Business Management

Not a “Morning Person”? Why That’s Simply a Lie You’re Telling Yourself

Expertise: Personal Development, Business Management, Real Estate Investing Basics, Landlording & Rental Properties, Personal Finance, Flipping Houses
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morning-person

“I’m not a morning person—and there is no way I am getting up at [X:XX a.m.] because that time just doesn’t work for me.”

Does this sound familiar? I was chatting with my dad about this over shooting clays on a cold but beautiful day. We were having wonderful father and son time together, talking about life, kids, and business. I started to explain to him I had drastically changed my morning routine for about three weeks. I told him I’d been getting up THREE HOURS earlier than I had been. He looked at me stunned, like I’d just developed a second nose on my bearded face.

“THREE HOURS EARLY? SERIOUSLY? You are NOT a morning person, let alone someone able to get up at 5:00 a.m. everyday.”

My dad even brought up the mug my parents bought me (which still sits in my cupboard) that says, “I’m allergic to mornings.” For decades now, I’ve been telling myself I’m not a morning person, unable to begin my days at a consistent—and especially not early—time of the day.

Guess what? It’s all a lie. Every bit of it. And the sad part is, I hadn’t recognized the fact that each time I allowed my body and mind to believe something, it was true. “Not a morning person”—nope, definitely not. “Not good a leading people, too overbearing”—YEP. “Horrible at leading and managing people; someone else needs to do it.” “I’m not a numbers guy.” And so on and so forth.

I read this back over as I am writing it, and it’s a visceral punch in the gut. Why would I decide to tell myself these crazy lies? And give in to such stupid thought processes and self talk? This kind of conversation is unproductive and useless, self-limiting and disastrous. It’s time to write and tell a different story.

The Epiphany Moment

I like to read books, listen to podcasts, watch documentaries, anything that makes me think. A month or so ago while on a road trip, I was listening to the book The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod in the car, taking his story in.  If you haven’t read this book yet or listened to the audio, you should. His story is incredible. The life and business he has lived (and continues to live) is extraordinary and well-explained in his book.

There are a lot of nuggets in the book, but the one I want to focus on today is his morning routine. He was at one of the pivotal moments in his life and had gone to a friend seeking advice. They told him to get up and go for a run first thing in the morning. So the next day, he went out, got a run in, and had a productive morning. And then, day after day, he started getting up a little bit earlier, incorporating these 6 components to the start of his day:

  1. Silence
  2. Affirmations
  3. Visualizations
  4. Exercise
  5. Reading
  6. Writing

As you may expect, the first part of the entire “miracle morning” involved doing something I didn’t do, getting up early. But the longer I listened to the book and the more I allowed myself to dive into my own conscience, I realized I was just putting up my own road blocks to something I didn’t want to do.

Related: 5 Habits and Methods to Supercharge Your Productivity

And that was it. I finally realized I was telling myself a lie, and that lie had to end. I wasn’t sure what time would be good to get up, but as I discovered these self-limiting ideas, I decided to destroy them one by one.

“You are where you are because of who you were, but where you go depends entirely on who you choose to be.” —Hal Elrod

I’m Not an Early Riser

I’m not. Seriously, I hate getting up in the morning. I have to remember to set the alarm clock. And then my clothes, do I need to pick them out before bed? And what the heck do people do before the sun is up? I need more sleep because I like to stay up later.

After reading Hal’s book, I decided I would make myself do a two-week trial of getting up earlier. Previously, I had no scheduled time I would wake up. I just woke up at whatever time. This is a great plan—if you like not having a plan. I’d be out of bed around 8:00 a.m., give or take 30-60 minutes. Then I’d have a rushed cup of coffee, figure out whatever chaos I had missed in my inbox the night before, attempt to eat some breakfast, and immediately start working. Without going into great detail, as you may have already gathered, this was NOT a good plan. What if I woke up later than expected? Or I felt tired? Or didn’t get the start on what I needed to because I hadn’t controlled the time I was starting or what I was starting my day with? I was immediately in a bad position mentally and physically—unprepared for everyone else around me.

In Hal’s book, he talks about first getting up one hour earlier, and then eventually most people have such a change of experience, they start waking up two hours earlier. I figured since I had been such a slacker with the time I was up, I would go to three hours earlier, and I set my alarm clock the first day for 5:00 a.m.

Five a.m., as expected, came too fast, and the alarm clock, away from my bed, got me out quickly to shut it off. I jumped in the shower, brushed my teeth, grabbed a cup of freshly made coffee, and sat down with a book. It was around 5:20 a.m. I read, did push-ups, and spent time in gratitude for my children, my wife, my parents, my brother and sister, my business, and our people. I visualized our year end of 2016 and what 2017 would look like.

To say this one thing has been a life-changer is an understatement. Not only do I enjoy getting up at 5:00 a.m. after these several weeks of doing it, I am more calm, more productive, and often have written or read a book for an hour, before 6:30 a.m. I go to bed reminding myself that tomorrow morning will be awesome. That doesn’t mean I’m not a little sleepy or haven’t had a hard time a few mornings getting out of bed with the 10 degree weather and snow on the ground. But my morning now starts with purpose.

“Those who only do what they feel like don’t do much. To be successful at anything, you must take action even when you don’t feel like it, knowing that the action itself will produce the motivation you need to follow through.” —Hal Elrod

real-estate-negotiation

I’m Not a Good Leader of People

In our business, as much as it has grown, developed, and become something pretty amazing in the last 12 months, there was something lacking. I was always out in the field or on the phone, looking for deals and buying houses. Being in the real estate business, that is obviously important. But I was seldom in the office, and I didn't have a pulse on the operations side of our business. For years, I've struggled with leading people—or at least I felt that way. There are several experiences that I held (too) close and still had a vivid memory of failing as a leader.

Now, that doesn’t mean I didn’t want to be a good leader. I just felt like I couldn’t. That it wasn’t in my wheelhouse. For years, I’ve been into reading books like Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink, Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman, The Millionaire Real Estate Investor by Gary Keller—all of these are awesome books. They were all preparing me for life, real estate investing, managing, or leading. But I had set up the mental block that I wasn’t capable of leading my team, and so I hadn’t.

One day, I was chatting with my partner, David, and just that day, I had the epiphany moment about our business, our team, and our leadership within in it. I told him I had led successful bands and traveled doing mass choirs and playing shows for years. Musicians are some of the wildest, most hard-headed people I know (and I would know, having played professional music for more than a decade). And I could go anywhere, meet any musician, and just about always help bring cohesion to the band. I could understand who and want we needed to get the groove and feel we were looking for.

All the sudden it hit me—I just had to “lead the band.”

On one hand, I felt completely sick. Had I been telling myself this lie all along? How had I missed this opportunity? How had I let my team and my partner down? And then, how would I take the reins within my business as the leader, with non-militant dictator-type approach?

Guess what? Being up earlier, I started getting to the office earlier. Then, I was there to help answer questions people had and understand problems we had in the office. I could coach them on how to speak in negotiations with contractors, with problem tenants, or on rehabs that were not going quite as planned. A trust develops as people know you are going to be there for them. I now know what the problems are and what to fix—because I am there.

I am a leader of people. I just had to forget my negative self talk and ignore the past failures. I had to just “lead the band.” Although we still have issues in the office, in just 2-3 weeks, the vibe and operations in the office have already fundamentally changed, and we can see where we are going and how to get there as a team.

“Every goal we have is preceded by a process. The secret to success is to be committed to the daily process, without being emotionally attached to your results. You should absolutely be emotionally engaged in your goals, but not emotionally attached. What’s the difference? When you are emotionally engaged, you create excitement and enthusiasm for the possibility of achieving your goals, but when you are emotionally attached, you create fear and pain that you might not.” —Hal Elrod

Related: 6 Words That Will Forever Change How You Wake Up in the Morning

I’m Not A Good Numbers Guy

Did you know, I’ve never felt like I had a good grasp on my finances, investments, or income. When I was working in the non-profit world, I had a very base level salary, and our income and finances were week-by-week, money in and money out. It was weeks and weeks of the same struggle to just get by and pay our bills. I’m not suggesting it has anything to do with the non-profit or church world I was working in; this is only to set the stage for what I was making income-wise.

After leaving the church leading services as a worship leader, I went off on my own with our real estate business. Soon, not only did we have a few real estate deals going, but in just over a year, we had built a multi-million dollar organization with employees, books, an accountant, and an attorney on retainer. The cost just to keep our “lights on” and employees paid was all the sudden more a month than I had ever made in a year. Still, I had no idea what was really going on in my personal finances, with barely an understanding of what the actual financials looked like.

This, again, was all a lie to myself.

But because I recognized it, I knew I could change it. On the business side, I started working through reading our balance sheet and P&L statements, learning to understand what everything was. I was blessed to have a business partner who loved working with complex, detailed spreadsheets. He could also help with analysis and help teach and explain things to me. Now I know how much we invest per dollar we make on average, what kind of average priced deals we have, and how long they’ve taken to rehab and sell.

mint-software

On our personal finance side, I had always sat in my office for weeks on end for tax season, pouring over months and months of old statements, with receipts everywhere, creating a giant mess during tax time. As the years have gone on, my taxes have become more and more complicated, with more and more detail required. In the middle of this past year, I decided I was no longer going to endure this painful process of throwing everything together last minute.

I went and hired a VA who is has a U.S. Masters Degree in Accounting and who started sifting through, statement by statement, line by line, and putting together my first ever personal household balance sheet and P&L. No matter what income level you have, no matter how simple or complicated your finances are, this change will lead you to understand where your money is going, what your net worth is, and what you are spending on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. There will be discoveries within these numbers and pages you don't like, and you will then have the opportunity to make better choices next time.

Numbers and details have not been a strength of mine or something I like to deal with. However, there will no longer be an excuse of not knowing what something is or how to read what is going on in my personal or business financials. And, in the cases where I struggle to put something together, I will find people who can help me, teach me, and get the information I need to be in the know. I no longer make excuses to not understand or control my own destiny.

I will own what it is, fix my owner personal thought process around it, learn and obsess over it, and make it mine. I am and will be whatever I believe and tell myself I can be.

“You are always exactly where you are supposed to be, experiencing what you need to experience, to learn what you must learn, in order to become the person you need to be to create the life you truly want. Always.” —Hal Elrod

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[Editor’s Note: We are republishing this article to help out our newer readers.]

Are you a “morning person”? What area do you struggle with that you plan on tackling this year?

Let me know with a comment!

Nathan Brooks is the co-founder and CEO of Bridge Turnkey Investments, a Kansas City-based company renovating and selling more than 100 turnkey prop...
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    Casey Murray Investor from San Diego, CA
    Replied over 3 years ago
    Convincing yourself the night before that you’ll wake up early helps a lot. I have a two alarms set on my phone a couple minutes apart from each other in case I sleep through the first alarm. Great article, Nathan.
    Josh
    Replied over 3 years ago
    This is probably my favorite article I have come across on waking up early and one of my favorites on the BP community. I recently began waking up at 4 AM and heading straight out for a run. I have the time to work on personal and business projects that were forced to take a backseat due to the constant chaos of the day. The best part about being up this morning is the silence from the rest of the world. I know I am getting a step up on the competition and I am able to accomplish so much more in a day. Not to mention I am so worn out by days end, I can actually fall asleep. I had trouble sleeping but now there is now trouble. I think that stems from two things 1. exhaustion and 2. feeling that I accomplished so much today. Thanks again.
    Stephen Shelton from Debary, Florida
    Replied over 3 years ago
    Try as I might i can only breathe air, but if I only believe in myself and get rid of these negative words polluting my mind I’ll be able to breathe water. Sorry but I have to call BS on this. Half the year during K-12 I had to get up early. For years I worked traditional hours and even got up earlier to miss a daily traffic jam. I certainly tried more than a couple weeks, and I am not a morning person. I hate mornings. It’s a sensation that is painless yet is as uncomfortable as pain. It’s a real thing, and part of being a morning person is that the idea of feeling run-down after lunch is an alien concept to me. While morning people are getting groggy I’m getting into my prime. It should also be noted that when I’m awake, I’m awake because I’m awake. I’m not awake because I have loaded my body with coffee to get that stimulant in my body. Naps? What are those? My dad was a huge advocate of doing everything in the morning. One Saturday he even dragged me to the Kmart knockoff it was even open. He certainly wasn’t lazy, but come 4-5pm he was sawing logs on the couch! My body does not like the 5am-8am timeframe PERIOD it doesn’t matter if I’m awake in these hours because I got up early or stayed up late. My body just does not like these hours at all no matter how much sleep I got. And, ultimately, what difference does it make? Aside from the annoyances of morning people inventing reasons why weekend events must be at the crack of dawn (i.e. “we have to do it before it gets too hot” yes people actually say that) and why morning people just adjust events earlier because, god forbid, you schedule anything after sunset. If this is a site encouraging entrepreneurship then who cares? Why is it better for Person A to do something at 7am than for Person B to do it 6 hours earlier? I actually setup Outlook to hold late night emails until “Early Bird” hours because I heard a Morning Person say “well, [adjuster] sent me emails at 2am, that’s because it was at the bar all night and worked on my issue after he got home!”
    Shannon S. Investor from Cincinnati, Ohio
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Great post, and definitely understand the points about not lying to yourself. I relate to most of them. I’m not ever going to jump on the “earlier is better” bandwagon, and the name of the article isn’t true in my opinion for everyone. Got me to read the article though! I think the point you made was you were not planning and controlling your day which really has nothing to do with what time you rise. I naturally get up between 6:45 and 7 and that’s probably not going to change. Doesn’t matter if I stay up late or go to bed early. Don’t need an alarm clock unless I have to get up earlier. And I am more efficient, productive, and most importantly happy, this way. So I can only argue with the title of your article. The rest of the article was very accurate and well constructed.
    Account Closed from Clovis, California
    Replied over 2 years ago
    I was never a morning a person but it changed when I had my son. And now I am loving it because I realized that I get to accomplish a lot of things if I start my day early. Just need my coffee!
    John Murray from Portland, Oregon
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Great article Nathan! If a person wants to be successful in America the list is very simple. 1. Graduate High School (Self Discipline) 2. Military Service (Self Discipline) 3. Stay married. (Self Discipline) The common theme is Self Discipline, leave your ego at door and if you are a narcissist you have rough row to hoe. If you fail at any of the 3 you will not do well. Ain’t that America, you and me.
    Andrew Syrios Residential Real Estate Investor from Kansas City, MO
    Replied about 2 years ago
    I’m doing better with the Miracle Morning stuff, and it certainly helps. But it’s definitely been a challenge for me.
    Louis Coniglio Rental Property Investor
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    Nathan, Thank you very much for sharing this article. I have been debating for years the theory of “a morning person vs a night person. Is it real or just an excuse that I make for myself?” I too have tricked myself into believing “I’m not this or I’m not that,” in many aspects of my life. The time to change is now and your article gave me a boost of self confidence, so i thank you very much for that. I plan to try your method immediately. I would like to send you an email if you are open to it. I would have DM’d you here, but the option is unavailable. What is the best way that I can contact you? Thank you again.
    Simon Dupuis Investor
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    Nonsense, I go to sleep a 2 or 3 am every night, I’m always working on something at night sending emails for the next day, when i wake up other people worked for me while I was sleeping. The hours don’t dictate when you have to work, unless you are 9 to 5….
    Cassie Haskin Specialist from Portland, OR
    Replied over 1 year ago
    I personally have a list of things I try to hit in the morning. If I hit the first few (Meditation, exercise and a quick 15minute reading time with coffee) the ball keeps rolling all day. It really works, the only downside is if I mess up a part of that routine. Its reaaaally hard to recover.