At any given time, I’m sure I could name at least ten things about my life that I would like to change. Don’t get me wrong – I appreciate my life and I focus more on what’s right than what’s wrong. I know how important it is to be content with where I am right now. But we’re all works in progress and life is always willing to teach us more about what our strengths and weaknesses are. It may sound contradictory – saying I want to change and be content with myself at the same time – but that’s my reality.
There is always going to be some area of our lives that feels neglected. And I’ve discovered that taking the time to pay attention to these neglected things, even in a small way, makes me feel more appreciative, more fulfilled and definitely more confident.
In this new series, “Upgrade Your Life”, we’ll give suggestions for how you can make small, gradual changes to impact your life in a big way. No matter what it is you want to do, there are baby steps you can take to get there.
This first post is focused on How to Become an Early Riser.
I’ve never been a morning person. Almost every morning is rushed and frantic. I rarely have time to eat breakfast before I get to work. I often find myself snapping at the kids and rushing them because I’m running late. This pattern has been bothering me for awhile.
I often think about how I can steal away a little more time to myself. It finally occurred to me that I need to start getting up earlier. I want to have at least one hour to myself each morning to exercise, write, meditate or do whatever my heart desires before everyone gets up. This is a way for me to start the day with me, myself and I and get centered before I face the day. This is no small task for me, as I’ve always been a late to bed, late to rise kind of person. And yet I’m convinced that this change, daunting as it may seem, will be worth it.
Here’s my 5 step plan:
1) Go to bed early enough to get X hours of sleep. You probably know how much sleep you need to function at your best. I need about 7 hours most nights. I can get away with 5 – 6 sometimes, but I try not to make a habit of that. If getting up early is a real priority, then you’ll do what you have to do and make the necessary sacrifices to get to bed.
2) Get up at the designated time no matter what. To start off, I’m just focusing on getting up at 5 am. I won’t put any pressure on myself to get up and do this or do that. This way I won’t feel overwhelmed. Just the effort of getting up at 5 am and staying up is an accomplishment for me. When I get up, I make myself leave my bedroom. I keep an alarm next to my bed and one over by the door. That way I can’t rationalize as I continue to lay there in the warm bed.
3) Express the importance of this project to the family. It’s surprising how much support you get when you let it be known that you need it. I told my family about this effort and how it was a serious thing for me, and they didn’t laugh at me! When my alarm goes off now, my honey nudges me and tells me to get up. His support helps tremendously.
4) Focus on what you will get out of it. When I say focus, I mean somewhat obsess over it. I’m doodling “5 AM” all over my journal. I’m writing about it. I’m talking about it. I’m thinking about how I will feel during that early morning hour to myself….what I’ll do…how proud of myself I will be…how this morning treat will positively affect the rest of my day.
5) Don’t beat yourself up or give up when you oversleep. Everyday last week I had the intention of getting up at 5 am and I didn’t achieve it not once. It was very discouraging but I kept trying. This week has been much better. I’m determined. I want to prove to myself that I can set a small goal and be consistently focused on it until it becomes a real habit. If I fall off for a day, I’m right back on it the next day, trying to get back on track.
No matter how many mistakes we make or how slow we progress, we are still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying. ~Author Unknown