by Shannon Talbot
Today’s blog is about The 5am Club, a concept from a book written by Robin Sharma, about, you guessed it, waking up at 5am. Now before you stop reading this post thinking this concept is literally for the birds or the roosters or early morning flights, hear me out. I was exactly where you are up until this past year. And even if you never get up at 5am, there are still some great tips here that can be applied to other times of your day.
Before we dive in, one thing you should know about me is that I am a personal growth junkie meaning I absolutely love reading all sorts of personal growth books and those are the books I get lost in. A little weird, I know. And I embrace it. Which is why at the start of this year I decided I would finally read The 5am Club so I could better understand the idea.
The general idea is this. You wake up at 5am and have an hour to yourself before the sun rises and while the majority of people are still sleeping, hence zero distractions. As Robin explains it, this is an hour to focus on your mindset, heartset, soulset and healthset using a 20/20/20 formula. 20 minutes to move, 20 minutes to reflect and 20 minutes to grow.
“An hour of time centred solely around me? No people or devices trying to get my attention? Seeing increased focus, positivity, productivity and greater inspiration as a result? Intriguing.”
By the time I was half-way through the book I had totally bought into the concept and on February 25th, 2020 my alarm went off at 5am. Off to the basement I bounded for a 20 minute elliptical work-out. This was followed by 10 minutes of meditation in front of our gas fireplace (after all the furnace wasn’t even on yet for the day) and 10 minutes of journaling. And for the last 20 minutes I read. A personal growth book. Shocking, I know.
I felt unstoppable. By 8am when I arrived at work, I was uber focused and productive and when I got home at night I could focus solely on my family. Wow, did it feel good!
Enter COVID. March 13th, 2020, 3 weeks into my new, incredibly energizing routine.
We picked up our family of four and our dog and moved to my parents and my childhood home 3 hours outside of Toronto. With my husband’s and my, at times demanding jobs, my parents graciously offered to help us with the kids and let’s face it small town backyards are way better during lock-downs than our tiny city one. My husband and I went from physically working in an office to a virtual world. My workdays turned into 12 hour days and some weekends. I was exhausted from being on Zoom calls all day. I was exhausted from being around family all day. I was exhausted from my brain never shutting off and my long work hours. I missed our house, our things and our friends. But we had help with the kids which many didn’t, and I was grateful for that. I was also jealous. Jealous of family and friends having all this extra time with their kids and all the cool activities they were doing.
My new 5am ritual went out the window. I binge watched TV shows, drank way too much red wine and ate potato chips almost every night when everyone was asleep. I slept until 7:30 or 8:00 during the week and later on weekends. Any energy I did have went towards my kids and my work. I had no energy left for my husband or my parents, let alone myself.
A couple of months in I started getting bored with my shows (Tiger King and Virgin River were only so many episodes) and went back to one of my favourite hobbies, reading. More and more the people I read about spoke of how waking up early was one of their keys to success and I was reminded of how good I had felt with my 5am routine.
I started waking up earlier again some days, although not quite 5am, and I also tried running as my way to move without any exercise equipment. Running was an activity where I could take in the beautiful scenery – the ocean-like blue and turquoise Lake Huron, trees, flowers, animals. I could clear my head and get a break from my family plus it reminded me of how much I had loved cross country running and track and field growing up. It also became a new activity for my husband and I to do together and he became my motivation to keep it up. We probably looked like goof balls at times to anyone who saw us. Each with our own music blaring in our ear buds, my husband air drumming as he ran and me doing my occasional dance moves and lip syncs. We embraced our weird and had fun. In May I ran my first 10k and in under an hour. It felt amazing! I felt a surge of accomplishment, energy and confidence. And so, I kept it up – well not the 10k’s - but running and the occasional early morning routine.
Come July when restrictions lifted, we moved back to Toronto. With the kids back in daycare and a routine back in our lives, I started waking up at 5am consistently during the week but with a routine that worked for me which meant exercising last, not first. With this new routine, I was excited to wake up at 5am. Trust me, a year ago I would never have imagined these words would leave my lips. Excited to wake up at 5am when it wasn't for a flight to escape our winter?!
The key for me was turning my routine into something I looked forward to which is this (once I’ve tiptoed down the stairs so I don’t wake up my youngest who would happily volunteer to keep me company at 5am):
1. Drink a full glass of water to start the day fully hydrated
2. Meditate for 10 minutes - I use the Headspace app for guided meditations
3. Write in my journal for 10 minutes:
Clear my head – a literal brain dump of all the thoughts on my mind – I don’t think about them, I just write them all down
Practice gratitude - every day I write down 5 things I’m thankful for that happened in the last 24 hours
Long-term goal setting – here I write down 10 things I see for myself and my family in 2030 (this is a list I made at the start of this year and that I repeat every single day)
Short-term goal setting - 5 things I’m aiming for in 2021 (similar to the above, this is a list I repeat every day)
Set-up my day – write down 5 things total, and only 5 things, to get done that day, personally and professionally
4. Make a coffee
5. Grow – I’m currently taking a course so spend this time studying while drinking my coffee
Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I run a 5k
Tuesdays and Thursdays are my free movement days – sometimes I dance for 20 minutes, sometimes I do weights, sometimes I just walk. Any movement counts!
7. Get myself and my family ready for the day!
Waking up at 5am has changed my life. I’m the healthiest and focused I have been in a very long time. I’m sleeping less than I used to, now 7-8 hours, but it’s a better sleep. I’ve stopped drinking wine and eating junk food during the week and I have more energy, focus and patience. But the best part is, I now have time to dream big and chase those dreams. After all, it shouldn’t be just our kids we tell to dream big, should it?!
Interested in learning more and other tips and tricks I've learned along the way? Be sure to follow me on Instagram and Facebook (links at the top and bottom of this page).