A familiar scenario for most people: the alarm clock goes off. You set it early this morning because you have so much to do and you really need to get a head start on the day.
You know the importance of starting your day with some quiet time with God and you’ve seen the fruit of that when you’ve been consistent with it. You also made that resolution to exercise and you really want to get back into shape. Add on top of that the ever-increasing demands of your job and your need to get in early and get some work done before the chaos of the day ensues. Bottom line: YOU NEED TO GET UP EARLY TODAY.
But despite all those reasons, 9 out of 10 times you end up doing the same thing…SNOOZE!
And you continue to hit the snooze button – every 9 minutes if your clock is like mine – the whole time calculating in your head what you can cut out of your morning routine in order to get some more rest (if I don’t eat breakfast I can sleep for another 3.5 minutes). Sound familiar?
Why do we do this to ourselves? There’s so much we want to do and so much we need to do – if we could just get out of bed in the morning. What’s the solution here?
I am not claiming to be an expert on the subject – nor do I claim to be some self-discipline guru. Believe me, I enjoy a good snooze more than anyone else. Some people tell me things like “you’re lucky because you’re a morning person.” I don’t know what that means. If by saying that you are implying that I would prefer to get up vs sleep in, you are dead wrong. Is there anyone out there who doesn’t enjoy sleeping?
The issue isn’t who’s a morning person vs who’s not. The issue is more about commitment than it is about your nature. I believe we can train ourselves to do just about anything. Scientific research proves that we are creatures of habit and we can train our bodies and our minds to a new set of habits if we are consistent in practicing them. In other words, your habits aren’t set in stone. You can change them if you are committed to taking the necessary steps to do so.
Specifically, I believe we need two changes: one in attitude and one in behavior.
ATTITUDE CHANGE: Early isn’t crazy nor is it impossible.
Get rid of the idea in your head that “I can never wake up at 5:00 in the morning… that’s too early… only the senior citizens get up that early.” Stop telling yourself that it is crazy to get up so early. Jesus didn’t think it was crazy, “Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.” (Mark 1:35)
Stop saying that you are not a morning person! Yes it will take some effort and discipline, but YOU CAN DO IT!
BEHAVIOR CHANGE: Go to bed earlier!
Those who know me know that I go to sleep pretty early. Most people don’t believe me, but my goal is to get into bed by 8 or 8:30 every night. I’m not saying I am able to accomplish that – but that’s what I am aim for. Sound crazy?
A few years ago, I did some analysis on where my time was being spent and how effectively I was using my time. Time is a gift from God and we must be wise stewards of it – or else we will answer to God. What I realized is this: I was staying up till 11 or 12 every night but the stuff I was doing from 8 pm onwards was almost always non-important things. They were urgent, but they weren’t important.
So I made a decision that my workday is pretty much done at 7:30 or 8:00 [obviously there are some exceptions to this rule, but not as many as you’d think]. Yes, I had to make some sacrifices in order to do this and cut some things out, but the benefits far outweighed the costs.
Going to bed earlier allows me to:
a) Put my kids to bed at night – It’s the most valuable time of my day and I can’t believe I missed out on it for so many years at the start of their lives. We read the Bible, share about our day, pray together and just have fun together every night. If you’re a parent, don’t miss one day of telling your kids that you love them every night before they sleep.
b) Spend quality one-on-one time with my wife - after the kids have gone to bed but before we are both too tired to have real communication.
c) Read in bed - one of my favorite activities in the world
d) Get up earlier every morning – this is the most important one because getting up early allows me to start my day on the right foot mentally [prepared not rushed], physically [exercise], and spiritually [quiet time with God]. I discovered that I need this morning time and its value far outweighed the cost of giving up some night time activities.
Please don’t overlook the importance of getting to bed early. Trust me, it changed my life – my spiritual life, my family life, my marital life and even my physical health. Trust me on this one. If you’ve never given it a fair shot, I encourage you to try for a month and see what the costs vs the benefits are. Don’t start now but get ready now. Make it your goal to start after Easter. It’s the perfect time of year to do so. Even the sun gets up early at this time of year.
Trust me, no one enjoys sleeping in more than I do. I sometimes joke around with God and ask Him to grant me a 25th hour in the day just for sleeping purposes. But when you realize what you are gaining by doing so, it becomes a lot easier to make the sacrifice.
To me, 1 hour in the morning is more valuable than 4 hours at night. I am willing to sacrifice 8 pm till midnight every day in order to gain the one hour from 5 - 6 am. This is the one time that 1 is greater than 4.
Give it a try and let me know what you think. I’d love to hear your feedback.
Discussion: How do you normally spend your morning hours? And what effect does it have on the rest of your day?