“The saying is that rising stars usually wake up before the sun”
What made me do it:
There’s two major contributions that made me survive on 5 hours a day:
1) Growing up I wouldn’t say I was particularly talented in any field, I was extremely poor at sports and at school I was a straight A student which was not seen as talented when you’re in a grammar school and getting A’s is the norm. However, one thing I did really well was observe. I used to spend hours a day researching and studying the most successful people of all time and watch Youtube for hours on end listening to the ethos people had developed to be truly successful. Developing an ethos of my own, required the following traits combined:
“Discipline+ Dedication+Consistency+Obsession = Ethos”
2) Adrenaline was the second driver for me. I always came in from the stance of being the under dog where I was naturally always doubted. The only way I knew how to beat those who were better than me was to apply the ethos that I spent years observing. This lead me to develop the characteristic of working hard, but not just working hard – working harder than anyone I knew. The only thing I knew was that if I wanted to be better than anyone I knew, I had to work harder than everyone. Once this started to pay off once, twice – three times…. I knew I was onto something. As a result, I truly believe hard work beats talent.
Why I do it:
The one word “empowerment” summarises for me the very reason I changed form being a night owl to an early bird. I enjoyed being a night owl, I often stayed up till 4am in the morning:
However after being a night owl for quite some time, I often felt my thoughts and focus gradually dwindled as I approached sunrise. For me it was crucial my decisions were not affected by tiredness. This approach soon proved to be unsustainable as what I did during the day (which usually involved heavy training) dictated my tiredness. Finally, staying up late had lost it’s novelty I had been doing it for years as a result I didn’t feel a sense of empowerment. How you feel is the very pivot to your decisions and your output hence if you are not feeling inspired and empowered it’s time to change up your strategy.
The First Day
The first day I set my alarm to 3am, I struggled to wake up. I hated every moment of it, and ironically enough that’s why I loved it. It was important to me that I “felt” like I was pushing past and breaking my mental barriers to pursue a dream and a vision. I truly believe this is important when running a business, often at times you are going to see a mountain in front of you and unless you have the mentality that the mountain is only as big as a mole hill you will struggle to overcome challenges.
I tossed and turned in my bed for 5 minutes with every excuse in the world running through my head: “start from tomorrow”, “5 more minutes of sleep”, but for me it was more fun to go against every voice inside my head that was telling me to stop. I set my alarm to the most empowering song I knew and did everything I hated: I threw my quilt off only to be consumed by cold air, instead of slowly pulling it off, I jumped out of bed instead of slowly walking across my room. I walked over to the mirror and looked at myself, that’s when I felt it. Empowerment. Seeing the red eyes and staring at yourself was almost like seeing the scars from a battle. You almost inspire yourself and you connect with your purpose and why you do what you do. Working without having a purpose behind what you do is the single most pointless thing in life. However at 3am, when you wake up for the pursuit of your passion, there is no better time to connect with your purpose and your passion.
What I discovered:
My timetable usually went like this:
3:00am – 3:30am: Get out of bed, brush and get ready to work.
3:30am-5:30am: Work on your vision
5:30am – 6:00am: Get ready and drive to the gym
6:00am – 7:00am: Do my workout, shower and get ready to leave for work
7:00-7:30: Go home, have breakfast and leave to go to work.
I only work 3 days a week, therefore to ensure that no time was wasted on the days that I was working this is the agenda I followed. I already had a head start to the world. I had briefed the teams all over the world that work for me on what I expect, engaged with my community and had completed a large amount of what I was supposed to do. Furthermore, going to the gym that early was even better. It meant that gyms were less crowded so there was no waiting for machines and since my workouts are explosive eccentric workouts, 45 minutes of none stop working out was enough for me to really kick start my metabolism.
I gained 2 extra hours to do work, and fitted in my gym routine before the day had even begun.
As humans we often complain that “there’s not enough time in the day”, “I’ll do it tomorrow”, or excuses along those lines. However, I refuse to believe this is true if you genuinely are willing to make the sacrifices to gain the most invaluable asset – time. Going back to the above paragraph where I talk about those who influenced me, I often look up to the likes of Elon Musk. He made a very valid point which is that “if you work twice as hard as someone, in one years time, you’ll have achieved double what they will have done”. With time being such a valuable commodity, can we really afford to let it go by without maximising the time we have in the present moment to achieve our goals?
How I cope:
Some people will no doubt say that sleeping 5 hours a day is unhealthy – yes i’ve heard it a million times, but to be honest I don’t really care. I am 5’11”, I weigh 68kg and am 10% body fat. In fact, I’m probably healthier than 99% of the people I know. Why? Because I know how to manage and sustain my body. I fuel is correctly, and give it the nutrients it needs to flourish by listening to the advice of my personal trainers. It’s fair to say i’ve “outsourced” my health to a point where it’s automated and professionals base my meal plans and my workouts to suit my lifestyle. There’s two things that I do that help me cope with the lifestyle I live:
Naps are key for me. If you ever see me on the delayed southern railway train commuting to work or going somewhere, you can pretty much bet I will be sleeping. The naps I get for 20-30 minutes on my commute almost serve as power naps that give my body that extra boost of energy when I need it. They’re just enough to give your body a deep rest for a short duration and have really helped in keeping my energised.
2) Recharge Days
We’re human after all and recharge days are key. A recharge day is where I have a sleep in – I perhaps sleep around 12-14 hours. When do they occur? Whenever my body needs it. Sometimes this can be once every 2 weeks, sometimes once a month, and sometimes once a week. For me one of the main things it depends upon is my training. As my training fluctuates from “bulk”phases where I gain muscle to “cut” phases where I lose fat, so does my diet and the intensity of my workouts. There’s no point following a regimented procedure if it’s at the expense of your body. I pay close attention to what my body is saying and if I feel I need a recharge day because I am starting to feel tired and not sharp in my decisions, I definitely have one. I sleep undisturbed for 12-14 hours to recover and rise feeling awesome again. We’re human after all and it’s important to sustain and manage yourself in the process of pursuing a vision.
I hope you enjoyed the article. The purpose of this article isn’t to tell you to sleep at 10pm and wake up at 3am. It’s to make you conscious and aware of the time you spend doing something. Even if this article means you wake up 30 minutes earlier to achieve your goal then I would have achieved what I set out to do.