The habit I’ve had the hardest time cultivating is the habit of getting up earlier.
And there’s just one particular reason I’ve been trying to do it: I wanted to get into the routine of meditating at least 45 minutes every day.
After trying that for about two weeks, it was pretty clear: If it didn’t happen in the morning, it wouldn’t happen at all.
Most of the time I would wake up late, which would give me a solid ten minutes to meditate, then I’d promise to do it later in the day and 100% of the time it wouldn’t happen.
So here’s how you can anchor in (as a habit) getting up earlier, whether it’s 5 minutes or 3 hours.
The Benjamin Franklin Review, Habit Triggers, And Early Wake up Calls
So How Do I Do This?
I consistently had the EXACT same thing happen every single time I tried to wake up early.
I’d set the alarm back from 7 to 6:30 or 6. Then the next day I’d wake up extremely tired, and then drink a lot of coffee, or I’d finally get my energy back around midday… but when it came time to sleep, I’d still go to bed late because I wasn’t used to sleeping early.
I’d still go to bed at midnight, wake up at six, and then wouldn’t have enough willpower to make it three days.
So I almost never lasted an entire WEEK.
We’ve previously talked about a few methods that I use to link habits together – the linking method, using triggers, etc. – but this one was tricky.
But as I went through this, I realized the big barrier to me getting up was NOT the morning – it was the night before.
Setting Up The Trigger
After realizing that going to bed the night before was the most important part, I used the Strides app to set up a trigger:
So I would set a reminder to be notified at 10 pm – which was the reminder to wind down.
I knew that if I was working on my computer past that time, I wasn’t going to get to sleep on time.
But it served a larger purpose: it was the first part of my habit trigger, to trigger part two.
I’ve talked a lot about the power of the Benjamin Franklin nightly review – a review he historically did about the virtues he set for himself and whether or not he was reaching them every day.
I personally do a nightly personal development review like this, but also a goal review for the next day.
This will improve your life dramatically, and quickly, but what I often do with clients is custom tailor this specifically to health. So we pick a few health habits, track them nightly, and then have them reflect just on the improvements in their health (and nothing else).
So this is activity #1.
After I do this, I go on to my next activity – which is reading a book in order to wind down.
So you have to set up the trigger the night before.
The trigger was the strides app.
It then reminded me to reflect on the day, where I spend about 60 seconds just writing down the good, the bad, and the ugly. And from there I also make a note of how far I am on the progress curve of my goals – how are things going now?
And finally, that review is then linked to the ultimate wind down of reading a book.
This became my nightly decompression ritual:
Your Tiny Habit For Today
If you have an extremely hard time getting up early in the morning, I want you to either use this app or a cellphone reminder, then set the reminder one hour before you want to go to bed, and then go through this habit cycle.
And each night you just turn that wind down clock one minute back.
So if it’s 10 pm tonight for the review, tomorrow night it’s 9:59 pm.
When the alarm goes off, let that signal your wind down decompression ritual: do the 60 second Benjamin Franklin written review (which will improve your life in many ways), and then whip out a book and read. Or brainstorm. Or draw. Or paint. Anything that turns the brain off and lets you relax.
This has consistently been one of the only ways I’ve been able to get myself up earlier when historically I’ve failed before.
What about you? What have you used to wake up early? Share below.