If you’ve been in business for any length of time, you’ve definitely been exposed to the success strategy of getting up early to get a jump-start on your day. Noted by many leadership experts as becoming part of the 5:00 AM club, rising with the birds has been touted as the ideal time to get organized so to set yourself up for a highly productive, proactive day.
Like many of my colleagues, I understood the logic of waking up early but because I was never sure of how to best use that time I had never done it with any consistency nor experienced much benefit from doing so – and so I didn’t. During my annual reflection time at the end of 2012, I realized that while I was an expert at setting goals, I wasn’t quite as strong at consistently holding myself accountable to the accomplishment of them. Wanting to make 2013 an amazing breakthrough year, I considered what could I do to daily keep myself on track and began to research how the world’s top thought leaders start their day.
Within a few weeks I had found my answer in an audio interview between Robin Sharma and Darren Hardy published in SUCCESS magazine discussing what it means to make the first hour of my day your ultimate “power” hour. Although I list these practices in the order (and with the time allotment) that I have found works best for me, please know that these can be done in any sequence (and in any amount of time) – the important thing is that you consistently do them.
1. Read and take notes from an inspirational book (20 minutes). Before you check your email or even look at your phone, pick up your notepad, open a book and kick-start your day with some awesome personal development. Make the first thoughts of your day empowering, uplifting thoughts… CNN can wait.
2. Reflect on your notes (10 minutes). So much of the time we spend learning is wasted because we never do anything with the information. In this short time slot, look at your notes and write out some simple plans for how you can implement these ideas to improve your life.
3. Count your blessings (5 minutes). Jot down 5-10 things that happened the day before that you’re grateful for. Take a minute to feel the warmth of gratitude that goes with these things and say a silent thank-you.
4. Read your affirmations aloud and visualize yourself living your dream life (15 minutes). It’s not enough to silently read your affirmations, you have to say them. As you’re doing so, take the time to visualize what you’re saying, don’t just rush through the list. Make these declarations meaningful; really get into the emotion of what you’re saying to yourself.
5. Write out your goals (2 minutes). According to expert Brian Tracy, the key to goal accomplishment is the habit of writing your goals down every day. Write them in the form of “I’m so happy and grateful now that… (insert your goal here as if it has already been achieved).”
6. Create and schedule your “Daily Five” (8 minutes). What are the five small steps you can take today to move you closer to accomplishing the goals you listed above? Identify one task per goal and then go ahead and schedule them into your day. The entire success of your power-hour comes down to this last step – if it’s not scheduled it will not get done. If necessary, shuffle your schedule around to be sure that you get these “daily five” in. Your success is counting on it!
There you have it, the secret formula for setting yourself up for a spectacular day. Making the decision to wake up one hour earlier is like so many of the other things it takes to become successful, easy to do but definitely easier not to do. The 5:00 AM club is waiting. Will you join us?
– Natasha Golinsky is the founder of Next Level Nonprofits – an online training company dedicated to equipping new nonprofit Executive Directors with the skills and support they need to enjoy successful, sustainable and satisfying careers. You can get in touch with her on LinkedIn or on her blog.