The Myth of Waking Up Early to be Successful


Who are those people?

I’m sure you’ve read many articles about how successful people are waking up early and do all these amazing things before you even open your eyes. They wake up at five in the morning to go for a run, have an amazing breakfast, write a book, meditate, and bla bla bla bla bla bla. You know exactly what I’m talking about.

Did you try starting your day early to be part of the early successful people club?

I did. At some point, I even was waking up every morning at six to work out. That was a couple of years back. But I always woke up early to get to work before the Seattle traffic gets really bad. Plus, one of the perks of being hourly instead of salary is that being early in the office means leaving early.

So I’ve done it for many years and recently changed it.

Why I decided to change my schedule

Here is what my day looked like before:

  1. Waking up at 6:30 am. Okay, I’m going, to be honest here, it was more like the alarm at 6:30 am and getting out of bed after hitting snooze 3 times.
  2. Checking Waze to know how bad is the drive going to be
  3. Leaving the house at 7 – 7:15 am
  4. Being stuck in traffic for 45 min to 1 hour
  5. Work, work, work, work, work
  6. Leaving the Office at 4:30 pm
  7. Being stuck in traffic for 1 hour
  8. Arriving home with no strength or motivation
  9. Turning on Netflix to watch ONE episode of a show because, after a day of work, I’ve earned a small break
  10. Watching 5 episodes instead
  11. If my husband is working that night, realizing that it’s already 9 pm and I didn’t eat
  12. Cook pasta quickly, add sour-cream and a ton of cheese
  13. Eat while watching another episode
  14. Forcing myself to turn the TV off at 10 pm and go to bed
  15. Last minute check on my phone to see if I received any messages
  16. Had no messages but someone posted this cool YouTube video on Facebook
  17. Watching YouTube videos for an hour
  18. Getting mad at myself because I’m on YouTube instead of reading and because I didn’t respond to emails, do the laundry, and other stuff
  19. Starting reading at 11 pm for about an hour
  20. Finally trying to sleep
  21. Start all over six hours later

I was stuck in this vicious cycle with only six hours of sleep at night.

What matters is your sleep

The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7 to 9 hours of sleep for adults between the age of 18 and 64.

You read it well, as an adult, your body needs you to sleep at least 7 hours so you can be fully functional during the day.

So if you’re going to bed around midnight, you should wake up around 8 in the morning. Not 6:30 like I used to do. If you look at it, I was missing 1:30 of sleep every night. How was I suppose to focus all day long to be “successful”?

What bothers me about all these articles, is that for one they are pressuring you into waking up at 5 am if you want to be successful in life. But they are missing one important detail, they’re not talking about the fact that if you want to start your day that early, you need to be in bed at 9 pm!

Defining Success

Let’s take a moment to think about it. What does it mean to have a successful life?

We don’t have the same desires and goals in life. For one person, being successful can mean having big responsibilities in the corporate world while for someone else it could simply be teaching kids how to read.

So take a pen and write what a successful life means to you. It can be anything:

  • Work
  • Health
  • Family
  • Travel
  • Knowledge
  • Money
  • Lifestyle
  • Friends
  • Security
  • Affluence / celebrity
  • Luxury
  • Artistic
  • Children
  • Where you live
  • Anything you want

Do you need to do everything in the morning?

Once you figured out what success is for you, think about what you need to achieve to get there.

  • Do you need to work out to get a toned body?
  • Do you need to write every day to finish your first novel?
  • Do you need to grab a meal with a family member or a friend?
  • Do you need to make more money for a trip to Bali?

Then, prioritize. Don’t overwhelm yourself by taking on too many goals and projects. I would recommend working on one thing at a time or you will burn out like I did.

When you know what you need to do to be successful, ask yourself: when is the best time for you to do it. Some people are more active in the morning, while others like me can’t go to bed early enough to be productive that early in the morning.

My schedule now looks like this:

  • Wake up at 8 am
  • Leaving for work 45 minutes later
  • Being stuck in traffic for 30 – 45 minutes, traffic is better later in the morning
  • Work, work, work, work, work until 6 pm
  • On Monday, Tuesday and Thursday I go to the gym for an hour and watch a show while working out
  • At 7 – 7:30 I go home, in only 20 minutes!
  • I have dinner and watch TV or not. Working out after work and not being stuck in traffic gives me the break I need at the end of the day, so I don’t feel the pull of binge watching Netflix like I used to

So ask yourself is the morning the best time for you to do all of these tasks?

Download the free 6 pages workbook

The workbook will guide you to define what is success and how to take actions to make it happen!

Further readings

Over To You!

  1. Download the free workbook
  2. Define the meaning of a successful life
  3. Write down how to reach it
  4. Find out the best schedule for YOU
  5. Share your definition of success in the comments below!

This workbook literally changed my life! I now know what I need to do to become successful in my own way!


Julie was diagnosed with anxiety and depression during the summer of 2016 and have since been fighting mental health stigmas by bringing awareness on the subject and sharing tips to help people become happier. Read Julie’s inspiring story, “My Journey Into Acknowledging The Depression.” Feel free to send a message to Julie here.

1 Comment
  • Dylan Cutler

    November 18, 2016 at 10:58 pm Reply

    Thank you for writing this! I personally am a night owl and love working out at night, and getting my work done + side hustle blogging done late at night! I feel successful at this hour, and these articles trying to convince me that I must be up at 5am make me feel like I am missing something. I think they must be coming from people who perhaps have no trouble sleeping or mental health issues that may keep someone up when they don’t want to be… which from experience makes waking up at 5am very difficult! Thanks for sharing. I am happy for you and your new schedule!

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