My whole life, I wanted to wake up early in the morning, Yet I always failed at this, no matter what I tried. There were times when I managed to wake up early for a week or so, and then I got derailed and was back to my old habit to hit the snooze button.
Some habits are just incredibly hard to form, and this was one of them. I managed to establish many other activities as a habit – like exercising, blogging, and meditating every day, just to name a few. However, waking up when the alarm went off – was not one of them. It just did not stick.
It’s safe to say that I have cracked this puzzle.
First, you need a “why” to wake up. Find something that you like to do in the morning and is also beneficial. Maybe it’s reading a book, or writing or drawing – whatever it is, it has to be something you enjoy doing. And it should be something that doesn’t take a lot of effort.
Meditating and exercising are great things, but for most people (including me), they are definitely not motivating enough to get me out of bed. Exercising is hard work, and meditating is not stimulating enough to wake me up – I would fall asleep in no time.
For me, the first activity I do in the morning is summarising a book using the Blinkist app. It’s simple and motivating enough to help me get out of bed. I like to hear a summary and to take notes of a book I have already read or am going to read, or I’m thinking about reading. I learn about new ideas straight in the morning. I love that!
Second, before doing your activity, you need to get out of the bed. Even if you have your “why”, you might still fall asleep because you might tell yourself something along the lines of” just five more minutes.” We all know that this is like playing with fire.
So, what has helped me is to set up a series of actions that also act as triggers. It’s like dropping breadcrumbs and simply following the trail.
What you want to do is to put your alarm clock away from the bed. So that you physically need to get out of the bed when it goes off.
For some people, this technique alone might do the trick, but for me – I would simply get up, turn off the alarm, and go back to bed.
Next, when you get out of the bed, go straight to the bathroom and brush your teeth, and wash your face. This makes you feel fresh and awake. Even if you only had 5 hours of sleep, you feel a lot more awake.
Then you might want to brew a fresh cup of coffee or go to your “why” activity. For me, although I’ ma coffee addict and absolutely need my morning coffee, I go behind the desk and start writing instead. I get my coffee from a local grocery store later.
By the time you’re doing your “why” activity, you’re already awake and will not go to bed anymore. It’s highly unlikely, at least.
So to recap, you need a “why” activity that is easy and motivating enough, and you need to trick your brain all the way to the bathroom when the alarm rings.
Third, make a contract with yourself.
This is the method I have used successfully to make even the hardest habits to stick. I also wrote an article about it a while ago. If you haven’t read it, search for “contract” on my site if you’d like to.
The basic idea is that you take a piece of paper and you write on it what you promise to do. In this case, you would write on it that you will wake up on your specified time every day no matter what. No matter what!
You can make this contract between yourself or the Universe/God or whatever you relate to. Write it as a real contract – be specific about what is the latest time you have to be out of the bed, and the timeframe you need to do it (90 days is a good timeframe to form a new habit.).
Also, write that consequences will follow if you breach this contract. For me, not wanting to become paranoid by screwing over the Universe does the trick.
Sign it and add the dates. The more “real” and specific, the better – leave no “wiggle” room. I’m sure you know how sneaky our minds can be in talking ourselves out of what we need to do.
Now, it might sound super cheesy and ridiculous or retarded or whatever, but for me, it works, that’s why I share it. As the Murphy’s law states: “If it’s stupid, but it works, it isn’t stupid.” So, maybe it works for you as well – and if it doesn’t – nothing lost.