On April 25th I embarked on a mission to see 30 sunrises in a row.
The idea came from my therapist, who swore the period he was seeing the sunrise was the most energetic and productive of his life.
I then found this 30 day challenges guide online with a personal habit gauntlet; "Sunrise Sensei" was the first.
PRACTICALLY SPEAKING, the justifications make sense
- We are synced to the rise and fall of the sun
- Waking up to the sunrise provides more exposure to your photoreceptors, better cortisol/melatonin balance, etc
- There are fewer distractions in the morning, so daily intention setting would probably be easier to do.
I was so jazzed about the idea. I could just picture it: I'd leap out of my bed to an alarm at 5:55AM, slip into my clothes and step outside into a brilliant sunrise. I'd make a green smoothie, then catch and slay a wild gazelle with my bare hands, then call Obama to play some pickup basketball and interview him for the podcast.
My actual lived experience? This view most mornings (thanks SF)
& Here's what my progress actually looks like
I've only made it 7 days. Less than 30%
Red dots mean successful sunrise watched. A chain means I streaked a couple days in a row.
It's only the midway point; and as you can see here, the program is structured so that even if i break the streak, it only breaks the chain I can still continue to rack up dots.
The hope is I do a little bit of debriefing, reorient my strategies, and then get back to it more successfully!
I have 4 major takeaways
1) Do your prework, stupid
The workbook where I got this challenge has a guidebook that explains the rationale and pre-reflection one is supposed to before embarking on a challenge. It's basically a "Simon Sinek"-esque way to guarantee that you're grounding in first principles and motivations.
Here are the questions...
- What late-night behaviors might cause me to miss the sunrise?
- How can i ensure that you go to bed at an appropriate time?
- What grand matters or personal questions would you like to ponder while watching the sun emerge each morning?
- What am I paying attention to?
- How would I like to spend my time today?
- What will your morning routine look like preceding sunrise?
I realized I've basically skipped the entire pre-work journaling exercise and that is a likely root cause. Failure to plan = planning to fail.
2) The bottleneck is hiding
My biggest realization, that you will likely find obvious, but has NON-OBVIOUS lessons to impart, is that the most important factor in my successful sunrise wakeup was how late I went to bed the night prior
Yes. DUH!!! But hear me out here.
That statement is an incredible insight into bottlenecks. Oftentimes, the key to making a behavioral change that we are struggling with is actually NOT IN FOCUSING ON THAT BEHAVIOR AT ALL, but the surrounding and structural routines.
3) Go far together
Easy enough, days Brooke woke up with me were a lot easier. Injecting an early moment of connection in our day together was a huge blessing, and I'd be much less likely to complain if I knew someone was excited about the challenge with me.
4) The justification monster will always win
There's a LOT of inner voice dialogue going on at 5AM.
"STFU alarm clock"
"But this will be so good for you!"
"You know you don't do well on only 6 hours"
My takeaway is that I cannot beat the justification monster if it is leaning towards the side of laziness
So... the key question to continue to ask myself, how can I sway the justification monster in my favor?
21 more sunrises to catch. With some luck, the challenge will be wrapped up Mid-June with just a FEW more slip ups, but a lot more consistency.