It All Begins at 4AM!

March 08, 2016

It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom.” – Aristotle

Plenty of successful moms, dads, entrepreneurs and athletes wake up early.   Early morning wake-up can result in sleeping better and in many cases healthier and happier lives according to a multitude of studies. Sleep is important but I have never met a “ successful” entrepreneur (key difference: successful entrepreneurs making things happen while generating returns& freedom vs. a want-a-be dreaming entrepreneur) who does not know how to work extremely hard for results.

4AM requires some sacrifice – real sacrifice! If you are considering jumping into the world of entrepreneurism, as it’s always the topic of the day. The number one thing you must be willing to do is sacrifice other things to be successful. We all define success many different ways, but sacrifice will always be part of the process.

There are plenty of examples of leaders waking up early:  Margaret Thatcher, Frank Lloyd Wright, Robert Iger, and the first lady – Michelle Obama – 4AM, that’s what they tell us. Mark Wahlberg’s is the king of early morning. His routine is waking up at 2:30AM for intense 2-hour basketball sessions to start his day. His bedtime routine is the same 8PM, after some evening exercise.

Famous writers such as Ernest Hemingway & Haruki Murakami planned their days before light with intensive writing for 4-6 hours.IMG_5147

If you are an entrepreneur or writer – getting up before the sun sets the stage of the “calm before the storm”. There are no emails, phone calls, deadlines that must be done.

Personal experiment – Being curious, I wondered what impact could this extra early timeframe have on my day with respect to productivity,

What would happen by getting up an extra hour earlier – my normal awake time routine was 5:30AM. Beginning February 2016 the goal was to get up every day at 4AM

10 Keys early morning “disruption” plan:

  1. Actually, it was not that difficult and after a week my body clock adjusted without an alarm.
  2. I immediately consumed 32 oz. of ice water vs. only drinking 15-20 oz. This simple item significantly stimulated better focus mindfulness sessions and then problem solving.
  3. It’s very difficult to stay up past 9PM for evening functions. Whenever, an evening event lasted later than 9PM, I was clearly tired in the morning and it took a while to jump start the day.
  4. I consumed protein (grilled chicken, pork or grass fed beef and lentil salad) very early prior to my morning workout – this was a big change, as I normally would eat only after the workout. The result was a noticeable and measurable improvement to energy during the first 20 minutes of the workout – not sluggish and the warm-up phase actually shortened.
  5. My typical workday as a business owner – during tax season is typically a 12-13 hour work days 7 days a week – clearly the impact of getting the day going at 4AM offered time for not missing a mindfulness session and cleared focus for the day.
  6. Real (no B.S.) business results through the month increased about 35% and the main reason was not waking up with a “rushed” feeling. I noticed that the panic, cancel a meeting, conference call, etc. did not happen as the day was planned right from the start.
  7. This extra hour of time guaranteed that all workouts would be completed for the day. High intensity workouts were clearly easier – even in the early morning hours.  No rushing to get in the evening workout.
  8. Two book projects – content increased 25% per week – measured by words written per week.
  9. Sleep quality clearly improved and it was difficult to drink alcohol before bed. For the month, I tracked 5 days of being “tired” in the morning  – those were the days with evening alcohol at business functions.
  10. I learned to say the words “NO” quite often vs. the typical “YES” all the time, intentional focus was the result.

There is magic at 4AM.  However, it does require sacrifice and friends and family might not like why you are being the “party pooper”. Balance of course, but it’s worth attempting the experiment to fine-tune your best morning time.

Note: This is a great TED talk about the significance of 4am:

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Tags: accountability, author, business coach, business strategy, CEO, CGO Articles, executive, mentor, personal development

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