Some mornings, more so than others, we may find it more difficult to start the day. That warm, cosy feeling we get from staying under the covers may feel satisfying in the moment, but how does it feel later in the day, facing back to back meetings and feeling as if you are chasing your tail all day to catch up.
This morning was one of those mornings where I have to admit to feeling ungrateful, tired and generally unwilling to move.
Recently, I overhauled my morning routine, switching from waking up an hour before my first meeting to starting my day at 4:44am each day.
To some of you, this may seem insane.
“You have the freedom to work any hours you want, why would you wake up so early?”
And it is for that very reason that I choose to.
If I have the power over my own schedule, I can maximise it. Does this mean working more?
Surprisingly, I am able to work fewer hours having achieved a much deeper focus in the mornings, owning my morning before others start to claim my time. In fact, I’ve leveraged this time so well that I’ve been able to add this daily post to the tasks I have ticked off by 7am.
Not to mention the beauty of the automation I’ve spent the last 3 years building.
Of course, to arrive at 10am feeling way ahead of the day feels amazing, but does that inspire me to move from a cosy bed?
Not at all!
Like any rational human, I couldn’t care less about how well my daily post turns out as the alarm buzzes in the dark. But, as the routine takes hold and my morning happens on autopilot, by the time I’m aware I’m even awake, I’ve already written three pages and am an hour into my reading for the morning.
And it all came about after reading this famous passage from ‘Meditiations’ by Marcus Aurelius, where he essentially scolds himself for not wanting to get out of bed.
Yes, you read that right, the most infamous Roman Emperor in history, the last of the rulers known as The 5 Good Emperors, didn’t like getting up either.
“At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself: “I have to go to work — as a human being. What do I have to complain of, if I’m going to do what I was born for — the things I was brought into the world to do? Or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm?”
— But it’s nicer in here…
So you were born to feel “nice”? Instead of doing things and experiencing them? Don’t you see the plants, the birds, the ants and spiders and bees going about their individual tasks, putting the world in order, as best they can? And you’re not willing to do your job as a human being? Why aren’t you running to do what your nature demands?
— But we have to sleep sometime…
Agreed. But nature set a limit on that — as it did on eating and drinking. And you’re over the limit. You’ve had more than enough of that. But not of working. There you’re still below your quota.
You don’t love yourself enough. Or you’d love your nature too, and what it demands of you. People who love what they do wear themselves down doing it, they even forget to wash or eat. Do you have less respect for your own nature than the engraver does for engraving, the dancer for the dance, the miser for money or the social climber for status? When they’re really possessed by what they do, they’d rather stop eating and sleeping than give up practicing their arts.
Is helping others less valuable to you? Not worth your effort?”
So, today I ask you:
To what service are you committed? Who do you want to help? What purpose or mission drives you?
Is this a big enough purpose to drive you out of your warm bed? Is it the kind of task that when you are not doing it, it’s all you wish to be doing? Do you lose time in it?
I’d love to hear your purpose and your thoughts on morning routines in general in the comments below.