The way you start your day, powerfully shapes how productively you’ll live it.
This post will be very closely linked to The Journey II. I’ll speak about the importance of waking up early and how a powerful morning routine can help you make everyday, legendary! As previously mentioned, this will discuss a lot of The 5 AM Club (5AC) by Robin Sharma, so it’ll be similar to a book review.
Essentially I’ll discuss the values I’ve found most useful and how it has truly helped me amplify my days. Through asking questions about why we should wake up early, then answering them by discussing the benefits, I’ll hopefully convince you to wake up earlier. Keep in mind that there’s no such thing as a ‘morning person’, you are what you do repeatedly.
Before I dive into the routine on how we can make the most of our day, I’ll talk about some of the wisdom I’ve learnt from the story in the 5AC.
Give more, take less. There’s just something profound about being generous or charitable, whereby the more you give the more you get. I’ve genuinely become a firm believer of that (a key pillar of Islam is to be charitable), and it’s emphasized quite a lot here. From my own experience, giving to those who are less fortunate or just being generous to those around you, instills gratitude.
When you’re grateful and content, you’re no longer chasing accumulation or greed. This is something I’m extremely thankful to my parents for, they’re genuinely the kindest people in my life. I know gratitude is repeated a lot in my posts, but there’s no doubt it’s one of the most important values to me.
Another piece of wisdom is being relentless in your dedication. The moment you feel like giving up and calling it quits, is the moment you should try your best to stay put and push forward. This teaches something called grit; that the ability to persevere and work hard outweighs talent. [Grit by Angela Duckworth is an incredible read for those interested in resilience and passion]
“The soreness of growth is so much less expensive, than the devastating costs of regret.”
The final point, is to just acknowledge that there’s more than just mindset to focus on. There are 4 interior empires to balance for success and fulfillment, which sort of relates to The Journey V. They are:
I won’t go into too much detail since I’ve already discussed it previously, but keep in mind that, starting your day by working on each of those components is key to having a legendary day, everyday.
Mindset would revolve around your self-talk and pyschology. Heartset is having the ability to be forgiving and compassionate to the world around you, as well as dealing with the traumas and heartbreaks of your past.
Healthset is ensuring you exercise sufficiently and stay in optimum health. Finally, soulset is about your ability to cultivate your character. Your authenticity, bravery and courage, what you stand for. So these are the four interior empires that we need to focus on each and everyday for longevity and fulfillment.
Let’s start with why? Why should we wake up at 5 am everyday?
1- Okay I’ll first start with something simple; it enhances the state of ‘flow‘. This can be considered the peak mental state where our perceptions become heightened, our originality increases and we’re able to access new levels of processing power. For me, this state is most easily accessed when I play soccer for example. It’s when you enjoy doing something so much (albeit challenging), that you forget about everything else, lose track of time and find an optimal way to focus.
2- Another simple reason would be to obtain a Gargantuan Competitive Advantage (GCA). Just think about all that you can achieve if you’re up before everyone else. I’ve been feeling like I’ve lived multiple days in one since waking up at 5 am. How does this give me a GCA? Well because I have time to focus on finding clarity within myself, before rushing and diving into the chaos & compulsion of daily life. Waking up at such an early point of the day, allows you to sit in stillness with yourself, plan for the day, focus on your core values and overall prepare before everyone else.
3- In case you still need another reason, it develops your willpower. We need to truly understand that willpower can be developed, like a skill, through relentless practice. Which is why I believe there’s no such thing as a morning person. The more you fight the urge to stay in bed, and get up at 5, the more you stretch the willpower muscle. This in turn, makes it easier for you to increase your self-control, and once the habit is formed, it becomes second nature. (Remember how I keep talking about cold showers? This is another reason why.)
“Consistency is the DNA of all mastery.”
General theory of self-discipline: To regularly do what is hard but important, when it feels most uncomfortable, is how warriors are born.
These are just some of the reasons why I think it’s absolutely critical to wake up at 5 am, let’s dive into how we can actually structure the morning to make the most of those early hours.
The 20/20/20 formula
- Move (Intense exercise)
- Reflect (Pray/journal/meditate)
- Grow (Read/listen to audio-books)
This technique is essentially the way to kick-start your day, by structuring the glory hour (first hour of your day) into 3 x 20 minute slots. For the first 20 minute slot, build up a sweat. Exercising releases brain-derived neurotrophic factors (BDNF), which is a protein responsible for growing neural connections. It essentially helps build the brain circuits, which allow hormones such as dopamine and serotonin to travel. Basically, the more BDNF in the brain, the better.
The hormone cortisol (which is responsible for stress), is also highest after you wake up. Therefore, starting your day off with exercise not only helps strengthen your neural connections, but also aids in releasing endorphins and other feel-good chemicals which help reduce cortisol.
The second slot should be used to reflect. Reflection in the sense of identifying your values, your core characteristics & your WHY. It’s also a great time to be thankful and to pray, as this develops contentment and happiness throughout the day. Meditating can also be done, focusing on the present moment and clearing your thoughts out early off in the morning.
Another thing to do would be to plan the day and visualize how you’d like the day to go. Journalling as I love to recommend, is perfect for this slot too, and you can check out the post I’ve already written on how to journal.
There a lot of things we can do during this period of reflection and I often spend more than 20 minutes on it. The point is to take this formula and maneuver around it, however you seem fit. It also doesn’t have to specifically start at 5 am, start slow at the hour you usually wake up and then work your way down.
Slow consistent steps, yield staggering results.
The final slot of the glory hour should be used to grow. The point here is to learn and gain knowledge. This time can be spent reading a book, listening to podcasts / motivational audios, or even reviewing your goals. This adds another aspect to the GCA, considering you’ll be progressing in some form each and everyday.
It’s also imperative to stay away from your phone during the first hour of your day, to avoid unnecessary distraction and stress. The next point will be discussing how to actually implement this habit.
The benefits of the glory hour are as follows can be seen the info-graphic below.
The habit installation protocol
The diagram below illustrates how the automaticity point of habits are formed. The first 22 days is called the destruction phase. This is essentially the phase in which an old habit must be destroyed to allow space for the new habit.
Remember: habits can’t be erased they can only be replaced.
The second 22 days is called the installation (or confusion) stage, this is where the habit is starting to settle in. This phase is also quite confusing because it’s still difficult to keep up with the habit and the urge to quite becomes stronger than ever. It’s critical to push past the mental challenge and keep going forward, as this builds on grit.
The final stage is called the integration phase. This is when things slowly start to make sense and the routine approaches automaticity. After 66 days (of continuous discomfort and resilience), the habit would’ve become second nature and comfortable.
It’s highly recommended, to keep at any habit you truly wish to incorporate into your life, for at least 66 days before calling it quits. This at least gives you the opportunity to truly see whether you’re capable of the change or not.
“All change is hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end.”
“First you create your habits, then your habits create you.”
Once a habit is established, what next? Start with the next habit and keep growing! I’ll move onto the Islamic perspective for this habit.
Once again, there’s always an Islamic benefit to the habits I try to install. Waking up at predawn to pray Tahajjud before Fajr (the compulsory morning prayer), is an absolute game changer. Starting your day off with remembering God and being thankful, allows for you to experience a fulfilling and gratifying day.
It has been stated in many aHadith, that the rewards of praying at the earliest hours of the morning (or final third of the night) is especially significant. Specifically because you need to be in a state of Wudhoo (ablution), therefore it requires you to cleanse yourself. You would also need to pick yourself out of bed at a very difficult time, which is very rewarding. This results in piety and God-consciousness (Taqwa), which also leads to more discipline.
“Be vigilant in standing up [in prayer] at night, for it was the practice of the pious before you. It is a means of gaining proximity to Allah Ta’ala, expiation for transgressions and a barrier from sins.” (Tirmidhi)
I’ve hopefully managed to convince you after this lengthy discussion & the previous post, to take your sleeping and waking patterns more seriously. Some of the key takings from this post are: To give more and take less. Remember that joining the 5AC gives you a GCA, allows you to enter the state of flow more readily and teaches you grit.
The four interior empires need to be worked on each and everyday; your mindset, heartset, healthset & soulset. The 20/20/20 formula includes moving, reflecting and growing. That the habit installation protocol requires at least 66 days before automaticity. And finally, to understand that there’s an islamic benefit for waking up early to pray and remembering God, which has incredible rewards.
I’ll leave you with my favourite quote from the book:
Own your morning, Elevate your life!