I originally wrote this about two months ago but didn’t publish it. Read to the end for an update!
“I am just not a morning person.”
That’s what I have told myself for years.
As the demands on my time increase, it makes sense to get up a little earlier to do things like exercise or read a book. My children are getting older and I’m still working a 40+ hour per week job, so I have less and less time to do these things in the evenings. In the morning, before everyone else is awake, would be the perfect time to work on self-improvement.
I’ve tried before. Once, I woke up at 4:45 to attend the 5:15 am CrossFit class. I woke up, got dressed, drank some black tea, and laced up my shoes. By all external appearances, I was ready. But, I couldn’t make myself do it. I took off those shoes, put my pajamas back on, and went back to bed.
I was “too tired.” I realize how ridiculous that sounds.
That was about 4 years ago, and even at that time I already recognized that my evenings were better spent with the family. That’s the whole reason I wanted to get up earlier. But, after my failure to make the 5:15 am CrossFit class, I put the idea out of my mind.
Until this weekend.
Down the Rabbit Hole
I’ve been falling down the rabbit hole of personal finance podcasts and blogs for about the last 6 months, as one apparently does when discovering the “Financial Independence” subset of personal finance. Somewhere along the way, I caught just a glimpse of “The Miracle Morning.” I believe I heard it referenced by Brad at ChooseFI, but I can’t be sure. Again, I thought, “That sounds cool but I’m not a morning person” and promptly put it out of my mind.
As I continued down the rabbit hole, I eventually discovered Bigger Pockets, and this weekend I landed on BiggerPockets Podcast 157: A Simple Morning Ritual to Help You Dominate Every Area of Your Life with Hal Elrod.
I was intrigued. Hal explained the morning ritual described in his book The Miracle Morning. The idea is that you get up an hour early each morning, and spend an hour focusing on what he calls the Life S.A.V.E.R.S. (Silence, Affirmations, Visualization, Exercise, Reading, and Scribing). You do each one for some amount of time. I haven’t read the book yet (more on that later), but I’ll take a shot at breaking down the savers below:
S – Silence – This can be meditation, prayer, reflection, deep breathing, etc.
A – Affirmations – This is repeating (preferably aloud) affirmations about yourself to yourself. The idea here is to reprogram your sub-conscious to get rid of limiting beliefs.
V – Visualization – Visualize yourself doing the things that you want. And not just the end result. You also need to visualize yourself putting in the work. The idea is to help yourself to believe that these things are possible, so it is less of a hurdle to actually do them later.
E – Exercise – This is pretty self-explanatory. One thing that I got from the interview is that it isn’t intended to be a lengthy amount of exercise. Hal gave 100 jumping jacks as an example. Just get the blood flowing and let that increased energy and other benefits from the exercise carry you through the day. This is in addition to any existing gym/fitness routine.
R – Reading – Spend just a few minutes a day of reading some personal or professional development book. If you just read 10 pages each day, that is eighteen 200-page books a year. Incredible!
S – Scribing – This means writing. Keeping a journal basically.
Out of these 6, four of them are things that I already do to some extent and wish to do more regularly: Silence (meditation), Exercise, Reading, and Writing. These are some of the very things that I want to do more of but have trouble finding the time.
I’ll admit, Affirmations and Visualization seem a bit goofy to me, and I’m going to be uncomfortable doing them. Especially the affirmations. I just can’t shake the picture of Stuart Smalley on Saturday Night Live.
But, I understand the idea behind them, and I’m willing to give it a shot.
“But, I’m still not a morning person…”
Apparently, there is a vast multitude of previously “not morning people” who swear by the techniques of The Miracle Morning. There is an active community on Facebook, and according to Hal, over 70% of them claimed to be “not morning people” before starting The Miracle Morning.
“So… I’ll just get started after I read the book…”
Hal already addressed this one on the podcast as well. His advice is to not wait another day. Go ahead and get started, and use the time to actually read the book, and incorporate the S.A.V.E.R.S. as you learn about them.
This makes sense to me. At this point, there is no reason not to get started.
The Challenge To Myself
So, now what? With all of my excuses so deftly batted away, I feel like I need to give it an honest try.
My plan is for the rest of this month and all of July (that’s about 5 weeks), wake up at 5:00 am each work day. This gives me holidays and weekends off, but gives me a good routine for work days, which are the days where I most need “me time.” I’m going to do exactly what Hal suggested, finish reading the book (I started it today), and incorporate the 6 parts of the routine as I feel comfortable adding each one.
Tomorrow I plan to do meditation, exercise, and reading. I’ll worry about affirmations, visualization, and scribing later on (but soon). I think the most important thing, as with most endeavors, is to just get started.
Wish me luck!
It has been two months and this has seriously been one of the best things I’ve ever done. I started off as described above, I woke up at 5:00 am and started reading the book. I haven’t yet done much in the way of affirmations, visualization, or scribing but for several weeks I consistently did the same morning routine at 5:00 am every day. I would wake up and go for a walk around the neighborhood while listening to a podcast. Then, I would sit in my driveway and meditate for about 10-15 minutes before coming inside to read a book. I would read until the kids wake up (usually about 6:30) and then it would be time to get ready for the day.
Since the first of July, just reading mostly in the mornings, I’ve read the following books:
- The Miracle Morning
- Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics
- Simplicity Parenting (My Review)
- Enemies of Peace
- Deep Work
That’s 5 books in 2 months, just from my new morning routine. That’s a 30 book per year pace, not counting what I have in progress right now.
After a few weeks of doing this, I started getting up even earlier. Now I get up at 4:50 on weekdays and 5:30 on weekends. I originally thought I might take the weekends “off” but I loved the miracle morning so much that I started doing it every day right from the beginning.
After about a month, I realized that with my new schedule I could now manage to do Yoga classes at 5:30 am on weekdays. So for about the past month, I’ve done the sunrise yoga class 2-3 days per week and the miracle morning described above for all the other days. I would never have even attempted “sunrise” yoga if I hadn’t already changed my habits.
It’s almost like I have two completely separate days now. I have all the “me time” in the early morning, and then the rest of my day. At night when I’m going to bed (about 9:30 usually) it sometimes feels like the things that I did that same morning were actually the previous day. I used to try to get my “me time” at night after the kids were in bed, but I realize now that it was never as fulfilling because I was always too tired. Doing things for myself first thing in the morning when I’m fresh has worked out a lot better.
What I thought was going to be a 1-month challenge is my every day now, and I intend to keep going indefinitely.