Change is hard, but it’s necessary. Change is how you grow and become your most authentic self. But changing something in your life means stepping out of your comfort zones, confronting your limitations, and facing your fears. And that’s incredibly scary!
Making meaningful change in your life requires taking that proverbial leap of faith. You need to trust yourself, believe that you can land wherever you want to go, then jump. It’s scariest when you’re on the edge of the cliff, peering at how far you could possibly fall down. Your basic instinct tells you to take a few steps back, closer to safety and out of harm’s way. You let fear seep back in, casting doubts over why you’re even putting yourself in danger in the first place. Once you let fear take over, all you can think about is quitting and staying out of harm’s way.
Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.
If you feel scared when making any significant life changes, I’ve got good news for you:
You are not alone.
We all feel scared when we need to shake things up in our life. And I’m not talking about small, incremental changes such as switching from white to whole wheat bread. I’m talking about changes that bring about meaningful growth and development. These changes include switching jobs or careers, moving to a new city, starting a family, having more than one child, leaving an unhealthy relationship, traveling, learning a new skill, going back to school, beginning an exercise routine and sticking to it, quitting smoking, drinking less alcohol, and stopping procrastination. As you can see, the list can be long and extensive.
So how do you accomplish any meaningful change in your life?
I’ve written before that the one thing that separates the achievers from the dreamers is ACTION. It starts with a baby step, then another baby step, then a bigger step, and finally a leap. If you want to actually see what I mean by this, check out my post and video of how I overcame my fear of heights and jumped off the Stratosphere in Las Vegas. It literally shows me taking baby steps until my big leap into the darkness of Las Vegas.
If action is the key to meaningful change, then how do you actually start moving when you’re paralyzed to take the first baby step?
Through my own attempts at change—and many failures along the way—I’ve learned that the easiest way to move from paralysis to the first baby step is to…
Wake up earlier.
That’s it. Nothing fancy. Just wake up earlier in the morning.
Give yourself an extra hour in the morning. If you normally wake up at 7am, wake up at 6am. If you’re already an early riser and wake up at 6am, wake up at 5am.
I personally have witnessed some of the most successful people in the world doing what they love to do in the early hours of the morning. When I shared the same fitness club as Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, he would be preparing to leave the fitness club, as I entered it every morning at 6am. That meant that he was probably one of the first people in the club when it opened at 5am. Besides him being away on business trips, he was always there at the club, in-and-out before sunrise.
If Tim Cook, the CEO of the largest company in the world, can wake up early and exercise every day, then we all can surely wake up a little earlier to get whatever we want to get done.
The start of the day is the most important time of the day for me. It sets the tone for everything I do for the day. If I wake up groggy, rushed, or upset, it will be really difficult for me to shake that feeling for the remainder of the day. On the other hand, if I wake up refreshed, energized, and excited about what I’m doing that day, then chances are that I’ll be in a good mood for the entire day.
So what do you actually do with an extra hour in the morning?
Do whatever you feel you want to do with it. And if you’re determined enough, you’ll do the thing you want to change, immediately, first thing in the morning.
For some, that might be meditating, praying, reading, writing, or just a quiet coffee break before the start of a busy day. For others, that change in lifestyle might be exercising, running, eating a healthy breakfast, preparing the kids’ lunch boxes, or just getting on the road earlier to beat traffic and get a smoother and faster start to the day at the office.
Whatever your change is, you’ve got to give yourself the time and space to accomplish it. That happens at the start of your day, when you’re able to put the important things first. As the day progresses, the odds get stacked against you to actually initiate the change you were meaning to make. Work needs to be done, kids need to be fed, housework needs to be finished, phone calls need to be made, etc.
In December 2014, I accomplished something I always wanted to do but never got around to doing because I was too “busy”: I ran and completed the Honolulu Marathon in 4 hours and 2 minutes. To run that time for my first marathon ever, I had to train continually for four months. And I trained in the mornings, which required waking up earlier. On some long distance days, I would wake up at 4:00am, just so I would have enough time to finish my practice runs and get to work on time.
Meaningful change requires you taking your leap of faith by jumping and committing completely. Start by waking up earlier. You’ll give yourself more time to think clearly and get stuff done.
So that’s it: The secret sauce to meaningful change is waking up earlier by one hour each day.
Try it and see what lasting change you can make in your life.