Imagine this….it’s cold, raining, and pitch black outside.
Your alarm clock goes off…it’s 5 am and you are trying to wake up two hours earlier than you ever have in your life. It’s day one of this new ritual….you’re pissed. You’re just not having it at this ungodly hour. “Why am I up?” you think to yourself…I could get up and start my day or I could just go back to sleep.
You’re at a crossroads.
This is when the excuses come into your head while you’re laying there….
- “I’m just not a morning person.”
- “My bed is way too warm.”
- “It’s cold and raining out.”
- “I don’t even have clean gym clothes.”
- “I’m way too busy today.”
- “I guess I’m just a night owl.”
And the excuses continue….
Guess what? This is exactly why you must peel yourself out of the bed and go!
The truth is, most successful people wake up early.
And most of them wake up at 5 am or earlier.
“Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day.” – Jim Rohn
Benjamin Franklin, Howard Schultz, Grant Cardone, Barack Obama, Richard Branson, Dwayne the Rock” Johnson, and Tim Cook (among many others) .
The average US person wakes up between 6-730am. If you can learn how to wake up at 5 am or earlier, you will have 1-2 hours of uninterrupted time. With a head start on the rest of the country you get to decide what you want to do with your time. You get to take back your time.
Waking up at 5 am isn’t right for everyone, but there it is a powerful discipline that, if followed even for a short amount of time, has the power to transform your life and help you achieve your biggest goals faster than you ever thought possible.
In this article, I’m going to reveal:
- Why you should and shouldn’t wake up at 5 am (there are times when it’s ok to hit “snooze”)
- The benefits of waking up early and how this practice can accelerate your success.
- Tactical ideas that will teach you how to wake up at 5 am every day without hating your life, popping Adderall, or killing your body
- Tips and tricks to make the most of your early mornings
Enough preamble, let’s get into the good stuff.
Should I Wake Up at 5 am: A 30-Day Challenge
Before we begin this article, I must start with a disclaimer. I do not currently wake up at 5 am. I have an active social life that makes it challenging for me to get the sleep I need to wake up early and, since my business is already established and profitable, my goals no longer mandate early mornings.
However, when I was first building Knowledge for Men, I was waking up at 5 am every day. Those early morning hours were invaluable to the growth of my business and allowed me to achieve the success I enjoy today.
As such, I want to make something clear.
I do not believe that everyone needs to wake up at 5 am every day. And frankly, some of you have schedules that make such early mornings all but impossible.
Getting adequate rest and following a schedule that allows you to make the most of your life are far more important than adhering to some arbitrary wake up time. That being said, I believe that everyone should join the “5 am club” for 1-3 months at some point in their life. There’s something powerful about the discipline that allows you to access a degree of power and intentionality most people don’t know they possess.
It will allow you to get ahead on big projects, reclaim control of your health, and carve out time for yourself before the rest of the world wakes up.
So my challenge to you is simple.
Wake up at 5 am for 30-days and then decide, after you’ve experienced the pros and cons first hand, whether you want to continue the habit or not.
If it sticks, awesome! You can join the likes of Jocko Willink, Tom Bilyeu, and many other prolific creators and rise well before the rest of the world stirs.
If it doesn’t? Then you still proved to yourself that you are capable of far more discipline and willpower than you previously believed.
Why Wake Up at 5 am? The Benefits of Waking Up Early
One of the most common objections to the idea of waking up early is this: “Why get up in the morning at all? I have the same number of hours in the day no matter what!”
And I get it. At first glance, it doesn’t seem like there are many tangible benefits to waking up early. You’ll just be tired and cranky the entire day and probably deal with caffeine-induced insomnia to make the problem even worse!
However, once you experience the power of the early morning hours first hand, you’ll likely sing a different tune.
For those of you who aren’t convinced that this challenge is worth it, here are just a few of the biggest benefits of waking up at 5 am.
1. You Can Tap Into Your ‘Inner Monk’ and Bathe in the Power of Solitude
“The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.” – Albert Einstein
One of the biggest reasons to get up early is that no one else is doing it. Sure, other entrepreneurs and elite performers might be sharing your early morning habit, but they are focused on their own lives and their own goals. Otherwise, you have no one else to distract you.
You have the rare opportunity to spend peaceful quiet time alone and uninterrupted with nothing but your thoughts and a steaming hot cup of coffee.
By waking up at 5 am, you give yourself the gift of presence and solitude. You can spend time working on yourself reading great books, meditating (or using hypnotherapy as I’ve recently started doing), journaling, and focusing on high-level thinking and strategizing.
The greatest men of history all understood the power of quiet and solitude. As Thoreau famously wrote, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” But you don’t have to go to the woods, you just need to get your ass out of bed a few hours earlier than you normally do.
2. Waking Up Early Forces You to Plan Your Days Like an Army General
If you can’t answer the question, “Why am I up?” you will roll back over, hit snooze, and go to sleep. When you commit to waking up early, you are forced to plan your day like an Army General and know exactly what must be accomplished and by when. You are forced to identify the habits, activities, and obligations you’re going to take on and act accordingly.
When I was waking up at 5 am, I knew exactly what my morning routine would look like for the first hour of the day. I had a strong reason for waking up so early and, as Tony Robbins said, “Reasons come first, results come second.”
Getting up early forces you to tap into your “why”. You have to know why you’re up and know exactly what benefits you’re trying to achieve.
3. Waking Up at 5 a.m. Gives You the Clarity and Focus You Need to Get to the Next Level
Daily journal writing is one of the simple ways to create more discipline in your life.
As soon as I wake up I start writing in my journal. There’s something powerful about writing first thing in the morning, before exposing yourself to stimulus and while your brain is still in a semi-sleep state, that allows you to be more creative and have clearer insights. When your conscious mind wakes up, it carries with it the lingering ideas and solutions that your subconscious mind has been mulling over all night.
Before you go to bed each night, pose a question or problem to your subconscious mind and ask it to give you the answer (this might sound silly, but Thomas Edison credits this tactic with nearly all of his biggest breakthroughs). Then, when you get up, immediately start writing down what your subconscious shared and see if it has any practical use.
4. Rising Early Allows You to Finish Your Work By the Time Most People Are Starting
The early mornings are the best time to take on the hard stuff. Don’t waste your mornings on pointless tasks like clearing your inbox or organizing your desk. Instead, take Mark Twain’s advice and “Eat that frog”, the most challenging and important task of your day.
“The fundamental level of success is doing the hard things first. If you go for the feared thing first then the rest of the day is easy.” ~Robert G Allen
This is time to focus on deep work. With no distractions or notifications, you can truly focus on the most important work you need to do.
This could be working on your toughest problem, developing a new habit or working on your biggest project. When 8 am rolls around and you are already finished with your most important task for the day, you’ll have less stress, less anxiety, and perform 10X better.
Getting a positive, efficient start to your day will build momentum and stay with you throughout the day. Even if you get sidetracked later in the day you achieved the most important and toughest work already.
5. You Get to Start Your Day from a Grounded State and Eradicate Early Morning Anxiety
Waking up late sucks. There’s nothing worse than hitting the snooze button for “five more minutes” only to find yourself rushing to make it out of the house an hour later. That “oh shit” moment was one of the leading causes of my stress and anxiety back when I worked a “normal” job and it was responsible for more frustrating days than I care to admit.
By getting up early you will feel less rushed and you give you time to be organized. You will start your day feeling relaxed, focused, and on top of things, knowing that you’ve got a head start on all of your competitors and have already finished your most important objective for the day.
And the only way to achieve this sense of peace and calm is by turning back the clock and waking up earlier.
6. Early Mornings Open Up the Time to Hone Your Body and Engage with Your Primal Energy
Working out in the early mornings is one of the best habits you can adopt. Not only are there a number of benefits to fasted early morning training, but the discipline of making time for yourself and your health first thing every morning, serves as a powerful cornerstone habit that will ensure peak performance for years to come.
By prioritizing exercise first thing every day, you no longer have any excuses. You won’t be tempted to skip the gym at the end of the day or forgo a training session in favor of happy hour. Instead, you’ll be able to enjoy the rest of your day knowing that you’ve not only accomplished your most important professional activity but that you also made time to invest in your health and longevity.
7. Waking Up at 5 a.m. Cultivates the Habit of Discipline and Trains You To Become Unstoppable
“Discipline equals freedom.” – Jocko Willink
When you’re consistently getting up early you are creating a habit of discipline in your life. Listen, no one likes waking up early. People like having woken up early. When your sheets are warm and wrapped around your body and you force yourself to crawl out from under the covers, wake up to life, and attack the day, everything else in your life becomes easier.
By getting out of bed at 5 am, you’ve already done the most difficult thing you’ll have to do all day. You will build confidence in your own willpower. If you can get out of bed when its dark, rainy and cold you are proving to yourself you can do anything. And, as Jim Rohn said, “Discipline is the bridge between goal and accomplishments.”
8. Waking Up Early Removes Distractions and Allows You to 10X Your Productivity
Simply put, waking up early gives you more hours in the day. Waking up early will give you the most productive and energetic part of your day back in your life.
“You have 24 hour hours in a day, you sleep six of them. Now you have 18 hours left.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger
Your mind and body are ready to function at peak levels, get some coffee or take a shower to activate everything. Evenings are rarely the most productive time of the day, even for night owls.
The majority of people spend their evenings mindless watching TV, scrolling through their feed and doing stuff around the house. Obviously, this is because we use the majority of our energy throughout the day. By waking up early you will be structuring your day around the peaks of energy.
Your new wake up doesn’t have to be 5 am automatically, especially if you’re in the 730-8am range right now. By eliminating 2-3 hours of sleep overnight you are setting yourself up for failure. You need to create this habit and be very intentional with your goal.
How to Wake Up at 5 am Every Day
1. Start Slow and Work Your Way Up to It
Let me make something clear. If you are currently waking up at 7-8:30, you should not try to wake up at 5 am tomorrow. Instead, ease your way into it.
Start by waking up just 15 minutes earlier than you do right now. Do this for a week, then move it back another 15 minutes then another then another.
This will help acclimate your body to your new schedule and prevent you from feeling foggy and burned out.
Your body has a rhythm that it follows and, right now, that rhythm isn’t set to wake you up at 5 am. So work with your body instead of against it. Ease your way into this new routine. Wake up 15 minutes earlier and go to sleep 15 minutes earlier. Do this for a few weeks until you’re regularly out of bed at 5 am, and you will be amazed by how you feel.
2. Create a Night Time Routine to Make Sleep More Automatic
Getting up earlier is all about creating a great plan.
If you are waking up at 7 am now and want to try 5 am tomorrow doing it cold turkey, without a plan will make it nearly impossible.
“He who fails to plan is planning to fail.” — Sir Winston Churchill
If you want to actually get up and get going in the 5 am range you will have to start winding down earlier. Create a routine that you will adhere to every single night.
Waking up early is horrible at first and you will find a way to make plenty of excuses to sleep in. Minimize these negative thoughts by planning ahead.
- Lay out your gym clothes or running shoes
- Have a book or journal in a place where you see it instantly
- Position your phone or alarm clock far enough away to where you have to actually get out of bed.
- Have your coffee or energy supplement ready to go
3. Turn Off Your Electronics and Stop Bombarding Your Brain with Blue Light
Before bed try to avoid electronics for the last 30-60 minutes of the day. Every hour you are exposed to your phone you stop melatonin production for the next two hours. As such, I recommend that you spend the last 60-minutes of your day completely device-free. If you can’t (or simply don’t want) to do this, invest in a nice pair of blue light blocking glasses to mitigate the damage done by your devices and make it easier to doze off quickly.
4. Visualize Your Success to Train Your Mind for Battle
Studies have shown that when Olympic athletes visualize for one hour it’s equivalent to seven hours of physical practice.
As you begin to wind down before bed and put away electronics spend 5-10 minutes using various visualization techniques.
Some people will write out their visualizations while others will sit in a dark room and actually image their goals as being complete. Whatever method you choose the important part is that you visualize yourself already feeling your goals as accomplished.
If you’re not the most visual person find images of the car you want to buy, the house you want to own or the body you want to achieve. These images will be fresh in your head when you go to sleep and your brain will help find ways to achieve them while you sleep.
5. Focus on Your Breathing Like a Zen Monk
If you’ve had a long day the last thing you want to do is go to bed mad, frustrated, or in a bad mood. Focus on your breathing patterns to change your physiology so you can go into bed relaxed instead of lying awake, thinking of your problems. You can download the app “Primed Mind” and do one of the relaxing hypnotherapy sessions to help you doze off, or you can simply do box breathing for 10 minutes. Breath in for a count of four, hold for a count of four, out for a count of four, hold for a count of four, repeat. By doing this every night, you will train your body to fall asleep and give yourself a much needed time out from the chaos of your day.
6. Don’t Fight Insomnia, Join It
If you go to bed early and can’t fall asleep after 20-minutes, do not fight it. Doing so will only cause your brain to associate your bed with anxiety and stress (emotions that are not conducive to a good night of sleep). Instead, get out of bed, go to another room, and read a good novel until you feel your eyes getting heavy. If you really struggle to fall asleep, supplementing with 15 mg of CBD and 0.5 mg of melatonin an hour before bed can work wonders.
7. Express Gratitude and Remember Why You’re Up
“Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.” ~Zig Ziglar
As best selling author and KFM guest, Lewis Howes, talks frequently about the importance of gratitude before going to bed. He makes it a point to tell his girlfriend or someone in his life how much he appreciates three things before hitting the pillow. When you express gratitude, it’s easier to wake up in the morning. You aren’t just waking up to a new day, you’re waking up to life. You’re excited about the abundance and opportunities available to you and this emotion makes it infinitely easier to stick with this challenging habit.
“Each morning we are born again, what we do today is what matters most.” – Buddha
It’s empowering feeling to wake up before the rest of the world has hit the snooze button three times.
Waking up at 5 a.m. might be the worst idea ever only if you don’t have a plan for the early hours. You owe it to yourself to try waking up earlier, even if you’re not ready for 5 a.m. yet.
There is no need to wait until 2018 to create a resolution either. As you know, most resolutions fail.
Instead, make waking up early a ritual for December as you will inevitably eating and drinking more for the holidays. Stay ahead of the calories by waking up earlier and getting into the gym.
Yes, it will be dark and cold, but once you hear that alarm get out of bed and start making your life happen.
I promise it will be worth it. Form your “resolution” a month before everyone else and see how much your life changes.
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