How to Finally Start Waking Up Early

How to Finally Start Waking Up Early

We’re one full month into 2018, and you’re probably working hard on those resolutions. You want to lose 20 pounds. Start a blog. Spend more time with family and friends. Get a promotion at work. Take a trip to Santorini (can I come, please?!). Your resolutions require your best self. And frankly, a lot of time.

It’s time to face the facts: you need to wake up earlier.

And I want to help you do this.

Waking up early has always been a lifelong struggle of mine. I’m picturing my little, fourth-grade arms clinging to my blanket as my mom ripped it off of me every morning (and she’d die laughing if she knew I was writing this post on waking up early!). Fast forward to college, where I was actually *known* for my abnormal sleeping habits: my college friends would call me on the weekends to tell me that they beat my “sleeping in” record (sorry, guys – my 4pm wake-up time still stands). And fast forward to two years ago when my boss had “the talk” with me again: “Jessica, you really need to show up on time. You can’t be walking in 15 minutes late every day.” But I just couldn’t wake up!

So a few months ago, as I was living at home in my late twenties, trying to get my business off the ground, lose 20 pounds, plan a big party, and travel, the realization hit me like a ton of bricks: Enough is enough. I’m not going to let the minutes, hours, and years slip through my fingers. I want to do big things with my life. I had to wake up earlier. At first, waking up early wasn’t pretty: I broke down in tears, picked fights for no reason (cranky much?), and almost fell asleep at my desk.

But it got easier. I made more money by 12pm than I used to in a whole day. I had more time to write, read, and watch Parks & Rec (obsessed!). I was happier than I’d ever been. I actually started to like those early moments, when the world was still.

So how did this serial snoozer do it after all these years? What strategies did I use to finally wake up early?

I Started an Exciting, Creative Project

I used to dread waking up to long, draining days at my job. Every day was exactly like the last – predictable and awful. According to author and speaker, Rob Bell, knowing that “tomorrow is going to be a repeat of today” is a “lethal conviction.” And it felt lethal – which is why I couldn’t face the day ahead.

Now, I have a new blog, where I get to be creative, where I get to be me. Every day isn’t the same as the last. I’m excited to wake up: I love reading new comments on my post, emailing subscribers, and writing inspired ideas in my journal. My purpose is strong, and so is my desire to wake up early in the morning. Whatever your new project is – whether it’s getting in shape for the summer, getting a promotion, or meditating daily – make it an important and fulfilling one, so you’ll actually want to wake up earlier.

I Set Clear Guideline For The Next Day

It’s hard to wake up early when you don’t know what you’re doing that morning. Benjamin Hardy, blogger and author, agrees: “clarity leads to motivation.” So if I wanted to wake up early, I would need clarity. I used to say: “I guess I’ll go to the gym when I wake up tomorrow.” Uhhh…and do what there? And wear what gym clothes? And spend how much time there? This was the perfect recipe for a snooze.

I now write in my journal the night before: “Tomorrow, I’ll start on the elliptical for 20 minutes, and then do the leg exercises I practiced last week.” I have my gym bag packed next to my bed, ready to go. I have my gas tank filled. This clarity – knowing exactly what I’m going to do and how I’m going to do it – actually helps me get up in the morning. I’ve eased the resistance to getting out of bed. I’m prepared. I’m ready.

If your goal is to wake up early and meditate every morning, choose the guided meditation the night before. If you want to write a blog post, write a brief outline the night before. Ease the resistance.

I Risked Losing All My Tutoring Hours

I just started tutoring English online where I can set my own hours. This flexibility is dangerous for a late riser – I could start my day at 3pm every day if I wanted to! But I’d already made the decision: my 3pm days were over.

So I took a big risk: I set my tutoring schedule to 8am every day. If I didn’t wake up for those 8am classes, I’d be blocked from tutoring for an entire week (and I needed that money!). Worse, I’d let down all of my students. I’d suggest doing the same: schedule important meetings in the morning. Schedule your personal training sessions early. Start each day with the highest of stakes. Imagine all of the angry people on the other side if you sleep in; the fear will be that extra boost that gets you out of bed fast!

I Promised Myself a Nap

Every morning, as the alarm goes off, I start the bargaining: “I’ll just get out of bed in 15 minutes – no biggie.”

15 minutes later: “I’ll just start everything at 9.”

9:15am: “Whatever. I’ll just sleep in today and get started on it tomorrow.”

That’s the reality. I am – and will always be – a tired, desperate bargainer in the morning. So, if I’m going to bargain with myself every morning, I need a damn good bargaining chip. What I need is a big reward, one that will get me out of bed knowing that something great will happen if I do. For me, that big reward is the promise of a glorious, beautiful nap at 1pm. Now, when my alarm goes off, I know the bargain: if I wake up now, I can sleep at 1pm.

Your schedule may not allow for an afternoon nap, but there are other rewards to choose: a steaming-hot cup of coffee, a delicious morning bagel, a relaxing bath, a Netflix episode.

Waking up early is brutal and tiring – but it’s magical. When I’m up and out of bed early, I feel unstoppable. I’m ahead of the game. The world is at my fingertips. Most importantly, this extra time in the morning has helped me achieve my goals at an unbelievably rapid pace: I’ve accomplished more in the last few months than I’ve accomplished in the past three years!

So here’s to waking up early and having more time in 2018! What is one new, feel-good habit you’ve started this year? Comment below!

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By Jessica Marshall

Jessica Marshall is a writer, breakthrough guru, and co-founder of Your Velveteen Life.  Joined by her sister, Shannon, she shares tested and powerful strategies to help women achieve their goals in half the time. Go to their website,, and get their free, word-for-word scripts to wow your friends and family when they ask you that dreaded question, “So what have you been up to these days?”