Retrain your brain to wake up early

Congratulations on taking a powerful step to make your life better by choosing to be an early riser!!!  I say “to be an early” instead of “to become an early riser” because by making the choice to read this post, you have already created a new identity.  As of now, you ARE an early riser!

Why wake up early?

Waking up early is a pillar habit.  A pillar habit is a habit that leads to other goals being accomplished or habits created.  Any aspect of a morning routine like meditating, taking vitamins, breath work, gratitude exercises, or solitude is dependant on having the time in the morning to do it.  It’s worth it to focus solely on creating this habit for 21 days before starting focus on creating other morning habits.  Put all of your resources to accomplishing this.  Don’t use up will power on other habits until this one is firmly set.  With extra time in the morning, subsequent habits will be much easier to institute.


You will write a mission statement, a pain statement, a pleasure statement.  Those you will read each of the 21 days that you are working to create this habit.  You will also download an affirmation app where you will record affirmations about yourself in your own voice and listen to these throughout the day.  You will celebrate each day that you wake up early.  You will also rid your vocabulary with words like “try” and “should”.

Day 1 –

  • Write your mission statement, pain statement, pleasure statement.
  • Download ThinkUp app and record affirmations.
  • Listen to your affirmations on repeat for 15 minutes.
  • Before bed, reread your pain and pleasure statements.
  • Get psyched about how much better your life is going to be starting tomorrow when you wake up early!!!
  • Set your alarm

Days 2 -21

  • Hear your alarm go off, count to 5, and get out of bed.
  • Give thanks that you are taking back control of your life and accomplishing your goals
  • Reread your pain statement and pleasure statement at some point during the day
  • Listen to your affirmations for 15 minutes
  • Set your alarm and get ready to wake up early again!  Celebrate being an early riser!

Mission Statement

The mission statement, pain statement, and pleasure statement ideally will be written in one sitting.  Set aside about an hour for this part.

Sit down and write on a piece of paper:

“I link too much pleasure to sleeping in and too much pain to waking up early.  My goal is to link massive pain to sleeping in and massive pleasure to waking up early.  I AM AN EARLY RISER!!!” 

Use the present tense when talking about being an early riser.  Since you have already decided without a shadow of a doubt to become an early riser, you are an early riser even if you haven’t yet woken up early.

The pain-pleasure principle comes from Tony Robbins.  I have used it many time to create new habits or break old ones.

Use of Words

Oftentimes when people talk about goals to achieve or habits to start, they use the words “try” and “should”.  As in … “I’m going to try to start waking up early”, or “I really should start waking up early”.  STOP using these words both vocally and in your mind.  The word “try” gives you a way out.  It keeps failure as a possible option and sets you up to fail.  Try is a weak word and its use will not lead to success.

The word “should” strips you of your power.  Using it implies that there is some external set of values or standards outside of yourself that you are trying to abide by.  It’s use shifts responsibility for a decision to outside of your control.  Instead of “should”, use “choose to”, “want to”, “will”, or “need to”.  There are few if any situations that merit using the word should.  Take control of your decisions and choices … no more “shoulds!”

Pain Statement

Write down all of the reasons that you don’t want to sleep in. Write a lot, repeat yourself, exaggerate, swear, and take your time with this.  The key is to associate massive pain to sleeping in.  When I became an early riser, mine looked like this …

“Waking up late is sucking away my life force and preventing me from living the life I want to live.  It sucks to still be in bed when the kids wake up.  NOT COOL!!  I end up starting the day by reacting.  REACTING!!  That’s bullshit.  That means that the first things I do in the morning are to react to issues!  Again … bullshit.  The kids get up and see me still sleeping and do not feel secure because I am not leading the day.  I am allowing the day and circumstances and the kids to lead me!  Damn, that is not cool.  I lay there and Georgie and Thor are getting the message that I am an ineffective leader that it is their job to influence me and not the other way around.  Since a goal of mine is to provide the kids with the best possible space and situation for growing up this means I am failing at this extremely important goal.  So I am setting a bad example for my kids and putting myself through strife by starting the day in a reactionary mode.  This bullshit outlook of reacting to life is fucking weak.  Really weak!  It means that I live my life on the terms of others.  It means that I just give away my autonomy just because I’m lazy.  The first thing I do each day is to give away my power.  Just give it away.  I then reinforce in my mind that I am weak, reactive, and unable to accomplish goals.  Georgie finds my phone when I’m still asleep and plays with it which I really don’ like.  It feels terrible to lay there knowing that she is playing with my phone while I reinforce weakness in me.  Then the kids start asking for different stuff for breakfast and I had to say yes or no.  So again, we get in a situation where I am not leading proactively but being a passive bystander and getting inundated with requests and questions and it’s all my fault!!!  It’s my fault because I am not effectively leading like I want to be.  This sucks but there is even more!!  Time.  I am missing out on some extremely valuable time to spend with myself.  I am wasting a whole hour each day sort of sleeping by mostly just being lazy.  Lazy. And I waste the time when I could be doing gratitude work, strengthening my core, meditating, getting into peak state so I can conquer the day.  Instead, I am fiddle-fucking in bed and NOT getting into a peak state like I should be doing.  No … not “should” … like I “want” to be doing.  Like I desperately want to be doing.  This all makes me feel ineffective, weak, and like a follower.  I hate wasting my time and I hate NOT doing the things I need to do each day to be in a peak state and be the best version of me to those around me.  Waking up late is holding me back from being the best version of myself.  That is a lot of pain associated with laying in bed longer than I need to rejuvenate my body.  Lots of pain.  Laying in bed too long is costing me a lot of money also.  When I am not in peak state I cannot make even nearly as much money as when I am in a peak state.  And therefore, I make less money when I sleep in.  LAME!!!”

As you can see, I didn’t hold back.  What I wrote actually hits a lot of my own triggers related to how well I do as a parent and being a good leader to my kids.  That’s why I chose those words and concepts.  Go over the top with this.  Feel into the reasons that you DO NOT want to continue to lay in bed.  Associate pain with laying there and not getting up.  You are retraining your brain by creating new associations.  I don’t swear too much in life but often do when doing exercises like this.  Those words have power and I believe that they have a use and purpose.  Use exaggeration.  Reinforce in your brain how terrible it is to sleep in.

Pleasure Statement

In the same way you wrote extensively about how much pain you associate with sleeping in, now write with equal passion about how much pleasure you associate with waking up early.  Mine looked like this …

“How would you feel if you could wake up early?  Wow!  So fucking good.  I would take back control of my day and my life.  I would start each day proactively doing what I want to do.  I would be a better parent by giving my kids a secure environment where I am in control and not them.  I would welcome them into the day rather than them nagging me into the day.  I would have time to myself to prime, get into a peak state, and be ready to add MASSIVE value to the world.  To my kids, to my friends, to Cat, to the women in slavery worldwide, to my employees, and to my future self.  By getting up early my physical body will be primed to navigate and dominate and challenge that comes my way.  I will add massive value to the world by waking up early!  I will be able to nourish my body with delicious oxygen and clean crisp water.  I will be able to nourish my mind with gratitude.  I will be able to nourish my muscles with core strengthening exercises.  I will show my kids that I am in charge and that they are safe and secure.  I will feel disciplined and in control.  I will feel like I can accomplish anything because I am training my mind each day to serve me and not being controlled by my mind.  I want the kids to wake up and know that their dad is up and ready to nourish them and protect them.  I want to do this for me!!  To put my own health and well-being at a high priority by taking care of myself first.  Not after I have dropped off the kids.  I want blood to flow fast all over my body carrying the oxygen that I breathe into all the cells of my body.  That is what I will fee when I wake up early.  I will wake up at 6 AM every day.  Early means 6 AM.  That will give me enough time to breathe, drink water, be in a state of gratitude, do core stability exercises, and maybe shower too.  This will be an anchor habit that will lead to so much more.  So much more.  Starting the day by training my mind that it serves me, my mind is there to serve me!!  This will reinforce that my mind serves me when I wake up at 6 AM every morning.  It will feel so amazingly good to know that I am not letting life happen to me.  I am living the life that I want.  I want to be fully energized and primed when I start the day.  I will have the energy to power me through the day and energy to share with those around me.  ENERGY!!  Peak state.  There is no possible way in hell that I will continue to lay around in bed and let life happen to me!!!

Now, take your mission statement, pain statement, and pleasure statement and read them every day for the next 21 days before you go to bed.  Imagine how terrible it is to stay in bed and how amazing it will be to wake up early.  If you don’t believe that it is terrible to stay in bed, then consider whether it’s worth trying to change this habit.  (Read the section called, “Don’t confuse your subconscious mind” for more on this).

Positive affirmations to rewire your brain

Your pain and pleasure statements have started to change your beliefs surrounding waking up early.  Your goal in the next 21 days is to change your brain wiring from dreading waking up early to dreading sleeping in.  Affirmations are the next tool we will use in the quest to change your belief systems around when and how you wake up.

Affirmations are phrases that you say or listen to repeatedly to overcome limiting beliefs by changing your subconscious wiring.  They are very powerful, especially when targeting a specific limiting belief.  There are a lot of general affirmations out there on YouTube which are useful but tend to be generic or geared towards wealth creation, health, or happiness.  All these are wonderful things but we want to specifically target our belief systems about sleep and even more specifically waking up.

For specific affirmations, I use an app called ThinkUp.  ThinkUp has a simple and powerful interface that allows you to write affirmations, record them in your own voice, and then play them back on repeat.  When I became and early riser, I used these affirmations:

“I will wake up at 6 AM tomorrow.  I will wake up at 6 AM tomorrow.”

“I am an early riser.”

“I have woken up to meditate 12 days in a row!  I am thrilled to have such a good streak going!”

“When my alarm goes off, I count to 5 and then I get out of bed.”

“Spending time in the morning centers me.  I feel no anxiety during the day when I am centered.”

“Waking up before the kids is the key to my happiness and well-being.”

“Days are way better when I wake up early and meditate.”

“Rich people wake up early.  I am rich.  So I wake up early.”

“Successful people wake up early.”

“I love to wake up early.”

Record these affirmations using ThinkUp in your own voice and listen to them on repeat for at least 15 minutes per day.  The great thing about affirmations is that although you CAN listen to them and focus your attention on them, you do not HAVE to for them to be effective.  Affirmations are to train the subconscious mind so having them on while sleeping or quietly when focusing on other things is also effective.  When I listen to affirmations, sometimes I focus on them and sometimes I don’t.  Both work.  I find that listening to affirmations while driving is a great use of time.

Don’t confuse your subconscious mind

It’s important to be clear in your mind about exactly which habit you are changing.  For example, let’s say that you want to wake up early on weekdays but not on weekends.  This is totally fine as long as you are clear in the message you are giving to your subconscious.  If this is the case, when you write your pain and pleasure statements, use language like, “Sleeping in on weekdays is sucking away my life force”.  Be specific.  Then, when Friday night comes along and you know you are going to sleep in on Saturday, celebrate that as well!  Sleep in without guilt and fully enjoy it.  Continue to listen to your affirmations and read your statements on the weekend and then on Sunday night, gear up to wake up early on Monday.

Another way that our subconscious can get confused is if we use language in thought or writing that tells us that sleeping in isn’t all that detrimental but we still want to change the habit anyway.  A thought experiment might be to think about whether sleeping in is killing you.  Is it?  It’s not out of the question that by sleeping in you are missing out on instituting other very healthy habits that could prolong your life.  Yoga, meditation, working out, taking vitamins, or drinking water come to mind as some potential life-extending habits that might not be getting done when sleeping in.  Stress kills over time and if waking up early reduces stress then it’s certainly conceivable that it is extending your life.

All this to say, don’t hold back in your pain and pleasure statements.  You are not writing them to have a debate with someone else about the pros and cons of waking up early.  You are writing them to retrain your subconscious brain that has had years and years of training telling it that sleeping in is delightful and easy and that waking up early is difficult and something that other people do.




Partner might not want you to wake up early. 

Morning cuddle time may be important.


by saying that you want to change this habit but that sleeping in isn’t really that bad.  However, let’s say that you consciously want to sleep in say once per week, or on weekends.  In this case, modify your pain and pleasure statements to reflect this.  Literally add on “on weekdays” into your pain statements to be something like this …

“Sleeping in on weekdays is sucking away my life force”.

Morning routine

What are you actually going to do in the morning?

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