My clients know I don’t schedule morning meetings.
The only person brave enough to text me before 9 a.m. is my mother-in-law.
So what am I doing in a 7 a.m. boot camp?
It’s nuts. When the hour is up, it’s a 50/50 chance I’m going straight back to bed. Without showering first. But I go.
What’s the secret?
Here’s my secret to getting things done.
Step 1: Be unflinchingly honest about your excuses.
I don’t schedule meetings in the morning, or answer messages, because I’m a night owl. I’m also one of the small percentage of people that never feels rested in the morning. It doesn’t matter whether I’ve slept 6 hours or 12, I always feel exhausted when I wake up.
So my primary excuse not to get up and exercise is I feel tired.
But there’s more. When I first wake up, I don’t want to eat. How am I supposed to survive boot camp if I can’t fuel beforehand? I forget things. The other day, I drove halfway to a 10 a.m. yoga workshop before realizing I left my mat at home. These are handy “reasons” not to bother.
It’s laughable how easy it is to find reasons not to do PR. A million other tasks vie for your attention — making products, writing blog posts, sending love notes to your customers.
When you make the time, it’s inevitable you’ll get distracted by irrelevant tactical questions like How do you write a press release?
Step 2. Take shame out of the equation.
When I was in my teens, my dad didn’t allow me to sleep in on the weekends. He’d wake me up, tell me I was lazy, and assign some chore I had to get up and do right then.
After 2 decades of similar experiences, I got the message. My habits were deviant and not to be indulged.
Something as basic as my sleep pattern became a huge source of shame. I couldn’t change it. I tried to hide it. And I felt like shit about myself, as a result.
Lots of people are morning people, so things would come up that I really want to do (like boot camp). Shame left me without options, beyond turning down invitations. I lied a lot — making up reasons I wasn’t able to go to such-and-such event.
Even in the beginning, with my clients, I hid the real reason I didn’t want to meet in the morning.
I realized, for the first time, I didn’t have to get defensive.
Slowly, I started opening myself up to the possibility that I could do things in the morning — that it wasn’t giving in to the narrative that, as a night person, I’m not okay.
If you’ve wanted to get big exposure for your business, but you aren’t doing anything about it, that’s okay, too. Let go of the shame around what you’re not doing. It’s not serving you.
Step 3. Get support from people who will clear the roadblocks to what you want to do.
Most people don’t even get to the second step. How many people don’t go to the gym, because they feel like they have to get strong or lose weight first? Shame strikes again!
Unfortunately, you can’t take the most important step until you deal with it. Shame thrives in the secret, dark places. It can’t tolerate you getting support from other people. So you get stuck.
You have to tell people about the things that are stopping you. First, it’s the surest way to let go of shame. But also, it’s the last step in getting things done.
When I let go of my shame at not being a morning person, I stopped beating myself up. I didn’t have to get up if I didn’t want to. And if I did, then I was going to do everything to make it as easy as possible.
But, even so, deciding I wanted to go to an early morning boot camp wasn’t enough to get me there. As you’ve probably experienced, willpower isn’t enough — and it’s a limited resource anyway. Why would I want to dip in so early in the day?
I needed to know, from an athlete, if the burning in my muscles would subside, or if the workouts would always affect me this way? (Answer: the ache dulls within weeks.)
I need him to set the timer on our coffeemaker, so I can gulp down some caffeine before I go.
I’m not embarrassed to tell you I can’t do it alone, because the most important thing is I’m actually doing it.
I was honest about my excuses, let go of shame and got help, so I can sleepwalk my way out of the house.
Now it’s your turn. In the comments below, let me know:
What activity have you wanted to do — but you just can’t get going?
What’s holding you back from taking action?
Who can you enlist to make it easier for you?
Be specific as possible. This is an important step in finally making it happen.