by Lori Milner: author, entrepreneur, thought leader and founder of Beyond the Dress
Achievers around the world swear by the motto – ‘success is a sunrise away’.
Not everyone can wake up early. Our gadget-filled world has given us enough distractions to keep us awake even when we are in bed. And some of us do that because, after a hectic day, night is the only ‘me-time’ we get. However, there is an increasing awareness of the benefits of rising at 5am. High achievers all over the world find that waking up before the sun has a personal bonus – it gives them an edge in the cut-throat environment that they face as the day sets in.
I can personally attest to this. Fitness and exercise has been part of my world for over 25 years. My exercise times have varied over the years based on my life stage at that time. For example in the pre kids days, I would get to the gym after work at 5pm. Fast forward to being married, starting my own business and having two kids now aged 4 and 6, the only time I can fit it in is 5:30am. Yip…I wake up just before 5am to have a quick bite and a coffee and get to the gym at 5:30.
Before I had kids, I could never understand why someone would voluntarily choose to wake up even at 6am. Then those kids got bigger and as their schedule became more demanding, I had to make a choice how I was going to fit in my morning exercise because for me it’s a non-negotiable.
The only workable solution was to train myself to wake up at 5am. I’m not saying it’s easy but I call it my super power. It’s the greatest gift I’ve given to myself. Its 90 minutes of quiet free time. Some mornings I use it to journal, meditate and have some reading time.
I listened to an interview with Ex-Navy Seal commander Jocko Willink who now consults to businesses. He said avoid hitting the snooze button at all costs! There are 18 seconds between picking up the phone once your alarm goes off and deciding to get up or stay in bed. According to Jocko, the snooze button is a dream killer.
You think that extra 8 minutes will give you more dreams but it’s the antithesis, it’s a dream snatcher. The reality is that you spend the day in self-loathing mode because you missed that thing you scheduled - exercise, meditation and I guarantee you that time was scheduled for persona self-time. We never showed up to ourselves and that’s why we feel so awful when we miss it. The negative inner critic has a field day reminding you about it.
Ask yourself this question honestly - If you had to do the red eye flight for travel for a client meeting would you have hit the snooze button? Probably not…
So we need to remember we are the most important CEO, we are the CEO of our lives and this 5am window is the perfect time to carve out that chunk of time out just for us...
So how do you train yourself to wake up earlier?
Take Baby Steps - don’t jump straight to 5am, set your alarm 30 min earlier than before. Don’t get overly ambitious, 30 min earlier per week means you’ll rise 2 hrs earlier in a month.
Alarm away from bed? Set the alarm and put your phone walking distance away from the bed.
Turn lights on immediately: Turn the lights on, on route to turn off the alarm
Have a reward – treat yourself to a special cup of coffee you splurged on just for the early rise
Go to sleep early: Feel groggy and want to quit rising early? Go to sleep 1 hour earlier! Yes, that means it may interfere with binge watching Netflix but it’s worth it!
Ditch the stimulants – be aware how much caffeine or alcohol you consume prior to bedtime. These really do play havoc when you need to sleep
Create a mindfulness practice – find that thing that works for you to calm your mind before bed. It can be a hot bath, meditation, reading, journaling to trap those stirring thoughts
I know it sounds like a huge ask to wake up earlier but it is the greatest gift you could ever give yourself – time. If you do hit snooze some days, forgive yourself, be kind to yourself and start fresh the next day. Here’s to owning your day.
LORI MILNER is the engaging facilitator, thought leader and mentor known for her insightful approach to being a modern corporate woman. Her brainchild, the successful initiative Beyond the Dress, is the embodiment of her passion to empower women. Beyond the Dress has worked with South Africa’s leading corporates and empowered hundreds of women with valuable insight on how to bridge the gap between work and personal life. Clients include Siemens, Massmart, Alexander Forbes, Life Healthcare Group, RMB Private Bank and Unilever to name a few. Lori has co-authored Own Your Space: The Toolkit for the Working Woman in conjunction with Nadia Bilchik, CNN Editorial Producer. Own Your Space provides practical tools and insights gleaned from workshops held around the world and from interviews with some of South Africa’s most accomplished women to provide you with tried-and-tested techniques, tips and advice to help you boost your career, enhance your confidence and truly own your space on every level. Own Your Space is the ultimate ‘toolkit’ to unleash your true power. It’s for the woman who wants to take her career to new heights and who is ready to fulfil her true potential.
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