It has been a while since I picked up a book that I couldn’t put down. I love reading and I mostly gear towards non-fiction. The 5AM Club by Robin Sharma is a perfect combination of both fiction and non-fiction. In this book, he shares tons of wisdom about life and theory on why waking up early is beneficial using a fictional story of a spellbinder, a billionaire, an entrepreneur and an artist. I was so mesmerised by the story that I literally could not stop reading!
Before the title scares you, let me just say this. It’s worth picking up even if you strongly love sleeping till 10am (or later, I don’t judge). In addition to the perks and reasons on why waking up at 5am is recommended, the book also mentioned many great pointers for leadership, creativity and how to improve your life in general.
Without further ado, let’s discuss some of the main takeaways I’ve had from this book. These are my interpretations and understanding of his book, and I hope that sharing them with you will inspire you to pick it up or implement some changes to your life too!
Side note, I am currently only waking up at 06:30am. This is a great improvement as I used to wake up at about 9am previously. However, the insights from the book inspires me to wake up earlier in the day. It may not be 5am (yet), but it helps me learn more about why I should choose my mind over my mattress, every day.
Why Should I Get Up at 5AM (or earlier in general)?
Ultimately, it gives us more time. More time to improve our health by working out, to expand our knowledge by learning and to reflect on our goals and schedules.
According to the book, there are 4 areas that we can all work on. They are our Mindset (psychology), Heartset (emotionality) , Healthset (physicality) and Soulset (spirituality).
Waking up early provides silence and peace, and your attention isn’t being fragmented by technology, meetings and other forces that can limit maximum productivity. Here, you get to enter the state of flow and be really productive. The science? According to the book, solitude, silence and stillness of daybreak also triggers the production of neurotransmitters like dopamine (inspirational and feel good fuel) and serotonin (pleasure) while decreasing cortisol production.
Having mind over mattress isn’t easy. I know that. That’s why waking up early is like training your self-control muscle. Not snoozing, getting up and resisting jumping back to bed is difficult. But that’s why we have to really train it. And soon, gaining self control over this can help us gain more time and confidence to tackle other aspects of our life!
Increasing self-control in one area of your life elevates self-control in all areas of your life. This is why joining the 5am club is the game changing habit that will life everything else that you do.
Why is Waking up at 5AM Difficult?
It all boils down to our brains. We have two brains, according to the book’s section on the neuroscience of self-sabotage. The Ancient Brain (serves to keep us safe by warning us against dangers so we survive and propagate our species) and the Mastery Brain (responsible for higher thinking).
When we try to dream bigger and attempt new things, the ancient brain isn’t used to it. It senses our growth and knows that we’re leaving our comfort zone. Even though the threat is essential to our personal ascension and professional advancement, it still gets fired up because we’re leaving our traditional ways of being. The fear hormone cortisol gets released. and we begin to destroy the very intentions and implementations that our mastery brain so intelligently wants us to realise. Cortisol releases and our perception narrows. Then, we drop into fight, flight or freeze mode.
Knowing this fact helped me realised that every mini step that I took, no matter how small, helps me to slowly overcome this ancient brain of mine. Instead of freezing or fleeing, I take baby steps at a time. This could mean setting your alarm 5 minutes earlier every day or week! How slow you go doesn’t matter, as long as you keep taking small steps ahead. After all, these small actions will compound over time to give you a long lasting and sustainable routine.
What we are doing today is creating our future.
What do I do when I wake up at 5am?
There is not point getting up early but waste the precious time you gained scrolling on your phone! Really. Put that phone away.
Let’s talk game plan. Robin Sharma shares the 20/20/20 rule for the Victory Hour in the morning.
From 5am to 6am (which he calls victory hour and I love the name), he recommends splitting it up into 3 sections of 20 minutes.
1. 5 am – 5.2o am : MOVE
Do some intense exercise and get your sweat on! There are numerous benefits to this.
Firstly, it increases your metabolism, dopamine and serotonin levels. It also cleanses your body of cortisol (the negative stress hormone that we don’t like) as cortisol levels are the highest in the mornings! Additionally, it helps BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor) to flow. This helps to supercharge the brain, repair brain cells and accelerate formation of neural connections so you think better and process faster, and promotes neurogenesis which is growing new brain cells.
So ultimately, your energy grows, you get fitter, your stress levels decrease and your brain is optimised for the day.
Personally, I am slowly getting to this. Currently, I am doing 10 air squats, 10 burpees and a 15-20 minute long yoga practice (mostly sun salutation) in the morning. It isn’t as intense, but I’m slowly working my way up to it.
2. 5.20 am – 5.40 am: REFLECT
This is where we journal, meditate and review our goals for the day, week, year and life. He suggests writing a pre-performance blueprint (a written statement of your ideal day ahead) and a daily diary which focuses on our commitment for the hours ahead, our ambitions and what we are grateful for. This boosts our positivity and leaves us with residual wisdom the rest of the day.
Reflection is the main source of transformation as once you know better, you can do better
After moving and stretching, I would sit and mediate. I am currently using Headspace to mediate as I’ve been using it for the past 4 years already. After, I would watch an inspirational video on youtube and then journal my thoughts. I am now also trying to incorporate writing what I’m grateful for in my journal, instead of just saying it in my head when I mediate.
3. 5.40 am – 6 am : GROW
Here’s when we will learn and develop ourselves. It can be reading, listening to audiobooks or podcasts or watching an educational video. As a person who likes to switch things up, I would actually plan what I would like to spend my 20 minutes on the night before. Currently, I am alternating between reading a book about yoga postures and watching French videos to work on my French (as mentioned in my 27 before 27).
He does recommend working on 2 areas during this time; your personal mastery and your professional capability.
There are so many other juicy bits from the book that I haven’t shared here! I highly recommend you picking the book up! I may slowly incorporate tidbits from the book here and there, as I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information in this post.
To end things off, here are some quotes from the book that I love:
“No matter where you are on the pathway of your life, please don’t let the pain of an imperfect past hinder the glory of your fabulous future.”
“One who swears more in training bleeds less in war. High victory is made in those early morning hours when no one’s watching and while everyone else is sleeping.”
“The soreness of growth is so much less expensive than the devastating costs of regret.”
“How can you ever be world-class if you don’t carve out some time each morning to make yourself world-class?”
“All shadows of insecurity dissolve in the warm glow of persistency.”
“Most of us alive today wish we had more time. Yet we waste the time we have.”
“We’re all on our paths. We’re all exactly where we need to be to receive the growth lessons we’re meant to learn. And the problem will persist until you get the education it showed up to bring.”
“Rise and shine so you’ll escape the misery of mediocrity.”
“Private desire without personal development is like dreaming of a gorgeous garden but not planting any seeds. We magnetise ourselves to excellent rewards by raising the value of ourselves.”
You can find the book off Book Depository here.
I hope this post inspired you to review your morning routine (or create one if you haven’t started!). It definitely has changed up my morning routine (you can see my previous morning routine here if you’re interested) and it makes me feel a lot more productive.
Update: It’s been a few months and I’ve revised my productive morning routine to fit my current lifestyle and schedule better. You can check out My Current Productive Morning Routine here, and grab the free guide I’ve created to help you create your own productive routine!
If you liked it, feel free to pin it for future reference!
Would you be waking up at 5am or incorporating the 20/20/20 routine into your morning?