conditioning!
The stronger the conditioning the easier it is for the brain to operate the pattern.
Usually it can take at-least a couple of months for a pattern to become mechanical, for an average brain. Once a pattern becomes mechanical it’s far easier to execute and there is much less resistance/pain involved.
Follow a routine of sleeping at the same time every night, and waking up at the same time every morning. Don’t break this routine even on weekends or vacations, because 2 days of broken routine would be a disturbance towards building a mechanical behavior in your brain with respect to waking up early.
Routine can seem drab and boring to some people who prefer living on the edge, who don’t like following predictable patterns, who like to be impulsive and give in to whims of the moment. However, such a mindset is also prone to being unstable and is not an asset when it comes to being professional and competently productive.
The biggest advantage of following a routine is that it gives your brain a sense of stability – it gives you a structure to shape your day upon, and provides a discipline that will hold you in good stead in your work.
True professionals are seldom found to be impulsive in their behavior; they follow strict routines and have a disciplined approach towards their line of work.
Read up on the work ethics of Jeffrey Archer (a novelist who has dished out several best-sellers) and you would know that the secret behind his consistent success is his adherence to a strict routine while writing a novel.
4: Be Prepared For The Morning
When you wake up the brain is not in the best position to be making new decisions. It would serve you well if there is clarity on what you need to be doing, at-least during the first couple of hours after waking up.
You would have to come up with the pattern that would work well for you. For example,
- Have a glass of water and walk down to the bathroom to splash some cold water on your face.
- Walk out to the balcony and breathe in some fresh air, taking in the serenity of the dawn.
- Put on some music while you start preparing your preferred beverage – tea, coffee or just warm lemon juice.
- Freshen up and go for a jog, or a brisk walk, to work up a sweat.
- Take a shower (avoid getting too comfortable in a bath tub as it would put you a sleepy mood, splash some cold water on your face again after you finish your bath).
- Meditate for a few minutes in a sitting position – this will help relax your brain after the stress of waking up and get it ready for the day.
- Have your breakfast while listening to some soothing music.
The above routine should ideally take 90 minutes, after which you will be all set to start your work day. You will be able to start for your office (or start if you are your own boss) well before the rush-hour and would have a good amount of time to yourself to check the mails, decide on your priorities for the day, study some work related material and plan your schedule before the crowd comes in.
5: Plan With The Long Term In Mind
You can either experience short-term pleasures, or you can work towards a long term success.
If you are prone to give into short-term gratification, which usually can be obtained with very less effort, it’s a given that you won’t be able to develop the discipline to work towards a long term goal. Achieving such long term goals, through steady and consistent effort, is far more rewarding to the mind/heart/soul than the spurt of short-term gratification.
Everything that’s truly worth-while involves sustained effort, time and patience.
Developing the habit of waking up early should ideally be the requirement stemming for your desire to achieve some long term goals.
For example, spending a couple of hours reading up on the technicalities of your work will put you in a position of expert competence, within a year, in terms of your technical know-how.
Set up some long term goal for yourself, something that you can work towards in a year, and stay with it until you accomplish it.
Leading a disciplined life with respect to your sleeping and waking habit will play a significant role in assisting you in this goal. The brain is a lot more focused when it has a clear idea of what it has to accomplish, rather than when you are living day by day taking it as it comes.
Giving in to short term pleasures is the easier route. It’s much easier to lay back on the couch and stuff yourself with pleasurable foods/beverages and entertain your senses, than to hit the bed on time and wake up to a strict routine.
Short term gratifications don’t build a mental strength, they don’t give you a true sense of achievement, they don’t instill a sense of self-worth and they don’t chisel a character worthy of respect.
When you work towards a long term goal, by making consistent sacrifices along the way, by giving up on the proclivities towards short-term joys, and maintaining a steady focus, the gratification that you get in the end is far beyond just a trifling joy – it has a sense of depth to it that every soul looks for.