Wake Up at 5 AM Daily - 48 Day Challenge Results

17 Nov 2013

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“Thank you” Robin Sharma for making me understand the importance of waking up early and Steve Pavlina for giving me the practical tip to wake up early. I started this challenge on 20-Aug-2013 and missed to wake up early on 29-Sep-2013. I am human right?. I restarted the challenge and finished it successfully on 10-Nov-2013. Past few weeks were the most productive weeks of my life. I was able to achieve more than I thought was possible. Though, I did not become a celebrity in the last few weeks (obviously that was not my goal), I am better/matured than who I was before.

I got roughly 2-3 hours daily, which I used mostly for learning purposes, tapping exercises, self-realization exercises (where I probe deeply into myself with a lot of questions and writing down the answers in a paper) etc. It was simply awesome. One important deviation from the original plan was that I started using Facebook and internet for leisure activities during these morning hours. (Roughly 30 - 45 minutes).

Most of the changes that I experienced are internal - changes in my thought process and my perception of the world. I don’t have the means to measure it or even to show that these changes are related to myself waking up early. But, I can simply attribute all the changes in the last few weeks to the new habit - “Rising Early” - based on the simple reasoning.

Internal Changes

Discovered my love for programming - During my college days, I was crazy about C programming language. Graphics & Pointers are my favorite. I used to program just for the sake of programming till 3-4 AM in the morning, most of the days. I used to develop small utilities in Visual Basic for myself. Eventually along the way, 9 yrs in the corporate world - I lost that interest and even started hating IT industry for the petty politics and exploitation at every level. There were days when I enjoyed working on interesting projects with AMEX, Toyota, Legal & General etc.

One fine day, Dinesh came home to discuss with me, about the design of the new J2EE application that he is building for a design competition in his company. We are free to choose the design & implement. We were happy and explored multiple options. Once the design discussion was over, the topic changed to my perception of IT industry.

Dinesh is the MAN OF QUESTIONS. He asked so many questions, making me think of different perspectives. I was kinda confused. Next day morning, this was the topic in my thoughts. I questioned myself and found that I still love programming, that I still can code for hours without thinking about food and sleep, that I can and will learn any new programming language/technology/framework/tools to complete the projects.

Just that I did not do it in recent times and the petty politics in IT industry clouded my vision. Thanks to Dinesh.

Stopped chasing money - Before you make any decision about my decision, please wait. This does not mean that I won’t do anything to earn money. (I need money to live anyway) Just that, I would not do anything / start anything with the sole purpose of earning money. There must be some sort of interest/passion associated with that activity. I should be able to do that specific activity even if I don’t earn money from that activity (ex. blogging). Most people know that I crave for more money, actually a more luxurious and free lifestyle. I begin to see now that, it was not for the choice of the lifestyle, it was a wish/hope to escape from the reality. I am pretty happy with my personal life, right now. I can attribute this to my hatred with IT industry.

When I discovered my love for programming, this change followed automatically. Now, I don’t see any big difference in driving a Maruthi Alto or an Audi, as long as it takes me from Point A to Point B. However, If I have few million dollars in my bank account, I would definitely buy an Audi car. The point is - “When I don’t have a million dollars, I am happy driving an Alto.” - Such a relieving realization.

Ready to change what does not work - I do have a blueprint to live. I set some of them as changeable and some of them as non-negotiable. I have realized that whole of my blueprint should be changeable, based on strict evaluation criteria. Because, we do get a lot of new experiences, information over time which makes our previous experience obsolete.

One such assumption that I made along the way was - “I must switch from IT industry permanently and I don’t want to work for any other IT company”. This assumption was challenged by many people and the latest was Dinesh. Again another thought-provoking discussion with him, followed by self-probing questions in the next day morning - I decided to change the company that I work for and I planned to stay in IT industry for some more time, till I become an expert in another industry.

“My blueprint for life is no longer non-negotiable. It will adapt and evolve.”

Respect Social Pressure - Whenever I take up any challenge, I follow the below idea by Robin Sharma.

“99% is bitch. 100% is breeze” - Robin Sharma

It works perfectly for me. It gives me more confident that I can put 100% of myself to any task that I get involved. But, there are impacts to others who are related to me. Most of the impact was on my wife. Be it the raw vegan challenge or waking up 5 AM, her lifestyle impacted so much. She, being a night bird and me waking up early and sleeping early, we spent a very little time together during the weekdays. We did not like this. But, I started already - so, finished it.

Man being a social creature, must depend on others for life and love. I decided to consider her and minimize the impact on her with my challenges and experiments. I am going to experimentally try less than 100% from my next challenge onward. Let’s see how it goes.

External Changes

Any disadvantages?

I must tell there are cons to this challenge.

Sleeping Time - Due to commutations from work and other commitments, I was able to go to sleep at 11-12 every night. I was getting hardly 5-6 hrs daily. It was not a problem initially. But after a month - it begins to show its effect. I begin to feel awful sleepy after lunch in the office. My productivity after lunch is literally less than 10%. There are days when I sleep for less than 3 hrs and I felt sleepy even when driving to the office. NOT AN ADVISABLE ACT WHILE DRIVING.

If you are planning to take up this challenge for some time, please make sure that you get adequate sleep.

Issues with Travel - There were many occasions in the family and I have to travel to Coimbatore or Chennai every weekend. We generally travel by Train. I use to wake up at 5 AM in the morning, sitting alone on the train - without switching on the lights. I tried to read books on Kindle, but that was more of a strain to my eyes. Meditating or Writing on the train didn’t help. I spent some of these days in self-discussions. I use to pick up a topic or a thought and I would debate for/against that topic. All within my mind. This may not be a favorite thing to do - for many people.

Vacations - You will have a tough time following the rituals when you are in a special occasion or spending the night at the relatives home. I use to do multiple things in the morning and I don’t like carrying everything, everywhere (laptop, books, journals etc). I use to carry only Amazon Kindle and stick to reading e-books.

Would I do it differently next time?

Yes. I would not stick to 100%. I will think through the possible obstacles to the challenge, evaluate them and avoid this challenge on specific days. Maybe I would say, “Wake up at 5 AM, at least 5 times a week”. I may choose a sleep-late/wakeup-late pattern on travel days, vacations, special occasions or when guests at home etc.

Was this Challenge Successful?

A hell YES. This is not a challenge that needs to be completed and thrown away. This is a habit that should be developed and adhered to until the end of our life. I would follow an easy version of this challenge for the rest of my life.

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