Early Birds Rule the World

I am a morning person.  One of the ways that I generate the predictable cash flow that most Freelance consultants need as we wait for contracts to come in and invoices to be paid is teach fitness.  Five mornings a week,  I teach fitness and on three of those mornings I teach at 6:30 AM.  On the weekends I teach at 9:00 AM.

I despise getting out of bed at 5:00 AM when it is pitch black,  which unfortunately is the story of my life for about eight months of the year.  Yet I enjoy waking early to the bright dawns that the Summer Solstice brings.  At this time of year,  I have no need for the alarm clock.  Once I’ve taught my fitness class,  I am free to do my  “real”  work.  Pulling myself out of bed in early morning darkness is torture,  but getting an early start on the day is well worth the sacrifice.

Christoph Randler,  professor of biology at the University of Education in Heidelberg,  Germany says that people whose performance peaks in the morning are more proactive and more productive than those whose performance peaks in the evening.  As a result,  early risers typically excel in school and often do well in business.  “When it comes to business success,  morning people hold the important cards”,  says Professor Randler.

His research indicates that because morning people are more proactive,  they are more successful in their professionals lives.  Early risers are better at anticipating problems and devising solutions to minimize them.  The larks in Randler’s studies mostly agreed with the statements  “I feel in charge of making things happen”  and  “I spend time making long-range goals for myself”.  Morning types are more likely to take action and change a situation to their advantage.

Night owls who wake up when the sun has long since risen are not necessarily life’s losers,  however.  Some studies show that they’re smarter and more creative.  Still,  since ancient times,  early risers have been closely associated with higher productivity and success.  Aristotle said  “It is well to be up before daybreak,  for such habits contribute to health,  wealth and wisdom”.   I will add that we larks are a highly disciplined lot and as evidence I point not to myself,  who is paid to show up,  but to the fitness center members who take my 6:30 AM classes and also to those who arrive at 5:30 AM,  regardless of the weather.

Is it possible for an evening person to successfully become a morning person?  “Somewhat”,  says Professor Randler.  Much of the lark or owl tendency is genetic.  Before I began teaching fitness,  I was a fitness center member who for 15 years worked out in the evenings.  When a favorite instructor began teaching at 7:00 AM,  I decided to give it a try.  Lucky for me,  the change was made during the Spring schedule.  The days were getting longer and that eased my transition.  It would have been much more difficult to make the change if the days were getting shorter.

As I noted I’m a natural morning person,  but let me tell you that there is morning and then there is early  morning and the two are not interchangeable.  For those who claim that you “get used to it”  after a while,  I reply that for three months of the year,  when it is bright at 5:00 AM,  I prize the early morning.   But for most of the year,  waking up in darkness remains as difficult now as it was 12 years ago,  when I switched to early morning workouts.

But like the classic lark,  I am disciplined and I make long-range goals for myself.  The feeling I have when walking to the showers at 7:35 AM,  knowing that my moonlighting job  has been completed for that day,  is great.  The energy boost I get from the work-out puts me in the frame of mind to charge into the day and do business.  Together,  these  value-added benefits outweigh the unpleasantness of leaving my warm,  soft bed,  even on cold January mornings and give me the resolve to do it all over again the next day,  whatever the weather.

Thanks for reading,

Kim

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