14th May 2020
What Happened When I Start to Wake Up at 5am Daily for 3 Months
I am a working mother to two young adorable kids of aged 5 and 3 respectively. For those who are parents like myself, most of us have our time segregated into these three main pillars:
• Sleep; and
There is hardly any balance time for any “Me-Time” for ourselves. Even simple acts like going for a haircut and facial require advance planning within the family network to ensure that the kids are being taken care of.
This was the most compelling reason which triggered me to start this habit. Sleep is the only time that I can sacrifice to create more “Me-Time” for myself without encroaching into any of the above 3 pillars. The idea is not to do any trade-off; instead the intent is to create additional time. Being a morning person, it also made sense that I spend the extra morning hours on activities such as reading, studying and exercise which require high level of focus in an undisturbed state.
When I first embarked on this journey to develop a habit of waking up at 5am every day, there was a lot of self-doubt. I am a sleep lover and would drag my feet to wake up every morning at 7am. My alarm clock timings are usually set at 6am, 6.30am and finally 7am. The first and second alarm clock timings are fundamentally feel-good psychological effects created for myself that “Yes! There is more time and that I can sleep in!”
With that in mind, I wondered to myself, “Is waking up 2 hours earlier every day at 5am a possible feat?”, “Even if I can do it, is it possible for me to sustain over a period of 3 months?”
At that point, I was thankful to have attended Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) course. Concurrently I was indoctrinated with many motivational quotes. Finally this was the one deeply etched in my mind which gave me the final spur to give it a try.
Move out of comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something NEW. ~ Brian TRACY
I decided to take the plunge and not procrastinate further. As I reflected and looked back the past 3 months, the habit of waking up at 5am has changed my life. More specifically the additional 168 hours which literally translated into twenty-one days of 8-hours active days had enabled me to achieve the following:
Clocked 100km of running mileage (12 hours used). I had started to run on a regular basis either 5 km or 10 km each time, either once or twice to clock an average of 10 km per week. Exercise became an uncompromising big rock simply because there was certainly no more excuse not to do so due to work, kids or any other impromptu events.
Read 6 Self-Development Books (37 hours used).
Reach: A New Strategy to Help You Step Outside Your Comfort Zone, Rise to the Challenge and Build Confidence (by Andy Molinsky)
It’s Who You Know: How a Network of 12 Key People Can Fast-Track Your Success (By Janine Garner)
No Excuses!: The Power of Self-Discipline (by Brian Tracy)
The Psychology of Selling: Increase Your Sales Faster and Easier You Ever Thought (by Brian Tracy)
Think Rich, Grow Rich (by Napoleon Hills)
Who Moved My Cheese” (by Spencer Johnson) – Re-read
Passed all 8 examinations (80 hours used). At the same time, I was preparing for my career transition and needed to pass 8 examination papers to obtain the practicing licence. Half of the additional hours were spent on self-study of the textbooks totalling 2100 pages and doing mock papers. I had since passed all in a single attempt in a span of 6 weeks. Subsequently I got to know that I was one of the few who passed all while on self-study mode and within such a short period of time.
Completed Advanced Toastmasters Speech Project (6 hours used). In the midst of these activities, I attended Toastmasters Club Meeting and did a prepared Advanced Toastmasters Speech Project 4. Hence 6 hours were put in to prepare the script and rehearse it.
Co-authored a chapter of the book “10 HR Learnings from 10 HR Leaders” (13 hours used). It was a rare honour for me to co-author a short chapter on “World of Total Rewards”. For this I would like to extend my heartfelt appreciation to Lim Zhi Rong for giving me this golden opportunity alongside with the other HR Leaders to contribute what we can to advance the progress the HR profession in Singapore.
Daily Journal (20 hours used). Daily journaling has also been nurtured during this period of time. I spent on average 10 to 15 minutes daily every morning on this to count my blessings and show gratitude.
One of the questions which were frequently posed to me was: ‘How many hours of sleep did I survive upon over the 3 months?” Since I am a Fitbit Charge HR 2 user, I went into the Fitbit app – “How did you sleep?” and tracked back the past 90 days. The average number of sleeping hours was around 5 hours. This meant that I had been sleeping close to 12 am every night. However what surprised me was that I felt more energetic compared to before when I had full good sleep of 7 to 8 hours a day. Perhaps it was due to the regular runs and I was focused on achieving the goals set.
On reflection, this must have been the most challenging and longest sustained feat I had performed. To be able to sustain the momentum of doing this consistently and even during overseas trip was not easy. During this period, we had taken a 8-days family vacation in Seoul. I continued to wake up at 5am everyday as I had signed up for an examination paper which took place the very next day upon our return. I had also completed my inaugural overseas 5km run in Seoul Myeongdong shopping district just to make sure that the habit and the activities continued as per normal so as not to stop the momentum.
So now that the 3 months period has lapsed, the next question is “Am I going to continue waking up at 5am daily?”
The answer is “A big certain YES!” It has changed my life! Simply said, it was a life-changing experience. None of the above achievements would have been made possible at all without this new habit of waking up at 5am daily. The achievements in the last 3 months attested to this famous motivational quote:
Nothing is impossible. The word says itself says “I’m Possible!” ~Audrey Hepburn