Reader Appalled by My Self-Absorption

In a recent article, I revealed the early-morning routine I’ve used to accomplish my goals. Sonja Mahs from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia wrote in, wondering where family responsibility fits into the mix:

“Read your article about what you do during the day. Sounds great, if a little self-absorbed. Where does family responsibility come in? And who cooks dinner for you? I wish you would make it more transparent that you don’t have children in your care or that, if you do, you don’t have them on your priority list. It’s irritating to keep reading about how much you achieve and, by extension, how much we can all achieve if we did what you did… while ignoring your own privilege of gender and access to resources. I think it also diminishes your message somewhat.”

Sonja is right. I should have pointed out that K and I are empty-nesters now. Longtime readers of ETR and my blog know this. I talk about it all the time. But a new reader could not have known.

That said, it is entirely possible to get up earlier and spend time on yourself – on your own goals – even if you do have children and a spouse. (I assume Sonja is a working mom.)

Assuming you get up at 6:00 now, is it impossible to get up at 5:30? The simple way to do that without jeopardizing your health is to get to bed a half-hour earlier.

This ties into a question I received from Tanya Leehans in Tennessee:

“I am wondering what time you get to sleep each night in order to be up and going no later than 6:30 a.m. After dinner, baths, clean-up, and putting three kids to bed, I want to spend some alone time with my husband. That means midnight sleep at the earliest. Getting up at 6:30 a.m. would mean an awfully small amount of sleep each night. What are your thoughts on that? How do you get enough sleep and make it all work?”

My thought is that if your kids are young enough to need help in the morning, they should be in bed no later than 9:00. That was bedtime for kids in the Masterson house. And it left K and me with 90 minutes to ourselves before going to sleep at 10:30. Seven hours of sleep is what experts say is optimal for adults. So getting up at 5:30 wasn’t a problem. I kept that schedule for many years when my kids were still at home and I liked it. You could like it too.

Listen – getting up early and devoting time to yourself is about you, not me. I can understand why Sonja’s initial reaction to my message was “that self-absorbed, insensitive son of a bitch.” But she should think about it some more. What’s really going on? Why is she allowing herself to accept less of her life than she can have? Wouldn’t it benefit her to get that extra time to achieve her dreams?

If she wants it, she can have it.

[Ed. Note: You CAN find time to accomplish your longest-held goals. Learn dozens of specific strategies for rearranging your day and putting your top priorities first with ETR’s Total Success Achievement program.] [Ed. Note: Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]
  • Debbie

    I can understand Sonja’s frustration. The goal setting information presented is really good though. I think we each just have to adjust it to our own unique situations. If most of our day is spent meeting the needs of others and helping them with their goals, it is tempting to get bitter and resentful. I’ve been there. But when I really considered it, I didn’t have a peace about not doing this. So that might mean re-checking goals if you feel the same way. For me, it meant making some goals about deepening relationships and adding more quality to them, since a big part of my time is spent doing for others. Another goal became to encourage someone each day, and to ultimately have all of my communications with each person be encouraging. Lastly, since I have a teenage daughter with special needs, I need to rethink possible work for myself to include what she might be able to join me in . . . a joint venture! Sometimes I do have to miss out on some sleep to exercise and/or write. So I hope Sonja doesn’t stop reading, or get too irritated. But instead finds a way to take the free info and adjust it to her specific needs. Best wishes!

  • Greg

    Couldn’t agree more. Even as a brand new reader back in the day (and now back after some time off) I realized that Michael wasn’t trying to give me the exact prescription for my minute-by-minute life. Instead, he was giving me a practical example of how one puts together a workable schedule to accomplish what one considers “first things”. I’m still working on incorporating these ideas and really appreciate a “tangible” example. And I’m sure by the time I write these comments, Sonja has already made the most of the info in ETR.