Do you hate to get up in the morning? Do you hit the snooze button, roll out slowly and dread facing the day?
That used to be me. I used to joke that getting up was the hardest part of my day. I groaned when I heard the alarm and ignored it for as long as possible. When I finally stumbled to my feet, I downed some coffee and then relied on water from the shower hitting my face to bring me to consciousness. I was lethargic and slow. I wanted to curl up back in bed, pull the covers up, and go back to oblivion.
That was how my day began for decades of my life.
Now I wake up around six o’clock without an alarm clock. I feel energized and ready to go. I still drink my morning java, but the lethargy is gone. This behavior is so unlike me that I started to question it.
What changed? Why is getting up so much easier for me now?
I realized that there are important things I am getting in my life now that were once missing. Here are things I think we all need in order to make our days worth getting up for:
We need something that brings us joy.
What makes you happy? What makes you laugh? What do you love to do more than anything else in the world? We all need something joyful to look forward to everyday. For far too long I ignored joy in favor of my nemesis: Getting Things Done. Now, I still accomplish a lot, but I do it in a way that allows joy.
I build joy into every day. It happens in small, barely perceivable ways, but ways that make a huge difference. I look forward to my first half hour of the day. I drink good coffee. I love the smell and I actually pay attention to the taste. While I have my coffee I read, which is my favorite thing to do. Most of my reading is informational, and learning is another one of my joys. Within the first thirty minutes of my day, I have done three joyous things.
Your joys are likely different from mine. Maybe you like to be outside, so you plan a daily walk. Maybe you love to work out, or spend time on a hobby. Build it into every single day. If I had known the power of this idea in the past, I would have gotten up a half an hour earlier in order to make sure that I put something that brings me joy into every single morning. I learned this by accident, but you can apply it now.
We need something that offers a challenge.
Our brains love a challenge. This is not necessarily a deep struggle, but something that intrigues us. Think of a puzzle or game that you keep working at until you figure it out. It is fun to master something that challenges us. We love a challenge that is not too difficult and not too easy, but something we know we can accomplish with effort.
In creating my own business, there have been many challenges. I need to learn how to use technology and understand technological systems and tools that I didn’t even know existed a few years ago. At first I was confused and frustrated, but I soon learned that there are tutorials for everything. I found fulfillment in figuring things out.
There is something called “The Winner’s Effect”, which shows that winning at a challenge increases the dopamine receptors in our brains, which makes us smarter and more bold. That increases our confidence.
Too much mundane, boring routine is like weeks of cloudy, rainy weather. We long for the sun, which gives us a spark of energy. Accomplishing a challenging task gives us energy and confidence. Who doesn’t want to get up in the morning if you have energy and confidence?
We need new experiences.
We need new experiences to wake up our senses and make us feel alive. Novel experiences also increase the dopamine in our brains. Dopamine motivates us and fuels engagement. Fortunately, there are many ways to experience something new.
New experiences don’t have to be huge or involve expensive travel, though travel is a great way to have new experiences. Yesterday I had a great conversation with an elderly gentleman I met at the pool. He was also a former professor who started his own business. The conversation gave me some new things to think about.
Having a conversation with someone new is one way to have a new experience. You could also try cooking a new recipe or trying a new restaurant. You could change the route you drive to work, or rearrange your furniture. You can join a different committee or try working in a different space. Try rearranging the order in which you do your tasks.
Having new experiences keeps things fresh and interesting. Boredom is the enemy of productivity. Why would you be excited to get up to face another boring day?
It is possible to build a life that you want to be present for, one that makes you greet the day with energy and enthusiasm. If you have good things to look forward to, things that are joyous and bring you challenges and new experiences, getting up is a whole lot easier.
I look forward to every day. What about you? Do you get up easily or drag yourself out of bed? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Maybe I’ll see you at 6:00 A.M.