“The day has already begun to lessen. It has shrunk considerably but yet will still allow a goodly space of time if one rises, so to speak, with the day itself. We are more industrious, and we are better men if we anticipate the day and welcome the dawn.” —Seneca
About 2,000 years ago, Marcus Aurelius wrote in his journal about an argument that he was having with himself about getting out of bed.
As far as we know, Marcus Aurelius never intended his journal to be read by anyone other than himself. But thankfully, his journal was preserved and today can be read by anyone in the book entitled “Meditations”. I read the book when I was much younger and found it to be quite profound. I won’t pretend it’s an easy read, but it’s a worthwhile read.
Anyway, back to the story or Marcus Aurelius arguing with himself about getting out of bed. From the reading (It’s the opening of Book 5 of Meditations, BTW), it’s clear that this isn’t the first time he’s had this argument with himself. You would think that for such a virtuous, hard-working man, getting out of bed early and getting on with his day would have been an automatic, innate habit. Alas, that was not the case. Something so simple that so many of us struggle with was also a struggle for the man who was the emperor of Rome.
He was the emperor, and he didn’t have to get out of bed… Heck, he didn’t have to do anything. No one would complain or cut his pay if he were late. And yet, here was the emperor insisting that he roll his butt out of bed early and get on with his day.
Why would such a man with such a position of power insist on that for himself?
Marcus Aurelius knew that sleeping in, lying in bed all cozy under the warm blankets, is the antithesis of what we were made for. Sure, sleeping is a human condition that none of us can live without. But the excess of sleep, the excess beyond that which we need to survive and thrive, flies in the face of what each of us were put here to do.
Marcus said, “When you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself, ‘I have to go to work as a human being… I’m going to do what I was born to do… the things that I was brought into this world to do.’”
He goes on to say that we should look at the birds, the ants and the spiders and bees – they’re up with the sun as their nature demands.
It should come as no surprise to you that successful people are known for rising early. Why is this so?
Yes, it gives you a head start on the day (as well as helping you go to bed early – another habit of the successful). But it’s really because it gives you a head start on doing what nature demands of you! And if you do what nature demands of you, you’ll be happier for it.
Don’t believe me? Here’s some proof.
A study from the University of Toronto studied “morning types” and “evening types”.
Regardless of age or gender, the study found that “morning types” had a much higher positive attitude.
Being a morning person is associated with well-being in all four areas of well-being:
Waking up early drives biological mechanisms related to circadian rhythms and homeostatic sleep drives and results in us being happier.
We are biologically wired to follow the circadian rhythm and to wake up with the sun. The proof is in nature all around us – just like the birds, spiders, ants, and bees.
So the first habit I want each of you to begin developing is to take ownership of your day by taking ownership of your morning. If you practice the habits we’re going to teach you, you will find you have more time to practice them and have a happier attitude about practicing them. You will start out your day by being in control!
So how do you become a morning type (or if you are a morning type, how do you make the best use of your time)?
According to the study, “shifts toward morningness can improve one’s levels of positive affect and subjective health, and do so in a similar manner across the lifespan.”
So right now, whatever your morning alarm is set to, move it back thirty minutes. From this point forward, you will not lie in bed all cozy under the blankets. No snooze button. No waiting for the sun to gradually wake you up. Jump up and start your day.
Of course, to become a morning person, you’ll need to go to bed earlier. So, what comes first: early to bed or early to rise? Well, unlike the chicken or the egg, we do know which one comes first. It’s early to rise. When you develop the habit of getting up early, your body will, over time, develop the habit of going to bed earlier as well.
It won’t happen overnight (no pun intended), and I’m not going to pretend that you won’t be tired for several days (or even several weeks). But your body will adjust.
Unless you’ve made some changes to your schedule recently, you’re probably used to getting up at a certain time. It’s comfortable and it works for you. But understand what we’re asking you to do: regardless of how comfortable you are with your wake up time, get up 30 minutes earlier starting tomorrow.
This isn’t about depriving you of 30 minutes of sleep. As I’ve already stated, your bedtime will shift over time to accommodate the sleep you need.
Before you know it, you’ll be rising early, refreshed and ready to attack the day. Why? Because you have a purpose every day. You have tasks that you need to perform every day (don’t worry, we’ll give you the tasks to perform).
Marcus Aurelius understood what you now know – the key to winning the day is to win the morning! Even though he was the most powerful man in the world, he knew he had to “go to work as a human being”. Status or age was not relevant to Marcus. He knew he had work to do. So do you.
Get on with your day!
Another reason to get up early and get on with your day is that morning types benefit from being aligned with societal expectations. If you’re up early, you can focus on yourself before emails and phone calls start pouring in. This gives us time to reflect, journal, read and ready ourselves for the chaos of the day.
But is 30 minutes really going to make that big of a difference? Yes, it can literally change your life. Giving yourself an extra half hour over the course of a month is the equivalent of adding two extra days to your month, which is the equivalent of adding 24 extra days to your year!
This frees up time to do those things that are really important to you. This could be spending time with your family, starting or expanding that exercise program, journaling (we’ll talk about that another day) or just practicing the crafts of your trade so that you can be better prepared when opportunity comes knocking.
If you just lie in bed and cuddle up in the warm blankets are you doing what you were made for?
As Seneca said, “Nothing is more disgraceful than sleeping a day away. We are based on churls if we lie dozing when the sun is high in the heavens, or if we wake up only when noon arrives; and even then to many it seems not yet dawn.”
Seneca goes further and says it’s not just about getting up early, “It’s about what we do when we wake up.” If we’re up at dawn and then waste our time on TV, Facebook, or some other form of social media, we’ve wasted our time. Use this time for preparation, for study, for reflective thought and reflective writing and reading.
As Seneca says, “Shake laziness out of my system… and reading, I hold is indispensable. Reading nourishes the mind and refreshes it.”
Successful people use that time in the morning to do something of value. Bill Gates uses it for time on the treadmill. Jack Dorsey meditates. A friend of mine uses it to make his home-cooked meals for the day.
The health benefits of rising early are wonderful as well.
These include a lower risk of depression, greater positivity, healthier eating habits, and easier weight loss.
But you also now have the time to spend practicing, rehearsing, and performing all the tasks we’ll give you over the coming weeks and months to grow the exact business you want!
It won’t be easy, we’ve never said it would be. But it will be worth it!
Starting tomorrow, get up 30 minutes early, NO MATTER WHAT.
Give yourself the gift of changing your life. In a few years when you have the exact business you want, you’ll be grateful you took this first small step to change your life!
NEW HABIT: Get out of bed 30 minutes early.
NEW TASK: Call Andy Dodge to arrange a time to set up your LinkedIn Marketing system.