I’d like to clarify something before we dive in. This is not your standard, “5 Things Successful People Do in the Morning,” Forbes article. I say this right away for two reasons:
The desire to become a morning person (and write about it) came from a place of frustration with this busyness trend and a need to build more “Allie-ness” back into my life. In what could arguably be categorized as a quarter-life crisis, I started to take stock of how I was spending the hours that made up my life.
Snooze button. Snooze button. Snooze button. Wake up. Shower. Rush out the door. Work, work, work some more. Dinner. Netflix. Check Email. Bed. Repeat.
The exercise told me a couple of things: (1) I was giving every ounce of energy to work, succumbing to mental exhaustion, my couch and Netflix at the end of the day: (2) The mundaneness of my daily routine felt like it was sucking the personality out of me. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. My job brings me a certain kind of joy. But it’s a joy that comes from contributing to something bigger than myself. The hours I spend towards my career are hours I give to others – to my boss, my team and my clients. What I was missing were hours in the day dedicated to the things that made me, me.
Our beloved Forbes article would kick this section off with a commentary on productivity. It would cite big celebrity names to ignite aspiration. It would mask workaholism with things that seem geared towards wellness – meditation, exercise, digital detox – but all positioned as tips to enhance work performance. To avoid falling into this trap, I thought back to a time in my life when I felt most powerfully myself.
Immediately, I had a visual of it. Senior year of college. Striding across campus on an apple-crisp fall day. Vampire Weekend on my headphones. Too many books in my backpack. Ponytail swinging. With that version of myself in mind, I listed out how I was spending my free time during that year of my life. I was running a lot. I was reading, writing and listening to new music. I was continuously learning. That list, that vision of my happy, confident self, became the motivation for changing my morning ritual, not getting ahead at work.
Motivation was probably the easiest piece to tackle in my quest to becoming a morning person. I knew from the start that I wanted to approach it differently, but there was still the issue of actually getting my lazy, sleepy ass out of bed at 6am with no one to hold me accountable. Which is why I found ways to create accountability in the form of a schedule. Because regular exercise was on my happy-self motivation list, I forced myself to go to a morning yoga class. It gave me a specific time and place to be, allowing my body’s internal clock to warm up to the idea of becoming a morning person.
The first couple weeks of the quest were pretty hellish. I found that my dysfunctional dependency on the snooze button ran much deeper than I expected. If I made it to my mat, I felt great. But somehow that 30 minute post-yoga-class-high wasn’t enough motivation to kick my bad morning habits. I was treating this new morning routine like another item on productivity to-do list, adding another element of stress to my life.
To correct, I painted a picture of what my most indulgent morning looked like. Yes, it included a workout. But it also included making coffee, reading, listening to music and eating a chocolate croissant every once in a while. More importantly, my most indulgent morning included plenty of time for me to enjoy those things, not rush through them in order to get to the next item on my to-do list.
It wasn’t until day 15 that I really began to hit my stride. By carving out a loose schedule of favorite things and giving myself time to actually enjoy them, I started to look forward to getting out of bed. My 6am alarm felt more like a choice than an obligation. At the same time, 30 days later, I’m still not a morning person. Sometimes extra sleep is the indulgent morning routine my mind and body needs. There are at least one or two (sometimes three) days of the week when I allow myself to be my lazy, sleepy self. It feels glorious. But so does starting my day at sunrise, watching my Chemex slow drip coffee to the tunes of Chet Baker while finishing up the last chapter of the book I’ve been meaning to read for years.
Illustration by Kate Worum
Allie is a Minneapolis-based digital marketer, lucky enough to make a living by hanging out with really smart people and coming up with disruptive, technology driven ideas at Space150. Her passions include traveling, coffee, books, feminism, obsessing over the dog she just saw on the street corner and trying not to blush at inconvenient moments.
Photo by Anastasia Galka Photograhy
BY Allie Arends - April 19, 2017
Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.