Listen, I know the title is probably enough to put most of you off, but hear me out.
I write articles for Generation Y with the aim of sparking conversation around the important issues in life. While getting that conversation flowing is all well and good, what we really require is action if we’re going to make an impact on the world. So as part of this ongoing theme, I want to also explore how we can initiate action and ensure we are creating that impact. If that comes off as a little self-improvementy so be it. Striving to become better is my key focus in life and I’m willing to bet there are many of you out there with the same vision. So with that said, what the hell is the 5am challenge?
The 5am Challenge: Get up every morning at 5am for 30 days.
That’s all it is. Simple in theory, yet definitely not easy in practice. Why 30 days? This is supposedly the amount of time it takes to develop a habit. I’ve done a few of these 30 day challenges now and it appears to hold true. It’s long enough to ensure you get an established routine going, yet not too long to put you off taking up the challenge to begin with. The 30 days rule is particularly relevant to this one as it takes some time for your body-clock to get adjusted to the pre-dawn starts.
I just finished up my own 5am challenge last month and plan to continue the early rising when I get back to some sort of grounded life (it’s hard to be in bed by 9pm when you’re staying in dorms..) There are a host of benefits I noticed which I’d like to share with you all..
Gives you an anchor
As a far more worthy figure to give you advice, I’ll leave this one to The Rock..
(I highly recommend you follow his Instagram if you want a little motivation each day..)
Brings Structure to Your Day
In addition to giving you an ‘edge’ over others, it also brings some sense of structure to your own day. It forces you to go to bed at a reasonable time (if you want to function the next day..) and gives you something to plan a morning routine* around.
*I would definitely recommend a morning routine for this one, something consistent for the first hour or 2 everyday. Without it, you are often left with very little to do during the early hours and end up being rather wasteful. Whether it be meditation, yoga, exercise or reading, a morning routine gives you the early momentum to get your day rolling on productively.
Gives You More Time in the Day
That’s obviously not literally true, yet it certainly feels like it. My days felt noticeably longer than if I were to get up at 9am for instance. By the time lunch rolls around, I had pretty much everything I needed to get done for the day completed, leaving the afternoon free to do what I liked.
Alternatively, if you work a 9-5, getting up at 5 gives you four hours to do whatever is most important to you. Whether it be getting in shape, learning a new skill or simply walking the dog, it’s much more effective to get these done early while you’re completely fresh.
The other factor in getting up so early; there are far fewer distractions. You’re not going to be getting emails or phone calls, leaving you completely free to focus on the most important tasks. Virign founder Richard Branson highlights this point; “Getting up and at it early gives me time to get on top of things, and chart my day effectively… These early hours give me the opportunity to start each day with a fresh and organised slate.”
Similar to the Cold Shower Challenge I recently did, getting up at 5am on those dark, cold mornings brings about a sense of discipline that lasts through the remainder of the day. You are your habits as many a self-help guru will tell you, one of the few preachings that actually holds true. By getting up when you really don’t want to, you are signalling to yourself that you are in fact, a disciplined person. You are developing willpower every time you give up the soft, cozy comforts of bed for the cold, harsh realities of life.. It just seems to make other tasks throughout your day that little bit easier..
Puts You in Elite Company
Besides the legend that is The Rock, scores of mega-successful individuals rise before the rest of the world awakens. In fact, I would go as far as to say most of them do. Apple CEO Tim Cook, Richard Branson, Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz, basketball legend Kobe Bryant and historical figures Bejamin Franklin and Napoleon are a few who not only get up early, but tout the importance of that early rise as a factor in their success. Just as with the ‘edge’ Dwayne Johnson talks about in his Instagram post, there’s a psychological advantage to knowing you’re up and about before everyone else. You’re giving yourself a head-start.
So set your alarm and reap the rewards. If you’re struggling, here’s a few tips to get the 5am challenge rolling.