21 Damn Early Days - Week 1 Thoughts

Suddenly, this hour feels normal and welcomed.

Suddenly, this hour feels normal and welcomed.

It’s only been a week since starting “21 Damn Early Days” but it has already been life changing. Honestly. I feel like I’ve learned more about myself and what I want my life to be like in this last week than I have in the last year.

While I won’t push waking up at 4:30AM on anybody, I do recommend that everyone experiment with their lives and routines. While it does take some sacrifice and dedication to get started, the rewards can be huge. While not everything will work out, you end up with a sense of what you want your life to be like. Why not risk part of a few weeks to see what your life could be?

Before diving into week 2, I wanted to share some of the things I’ve learned. Feel free to comment below, as I’d love to hear your thoughts, questions and perspectives on what I've learned.

And while a lot of the things I’ve learned sound simple and easy, I’ve realized that when you learn them first hand – when you feel the way they impact your life, it becomes much easier to understand their value and importance in your life and that makes you much more willing to find ways to keep them in your life.

What I learned in 1 week, waking up at 4:30AM:

1. The tone you set first thing in the morning has a huge effect on the rest of the day. I didn’t realize how important this was until I got up and got after the day. By setting the right tone first thing in the morning, a number of normally difficult decisions throughout the day became much easier to make. I found I was more focused and disciplined, working on the stuff that mattered and getting it done more easily. This left me with way more free time at the end of the day.


2. Getting the hard shit done right away leaves you feeling accomplished and makes taking breaks way more fulfilling. By getting all the difficult stuff done right away, taking breaks felt way better – they felt much more deserved. I equate this to saving first and then spending the rest frivolously. It feels that much more rewarding because we know we are already done what we needed to do. The breaks become guilt-free.

I remember on Thursday, leaving work at 1PM for an afternoon workout, swim and hot tub. 2 hours away from work during the middle of the day and not an ounce of guilt. I was already done everything I had to do.


3. I get so much more done in the morning – not because I’m more alert, but because I’m not distracted. This world is super distracting and whether I want to admit it or not, I know I am a victim to many of these distractions. Facebook, Instagram, messaging, emails, useless tasks, the internet – the distractions truly are endless and mostly unfulfilling. When you get up at 4:30AM, these distractions are cut significantly [mostly because everyone else is asleep] and it becomes much easier to break the habitual loop of checking your phone [aka the blackhole of distraction].


4. Let yourself stumble. G said it best “it’s about progress, not perfection”. I remember one day getting up at 5:22AM cause snooze was just too good. My immediate reaction was “damn, I slept in”. After a little bit of convincing, I let it slide and ended up laughing at myself a little as I thought about it: I slept in… till 5:22AM. It’s a fine balance, but you can push yourself without being hard on yourself.


5. Surround yourself with good people. This has been huge. Having an awesome roommate [G] to do this with has completely changed my outlook on why I'm doing this. What could have simply been an exercise in changing my routine has transformed into a fun, life-enhancing challenge  that you embark on with somebody else. Emotionally, it feels no different than trekking to find rad surf spots or hiking through a forest just to see what's on the other side. It’s also been amazing to share thoughts and perspectives about what we are getting out of it and where we can go from here.


6. Experimenting with life is how you figure out what you want. Try stuff out, mess up, all in the means of finding something that works for you and your life. The stumbles will be inevitable and you will certainly try things that don’t work, but experimenting leads you to places you didn’t know exist. They show you options that you didn’t know were available.

When I started 21 Damn Early Days, my gut instinct was to get up and get into the gym before I even knew I was awake. After a few days though, I wanted to try out getting up and getting the hard stuff done first. While I had no idea what the outcome would be, I thought it would be worthwhile to find out. It turns out that that little change had a profound impact on the rest of my day.


7. And finally: it feels way more fulfilling getting up and getting after life than it does waiting for life to get to you. When you get up that early in the morning, you are getting up to get after life, not because the world tells you you should be getting up. While it seems simple, the thought of doing things on my terms has been super empowering.


Week 2 is already off to a good start with a 4:08AM wake up call. Let’s see what else it brings.
Feel free to comment below. I’d love to hear your thoughts, questions and perspectives on them.


<<< Check out Day 4

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Julian DeSchutter5 Comments