I’VE ALWAYS HATED the idea of a morning routine. Touted in podcasts, blogs, and self-help books, they’ve always come across as some kind of scam. I mean, if I want to be a successful lawyer, what use is it for me to wake up, perform dynamic stretching, eat quinoa and black beans (all within half an hour), and then recite my empowering, refined and impassioned mantra into the mirror. Wouldn’t all that practice make me better at all of those things? Wouldn’t, y’know, practicing lawyering make me a better lawyer?
The morning routine has always fallen into the category of: “Hey, if you’re too scared to actually pursue your dream, here’s some unrelated activity you can do to make you feel like you’re actually making progress!”
Rather than offering an actual solution, it just capitalizes on fear. And the beauty of it, if you’re an internet marketer, is that there are so many different things someone can do in the morning, that you’ve always got another solution to sell.
Yeah, It’s snake oil.
And I hate it.
But in the case of prolific and award winning author Salman Rushdie, I like to make an exception.
When asked about his writing process, Rushdie was quick to admit he didn’t engage in any bizarre rituals. What he did admit, however, is that he had a habit of getting up, and immediately getting to work.
He woke up, and he started working on what he needed to work on.
Using the first of the morning’s energy.
Rather than another shit-show of bizarre, impractical, unrelated and often useless tips; his own process was one that made obvious and perfect sense.
As the day goes on, our energy fades away. So it pays to start work as soon as you fly out of bed.
PRIORITISING EFFORT AND LEVERAGING ENERGY
If we accept that the first of the morning’s energy is the freshest then we accept that we are likely to be most effective during those first hours after waking. If this is true, then it stands to reason that stacking the most difficult, challenging tasks during these hours is the effective use of energy.
Every thing that you’re less likely to enjoy, more likely to put off, and more likely to find difficult, should be immediately attacked during this time – as there’s no point in the day that they’ll be easier and quicker to complete. The longer you leave them, the more their difficulty only magnifies.
Now, this is fairly useful, if obvious, advice on how to structure your day and maximize your energy with your work – but where it got me thinking was when I realized that more than just good advice for your day, it’s damn good advice for life.
DAMN GOOD LIFE ADVICE
When we’re young, we have more energy and more freedom than we will at any other point in our lives. As with our day, the longer our lives go on, the more our energy depletes and the more the options available to us are restricted by our responsibilities. And if there is no point that we’ll have more of these resources, we owe it to ourselves to stack the difficulty into the early years of our lives as much as we can.
Just as there’s an eastern proverb that says “the best time to plant a tree is right now”, there’s also a Life Uncivilized proverb that goes like this:
“It’ll never be easier than it is now. So get the hard parts done right the fuck now.”
Shave my head and dress me in orange.
Just take a look at any success:
The guy who builds his own business suffers through long start up working hours, limited time to socialize, takes huge risks with his future and often invests large amounts of his own money on ideas that will not pay off, and only returns him back to the starting line, where he starts all over again.
The guy who gets the better dating life spends years getting rejected, suffering through questioning his identity and staying up late in bars and clubs during his work week. He will often feel unattractive, unworthy and like a social reject.
The guy who writes the novel spends years devoting time before or after work to write down passages of writing that go nowhere, to multiple novels that fall flat and don’t work. His first finished work will likely be met with meek praise from his family and series of rejection notes from publishers.
Within any example of achievement, there are inherent demands of suffering that must be met. These demands, in each example of achievement, require huge feats of effort, persistent and emotional resilience. They also require time. There is no time than the present that we will have more energy to engage with these demands. There is no better time than right now. No matter what age we are – right now is always best.
I guess what I’m saying is this: we’re often told to enjoy our youth, but what we should really do is suffer through it. Because when we have more energy to tackle the suffering inherent to the goal we’re pursuing, we are more capable of taking on that suffering, and thus the difficulty of that challenge is in itself greatly diminished.
It’s never easier than it is in the early hours. This is true of the morning. This is true of your work week. This is true of your life.
When we front load our youth with suffering, our middle and later years are free to focus, hone and capitalize on the rewards our grunt work achieved us. This could be a better marriage due to understanding yourself, your emotional needs and women better. It could be a better understanding of novels through a mastery of plot, character, and revisions. It could be a better understanding of business through a honed instinct for buyer behavior, marketing, and lean business models.
It could be anything. But it will be learned by failure, and it will be learned by suffering and struggle.
Use your energy wisely. Get it out of the way early.
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