The 5am Club looks at how we can structure our lives in such a way to maximize our potential. Based on concepts and methods taught to the likes of entrepreneurs, CEO’s and sports starts, Robin Sharma makes a clear point: If you want to be like the 5% you need to do what 95% of people are unwilling to do. In short, this book is around the power of waking-up earlier, however, if done right, you will not only have more time, but you’ll also have more of everything else too.
Get the book here: The 5am Club by Robin Sharma
Key Idea #1 – Anything worth having will be hard
Before delving into the main topic of the book, it’s probably best to give a quick disclaimer here.
If you want to make a real change in your life; it’s not going to be easy. There will come a time when you want to quit, however, that is the time you need to keep going the most.
So, if you’re looking to begin living a positive and fulfilled life in the long-run, be ready for a short term shock!
Key Idea #2 – Our mornings are usually our most precious hours
When we break our days down, most of our time is spent either at work; attending other commitments or sleeping, leaving little time to focus on ourselves and improve our skills and abilities.
You might have already guessed it by the title but that’s why Sharma suggests you should seize the early morning when you might not have as many commitments and use that time for serious self-improvement. This early morning stint should be seen as your “victory hour” where you can wholly focus on becoming a better version of yourself.
You should try waking up at either 5am as the book suggests or at least 1 hour before the day is in full swing.
Key Idea #3 – An effective morning routine is essential
Having good results is much less about having perfect genetics and far more about having effective daily habits and routines.
Winning starts at the beginning. Therefore, when you take care of the front-end of your day, everything else will seem to fall into place. You’ll feel as if you have more time, less pressure and more clarity.
The key thing to make sure you do in the mornings is to avoid distraction. The first thing many of us do in the mornings before anything else is reach for our phones and get an overload of information which overwhelms us and gets us off to a bad start. Instead, try to focus on having a clear morning to yourself – follow the 20/20/20 rule (see below) and ease into the days madness slowly.
Another important thing you should make sure you do each morning is to visualize how your perfect day will go. Rehearse what you want to happen, plan out the details and anticipate what could happen and what you will do if it does happen. This can help make the day seem less daunting and also help remove any sense of negativity going forwards. Instead, you should be equipped with an objective, problem-solving mindset ready to take on whatever is thrown at it!
Those 2 tips should help you get off to a great flying-start, but if you’re looking for some more tips, I would highly recommend checking out my summary of Atomic Habits by James Clear!
Now you’ve woken up and have gotten your mind in the right place, it’s time to see what to do with those precious morning hours!
Key Idea #4 – The 20/20/20 rule could transform your life
When you wake up earlier, you will find yourself having more time to seize-the-day, however, to make sure that time is spent on worthwhile things that will help pay dividends in the future, you must have a robust system in place to help capitalize on that time.
That is where the 20/20/20 rule can help…
For that additional hour you have squeezed our of your day you should break it into three equal 20 minute sections and perform the following:
When you first get up, try to begin your day by doing intensive exercise, this is usually also known as HIIT training.
This will help in a few ways; firstly, when you first wake up, cortisol – the stress hormone – is usually at its highest in the morning, this is the hormone which you need to flush out, it will only stunt your growth and genius. Exercising vigorously should help lower it.
A second benefit of this morning workout is it will also help release dopamine – the transmitter of drive – which combined with a decreased level of cortisol should help you lead a happier and more fulfilling day.
Once you have finished the workout, use this time to get the reflection time you deserve.
Contemplate on how you are living, who you hope to become and be thoughtful regarding the values you wish to be loyal to for the hours ahead.
A great way to do this is to keep a journal, write down everything on your mind and get it out so it doesn’t dwell on your mind when you’re trying to focus on other things.
During the final stage you should focus on growing as an individual and becoming more valuable to your industry and society.
In the reflection stage you might identify some of your desires; you might want to apply for a new job soon or begin studying new exams, this is the time to fulfil those desires and put in the work.
You can also try reading books, listening to podcasts or practicing a new skill. The key thing here is: If you want to lead a more valuable life, you need to raise your own value first.
Once you have made the most of your “victory” hour, you are ready to face the day with a energized, clear and motivated mind.
Key Idea #5 – It takes around 66 days to develop good habits
Whilst the 20/20/20 rule can help you wake up earlier and utilize your time better, the unfortunate truth is that implementing a positive change in your life might make things a little harder before it makes them easier.
According to research from University College London, it takes around 66 days to reach a limit of “self-reported automaticity for performing an initially new behavior” which pretty much means to perform an action automatically without thinking about it (it becomes a part of who you are).
As part of the 66 days, you might find yourself going through 3 clearly defined stages each with their own traits. These stages are: Destruction, Acclimatization and Automaticity.
The first stage is when you are just starting out. What usually happens is things seem to be getting worse before they get any better. Think about when you start that new diet or training regime, whilst the first day or two might feel good, the next couple will be tough and are the ones when you’re most likely to quit. If you want to be able to develop a long-lasting habit, you MUST push through this stage.
The next stage is when things start to slowly fall into place. This is when the neural pathways in your brain are formed and the real “installation” of the new habit begins.
The final stage is the one we all want to reach and that is when the habit becomes automatic. It’s when you begin to wake up at an early hour without any prompts and it feels completely natural. When you reach this stage it should be much easier to keep those positive habits and as a result, over the longer term they will begin to pay back dividends.
Key Idea #6 – Developing good habits only takes 4 simple steps
My summary of Atomic Habits by James Clear has many more pieces of advice on developing good habits, but in short, if you want to develop a habit, these 4 steps will help…
This is the action which triggers you to perform the habit. It’s when you set your alarm in the mornings.
This is the performing of the action, when the alarm goes off, make sure you get right up! Don’t mess around trying to eek out a few more minutes sleep, get up right away!
Once you have performed the action make sure to acknowledge that you did the right thing and you are making steps in the right direction.
If you managed to wake up early today. Make sure to do it tomorrow and so on...
Key Idea #7 – Rigor and grit is what will set you apart
If you’re reading this you’re most likely come here to improve and you’re off to a great start, however, the thing which will really make a difference is rigor and “grit”.
Grit is a term popularized by social psychologist Angela Duckworth who studied elite performers in different fields and found that the thing which made them such great performers wasn’t so much their inherent talent, but their levels of commitment, discipline, resilience and perseverance.
These people are the ones who will keep going when it gets tough and nobody else believes in them, they are the ones who have depth in their work and don’t ignore things everyone else will, they are the ones who insist on greatness in whatever they do, no matter the sacrifice.
If you love what you do and want to get better at it, don’t dwell too much on whether you have that “natural” talent and instead capitalize on whatever you have so far. Put the work in when others aren’t willing to and when you find the going gets tough tell yourself what Muhammad Ali would – “I hated every minute of training. But I said, don’t quit, suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion”.
So, overall – Wake up one hour earlier each morning and follow the 20/20/20 rule. Whilst in the short term not much will change, when you look at how much you’ve grown over multiple years it will be noticeable!
Get the book here: The 5am Club by Robin Sharma