Why I Stopped Trying to Hack My Morning Routine3 min read

I’m a well paid, young professional, fitness freak with a million hobbies and an entrepreneurial side gig. All the highly successful people I’m supposed to be emulating, all the self help blog posts, all the cliches say I should be so hugely focused and productive that I should be up at the crack of dawn day after day ready to hit the ground running and conquer the world.

The anecdotes are endless, didn’t you know Arnold Schwarzenager only sleeps 5 hours a night? Warren Buffet 6? Did you know that the average CEO gets up at 5am and has a 2 hour pre-work ritual?!?! Didn’t you know that successful people not only get up early, but that they love getting up early and those are their more productive hours! These myths get passed around and built up into this idea that you too can find success by simply adopting a habit of early rising. As if the relationship was causational.

Here’s the truth. Between the hours of 5am and 7am, sometime stretching to 8am, I’m a complete fucking mess. I get up everyday to take sick calls for my clinic and I fucking loathe  it. The alarm clock rings at 6am and I hate it, I hate myself and I hate my life.

Here’s another truth, there are a lot of successful people out there and plenty of them are not morning people.

I tried to make myself a morning person, I followed every stupid Lifehacker article to the T. I tried to reset my internal clock, I tried to make waking up early a positive experience, I tried to have an early productive start to my day, I tried a light up alarm clock, an iOS app that woke me during my least deep sleep, I put up blackout shades, I removed electronics from the room, I tried everything and everything failed.

Don’t get me wrong, I can get up early and I do.  I wouldn’t have gotten this far in healthcare if I couldn’t. I get to work early everyday and never miss an appointment. What I can’t do is be happy about early mornings and I’m learning to be ok with that.

I will never be a morning person, I will never find joy in getting up early, so I cope. With a little grit, strategy and planning  I’ve wrestled my early mornings into something I can endure without completely hating.

The first battle I had to wage  was with my phone. The nature of my job requires me to check my phone first thing in the morning, I make sure that my interaction with my phone ends there. I know where that path leads (twitter, facebook, reddit, rss feeds) and I don’t need to spend 45 minutes in bed scrolling. I check my business and put my phone down.

The next step is the hardest, I resist the urge to lay back down and instead swing my feet off the bed and stand.

The version of me that wakes up early, in the absence of some exciting non-work event, is a grumpy, angry asshole. I just have to hold on through this, so I drink some coffee and let the fog clear.

The second battle is fitness. I want to be that person who works out first thing in the morning. I love the me that gets to work with blood pumping and a tinge of sweat sneaking past my shower, but lifting in the morning is a war I’m seemingly incapable of winning. I realize this, so I simply don’t schedule my lifting sessions in the morning. Instead I focus on what I can do, cardio. A good half-hour to hour bike ride is something I can not only pull off in the morning, but is in fact something I enjoy.

If you’re like me it might be time  to stop trying to find the magic solution to making yourself a morning person. Your internal clock might just be wired differently and no blog post is going to help you rewire it. What you can do is accept that you’ll never love getting up early, but instead find ways to hate it less.

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