I woke up before dawn for a year. Here’s what I learned, and how it can help you.
I’ve always been a morning person. As a kid growing up, I was the first one awake in my house. I’m not sure why, but my parents strongly encouraged me—at a very early age—to get a morning paper route.
As I write this now, I’ve been awake for a little over two hours, and it’s not yet 6:00 am. I’ve already lifted weights at the gym and am writing this from my treadmill desk. After maintaining this routine for a year, I happened upon one very surprising realization that I know will benefit you.
Before the big reveal, a question: Have you ever talked yourself out of something you know will be really good for you?
Maybe you said, “I won’t make these extra calls or send these extra emails today before I leave the office. I’ll get to it later this week instead.” Maybe you have a weight loss goal and you said to yourself, “I’ll start eating healthy tomorrow, so I’ll skip the salad and have a burger today instead.” Maybe it was, “I can miss my daughter’s Tee-ball game today and make up for it this weekend.”
Regardless of the situation, you were projecting a vision of the future that was incongruent with the present. Said another way, Future You is the new-and-improved version of Present You.
Before I starting waking up before sunrise every day, I’d still get up early, but dawn would be breaking. What’s the first thing I would do before going to the gym to work out? Look out the window. Some of the things that would cross my mind would include things like:
- “It’s raining cats and dogs.”
- “Looks like a morning of shoveling snow.”
- And of course, since we live in Wisconsin: “Wow, I hope it’s not as cold as it looks!”
I would look out the window and make a poor decision, based on an environment over which I had no control whatsoever. I would skip the workout and say, “I’ll be sure to work out twice as hard tomorrow.” Future Me would be a better version of Present Me.
What’s happened since I’ve started waking up before sunrise? I’m oblivious to anything in the outside environment. It wasn’t until leaving the house this morning until I saw sheets of rain pouring down. By then, though, it was too late to stop my workout routine.I had done everything necessary to prepare, and simply continued the habit.
Good news! You don’t need to wake up before dawn to realize the benefits of this experiment. When it comes to decision-making time, consider asking yourself:
- “Am I looking out the window and allowing the environment determine my future actions?”
- “Am I allowing factors outside of my control to dictate my behavior?”
Start designing Future You by helping Present You make great decisions today.
Spencer X Smith is the founder of AmpliPhi Social Media Strategies. He’s a former 401(k) wholesaler, and now teaches financial services professionals how to use social media for business development.