“I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live.” – George Bernard Shaw
The single most powerful, most life-improving, most intellectually expanding, most emotionally uplifting thing you can do for yourself is to wake up earlier than you are waking up now.
For the first 30 years of my life, I was a late riser. Rolling out of bed at was an accomplishment for me. During my 20s, I coupled late rising with late-night carousing. This resulted in a lot of good stories and modest success.
In my 30s, happily burdened with a home and children, I came into the habit of hard work. That, coupled with giving myself goals, resulted in the accomplishment of my primary objective: the crass and reprehensible (but forgivably predictable) objective of making much dinero.
So far, so good. The money tree was growing. But there were several other important goals I cherished that never, ever got accomplished. Not even a little.
I was speaking to LH and KH yesterday morning. They each admitted they were in the same boat: getting one goal accomplished but not the others. I told them what I’m telling you now.
I wasn’t able to change my life in any significant way until I reluctantly took Ben Franklin’s principal admonishment to heart: “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”
Praise the Lord and say it again. Although I had mastered the art of making money, I never accomplished a single other important thing until I started getting my butt out of bed earlier.
As an riser, I was good at bringing in the bacon but half-assed at being a dad, writing fiction, and sculpting the perfect physique.
Getting up at started to change that. I had an extra 30 minutes a day to work out, run, stretch. I lost weight and got fit. I continued to rise at for several years, making money and working out. Life was better than it had been before, but I was not writing any fiction and failing to make progress on about a dozen other goals.
One day — I don’t know exactly when or why — I set my alarm clock for That extra half-hour was just the time I needed to write a few short stories. A few years passed, and I somehow managed to knock out several dozen stories — half of which got published and two of which actually won literary prizes. Not bad for a half-hour’s worth of clock adjustment.
When I started Early to Rise, I felt compelled to push back the clock further and began a 7:00 wake-up routine that allowed me extra time to write.
Then, two years ago, after advising my readers a dozen times to follow Franklin’s apothegm, I added another 30 minutes to my morning. Waking at allowed me to study Italian, improve my “nose,” and learn the cha-cha.
Last summer, I began setting the alarm for — and made a feature-length film with the extra time.
Now I’m waking at . God knows what I’m going to get myself into!
And it’s not just me. I can tell you stories.
What time are you getting up?
[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.]