Why Making Time for Yourself Every Day Is More Generous Than Selfish
“If you don’t like your life, don’t be hard on yourself — be hard on your routine.” — Andy Traub
I recently re-discovered a book I loved, called The Early to Rise Experience: Learn to Rise Early in 30 Days by Andy Traub.
I was once again re-visiting my desire to wake up early, which triggered my memory of the book that helped start it all for me.
I first learned of Andy Traub through writer Jeff Goins, who talked about him and the massive movement he’s created around waking up early and how it’s changed thousands of people’s lives around the world. When I heard this, I was intrigued. I wanted to know how a book about rising early could be so exciting and enticing that people were actually spending money on it.
As a sucker for anything to do with personal development or self-help, I simply couldn’t resist. When something of that nature is presented to me, I naturally move towards it.
If it has the potential to help me become a better me, I’m in. Plain and simple.
I bought the book after hearing Jeff talk about it a couple of times, and basically never looked back. As soon as I got it in the mail, I went through it and realized that yes, this was something to get excited about.
It spoke right to my heart. It called me out on the excuses I’ve been hiding behind, where I’ve told myself it’s okay to waste my mornings because everyone else is doing it too.
It challenged me to be better and to do better for myself — but also for others. Right now, nobody is benefitting from me wasting my mornings. Here’s why:
When I waste my mornings, I feel like I’ve wasted time. There I am, trying to start my day in a haze of disappointment and regret. I rush around, gulping down coffee and getting dressed at the same time. I feel frazzled and unsettled, like I haven’t done something I need to do. The “should haves” start to kick into high gear, and I feel irritated.
I don’t feel grounded or energized, because I haven’t made the time to work on anything that’s important to me.
When this is what happens every day, it doesn’t take long to become drained and uninspired with your life, and to start treating everything in your life (including the people you love) with the same lack of zest and interest.
If you’re like me, there are things you want to do for yourself. You’ve probably been wanting (and waiting) to do them for a long time.
Maybe it’s exercise, or more reading, or time to do yoga or meditate. Maybe you’re secretly an artist and love to draw cartoons. Maybe you love to design house plans. We are all different and have a wide range of interests and passions.
The problem is, you can’t seem to find the time to do it, which means it never gets done. It’s always in the back of your mind, but the time required to bring it to the forefront and actually take action on it never appears.
So in your mind is where it stays, for days, and then months, and then years. Those years can quickly turn into a lifetime, and then you’ll wonder where your life went.
I don’t want that to happen to me. Who am I living for, anyway, if not for me?
I know I’m not doing myself justice when I neglect to make time for myself each day, and yet, most days I find myself rushing around, failing to have even a small moment of “me” time.
Sadly, our culture has made the act of taking personal time seem selfish and indulgent, but books like Traub’s are starting to open my eyes and change my mind on this.
Certain passages from his book, like the one below, make it hard to ignore the truth within.
“You certainly don’t set aside time every single day to focus on yourself. That would be selfish, right? Maybe it’s not selfish. Maybe it’s the key to serving others by becoming the person you’re capable of becoming.” — Andy Traub
I don’t have to go blabbing to everyone all day long about what I love to do and what gets me excited, but I do have to be honest about it with myself. I have to allow myself to follow that instinct and do more of that. I have to let it lead me.
Otherwise, what good am I doing anybody, including myself?
“It’s not selfish to want a better life if others also benefit as a result. When I am mentally and spiritually healthy because of my early-to-rise habit, I am a better friend, father, husband, and business owner. Those closest to me reap the rewards of a better me. When you are healthy, you will bless those around you more than you are now.” — Andy Traub
Rise and Shine
Today I woke up at 5am. My boyfriend was getting ready to leave for work, and he came into the room to say goodbye. He asked if I wanted him to set the alarm for me for a later time.
In that moment, the temptation to say yes and go right back to sleep without even having to remove myself from the warm, comfy covers was seriously strong. I thought about it for a moment. I saw how easy it would be to just stay put. I could wake up at a “normal” time instead (like when it’s light outside). Plus, I could get a few more hours of sleep. The house would be calm and quiet.
But then my morning would be gone.
I thought better of it. I pushed the blankets away, stood up, and threw on a warm, fuzzy housecoat. Then I walked Aaron to the door and helped him round up the last of the stuff he needed for the week. I gave him a hug and kiss goodbye, and then he was off. The temperature read -27°C.
I bundled up, throwing another sweater on underneath my housecoat, and made a pot of fresh, warm coffee. It wasn’t even 5:30am, and I now had the whole morning ahead of me to spend however I wanted.
Now, a few hours later, here I am working on this blog post. I’m spending my morning doing something that matters to me, and that I love to do — I’m writing. I’m taking care of myself in this way so that I can give to others.
As Traub says, “We must cast aside that of lesser worth (the day’s to-do list and busywork) and feed ourselves so we can in turn feed others.”
Rather than going into today stressed and regretful, I’m excited about what I’ve already accomplished, and I’m feeling motivated and happy.
And to me, that’s worth the 5am wake-up call.
What is it for you that would make waking up early worth it?
Share in the comments below.