The holidays are here which means 2021 is just around the corner. And it’s about time! Universal sighs of relief all around. But as you enter the home stretch, with its hectic whirlwind of seasonal activities, what can you do right now to position yourself for success in this final month of 2020 and into the New Year?
Well, for starters…you can join the 5AM Club.
This ritual was introduced to the zeitgeist by author and motivational leader Robin Sharma in his 2018 book titled The 5AM Club: Own Your Morning. Elevate Your Life. It’s simple in theory, but effective and transformational in practice. Not to mention, all that’s required is—you guessed it—a 5AM alarm.
When you’re awake at this time each morning, Sharma points out, you have an extra hour to allocate toward the pursuit of your goals. He recommends that you segment this hour into three 20-minute chunks: the first for exercise, the second for planning, and the third for creativity or skill enrichment.
The result is an undisturbed block of time to concentrate on the objectives and intentions you want to accomplish—whether that’s training for a marathon, learning the ukulele, starting a daily journal, becoming SEO-certified, teaching yourself Arabic, practicing meditation, or anything else in between. Not only does this reinforce goal orientation, but it can also stimulate energy, increase motivation, sharpen focus and enhance productivity in all hours of the day.
Sounds interesting—but does this actually work?
Data-backed research strengthens the case for this 5AM Club too. For instance, based on a poll of business executives, 90 percent wake before 6:00, and another survey found that 50 percent of self-made millionaires wake at least three hours before the start of a workday. In fact, some of the world’s most successful figures attribute their immense bandwidth to an early rise time—think: Oprah Winfrey, Bob Iger, Michelle Obama, Dwayne Johnson and Arianna Huffington, just to name a few.
Now before you tune out from this discussion because you’ll “never be a morning person,” consider this fact. You have more willpower in the morning than at any other time because your brain is refreshed from sleep, and there are less distractions to fixate on. In other words, you belong in the ranks of these 5AM Club members, and here are three basic action-steps to make it part of your existing routine. Look out, 2021…there’s a headstart on resolutions this year!
Identify a goal that’s worth the 5AM wake-up call.
In his book, Robin Sharma writes: “Life is too short to play small with your talents.” So ask yourself, What is one goal I want to pursue or skill I want to acquire that will take my personal growth to the next level? It could be something related to your career such as, Draft a business plan for that ecommerce t-shirt brand I’ve been wanting to launch. It could be something to flex your creative muscles such as, Spend more time in nature and learn how to paint a sunrise. Or it could be something to help you in the area of self-improvement such as, Keep a gratitude journal so I can start each day with appreciation, contentment and positivity. No matter which goal you choose, it needs to be motivational enough to resist the “snooze” button on your alarm.
Adjust your bedtime to maximize sleeping habits.
On average, most healthy adults require 7–9 hours of sleep each night, so if you plan to start the morning at 5AM, your normal bedtime might need some adjustments. For instance, if you’re used to rolling out of bed at 7:30, then falling asleep at midnight is no problem. But it could turn into an issue once your alarm is set for 5AM. Now instead of almost eight hours of sleep, you’re clocking in at five hours which is not enough time for the body to rest and replenish itself. So in order to maintain adequate sleeping habits and feel both sharp and alert in the morning, experiment with a new bedtime. If 10:00 sounds too early, start with 11:00, then tweak if necessary. As a baseline: if you’re too tired to concentrate or function, you’re in the sleep deprivation zone.
Start with the 20-20-20 rule, then modify over time.
As mentioned earlier, Sharma’s formula is 20 minutes for exercise, 20 minutes for planning and 20 minutes for skill enrichment. If you’re new to the 5AM Club, following this rubric exactly will make it easier to acclimate. Then as that 5AM wake-up time becomes more integral to your routine, you can customize the 20-20-20 rule based on your own unique paradigms and preferences. If you would rather exercise on your lunch break or in the evening, then occupy those first 20 minutes with a meditation sequence. If you find it more efficient to plan your schedule the night before a workday, then fill that second 20-minute block with responding to emails or listening to a podcast. Over time, allow this structure to morph into a fluid, loose guideline.
Are you familiar with the 5AM Club, and have we successfully convinced you to join it? In this season of New Year’s resolutions, there is no better time to start working towards a more productive you. So tell us about your commitments for 2021 and thoughts on the 5AM Club in the comment section below!