How Setting an Earlier Alarm Changed My Life

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I wake up when I hear a dog barking and the sun shining too bright into my bedroom windows.

I’m so angry at this dog. Why won’t someone shut this dog up?

Oh, it’s my dog.

Ugh, I feel so tired still. I’m going back to sleep.

Twenty minutes later ...

Would someone please shut that dog up?

Where’s my phone? I need to check my Facebook. Oh look, there’s what mom is having for breakfast. Looks good. Here's a news story I care nothing about. I’ll read it.

I’m so tired.

Twenty minutes later ...

I’m so tired. I probably should get up. But I wonder what is new on Twitter? I’ll just check.

Ugh, I’m so tired. I'll drag myself out of bed now.

Related: 5 Things You're Doing Wrong Every Morning

Twenty minutes later ...

Alright, I’m up. But not really awake. 

The myth of the morning person

I told everyone for years, “I’m not a morning person,” and I believe my hatred of the alarm clock was one of the primary reasons I became an entrepreneur.

I just wanted to sleep in.

My theory was simple: buy enough rental properties to produce more income than I needed to live, and I wouldn’t need to wake up early. I could sleep in and wake up on my own, every day, refreshed.

Does this sound familiar?

However, there is a lie embedded in that belief system. Waking up without an alarm does not equal “refreshed.”

Instead, the story usually looks more like the one at the beginning of this post. For years, I refused to use an alarm clock and valued the “freedom” I had to wake up whenever I wished. I was an entrepreneur and I could do what I wanted!

This all changed when I read The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM) by Hal Elrod. As you might expect from the title, the book focuses on the power that waking up early can have on your life.

This simple book challenged how I thought about mornings and after reading it, I thought, “What the heck, I’ll give it a try.”

I set my alarm for 5:30 a.m. and went to bed.

My first early morning

My eyes snapped open with the sound of the alarm and before I knew it, I was standing up. But something even more incredible was taking place: I was smiling.

Sure, I was tired, I’m not going to lie. My body had not quite adjusted to the time change, but within minutes (as compared to an hour or more in the past), I was wide awake and starting my “miracle morning” routine, which involved reading, prayer/meditation, and light exercise with a healthy dose of good, old fashioned peace and quiet.

Related: 12 Things Successful People Do Before Breakfast

After this, I got to work on one of my many online entrepreneurial business ideas that I’ve been thinking about for years but never taken action on. I spent the next two hours coding and was completely “in the zone.”

The project was finally taking shape!

By 8:30 a.m. (the time I usually ended up rolling out of bed), I had read several chapters of a good business book, listened to part of a podcast, spent time in prayer, done some P90X Yoga, and worked on a side-project that I’d been “too busy” to work on for years.

I knew after the first day my life would never be the same.

Even my work with BiggerPockets during the rest of the day went more smoothly than normal and I accomplished significantly more than other days. 

In the three weeks since I started my early morning routine, I haven’t missed a day yet. I’ve read more in this time than at almost any other time of my life. I’ve consistently worked out, something I’ve struggled with for years. I’m moving my side-projects forward at a considerable pace, and I’ve grown in almost every aspect of my life -- personally, professionally, entrepreneurially.

And I’m happier than I’ve been in a long time.

Most mornings I wake up with the same energy as the mornings I wake up before a big vacation: excited, hopeful and rested.

For me, the key to waking up this way has been this: Mindset is everything. When I assumed I would wake up tired, I would. When I changed how I thought about waking up, it all changed for me.

Freedom through the alarm clock

You may be an entrepreneur and feel entitled to sleep in. And I’m sure you have that right.

However, I hope you’ll come to understand what I’ve discovered: An alarm clock is not slavery, but freedom. It will set you free to take your business, your mind and your life to places you never dreamed, faster than you ever thought possible.

So stop looking at your alarm clock as the enemy and start looking at it as your closest ally.

Do you have anything to add to this conversation? Or do you have any tips for others on waking up early? Share your comments below!