If you’ve been following along on my Instagram, then you know January was a pretty intense time in the Quill & Co. studio. For months I knew I was going to rebrand my business, seeing as the beginning of February marks one year in operation. While I’ve learned a boatload in the past year, it’s the connections I’ve made that really stand out. One of those connections was with a group out of Vancouver called Chasing Sunrise.
Chasing Sunrise is a bunch of go-getters doing whatever it takes to hunt down more in life. They tackle mountains – literally and figuratively – in pursuit of the truly good things that one can only earn. While it was their love of hiking and outdoor photography which initially drew me in, it was this communal pursuit of leading a mind-blowing life that kept me coming back.
While I have yet to make it to Vancouver for a sunrise hike (yet, is the key word here), I dove head first into their ideology. The transition felt organic as everything in my recent life has seemed to naturally mirror this group of global life-preneurs. Which is why when Chasing Sunrise’s core founders presented our community with a challenge around the holidays, I jumped at it.
The challenge was called 21 Damn Early Days. That’s 21 damn early days throughout the month of January dedicated to waking at 4:30 am in order to pursue those bits of life we deem most important.
21 Damn Early Days is about breaking that routine, getting out of your comfort zone, and getting back to what we want in life – starting with a few hours each morning.
Could I do this? Could I get up at 4:30 every morning without being a zombie? I didn’t know for sure, but hell I was excited to try.
What I Learned From Waking Up at 4:30 am
// The Rules
The rules are simple: for 21 days, from Monday to Friday, January 3rd to the 31st, me and hundreds of people around the globe set our alarms for 4:30 to get after the things we care about. Now before you go shoo-ing off the idea as a bunch of craziness, hear me out.
The 4:30 am wake-up call is actually one founded on science. It has been proven time and time again by entrepreneurs, top-CEOs and even Navy Seals that waking with intent builds a solid foundation for good habits. At 4:30, the world is silent. No one is calling to distract you and there’s no sense of urgency of having to be anywhere. That’s four hours of solid bliss that are yours and yours alone.
// The Why
Answering questions of “why” from friends and family was a simple one. It’s because I need this. I’m not the most undisciplined person to walk the earth – nor the most – but I needed to revamp my routine in life and business. I needed to shake things up. And nothing shakes up your world quite like a blaring alarm in the middle of the night.
In the past year, I’ve grown immensely as a both business owner and person in general. I wanted my life to reflect that. So every day I woke up and followed a similar routine:
The Morning Routine
On day 1 of 21 Damn Early Days, we learned the importance of routine. First order of business was coffee. I’m a morning person in general so the early rising thing wasn’t too difficult, but there’s still something about a piping cup o’ joe first thing. Next, it was on to checking in with the group for a daily does of inspiration from the Chasing Sunrise founders. This was followed by three hours of evaluating my business and writing out business/service models or working on the new website. By now the sun’s beginning to peak above the horizon and I would break up the morning with a workout before beginning client work.
The Evening Routine
The Morning Routine, I completely understood and got into. What I didn’t think about and learned very quickly was how important it is to develop a night routine. Everyone’s is a bit different but evening routines consisted of similar notions: turning off electronics, opening a book, and giving the body at least 30 minutes to settle before drifting off to dreamland. I had never thought about this before but it made perfect sense. Ever lied in bed at night and find yourself staring at the cieling for an hour? That’s because the body hasn’t had an appropriate time to wind down from the day and reflect. We take a beating during our waking hours both mentally and physically. Sleep heals this and jumping straight from battle mode to nada is like hitting a concrete wall minus the airbag.
The Struggle Is Real
Waking up wasn’t the hardest part for me; it was going to sleep early that I struggled. You don’t realize how many things take place in the evening, even on a work night. Networking events, dinners with friends and family, evening clean up…all takes place at night. On any given day, it doesn’t seem that late, until you realize you need to be in bed by 8pm and asleep by 8:30pm to get a full night’s sleep.
This meant saying, “no” to a lot of things. Being a social person, this was hard for me. Even if I leave Happy Hour by 7pm I don’t have the time to clean up, wind down from my day nor lose my buzz. And how alcohol effects your sleep cycle is another story altogether. So I learned to say, “no.” And even though I missed out on a lot at night, I feel like I gained way more than what was lost and began to appreciate a simple drink with friends as a special event, making me more present in the moment on Friday nights when I could attend.
// The Results
So what was the result of waking at 4:30 every morning? Well, you’re looking at it: a newly revamped website and business. Aside from that, I can’t even begin to cover the benefits from 21 Damn Early Days. I gained more self-discipline in 21 days than I’ve been able to foster in a lifetime. Grew a network and support system. Became more creative. Kept myself from misbehaving at night. Was challenged. Got to know myself. Cooked new recipes. Finished a couple books. Cleaned out my emails. Checked off everything on my to-do list. Saved money. Grew my client base. Have a new easy 6 am wake-up time.
And I saw a whole bunch of beautiful sunrises.2