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How to Wake Up at 5:00 AM with No Alarm Clock
April 25, 2018 • Jake Huddelston
“As a door turns on its hinges, so does the sluggard on his bed.”
– Proverbs 26:14
I used to believe that I was born an early riser. I remember as a kid waking up before anyone else in the house because I wanted to beat everyone to the TV and play video games. Once this became a routine occurrence, my family started attending the early church service because I was already wide awake at 6:00 AM causing a commotion.
Not until recently did I learn that I’m in the majority of working age people in America who wake between the hours of 6:00-6:30 AM¹. So much for thinking I was the early bird.
However, in recent years I struggled with hitting the day running at 6:00 AM. That was until I started implementing the tips I’m about to share with you.
Now I can wake at 5:00 AM without hesitation and without it ruining the rest of my day, i.e. becoming a zombie by 2:00 in the afternoon and wanting to call it a night by 8:30 PM like a growing child.
I digress…It is my hope, as with any article, podcast, or video that you can select and implement at least one thing, maybe even seemingly insignificant, that will have a profound impact on your day, health, and overall well-being.
A Bit on Discipline. A Bit More on Habits.
Waking up early I believe is the most self-disciplined practice. It is what Charles Duhig refers to as a keystone habit in his book, “The Power of Habit.” A keystone habit is one that has an influential impact on situations, circumstances, and habits outside of its own being.
Let’s use physical exercise as an example. When people begin to exercise, they also start eating healthier, improving their sleep hygiene, they are more productive at work, more enjoyable at home, experience lower stress levels, and exhibit improved blood markers. All of these instances are effects that stem from one “keystone” habit: exercise.
This is why Duhig titled his book “The Power of Habit.” They are immensely powerful and have more hold on your life than you realize.
For example: was that really your decision to snooze until 9:00 AM, head to the bathroom, wash up, and then stumble towards the coffee pot? Or was this a regular routine, a road engraved on your mind and subconscious, that took over with no effort, will, or intention of your own?
Habits are the real decision makers in our world. And keystone habits sit on the throne.
Waking early is absolutely a keystone habit.
Early risers are known for their productivity, conscientiousness, prudence, self-reflectiveness, an ability to anticipate problems; they experience lower stress levels and are goal setters, therefore goal achievers.
Does this make them more disciplined than the average individual, or even you? Yes. Yes, it does.
You’re Not You
When your alarm goes off, you are a different person. Every reasonable bit of logic, advice, and tips for waking up early blogs are thrown out the window because you are in a delirious, weak-minded state, similar to being drunk or hungover. The last thing you want to do is unveil yourself from under the comforts of your warm bed, shine the light into your dark room, and move what feels like a 1000 lb body.
It’s like you woke up in a lucid dream, outside of yourself, witnessing this poor human struggle to fight this invisible force. Every step looks like you woke up on the moon: like a slow-motion zombie. You don’t even recognize yourself at this moment. Obviously, I have never experienced anything like this…
However, this is precisely why early risers are the most disciplined individuals on the planet today. When everything in your body is telling your mind to stop, lay back down, do the opposite of what you know needs to be done, they are able to shut down that internal conversation, tap into their willpower, and override that demon on their shoulder pulling them back into the down comforter abyss of feathers with promises of warm snuggles and deep dreams.
The encouraging part is this: IT BECOMES EASY. Just like forming any habit, you have to go through growing pains before you reach the promised land.
Like I said earlier, this was a real struggle for myself. However, I have formed, broken, and reshaped plenty of different habits in my day and I believed this one is no different.
Once we can set this as our daily routine, our daily ritual, our subconscious will begin to make this decision for us.
So How Do We Kick The Habit?
Realize that any time you want to start a new habit, resistance will be waiting for you. Resistance is the thing that makes you say, “I’d rather not.”
I’d rather not go out on that date and see if anything’s there.
I rather not get to the gym today because working out hurts and progress is hard to come by.
I rather not start my own business because I know it’s a big risk.
I rather not get up early because I feel like I deserve more sleep. I work hard.
I rather not call that friend to catch up because I know it will take 2 hours out of my day.
I rather not write a blog because putting my opinions out there makes me feel vulnerable.
What you’re really saying is…
“I rather stay where I am in life.”
Recognize resistance and call it by name. The simple act of recognizing and appreciating that it’s present strips resistance of its power.
*Side note: for more on resistance, I highly recommend the War of Art by James Pressfield. It’s a real kick in the pants.
Lastly, but most importantly you need a reason to rise from your bed. Have you ever noticed how much easier it is to climb out of bed at the crack of dawn when you have to catch a 6:00 AM flight? It’s a piece of cake these days, isn’t it?
How about that time your friend invited you to her workout class at 5:30 AM? And when you finished the workout, you looked at the clock and said: “wow…I’m normally not even awake at this time!” It’s these times that you feel super productive and you wish it could be a daily habit.
What do these instances have in common? ACCOUNTABILITY.
Your friend and the airline provide you a reason to shut off your hungover zombie mind because you know the consequence of missing your flight or dooping your friend are worse than missing a few extra zzz’s.
Accountability partners are great and a real human or real-life consequences are difficult to substitute.
However, I have great news for you! You don’t have to buy an airline ticket or construct a workout date everytime you want to wake up early. Enter the checklist manifesto…
The Checklist Manifesto
The checklist manifesto is superb when it comes to self-accountability. The idea is that you come up with a 3-5 item checklist for what you want to accomplish within the first 30-60 minutes of your morning.
For example, you may want to…
- Wash Face
- Make Coffee
- Have Quiet Time
- Do 30 Push-ups
- Eat Breakfast
It may not seem like much, but rooted in your psyche is the impulsive itch to check off that little box next to each line item. You just can’t help yourself!
I’ve incorporated the checklist manifesto into my daily routines at work, during workouts, and especially when I’m trying to build new habits.
It builds momentum and confidence with every tick mark. You can literally see yourself progressing towards your goal and you feel more productive at the end of the day when all of your boxes are checked off.
Give it a try and let us know how the checklist manifesto works for you!
Realize it’s Not THAT Bad
After you’ve been awake for about 15 minutes something happens. You realize that being awake at 5:15 in the morning really isn’t that bad. In fact, it actually feels really good!
By the end of the day, you will experience more satisfaction, more productivity, and more motivation to wake up the next day and kick it in the face as well.
The hardest part is making it through that first 15 minutes. Remind yourself of this fact and come up with a morning routine to pass the time until your bed is no longer calling your name. If you need an idea, here’s how I journal.
And realize that the longer you continue to wake up early, the easier and easier it becomes. You’ll be throwing away your alarm clock in no time!
- Understand how habits are broken and replaced with better habits.
- Recognize that you are not yourself in the first moments of waking.
- Call out resistance for what it is.
- Get accountability in your life.
- Become a Checklist Manifesto ninja
- Realize that waking early is only hard for a short period of time.