Stop Telling Me I Need to Wake Up Early to Be Successful
You do not need to wake up early to be successful.
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You do not need to eat breakfast to be successful.
You do not need to meditate to be successful.
You do not need to journal to be successful.
You do not need to believe anyone else’s mantra to be successful.
You need to do what works for you to be successful.
You need to produce results to be successful.
I am tired of people telling me that I have to get up early to be successful. I am tired of people telling me that I have to perform a morning routine. I am tired of people telling me that I need to exercise, journal, meditate, reflect, or whatever other stuff it is people do between the hours of 5:00 and 8:00 a.m.
[Cue the flood of comments from people who wake up early about how wrong I am.]
This article is not written for the guy who likes getting up at 5:00 a.m. This article is written for the guy who would never under normal circumstances get up at 5:00 a.m. but does so in the name of productivity and/or success. This is a myth. It can work for some people, but it is not the act of getting up at 5:00 a.m. that does anything for you. It is the act of setting aside time and producing results with that time that counts. If that happens to be at 5:00 a.m. for you, great. If it happens to be later in the day for you (like it is for me) that’s great too. Please, stop listening to those folks who tell you to get up early to be more productive. You do not have to wake up early to be successful. You do not have to do anything anyone tells you about rituals or mornings to be successful.
I do not have to do these things to be successful. And neither do you.
Success Doesn’t Have to Happen at 5:00 a.m.
I do not do these things, and I believe that I am off to a semi-successful start to my career.
I have achieved a modest level of financial independence; I own well over $1M in real estate. My assets produce thousands of dollars per month in passive cash flow, and I wrote a best-selling book. I have helped grow BiggerPockets to 800,000 members. I have generated close to $2M in direct revenue for BiggerPockets. I have my real estate license. I enjoy my evenings and weekends, and I play rugby, ski, bike, and maintain my body. I’ve read literally hundreds of business, success, management, and other books related to my career. I am 26 years old, and I hope to continue to produce results in perpetuity. I’m just getting started, I hope.
I wake up most mornings between 7:30 and 8:00 a.m., which I feel is pretty standard, if not a little on the late side for your typical worker. I do not mess around with the alarm clock and do not snooze past the time I set to wake up—that IS a waste of time, in my opinion. I drink some water, take care of personal hygiene by brushing my teeth and showering, pack up my things, and bike or drive to work, depending on the weather. Sometimes I eat breakfast, but much of the time I’m not really hungry when I wake up, so I wait until lunch to eat my first bite of the day. Surprisingly frequently, I’m just truly not hungry until a late lunch (1:00 p.m. or later). That’s how I roll. You’re going to tell me that’s less effective than forcing myself to eat a healthy breakfast? Duly noted.
Related: Search morning The 7-Step Morning Routine That Transforms My Entire Day
I go to work, work hard, set goals, track my progress, work out in the afternoon or evening, track my progress, and plan my day the night before. I have had success doing this.
Yes, I Tried the “Miracle Morning”
I understand that there are books out there like The Miracle Morning that talk about the “profound” impact that waking up early can have on your life and the morning routines of early risers who have an almost mystical air of self-righteousness. I read The Miracle Morning. And I tried it. All that happened was I went to bed earlier. Then, I wasted 30 minutes doing the S.A.V.E.R.S. (Silence, Affirmations, Visualizations, Scribing, Reading, Exercise).
I experienced no increased results and no profound change over my body. I did not get into shape. I did not suddenly achieve at a higher rate. I did not suddenly feel more energy. I did not write better, communicate better, look better, or produce more. I still felt groggy (I did this for several months and approached this with the highest level of enthusiasm), and I produced less in the mornings that I did in the evenings. I know a large number of people who have read this book, gotten really excited, talked with their noses in the air about how incredible it was that they got up at 5:30 a.m., blogged about it, and then went on to wake up at a more reasonable time within a few months. They now acknowledge their pattern with an abashed grin. They continue to produce results regardless of when they wake up.
I was one of those people. I did this in early 2015 for a few months.
Again, the big change for me was that I DID start going to bed earlier. I can’t go to bed at 11:30 p.m. and get up at 5:30 a.m. and feel good. So, I went to bed at 9:30 p.m.
Great—I went to bed earlier.
However, there is a problem that comes from waking up early. Because it is so unpleasant for some people (like me), we feel the need to justify our sacrifice. We try to point to any improvement in our lives as a result of this early morning slog. And, when we look for any reason to justify our actions, we find them. Then, we shout them from the rooftops — “See! I’m not getting up so very early in the morning and meditating and visualizing and affirming all for naught! Something happened!”
Well, of course something will happen if you spend three hours per day on it! Getting up early had nothing to do with it though.
Again, some people do find this to be a beneficial practice in their lives. But, be wary of any overnight success stories from waking up early. That’s a farce. It doesn’t matter when you get up if you are productive with your waking hours.
I went back to my old ways and continued working and producing results between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 6:00–7:00 p.m. And I’m doing just fine. In fact, I do almost all of my writing between the hours of 5:30 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. That’s just when I tend to get in the groove.
Stop telling me I have to wake up at 5:30 to produce results.
Stop telling me I have to eat a hearty breakfast to produce results.
That’s simply not true.
I am not knocking people who do get up early. Good for you. Glad it works. Stop telling ME that I have to get up early. I do not. Maybe I’ll change one day, but for now, my current routine is just fine.
The point of this article is to save those of you who are not interested in waking up early from believing the fallacy that waking up early will suddenly change your life for the better. For some people, waking up early is an obvious solution to getting time to working on their most important goals. If that is an obvious way to improve for you, then great, act on it. You don’t need someone else to tell you to get up early if that’s the only time you can do some specific type of work.
But stop thinking that waking up early will have a “profound” change for you if you are not a morning person.
I do get up early sometimes. I do go through phases where I get up a little earlier or get really into making awesome breakfasts. I am not bashing those things. They are great.
I like to meet people early in the morning because I don’t want to book up my evenings. So, if you want to chat about real estate or personal finance, I’ll typically meet you for a coffee at 7:15 a.m. I’ve literally never had someone tell me they are busy at 7:15 a.m. It’s a good time to schedule meetings.
Sometimes, my evenings book up, so if I want to work out, I HAVE to work out at 7:15; otherwise, I just won’t get it in.
There’s a time and place for getting up early. I’m no robot, and I may alter my pattern if future life changes take effect and some advantage to waking early comes back into my life. My pattern has changed in the past and may change again in the future. But that will have everything to do with my circumstances. It will likely not be influenced by my goals, which I plan to achieve with my waking hours regardless of what those hours are.
Rising early is not mandatory for success. In fact, I’d argue that it has little or nothing to do with MY success.
It may also have little to do with your success.
Wake up when you want. Make whatever hours you keep count. Don’t feel guilty for sleeping in. Focus on producing results whenever you so please and in whatever manner works for you.
Be a normal human being, but achieve superhuman results. And do it however and whenever best works for you.
We’re republishing this article to help out our newer readers.
Do you believe there is truly some unique power in waking up early—or do you think similar results can be achieved by best using your time throughout other parts of the day?
Weigh in with a comment.