Ep 7: 4am Is the New 5am
For about the first 25 years of my life, I was never a morning person. Loved sleeping in on the weekends until noon, but getting up for work by 7am was a struggle. Like most guys in their late teens, I was a true night owl and my evenings were mainly about going to parties and clubs. Looking back, I wish I had spent more nights like Batman gliding off rooftops and beating criminals to a pulp - at least then, I would've been doing more good for my city! Anyway...
It wasn't until a couple of years ago that I finally grasped the concept and value of being an Early Bird.
But before I could be that, I had to create a new habit: I had to get to bed at a much earlier hour. To do that, I had to make critical adjustments to my hours of operation as a freelancer like being less available for real-time chats with my Australian connects (I live in the States). It was easier said than done for a while, as I was just starting out and flattered that people worldwide liked my work.
Eventually, the admin side of freelancing took a backseat to the creative side. It wasn't as vital for me to converse in real-time with clients, because I was more capable and had shorthands with them. With a more fluent schedule, I could then work towards getting to bed at a more decent hour like 10 or 11pm.
Consequently, my morning rise hour changed. 8am soon became 7am. 7am became 6am. Coffee was my new BFF. On the night side, 11pm soon became, 10pm. 10pm became 9pm, then 9pm got to 8pm! Whoa, mama! Now getting up at 5am was a walk in the park.
Part of the decision to rise earlier was inspired by some of the most successful people on the planet's dedication to starting their mornings before the rest of the world did. And for a while, 5:00am was my golden hour - I was pumped to go hard with rigor each day. The sun was still set. The mornings were tranquil. The inbox onslaught took a nap. I could marinate in the creative vortex and start my work with laser-sharp focus. Yet there was still a missing puzzle piece that made for an incomplete morning transformation.
I was missing That Express Workout.
Spending an hour at the gym in the middle of the day was very inconvenient for me. You've got to halt the project you're working on, throw on your workout gear, drive to the gym, do the workout, plow down a protein shake, shower and refresh, then get back into the flow of whatever you were doing before. It broke up my workflow too much. And in the evenings, you want to crash and relax, plus that's when everyone else is there and that's no fun. Something needed to change - I needed to fit this into a different area of my schedule.
Epiphany! Why not plug an express workout in first thing every morning? Exercising was always something I liked, but never got around to as much as I wanted, so it was like a chore for a while. If I could do it first thing in the morning, the advantages would be substantial. Gym was less crowded. Streets had less traffic. Workflow was better because I got my workout done before I even began producing content. 30-minute workouts became more concentrated versions of the 1-hour ones. My mornings would be jolted with energy allowing for longer-lasting peak performances, the list goes on.
Since I have membership to a gym that has a 24-hour location, I could go whenever I wanted - so I chose 4:30am as the hour I'd aim to be there. This means, getting up by 4:00am is ideal, so that I can have time to snooze a little and get clear-headed before leaving out. I get a nice 30-minute workout in, a shower and then breakfast - hey, I'm well into my workflow by 6am, baby! And most gyms these days open at 5am, so this regime can work for you too. It just requires discipline and determination.
You can't achieve anything extraordinary by doing things under an ordinary lens.
5am is a fantastic waking hour for a lot of athletes and creatives, but I had to go one step further to unlock a heightened awareness and focus. To be sharper and realize a new potential previously uncharted - I had to make 4am the new 5am.
I invite you to join the crusade. Up for the challenge?