Google Productivity Pad: How I became a morning person

Monday, October 28, 2013

How I became a morning person

So I promised you a post about this way back in August when I wrote this post, the death of the avian myth. The question always comes up, well if I am not actually a night owl then how do I become an early bird?
I am a simple man so I like the simple formula to answer this question:
You decide = You succeed
You can give me all kinds of excuses about that, about how you tried but it just didn't work. And I will say "Oh that is very sad, but the truth is as long as you have an excuse it means you did not really decide." And that is just the brutal honest truth that someone has to tell you if you are ever to change and live better.

Only morning people see the sunrise

But enough about you, this post is suppose to be about me. As I have said before I have had some struggle throughout my life with being a morning person. And there have been various times in my life when I have had to get up earlier. Of course a lot of this depends on what you consider early. Here's a timeline:
  • Home: Every person in my house was required to get up by 6:45 each morning to come to family scripture study. Some of us were more awake during that time that others, but we were all out if bed. That was basically my waking up time until I started seminary.
  • Seminary: In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) we have a weekday religion class for high school students, you can read more about it here. Most of these classes happen sometime between 5-7 in the morning. Because I grew up in a small town in the middle of nowhere there was no local class I could attend mornings so, I had a home-study program I could theoretically do whenever I wanted. However, my mother preferred that I do it at 6:00 in the morning.
  • College: When I went to college my first year my whole perspective of morning and night changed. 8:00 was suddenly very early to be starting anything let alone class, and it became the most natural thing in the world to see the backside of midnight and beyond (needless to say New Year's Eve quickly lost its charm). 
  • Mission: After my first year of college, however, I went on my mission. I've said before that Mormon missionaries adhere to a very strict schedule. Part of this schedule is waking up at 6:30 every morning, so for the next to years I was a morning person. I think this is probably when I first began to think that maybe it was all a decision whether you were a morning person or a night person. I saw many missionaries from different backgrounds and walks of life all conform to the same schedule, because of something they believed in. 
  • College again: returning to college I thought maybe the habits from my mission would just carry over. Of course I was wrong, bad habits are hard to break, but good habits are not. Within no time I was waking up just in time to rush out the door to catch the bus for my earliest class. And I was back to being a night owl staying up late, blearily staring at a computer trying to do homework without conscious thought. 
  • Home again: that following summer I returned home to work as an agricultural research assistant, which is essentially farm work involving a lot of meticulous data gathering. We normally started at about 7:30 in the morning, so you can imagine that my habits from college were no longer going to cut. But that did not mean that I was a morning person. 
A decision point: that summer I was home, I had one of the worst and most devastating experiences of my highly stable and privileged life. I began going through a phase that felt like a beach boys song "I come in late at night and in the morning I just stay in bed." Of course I wasn't staying in bed super late because of work, but I was only waking up to go to work. I was barely fitting in time for my scripture reading before heading out the door.
I was essentially just surviving from day to day, in something of a cloudy haze of alternately self-depreciation and feeling sorry for myself. In essence I was doing what most people spend their whole lives doing because, in part because they wake up with just enough time to get to work.
Well eventually two things happened that probably saved my life, or least made it more than a drawn out pity party.
  1. I had a friend: it is incredible what having a friend will do for you. I don't want to go into the power of friendship too much here because of space and time, but if you can be a friend to someone going through a hard time please do so.
  2. I went to a lecture: In the church I belong to we periodically have special lectures called firesides. I went to one that summer that served as a catalyst to change my life forever. The speaker at this particular fireside gave the "formula" that would allow us to become men and women that were successful that Christ would be able to use to help others. The first point in the formula was, "get up early, magic hours rule the world." He explained that the most productive and successful people got up early, well before most of the world. 
I really wanted to resist that concept, I wanted to pretended that it didn't matter when you gor up you could still be productive, but I knew from the history of experience I have related to you that that just wasn't true.  So I decided that night that I would change and become better.
Of course, it is hard for us to give up something we think is part of us, as I discuss I this post. I have not been perfect at this change, and getting up early is not the same as being a morning person, but it is a place to start. I have made tremendous progress at changing something that I thought for many years was just the way I was.
Now I know this post has been all about me, and pretty long. But I hope you enjoyed, and hopefully soon I will do a post all about how YOU can become a morning person. If you have any questions or thoughts please shoot me a tweet @halduauthor, or leave me a comment below.

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Thanks for reading, and remember, live better.

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