Why waking up at 5 am was the best decision I ever made

Some time ago I was unhappy because I was stuck in the perception that I had no time for myself. It felt like my life was all work and no play. Heading to the gym after a full day at the office was never an option because I felt burnt out and weekends never seemed long enough. I had no energy and my laziness spread to my food choices.

I reached a point where I NEEDED this to change. I knew it had to, and I knew I had been making excuses. It seems silly to admit now that the answer was to wake up earlier, but feeling “stuck” is a form of stubbornness. I’d decided I had no time, so that’s exactly how things were. When we repeat something to ourselves enough, we make it real. So with this realization, I (reluctantly) carved out time in the morning and started waking up every day at 5 am to practice yoga before work. 

Ok. Don't give up on me yet. You CAN do it too. But first, let me tell you why you should:

You feel accomplished just for waking up – imagine that? You’re up before the majority of people in your time zone; that’s a win. And for every day you fail, the successful wake ups feel even better. Productivity = check.

You’re awake before anyone “needs” anything from you. Waking up early gives you real, uninterrupted time to do something for yourself. I use my mornings for yoga, to read the news or to meditate. Knowing I’ve put myself first, before doing anything else (for anyone else), makes the rest of my day feel easy. We resent doing things for others when we don’t have time for ourselves.

It reduces stress. It’s true! By waking up early you’re less likely to rush in the morning, allowing you to start your day on a positive note that carries throughout the day. Is there anyone who actually enjoys rolling out of bed and launching themselves into a shower?

When it comes to waking up earlier, there’s a lot more to gain than there is to lose. A word of caution: It WILL be hard for the first week, and maybe even the next week, but an extra coffee in the afternoon will get you through it.  Think of it this way: the first time is always the hardest. To get you started, here are 3 things you can do to wake up at 5 am (or earlier than you normally do):

1.     Change your alarm from an irritating sound to your favourite song. I’m serious! It’s easy to slam the snooze on a buzzing horn, but you’re less likely to turn off your favourite tune (my current alarm song: This Girl by Kungs vs Cookin’ on 3 Burners)

2.     Come up with a sleep routine. Head to bed at around the same time, turn off your phone and get into relaxation mode. Watching action movies or scrolling through your Instagram feed before bed stimulates your brain. Try reading, listening to music or a podcast.

3.     Meditate before bed – it’s not actually as hard as it sounds. Get yourself in a comfortable seated position (or lay in bed) and rather than concentrate on “clearing your mind” just focus on your breathing. If you have trouble, try using Apps like Buddhify, Calm or Zen.

Putting yourself first will change the way you approach each day, and more than that it will create a positive shift in the way you "show up" in the world - people will notice.

Now, do I wake up every day at 5am without failure? No. Sometimes I totally sleep in. But my initial goal of sticking to it for 40 days taught me a valuable lesson about putting myself first. I say this often, but rule #1 is take care of #1 - that's you. Never forget it.

Taylor Farquhar