Lessons learned early in the day

Penticton Western News reporter shares his path to waking up early

Good morning! Well … that’s the theory.

It turns out training yourself to be an early riser is not as easy as just getting to bed earlier the night before and setting the alarm. But if you are one of those people who has chosen this route to create more quality time in the day, welcome to the club.

Or maybe I should be asking you to welcome me to the club since I’m just getting started on this journey.

Waking early, along with the whole minimalist and intentional living lifestyle, is something I’ve been thinking about a lot over the last few months. But it always seemed such a daunting task, that I finally decided to take a much-needed week off from work to give it a real try.

It’s been a failure. Mostly. But I have no intention of giving up, because the successes, however small, have been pretty life-affirming. At least enough to give me a glimpse of how my life could improve if I can incorporate more of these concepts into my lifestyle.

Like waking up early, which in my case means trying to stumble out of bed at 5:30 a.m.

Something the YouTubers and bloggers tend to skip over, as they talk about the wonders of waking early while filming themselves gliding through their spotless, black and white, sunlit homes in the supposed early hours of the day, is that waking up early is an entirely different prospect when it’s well before sunrise.

Waking early in the summertime, for me, is not that hard. I tend to wake when it gets light enough anyways, though my usual practice is to pull a pillow over my head and go back to sleep.

But when it’s still pitch black at 5:30 a.m.? That’s a different story; not only is there no natural alarm, but there’s not really a lot of incentive to drag yourself out of a warm bed and stumble around a cold apartment. And for most of us, dark mornings are more frequent than those few weeks of early sunrise.

Two concepts I’ve picked up from my incessant research into intentional living offer some hope. First, it really helps to have a planned schedule for your morning and stick to it until it becomes a habit, getting you through those first few minutes where you would really rather just crawl back into that warm bed.

The other goes with just about everything to do with developing an intentional living lifestyle: just start it. Once you are on a task, no matter how daunting, there is a natural inclination to finish it or at least keep going. In terms of getting up early, the biggest step is getting on your feet. Once you’re there, it’s a lot easier to keep moving, especially if those moves are predetermined.

A third item I would add is an incentive, and I don’t mean setting out a trail of Hershey’s Kisses leading to the shower. For me, it was dusting off my old clock radio and setting it up with its alarm across the room, where I have to get out of bed to shut off its annoyingly shrill alarm. No gentle rain sounds to rouse me from my slumber there.

If you are intent on using your iPhone, there are incentive alarms available, like one that requires you to solve a math problem before it shuts off, or show it a scene, like your bathroom sink, that you photographed the night before.

One final lesson I’ve learned from my week of failures: celebrate the small victories. That might be the one morning of the week you woke at the right time, cleaning your desk or even a really tiny step to achieving the lifestyle you’re envisioning for yourself, like cleaning out that junk drawer.

Celebrate them all. Little victories lead to big ones.

Steve Kidd is the senior reporter with the Penticton Western News.