If you want to make your dreams come true, the first thing to do is wake up. Why not wake up early and realize your dreams earlier.
When I was a kid my father used to tell me – “Early bird gets the worm.
I am no bird and I don’t like worms,” I would tell him and never really took his advice seriously.
Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise, was my mother’s version of motivating me to get up early in the morning. Although the quote originally came from Benjamin Franklin, I was least bothered about who said it. Getting up early was nothing less than a torture and was never in my top ten priorities for most of my childhood and teenage years.
In fact, for the first 25 years of my life, I never really understood the importance of being an early riser. But slowly as I was exposed to the writings and works of great leaders, creative artists, thinkers, authors and business leaders I started observing the pattern. Most of these people were early risers. They used each morning to write, read, ponder, and plan for their day.
Ernest Hemingway felt he did his best writing in the morning. He wrote, “There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write.” He’d get started at 6 A.M. and write non-stop until noon.
Benjamin Franklin would wake every day at 5 A.M. and would use the time to wash, dress, and plan his day’s work. He has in fact written a whole book on the benefits of rising early.
[show_to accesslevel=’almanack’] It’s said that the morning hours especially 4 A.M. to 6 A.M. are the most conducive hours for creativity. The single biggest thing that one can do to bring drastic change in life is to start utilizing these ‘holy hours’ efficiently. You can use this morning ritual to create a template for the day. Think and journal about the ideas that you want to work on. Read, meditate and exercise. This is the time to feed your mind, care for the body and develop character.
The ‘holy hours’ is meant to be spent on inner work, enlarge your thinking and to sharpen your life’s philosophy. It’s the time which is referred to as ‘Brahma-muhurta’ in scriptures – literally the time of Lord Brahma – the creator.
Talking about mental state to activity, Scott Adams, creator of the famous cartoon strip Dilbert, writes …
“One of the most important tricks for maximizing your productivity involves matching your mental state to the task. For example, when I first wake up, my brain is relaxed and creative. The thought of writing a comic is fun, and it’s relatively easy because my brain is in exactly the right mode for that task. I know from experience that trying to be creative in the mid-afternoon is a waste of time.
Everyone is different, but you’ll discover that most writers work either early in the morning or past midnight. That’s when the creative writing juices flow most easily.
I didn’t have one [flexible schedule] for the first sixteen years of my corporate life. So I did the next best thing by going to bed early and getting up at 4 A.M. to do my creative side projects. One of those projects became the sketches for Dilbert.
You might not think you’re an early morning person. I didn’t think I was either. But once you get used to it, you might never want to go back. You can accomplish more by the time other people wake up than most people accomplish all day.”
Those few hours, just before the sunrise, can potentially infuse every remaining minute of your day with a perspective that elevates each area of your life. It’ll transform you. Even 20 minutes spent in quiet contemplation can significantly cut down the amount of stress from your daily life.
Getting up early and getting started gives you an enormous psychological edge. Think about it, when the mass of people around you is sleeping, you’re up and busy crafting your life. By the time world wakes up, you’ll already be way ahead. That thought itself is so empowering that you should resolve to wake up early just for that feeling.
Dalai Lama said –
Everyday, think as you wake up, ‘today I am fortunate to have woken up, I am alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others, to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings, I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others, I am going to benefit others as much as I can.
I think it’s a wonderful prayer to begin your day with. You don’t need to wake up early to say this prayer but I just can’t imagine myself saying this prayer with complete sincerity at 8 o’clock when the sun has already spitted out a trillion kilo joules of energy on the earth.
I am sure you have experienced the dawn at least once in your lifetime. Close your eyes and try to recall the feel of early morning air. It has a very gentle and refreshing chill in it, which comes mixed with a tinge of warmth coming from the sun which is still a few hours away. The deep silence interspersed with chirping of birds, with a background sound of crickets in the woods creates a surreal atmosphere.
It’s the perfect setup to start your creative juices flowing. Aren’t you convinced yet?
A wise man once said, “If you want to make your dreams come true, the first thing to do is wake up.” I say, why not wake up early and realize your dreams earlier.
I don’t claim to have mastered the habit of getting up at 5 A.M. daily but I have had some success in the past and it’s an ongoing battle for me. Let me share some hacks that have worked for me.
Go to Bed Early
The biggest hindrance I found for myself is an inability to go to bed early. If I want to get up at 5 A.M., I need to be in my bed before 10 P.M. Which means, switching off the TV, laptop, lights and even that interesting book. Sleeping early is half the battle won. And make sure there is complete darkness in your room. If required wear eye-pads to prevent any external light entering your eyes.
When you’re sleeping, if your digestive system is still working, it will interfere with the quality of your sleep. There should be a gap of at least 3 hours between your bed time and dinner. Don’t drink tea, coffee or any other stimulating drinks (red bull, soft drinks, alcohol) within 3-4 hours of your bed time.
Start an exercise routine. When you get physically fit and get into a habit of exercising regularly, it becomes much easier to get up early in the morning. Consider getting body massage once in a while. It increases the blood circulation in the body and the quality of your sleep will improve drastically.
Warm Water Bath
If possible, take a quick warm water bath before going to sleep. It raises the skin temperature and helps you fall asleep faster. If a bath is a too much of an ask, you can consider washing your feet with warm water.
Program Your Mind
When you go to bed, tell yourself that you’ll be able to get up at 5 A.M. on your own. The most accurate clock in the world is your own biological clock. Try this trick for few days. When you close your eyes, imagine yourself getting up at 5 o’clock. It may sound weird but it works.
Simulate with an Alarm Clock
Now this one might seem quite funny and you might even think that I am pulling a fast one on you. But I am not. The biggest problem with alarm clock is the presence of snooze button. I even tried keeping the alarm clock away from my bed but it wasn’t too difficult for me to snooze (or even switch off) the alarm the first time it went off and conveniently go back to sleep. What I needed was to keep myself away from bed for first 10 minutes. Once those 10 minutes passed, it wasn’t too difficult to stay awake.
To ensure this, I had to create a subconscious routine in my mind so that I wouldn’t go back to bed after snoozing my alarm clock.
I started simulating the early morning conditions during day time. I would close the windows, draw the curtains, switch off the lights and go to sleep for 10 minutes (during day time), setting the alarm clock accordingly. When alarm would go off, I would snooze, get up from bed and go straight to bathroom and brush my teeth. I repeated it multiple times during a day for few days.
Believe me it works. Of course the earlier conditions have to hold true i.e., you should have gone to bed early last night, having had an early dinner.
Set an Agenda
If you don’t know what you’re going to do at 5 A.M., odds are high that you would go back to your bed. Have some plan in place for making a good use of your morning ‘holy hours’.
Here’s the template that Benjamin Franklin used for planning his day –
It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom.
So get up and win the battle of the bed. Put the mind over mattress. Never allow the sun to catch you in bed.
Shed the shackles of the past and join the 5 o’clock club. Your life will never be the same again.
Get a Buddy
There is nothing more effective than holding somebody else accountable. It could be your friend, spouse, or co-worker. The buddy system is the most effective tool for building habits. Both you and your buddy get the benefit of the new habit and the chances of you falling off the new routine is quite less with your buddy’s support.
Are You a Night Owl?
Mark Twain said, “Put no trust in the benefits to accrue from early rising, as set forth by the infatuated Franklin …”
Please don’t take this essay as an attempt to convert everybody into early riser. On one hand this habit seems to have served well for many people, there are some who find it best to work late in the night. I am guessing Mark Twain was one of them.
Take my advice with a pinch of salt and experiment with it but at the end of the day you should follow what works best for you. My best practices need not be the best for you too.
Too many people are asleep at the wheel of their own lives. Too many people are living their lives by accident. Too many people are so busy running through their days that they do not think about where they are going and why they are running. A sad case of life on autopilot.
My attempt in this Life 2.0 series is to expose some ideas related to life and work for your experimentation. I hope that you reflect on how you’re living and then commit to making course-corrections to get better.
I suggest you take the super market approach here. Pick the things according to your needs and discard what doesn’t sound right.
Remember, as you live your days, so you craft your life. Play better, bolder and bigger.
I wish a life full of health, wealth and happiness for you.
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