Up until about 9 years ago, I hated mornings. Actually, it wasn’t mornings I hated; it was getting out of bed in the mornings. I would stay in bed until the last possible second (plus a few more), sprint to the bathroom for a shower, shave if I had the seconds to spare (or my stubble was so bad I had no choice), get dressed, and maybe grab something unhealthy to eat on my way out the door. As you can imagine, I was almost always late. And being late is not a very good way to impress your boss, customers, or whomever you are supposed to be meeting with.

Sunrise at Myrtle Beach 2012 taken with my iPhone.

There were rare occasions when I actually did get up early enough to not have to rush around like a crazy person. And those days were always so much less stressful, and WAY more productive.

Finally, I decided enough is enough. If I am ever going to be successful in life, I need to start by changing how my day starts off. Here is what I came up with:

  • WANT IT – Every successful person I have ever met or read about is a morning person. They get up long before the sun rises to do things that would improve some aspect of their life. And they were NEVER late for anything! Just like any habit you are trying to develop, you have to really want it. By the way, those bad habits in your life require the same thing–you gotta want to quit!
  • MOTIVATION Okay, you’ve decided you want to develop the habit of getting up early. Why? For me it started out as a way to spend time with God through prayer and Bible reading. But as I started backing up my wake up time, I found I had time to do other things, like working out, writing a blog, and working on my novel. I’m one of those people who needs a goal to motivate me to make a significant change. Maybe you are too. Pick a dream or goal, and work on it during those extra minutes or hours in the early morning.
  • START IT – Pick a good time to wake up. This is important because if you go too early to start off, you are more likely to quit. I began with getting up at 6:00 am. This was a full hour earlier than I used to get up, but not so obnoxiously early that I would give up. If you can get done what you want in that amount of time then stay there. I wanted to do more so I gradually moved it back to 5:30 for a couple of years, and this past year I started getting up at 5:05 am (I actually “sleep in” until 5:30 on weekends!).
  • GET YOUR SLEEP – There is no way I was going to be able to get up early if I didn’t also go to bed earlier. Sleep is critical for the health of the body, and if we don’t get 6-8 hours of sleep every night, bad things will happen. This is key to the consistency part below. TURN OFF THE TV, OR FACEBOOK, or whatever is keeping you from going to sleep!!
  • BE CONSISTENT – Consistency is the key with any habit. It’s not really a habit if it’s not consistent, right? That means weekends too! I mentioned above that I allow myself an extra 25 minutes sleep on the weekends. This works for me and may work for you, but I wouldn’t go much more than that. Just like “location, location, location” is the most important thing in real estate, “consistency, consistency, consistency” is the most important thing in developing a new habit.
  • GET HELP – If you are married or have a roommate, let them know of the changes you are making. Get them to remind you to go to bed earlier. In other words, give them permission to give you a hard time if they catch you staying up late on the computer or watching TV. If they are early risers, ask them to help make sure you are up until you get your body used to it. My good friend Chad recently asked me to call him when I woke up every morning for a week to help him develop this habit. I was happy and honored to do it.
  • PREPARATION – Before you go to bed make sure you are set up for success. If you have a coffee maker that has an auto-on feature, set it to be ready BEFORE you come down so little time is wasted getting that caffeine in your body. If you plan to use this time for a workout, lay out your clothes, shoes, GPS, etc. so you can put it on right away. If you plan to read/study your Bible, have all of those materials staged and ready to go. Whatever it is, plan for it. And try NOT to hit the snooze button. Trust me when I tell you–it only makes it harder to get out of bed.

Hope this helps someone out there with their goal of becoming a morning person or early riser. If so, or if you have any questions or comments, please let me know using the comments section below.

What motivates you to get up early in the morning?