Although I am not quite ready for it, I’m often asked what I would like put on my tombstone.  I often reply:  “He couldn’t sleep fast enough.”

I guess I’m afraid I’m going to miss something.  That’s why I often stay up late at night and always get up early in the morning.  To be successful, you often have to be both a night and morning person.

A lot of really successful people get an early start to each day.  I recently came across an article online on Business Insider on “23 Successful people who wake up really early.”  Here are a few of them.

General Motors’ CEO Dan Akerson told the Associated Press that he “rarely sleeps past 4:30 or 5 a.m.,” so he can talk to GM Asia before it gets too late in their work day.

Gerry Laybourne, the founder and former CEO of Oxygen Channel, wakes up by 6 a.m. and is out of her house 30 minutes later.  “Once or twice a week, I go for a walk in Central Park with a young person seeking my advice,” she told Yahoo! Finance.  “And if someone is up early in the morning then they are serious about life.  I can’t take time at the office to do this, but doing it in the morning allows me to get exercise and stay connected with young people at the same time.”

New Jersey Nets CEO Brett Yormark, the youngest CEO in the NBA, gets up at 3:30 a.m. in order to get to the office by 4:30 a.m.  He sleeps in on the weekend and doesn’t arrive at work until 7 a.m.

Former Presidents George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush both are early risers.  When Father Bush was in the White House, he would get up at 4 a.m. to go running and be in his office by 6 a.m. and stay up until 2 a.m.  The younger Bush kept a similar schedule and would often hold early morning meetings.  Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice were also early risers.

You don’t need to go to those extremes; you can probably catch a couple more hours of shuteye and still succeed.  But you need to get up and get moving.  Early to bed and early to rise, as Benjamin Franklin pointed out, can make you healthy, wealthy and wise.  I understand the “early to rise” part is difficult for many people.  But if you want to get a good start on the day, you can’t sleep until noon.  Follow these tips to get up and get moving toward success first thing in the morning:

  • Give yourself a good reason.  Before you go to sleep, think about what you want to accomplish tomorrow.  Make a list if necessary.  Pick something you’re passionate about to work on first.  You’ll find it easier to get out of bed when you’ve got something exciting to look forward to.
  • Get enough sleep.  Maybe you can get by on four or five hours of sleep for a while, but over the long haul your body and brain will rebel.  Even if you do pull yourself out of bed, your efforts won’t be worth much.  Make a point of getting seven or eight hours’ worth of good sleep consistently.
  • Use a buddy system.  Enlist a friend to alternate making wake-up calls to each other.  Or make a regular date to work out or just take a brisk walk.  Getting up will be easier when you know other people are depending on you.
  • Don’t snooze.  Get up immediately when your alarm goes off.  If necessary, place your alarm across the room so you have to get up in order to shut it off.  I always drink two glasses of cold water to get my system started right away.
  • Establish a routine.  Get up at the same time every day.  Even if some mornings are more difficult to face than others, a consistent pattern will help your body wake itself up on time most days.

Trust me, you never get tired of being successful.  It energizes you.  It’s hard to live life to the fullest if you sleep through half the day.  The Roman poet Horace gave the same advice two thousand years ago:  Carpe diem! … which means “seize the day.”

Mackay’s Moral:  This is your wake-up call:   you snooze, you lose.

About the author Harvey Mackay

Seven-time, New York Times best-selling author of "Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive," with two books among the top 15 inspirational business books of all time, according to the New York Times. He is one of America’s most popular and entertaining business speakers, and currently serves as Chairman at the MackayMitchell Envelope Company, one of the nation’s major envelope manufacturers, producing 25 million envelopes a day.

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