Let’s say you have firmly decided that you want to learn to become an early bird once and for all. Now what? Do you think you need huge willpower to accomplish this goal? I thought so before, but I changed my mind. My desire to change my habits caused me to search for different approaches and find which ones work, and which – don’t. I have been trying to rely mainly on willpower to make myself get up early. Didn’t work out so well! Until I found a technique on Steve Pavlina’s blog, that really worked for me. I hope this will work for you, too. The only things you need are determination, persistence, consistency, and a bit of open-mindedness.
But… enough bla-bla-bla, let’s get to business!
- Take note of the time you usually get up in the morning. Don’t be ashamed of the figure! Now, when I say “get up” I mean “get up”, not “wake up”. Waking up is not so difficult. A blasting and annoying alarm is usually enough to make us open our eyes, start swearing in our minds (or even out loud :D), push the snooze and go back to Morpheus! Such a lovely habit, isn’t it? We suddenly develop a strong magnetic attraction and deep affection to the bed! Early in the morning there was nothing and no one that I loved more than my pillow aaand the blanket!
- Prepare the subconscious mind! If you remember the article about habits, I briefly explained the difference between using the conscious mind and the sub-consciousness. If we try to use only the willpower, we lose energy and we cannot sustain the activity we are aiming for. That’s why we delegate to the sub-conscious mind where habits are formed in order to save us energy. That’s why using solely willpower to get up early usually fails. To do this we need to turn to one of the most famous dogs in the world! Lassie?! Oh, I totally forgot about her! No, it’s Pavlov’s dog! That dog is the real example that you CAN teach an old dog new tricks! Pavlov made a conditioned reflex in the canine’s body – every time he fed the dog he switched on a lamp. In time just the act of switching the lamp on, made the dog salivate – its mind already new that food was coming! That’s what we are going to do here!
- The method – during the day when you are at home start preparing yourself as if you are going to sleep. Lie on the bed, if you want to make it even more realistic, put on your PJs and set a timer to ring after some time. You decide how much time, it’s not important. You can put the timer somewhere distant beyond your reach. Now, relax, close your eyes and try to calm your mind and body. You don’t have to fall asleep. The moment the alarm starts to ring, get up immediately. Repeat throughout the day whenever you have time – at least 3 times a day. This practice builds the conditional reflex in the body and sub-consciousness. We give instructions: “alarm-> get up immediately; alarm-> get up immediately; alarm-> get up immediately”.
- Try it out now – as soon as you make the decision to get up early, start practicing the technique described above. Next, try it out the very next morning. A word of caution: if the desired getting up time is very distant to your current time, try to make small steps rather than a big jump. It is absolutely doable, but during the day you might feel dizzy, sleepy, unfocused, and even grumpy. Set your alarm for 15 min earlier than usual. If this feels like too much, set it for 5 min and build on that. When you start to feel confident and the new routine starts to stick, change the time even earlier, and so on.
- Be consistent – every new habit needs time to settle in our sub-consciousness. So, one of the main conditions to make this work is to be consistent. This means being committed and repeating the new habit every day for at least 30 days – work days, weekends, holidays. Everybody is different – some may need 21 days for a new habit to stick, some may need a longer period, but 30 consecutive days is the required minimum. Why 30? I will leave this for another time.
Till then, I want to hear (read) your success stories!
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