One challenge that can make it difficult to create a consistent daily flow is getting up at inconsistent times throughout the week. If I get up at different times that could diverge by an hour or more, I find it difficult to have a consistent morning routine.

Initially I thought it shouldn’t make a big difference if I get up at 5am, 6am, or 7am. As long as I get enough sleep, I can run through my morning routine when I first awaken.

But for some reason, it does make a difference. I find it much harder to get my mind to follow the same morning routine if I try to run through it at different times of day. That could be because the cues are different, especially if I sometimes get up before dawn and sometimes after.

Another factor is how I feel about my awakening time emotionally. Getting up at 5am feels good to me. I feel more disciplined. I love being up before dawn and already gliding through the flow of my morning when the sun greets me.

If I don’t get up till after dawn, I start my day feeling slightly disappointed. The sunlight reminds me that I blew it. I feel that I’ve missed out on that serenely beautiful pre-dawn time that anchors me to my day. If the sun catches me in bed, it means I’ve missed the boat for that day. It corrupts how I feel about the day as a whole, even if I still have a pretty good day overall.

If I sleep in late, like till 6:30am or 7am, it throws off my rhythm. I feel out of sync with what I’m supposed to be doing. When I go downstairs and it’s already light in the kitchen, I feel a bit more confused about what to do. My internal and external cues aren’t the same. I can still generally flow through a decent routine, but it’s more effortful because I have to consciously think about each step. And some part of my mind is wasting energy processing thoughts like, “I should have gotten up at 5am,” or “If I’d gotten up at 5am, I’d already have a new article published by now, which would have been lovely, but now I’m stuck in the quantum universe where I slept in late.”

For these reasons I find that the ideal solution is to awaken at a fixed time each day. That one habit anchors my day. I’ve been doing that consistently lately, and I find that it adds such a beautiful flow to my days. Every day starts with a wondrous gift.

I absolutely love getting out of bed when it’s still dark. I like knowing that I got a few things done while the rest of the world is slumbering. When I write and publish a new article early in my day, it feels like I’m making a personal development breakfast for people to gift them with when they’re ready.

I find it best to do this seven days a week. Taking a day off here and there doesn’t feel like a reward or an easing of discipline. It feels like I’m denying myself the gift of the pre-dawn time that I love so much.

This simple daily discipline is a friend. It’s a trainer. I used to resist it and fight with it a lot, especially when I was younger. I’d rebel against the need for it. And I missed out on many of life’s gifts. Now I’m in tune with the flow of those gifts, and it’s a wonderful place to be.

I like to awaken with an alarm each day. It’s my gentle invitation to begin a fresh, new day. It’s not jarring or unpleasant. It’s the wrapping paper that contains the beautiful gift of that magical morning time. I never use the snooze feature; to do so would be like pushing the gift back in someone’s face.

What’s the first gift you could give yourself to begin each day? How do your best days typically begin? What would happen if you consistently gave yourself that gift every single day?