When your alarm wakes you up in the morning, is it hard for you to get up right away? Do you find yourself hitting the snooze button and going right back to sleep?
That used to be part of my daily awakening ritual too. When my alarm would blare its infernal noise, I’d turn the damned thing off right away. Then under the cloak of that early morning brain fog, I’d slowly ponder whether or not I should actually get up:
It’s nice and warm under the covers. If I get up, it’s going to be cold. That won’t be too pleasant.
Oh, I really should get up now. C’mon legs… move. Go, legs, go. Hmmm… that isn’t how I move my legs, is it? They don’t seem to be listening to me.
I should go to the gym. Yeah. Hmmm… I don’t really feel like working out right now though. I haven’t even had breakfast. Maybe I should have a muffin first. Banana nut. Now that’s a good muffin.
trying to get myself up too early. I’m still sleepy, aren’t I? Maybe getting up with an alarm is unnatural. Won’t I function better with more sleep?
I don’t have to get up right this minute, do I? Surely I can relax another five minutes or so. The world isn’t going to end if I don’t get up right now.
I’ll bet my wife is toasty warm right now. She told me she hates it when I try to snuggle her at 6am, but so what… she loves me enough to forgive me, right? I know… I’ll start massaging her back and shoulders first. She can’t resist a good massage, even so early in the morning. Then I’ll transition to a head scratching. Yeah, that’ll do it. And then slide right into the spoon position. Won’t that be a pleasant way to start the day?
[ Scootch… scootch… Zzzzzzzz ]
Two hours later…
Me: What time is it? I don’t even remember the alarm going off. That was a good snuggle though. Oh well, guess I’ll have to skip exercise today.
Wife: Why do you keep setting your alarm if you aren’t going to get up when it goes off?
Me: Oh, did you think that was my wake-up alarm? It’s actually my snuggle alarm.
OK, so I wasn’t really intending for it to be a snuggle alarm. I had intended to get up when it went off, but my foggy brain kept negotiating me right back to sleep.
Fast forward to present day…
My alarm goes off sometime between 4:00 and 5:00am… never later than 5:00am, even on weekends and holidays. I turn off the alarm within a few seconds. My lungs inflate with a deep breath of air, and I stretch my limbs out in all directions for about two seconds. Soon my feet hit the floor, and I find myself getting dressed while my wife snoozes on. I go downstairs to grab a piece of fruit, pop into my home office to catch up on some emails, and then it’s off to the gym at 5:15.
But this time there’s no voice inside my head debating what I should do. It’s not even a positive voice this time – it’s just not there. The whole thing happens on autopilot, even before I feel fully awake mentally. I can’t say it requires any self-discipline to do this every morning because it’s a totally conditioned response. It’s like my conscious mind is just along for the ride while my subconscious controls my body. When my alarm goes off each morning, I respond just like Pavlov’s dogs. It would actually be harder for me not to get up when my alarm goes off.
So how do you go from scenario one to scenario two?
First, let’s consider the way most people tackle this problem – what I consider the wrong way.