I wrote my book Wake Up: The Morning Routine That Will Change Your Life and went into great detail about how I changed my life by waking up early every day for a year. Here are three things that I learned about myself in the process.
Two years ago I started waking up early to carve out precious ME time each day. I was depressed and burnt out and needed a change. As it happens, this was the single most life-changing habit I ever did. You see, I was trying to squeeze in happy habits like meditation, exercise, and journaling throughout my busy schedule but nothing was working. Just not enough time. I was always too busy!
It wasn’t until I started waking up early every day that I began to finally have time to do them. This ME-time every morning was vital to my well-being. I was able to string together days, weeks, and even months of waking up two hours earlier than normal.
Before I knew it, I’d been waking up early for a whole year! I wrote about this on my blog and it turned out to become my most popular post by far. It even led to my favorite habit tracking app Coach.me (formerly Lift) recruiting me as a wake-up-early coach!
I have grown and learned so much since I started waking up early. It was one of those pivotal moments in life where everything starts to shift. I called this my awakening.
WHAT I LEARNED:
1. I’M NOT MY MIND, MY THOUGHTS, MY BODY, OR MY TWITTER BIO.
This was a breakthrough that I learned early on through meditation and my studies on emotion and how depression works. Turns out that there’s this thing called the ego – our our sense of self. This “false self” was what I identified with my entire life up until now.
When asked “who are you?” I would rattle off something akin to my Twitter bio. You know, I’m an artist, designer, musician, yada yada. I achieved this, I did that, I like these bands, these movies, I don’t eat meat, blah blah.
So who am I if I’m not any of that? Welcome to one of life’s greatest questions!
Through my morning meditations, I would watch my thoughts come and go. I realized I could observe my thoughts, my emotions, and my body from a detached perspective. I can separate myself from any of the “identities” that I’ve created for myself and I still existed. I could surrender all the bullshit and baggage from my life and I would still exist. I didn’t have to maintain this “persona” anymore.
This was a game-changer for me. It shifted my worldview completely. I no longer felt compelled to chase after money, fame, respect, or admiration. I didn’t care about material goods nearly as much and I felt so much happier with less. The pressure of “being somebody” or “being important” was no longer part of my thought process. I could just be. It was such a relief!
2. I LEARNED HOW TO LOVE AND CARE FOR MYSELF LIKE NOBODY EVER HAS.
Another big thing that I learned by waking up early was self-love. Too often I searched outside myself for validation, help, and answers. I spent so much time pleasing other people and spreading myself thin between all the people I didn’t want to let down. But the biggest person I was letting down was myself.
By deliberately carving out time for myself each morning, something shifted in me. The acceptance, respect, and validation that I sought elsewhere I could find within. You can’t love others without truly loving yourself, as the saying goes. I noticed my mood and outlook on life brightened and my fears of what other people thought of me diminished.
I realized people come and go, but there’s one person I spend my entire life with, and that’s ME! So why not take care of that relationship? For a long time my primary motivation for waking up early was self-love and self-care. Whenever I felt scared, guilty, ashamed, needy, or whatever – I would take care of myself. I learned how to speak to myself in positive ways instead of judgmental or critical ways.
I love my relationship with my life!
3. I AM 100% RESPONSIBLE FOR MY LIFE. THE GOOD AND THE BAD.
And finally, the biggest thing I learned by waking up early was that I’m the one in control of my life, not anyone else. I am responsible for the good and the bad. If I don’t like my life, it’s up to me to do something about it.
Waking up early was one simple thing that gave me the power to change things. It blew the doors wide open and cleared space so I could proactively take action on the life I wanted each and every day. Sure, it allowed me to be more productive and get more done before 8 am than many get done in a full day. But the power it gave me was remarkable. The power to change my life. The power to visualize my dreams and actually turn them into a reality.
There was a shift from “life happens to me” to “I create my life.” I also became aware of the people and systems that I gave my power to in exchange for convenience, safety, or some other insecurity. Remarkably, there was a shift in my perspective that allowed me to look at all of the negativity in my life with gratitude and appreciation.
I saw difficulties as opportunities for empowerment and growth. And I got excited about taking responsibility! It was like I woke up to my own personal power. I felt stronger and more capable of taking risks and overcoming my fears.
Truth, Love, and Power.
The above life lessons mesh perfectly with Truth, Love, and Power. Three pillars of growth I learned from personal development blogger Steve Pavlina. This underscores the foundation of my integrity and helps me make decisions every day.
When I started waking up early, I had no idea it would teach me so much! Not only did I wake up early, but I woke up to my true self.
What would your life be like if you woke up early?