You have to do right thing at the right time.
While bidding goodbye to 2017, I made a commitment to make 2018 the best year so far. I wrote down huge goals, backed with super-detailed plans including all the actionable steps, routines and mindsets I needed to develop in order to be my most creative and productive self.
I started waking up at 5 am to read, write and workout — because those were the habits of the highly successful people. Everything was going well until I fell sick recently and was forced to retract my unfathomable zeal and take a breather — a breather that lasted long enough to spiral out of control, push me off the bandwagon, grab my dreams by the throat and suffocate them to death.
Gradually, I slipped into a bottomless pit of gloom and spent long hours late at night trying to crawl out of it. I tried every method to get some desperately-needed shut-eye but anxiety and overthinking ensured sleep was kept at bay. Until one day, I stopped. I stopped trying to trick myself into falling asleep. In a very cliche-corny way, I told myself, “I’m not going to waste all these hours lying in bed. This is precious time that could be put to far better use than imagining worst-case scenarios of situations that have zero probability of happening. How about we replace this mad mental labyrinth with something more substantial?”
Everything changed that night. I marvelled in ecstasy as my creativity peaked. I read more and wrote better than the last whole month combined. I woke up late in the morning, the luminous glow of artistic liberation lighting up my face. After a few days of my late-night creative endeavours, I realised there’s something about the silent solitude of night that entices the artist to bloom the art budding within.
The best of my creations were born out of these long sleepless nights. Was forcing myself to wake up early really worth missing out on these elusive muses that showed up long after the city slept?
Earlier, even I was blinded by the unceasingly rehashed advice spilling out of every self-help book, blog and video.
I spent months dreading waking up in the morning, battling against time, coming up with a multitude of excuses to justify sleeping in. Giving in to the tempting pull of the bed was always followed by an insuppressible guilt that pushed me into the realm of self-sabotage — you don’t want your goals bad enough, you can never be disciplined enough, you’re not capable of joining the league of successful people that wake up before the sun.
How you start your mornings sets the tone for how the rest of your day will follow
And this doesn’t really seem like an ideal way to start off your day. Who would want to wake up in a self-dug pit filled with negative feelings like guilt, worthlessness, regret, exhaustion and self-criticism?
Waking Up Early Has Got Nothing To Do With Success
What if you could sleep in until 11 am and still become a millionaire (if that’s what you’re aiming for)?
All these videos and books that advocate the principle of waking up early to harness your peak productive levels miss out a major flaw — Not everybody’s productivity peaks in the morning. A lot of people, including some super successful ones, are at their productive-creative best in the evenings or at night.
Surprised? Take a look at the most productive times of some of the massively successful people who are highly-recognised in their respective fields —
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wakes around 8 a.m.
Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and Space goes to bed around 1 am.
New Yorker writer and TED speaker Kathryn Schulz does her best work in the middle of the night
Former English Prime Minister Winston Churchill did not actually get out of bed until 11 a.m.
Buzzfeed CEO Jonah Peretti ‘sleeps in’ to 8:30 a.m.
Alexis Ohanian, founder of Reddit bed around 2 a.m. and tries to get up by 10 a.m.
I go to bed when my ideas are exhausted, not when I am. The early morning is overdone. If your best ideas come at night, work at night. Take sleepless nights as a sign you have something worth working on, then take those sleepless nights to work on it.” — Ross Andrew Paquette
You don’t have to wake up early to be successful. You have to find the time when your creativity peaks and schedule your artistic projects around it. There’s no point in waking up at 5 am if you work best at midnight.
Instead of expending willpower to drag yourself through the unproductive hours, try working at different times throughout the day and find those golden hours of ultimate efficiency.
Instead of focusing on waking up early, focus on getting better sleep and waking up refreshed to harness the benefits of your productive-creative phase.
One of the best ways to do that is by learning about your body’s Circadian Rhythm —
Your circadian rhythm (also known as your sleep/wake cycle or body clock) is a natural, internal system that’s designed to regulate feelings of sleepiness and wakefulness over a 24-hour period.
Source : Sleep.org
So, Is Waking Up Early Wrong?
Look, if waking up at 5 am fulfils you, brings you joy, starts off your day on a productive note, do it. If you love the feeling of being up before the dawn and getting your most important things done before the world wakes up and barges in to disturb you, wake up as early as you want to.
But if you’re more efficient at night, use those hours to work on your most important projects instead of wasting them trying to trick yourself into sleeping.
If waking up early guaranteed success,there would’ve been no need for all the self-help books, coaching programs, online courses and seminars. Everyone would just wake up early and reach the pinnacle of their potential. But life doesn’t work that way. The path toward success is not linear. There are bends and curves that throw you off the track, strategically-placed obstacles block your way and mind-bending twists and turns that push you deep into the boulevard of misery. Merely waking up at 5 am does not make these problems go away, clear away the fog to give you mental clarity and roll out the red carpet for you to walk on an elegant path lined with a bed of roses.
Find what works for you and do just that — regardless of whether it’s trending or not. Success often lies at the end of the road not taken.