You've probably heard it since you were little: "The early bird catches the worm."
"Good for the worm," you might think. "I'm hitting snooze."
Most of us would love to be morning people. We've heard about the benefits of waking up early time and time again. But it's easier said than done, and good intentions alone don't go very far. You need actionable, can-do strategies to make lasting change.
Here are some battle-tested tips you can use to go from annoyed to animated every morning:
Have your first activity of the day be something you love. It's a lot easier to get out of bed when you have something to look forward to. Create a great playlist, save a podcast you want to listen to for your morning walk, or schedule an exercise class with a friend.
Plan out the "hard" things the night before. If you drink a morning smoothie, have everything pre-cut and ready to go in a Ziploc bag. If you want to exercise in the morning, have your workout clothes ready -- or even sleep in them. When you prepare in advance, getting up doesn't feel like as much work.
Go to bed earlier. This isn't new, but consider the time you spend watching TV or surfing the Web. If you can cut that out in service to making lifestyle changes that make you feel a lot better, your quality of life may exponentially increase. It's worth testing, right?
Set an alarm clock at night. Have an alarm clock that reminds you when it's an hour away from bedtime. Start shutting your electronics down and doing any other nighttime rituals you need to do.
Put your alarm clock across the room. Hitting "snooze" over and over in the morning isn't giving you any quality sleep, so you may as well just get up when your alarm goes off. Once you get out of your comfortable bed to shut it off, it's a lot more likely that you'll stay up.
Commit to waking up early for 21 days. Commit to waking up, even through the discomfort, an hour earlier every day for 21 days. Whenever you don't feel like doing it, remind yourself that it's only for 21 days.
Some say it takes 21 days to create a habit, while others say that's a myth. Either way, committing for only 21 days is a great way to "trick" yourself. When you see how good you feel, you'll likely want to keep doing it.
Become accountable with a friend who also wants to wake up earlier. Set a time for both of you to wake up. Text each other to show you've done it. Accountability is a very powerful motivator.
Get perspective. The amazing Hal Elrod said in an interview, "When the alarm clock goes off in the morning, it's life's first gift to you. But it's also life's first challenge or test. You say you want an extraordinary life, but the message we send to the universe is 'Well, no, no, no. I don't want it as bad as I want to lay here unconscious for another nine or ten minutes.' Then the alarm goes off again, and it's like, 'Yeah... I could wake up and become a better version of myself but I'm too lazy. I just want to lay, I don't have the discipline.'"
Remind yourself of this when you'd rather lay in bed -- it's powerful.
Visualize yourself waking up early the next morning. Feel how it feels, what you see, and how you move throughout your day. Many people swear by this method.
Remind yourself what the benefits will be. When your alarm goes off and you'd rather keep sleeping, remind yourself that you're about to get some "me" time, that you're going to be becoming healthier, or that you'll be enjoying some endorphins if you plan on exercising first. You can also feel proud of yourself for committing to something and sticking with it.
Create a reward. If you're motivated by pleasure, tell yourself that if you wake up earlier for "x" days in a row, you'll reward yourself with something that you love. Maybe you buy yourself a present, take a day off, or do something else that will motivate you.
Create a consequence. If you're motivated by pain, figure out what happens if you don't wake up earlier. Maybe you'll just be angry with yourself, maybe you'll feel like a failure, or keep having a life you're not proud of. You might also have to give money to a friend or do something embarrassing. You'll know what motivates you the most.
Take deep breaths before you go to bed. If you're going to bed with stress and anxiety on your mind, it'll be a lot tougher to fall asleep and/or have high quality sleep. Take several deep breaths before you go to bed to help calm down your nervous system.
If all else fails, start slowly. If you've tried other things and you just can't wake up 30-60 minutes earlier, try doing it gradually. Set your alarm clock 15 minutes earlier than you normally get up for a few days, then 30 minutes, then 45, and then 60. It might make it easier if your sleep routine isn't that different.
Your changes never need to feel too drastic, but making small commitments can add up to some major long-term results.