'A lazy life is an empty life, but "early to rise" gets the job done.'
Proverbs 12:27 MSG
The first day of July, I started waking up earlier in the morning. Not a small transition in time but a change of 2 hours. It was drastic and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I had posted it about it after my first week was complete and the changes I had felt.
Now, I have my first full month of rising early under my belt. And I really never want it to change. Sure, there will be days where a little sleep till 7 or 8am will be in store, but for the majority of time, I want to be an early riser.
My last week in July had hit me a bit heavy and my waking time started to fall a little more behind as I stayed up a little later during the nights. It was creeping up fast and my momentum was lacking. Till I awoke to Day 2 of Andy Andrew's Entrepreneur challenge. It was just the boost I needed to get back on wagon and continue in my goals with rising early.
You can check out some of this stuff here: http://www.andyandrews.com/
And take the time to read this insert from his challenge- it was the perfect confirmation from God for me on waking early each day to spend time with Him. And I feel it will be just what you need to read today too.
"What if I told you there was one action you could take that would dramatically improve your productivity and effectiveness? Would you be interested?
I have found evidence that the most productive people in history were disciplined enough to wake up before everyone else did.
That’s it. They woke up early.
These people weren’t just a little more productive than everyone else—they were more productive by leaps and bounds.
Are you still with me? I understand the hesitation with this concept. You’ve most likely heard it before, tried it before, and failed to implement it consistently before.
I know this because I wasn’t a morning person either, that is, until I started defining myself a different way. I found evidence in my life that made enough sense to me that made me want to change what I did. I knew that if I changed what I did I would change how I feel.
Curiously (especially to me) as I am writing these words to you right now, it is 4:17am.
WAIT! Don’t leave! I’m not suggesting you wake up this early! Ha!
Hey, don’t worry… I don’t always get started this early, but my results are just so much better in the morning. I like to sleep, but I like the freedom that my results and production give me even more. So waking early has become a discipline. And as always, there was a principle involved: the principle of tithing.
Each morning, I dedicate my day to God and, therefore, I offer him my first 10%.
Yes, it is a significant distinction I failed to make for many years. I suppose it’s because my focus was on the number. I was much more concerned about “how much that was” or “how much I could really afford.” It never occurred to me that whether I tithed at the first of the month or the last might make a difference. Then one day (and wouldn’t you know it was early in the morning) I read the same sentence of instruction about tithing I’d read a hundred times before. But this time, I saw something else…
In Proverbs, it is written that we should honor God by giving the first part of our income. We are not directed to simply “give 10%.” God clearly instructs that it should be the first 10%. Why? Because the first thing we do reveals our priority. The first 10% is given with pure motives. The gift exhibits honor, love, and faith that there will be enough later on. The last 10% (if it is even that much) is sometimes offered grudgingly, out of duty, and is usually given from what is left after we’ve taken what we want or need.
So, in order to honor God by giving the first part of my income…knowing that my TIME is the bottom line regarding my income (Time is money!)…I give that first part of my day to serious thought, prayer, and effort on his behalf. And not surprisingly, I have seen over and over again the evidence of the first 10% of my day being multiplied more than I could ever do all afternoon or evening.
Frankly, “not being a morning person” is not a good enough reason for not waking up early.
You can be whatever you want to be. You know this.
You can get up and start accomplishing things before most people are even conscious. You will see amazing things happen when you state the fact that you are a morning person. Isn’t it amazing what you can do?
I’ve proven to myself that I achieve better results from working in the morning. The most effectiveness I’ve ever had in my writing—especially when I’m working on a book or need to have a breakthrough—happens between the hours of 4:00am and 7:00am. This is before Polly and the boys get up. It’s before phone calls and emails begin.
The most important part of getting up early is the commitment I make not to check my cell phone, voicemails, or emails until I have given the first part of my day. These things are tempting, but if I am true to my commitment, they wait patiently until I choose to deal with them. Otherwise, they make my mind drift in other directions. I ask God to give me the guidance I need. I say, “Lord, please put in my mind the direction you want me to travel today.”
Creating a laser focus on what it is that needs to be done is far better than switching between various tasks.
How much more effective would you be if you remained laser focused on something for just a little longer than normal?
You are not alone if you’ve struggled to implement a consistent early morning schedule before. I’ve been inconsistent, too, but the problem with long-term inconsistency is the possibility of giving into the guilt that will drag you down into more inconsistency.
It’s a vicious cycle. When you feel guilty about not getting up, it’s more stressful to get up the next day. When you are a performer—which you are because everyone is performing with their job or their family—any time that performance doesn’t go like you wanted, if you look at life’s clock, that poor performance is behind you. There is possibility of good performances ahead of you.
Think of yourself like a professional baseball player. We all throw bad pitches, but the experiences that happen previously have no bearing on the importance of what you must do next to overcome inconsistency.
Nothing is less important than the last three pitches. Great teams can immediately put the last play behind them. You can wake up early because you’ve done it before. You didn’t over-think it; you just did it.
There’s a reason not everybody gets up hours before they need to, and the reason is because it’s not easy. When you discipline yourself to do difficult things, it’s easier to do other things that will produce greater results. Victories hang on victories, right?
Today's Inspired Entrepreneur Challenge
At bedtime tonight, set your alarm for 15 minutes earlier than you normally would set it. Get up 15 minutes earlier tomorrow.
Before you go to sleep tonight, write out what you will do with those extra 15 minutes.
Let this be a time of quiet, calm reflection where you receive your marching orders for the day. Start with 15 minutes and I have a feeling that next week you’ll do 20 minutes. The time will slowly expand once it becomes a habit.
If you want to keep this going beyond the 5-Day Challenge, do it consistently for the next two weeks and see what happens. Curious about the possibilities that exist for you? Do a little Google research on the accomplishments of two men well known for rising early—George Washington Carver and Thomas Jefferson. You will be stunned at the quantity and quality of all they produced in a single lifetime.
Once you master rising early, you’ll get better at disciplining yourself in other areas as well. Set yourself up to win. Go to bed earlier to get up earlier. Create a sleeping environment that supports you. Let your family know what you’re doing so they can encourage you. "
I have to admit, there were and are some days where I am very sleepy. The afternoon hits and I am struggling to stay awake. But I try to keep myself stimulated and motivated and all is well. And the benefits of rising early far outweigh a little tiredness in the afternoon (which I usually experienced anyways.)
Some of the unexpected benefits I have experienced since changing my sleep pattern in the past month have been substantial.
- Giving my first part of my day, my first fruits to God, has been so fulfilling. I feel energized, focused and ready to start my day since I began it in Jesus and spent my early morning in His quiet presence.
- After spending time with God, I write, or work on my home-business, or catch up on e-mails and messages. I accomplish so much in the quiet morning hours that I am sometimes not able to get done during the craziness of the day.
- Normally, my kids end up coming in my room and waking me up and I moan and groan and beg them to give me more sleep. I always hated that. Not them waking me up, but my attitude towards them when they came in the room. I greeted them begrudgingly. With my sleep pattern changing, all that has changed too. I will have been up for 1-2 hours before my children awake and I get to greet them with a smile. I am wide awake and have already processed my day and wiped the sleep from my eyes so I am ready for hugs and kisses and to live the day together verses struggling to sneak in more sleep.
- I feel so much more productive in my day. By 7am, I have spent time with the Lord, gotten some projects and work done, maybe a load of laundry and dishes, and I am ready for a morning workout. Meaning it has benefited my fitness and health as well.
- My days feel so much longer! And I love that! That is a good thing! We will be going through our day and I will feel like it is 3pm and I should start preparing our supper but then I look at the clock and am shocked to see that it is only noon! We had already accomplished so much in our morning hours and have such precious time left in the day.
It's really been a marvelous change in my life and I am grateful for the discipline to be able to continue on in this path. It is NOT always easy, but it is worth it.
And I encourage you, if it is something that intrigues you, go for it. Make a drastic change or take little steps day by day. I can honestly say it has been a wonderful change to my life and there are some days that it does not work out like I planned (like the 2 youngest children waking up with me at 5:15am and taking a lot of my productive time away) but we work with it and do what we can.
Find what works for you but practice discipline and stick with it. Don't give up because YOU alone have the power to decide how you want to live your life and who you want to be.
Maybe it all starts with rising just a bit earlier in the morning.