STOP Beating Yourself up About Not Having a 5AM “Morning Routine”. You Don’t Need One.

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Recently I worked with a successful full time attorney and Mom who admittedly had a very hard time with showing up on time for first call of a calendar at the courthouse from which she only lived ten minutes away. I’ll call her “P”. When we got to the bottom of why she was always late it seemed P just could not get out of bed when her alarm clock went off at 6am. It wasn’t that she was still sleeping. She usually woke up before the alarm went off and her mind would just cycle into all the things she had to do or she would scroll on her phone for half an hour. Inevitably she would get up at the last possible minute before she knew she could ensure that her 10 year old son was out of bed in time to get ready and get on the bus usually by 7:15.

P told me how she had read or listened to countless books from The Five AM Club by Robin Sharma to Mel Robbins and that she “knew she should have a set morning routine” and that morning routine needed to start earlier.

When I asked her about the idea of getting up at 6am, which is the time she needed to be up in order to do all the things she thought she “should do”, I asked her what she was thinking. The thought was “This is BS I don’t want to do it, I barely fall asleep till 1am”. The thought my tired mom client was having about waking up at 6am was making her feel pissed off which in turn lead her to rebel against it and not take any action except go back to sleep for a short time or scroll on her phone for half an hour.

“O.K, I guess I need to change my thought” she said. I told her she absolutely did not.

Usually when someone learns the concept that that your thoughts create your feelings, which in turn directly affects the actions you take, everyone wants to change all their thoughts. That is not realistic and not always necessary. I asked her if she could just put aside for now the “should” thought about the morning routine where she would get up, do yoga, write in a journal, reflect on her day to come, write out her aspirations and then prepare her son a gourmet meal to take to school, get herself and her son ready and arrive at work twenty minutes early. She laughed at the ridiculousness of that thought stated out loud and agreed.

P had promised herself, her court partner and her employer that she would arrive on time for the first call of the calendar and she was consistently about ten to 15 minutes late. She needed right away to just have the skill to be disciplined enough to do what she said she was going to do. She wanted to be on time, she just didn’t want to have a morning routine. We calculated that she could still get out of bed at 6:30, the time she was getting out of bed anyway, if she was just willing to deal with her son’s book bag and with the plans for his food (either a lunch or money) the night before. Her thought about taking time to go over everything with him regarding his book bag, food for the next day all before he went to sleep the night before was “I can do that”. A nice neutral thought.

She set her alarm for the time she had been getting up anyway, thirty minutes later that she used to consider late, and low and behold found that she was able to start getting out of bed right before it went off or right at that time. Without the guilt. Even when she didn’t want to, she said it felt “do able”. We calculated the drop dead time she needed to be in her car and we had a plan if the bus wasn’t there on time. For the next two weeks my client was on time to work. Being on time to work made her relationship with her court partner better. Her supervisor noticed, the judge she appeared in front of noticed but she didn’t do it for anyone but herself. Yes, she has fantasies about getting up at 5am and doing the yoga and writing in the journal, but right now none of that matters. What matters is learning and practicing the actual skill of doing what you say you’re going to do. Having discipline to do what you want to do even when your brain is acting like a toddler and doesn’t want to do it. For P it starts with getting out of bed at a time that allows her to show up when she said she would. The “routine” is not important at all and in fact beating herself up about not having one only made things worse.

Where in your life are you “should-ing” all over yourself? Ask yourself instead, what outcome would you actually like? What are all the different ways that outcome could be accomplished ? Which way feels like it’s going to be the easiest? Are you willing to experiment and see how taking some action feels without putting on judge’s robes and convicting yourself of some horrible crime if it doesn’t work out ?

If you would like some help in developing that discipline in your own life in order to accomplish something great OR just to make changes that will make your life more enjoyable and feel easier just click below and let’s chat!


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