How can I make a habit of waking up early in the morning? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by Ariel Banayan, co-founder of Partners-in-Grind, co-creator of the Master Your Mornings Sidekick Journal, on Quora:

You make a habit of waking up early in the morning by:

  1. Having clear-cut reasons for wanting to become an early riser,
  2. planning for the following morning the night before,
  3. going to sleep on time,
  4. filling your morning with necessary or exciting activities, and
  5. staying motivated and holding yourself accountable.

Why do so many of us have trouble waking up early in the morning and starting our day with intention, as opposed to reacting to our alarm clocks negatively and having that feeling carry on throughout the course of the day?

Is it because we like feeling rushed in the morning?

Does that extra 5 or 15 minutes of sleep really give us more energy for the day?

If you really think about those questions, the clear answer is no.

The truth is, by waking up and being immediately forced to start the day by quickly getting ready and going to work or school without having any alone time to set ourselves up for a great day, we're not giving ourselves the space and comfort that we need to live as happily and productively as possible.

The steps that you need to take to become a morning person are simple and easy to follow:

1. Understand the reason for this change.

You've heard it countless times before, but understanding exactly what your goals are (in this case, why you want to start waking up early) is the most important question you need to ask yourself if you want to become a morning person. The reason for this is that we tend to forget why we make decisions to change our lives, and when we forget, we lose the emotional fuel we need to continue to make progress on our goals.

Here are some good questions you can ask yourself. This will also help you understand what actions to take.

a. What do you want to change in your life, and how can extra alone time in the morning help you make that change?

b. What life goals do you consistently not make time for and how can you act on those goals by spending some time on them every morning?

c. What's preventing you from waking up early right now, and how can you counteract these things?

Answering these questions with sincerity will make a drastic impact on whether you are successful in becoming a morning person.

2. Plan for the next morning the night before.

Waking up early isn't easy, and to become a morning person you need to make the transition as simple and smooth as possible. One of the ways to do that is to eliminate all the decision making you usually do in the morning. Decision fatigue is a real problem, and in the morning you need all the energy you can get. You can't waste it making petty decisions about what outfit is going to look cute on you today, or thinking about what you really feel like eating for breakfast today.

You need to have the following items done before you go to bed:

a. Have all of your bags packed and ready to go for the next day so that you don't have to do anything besides pick them up on the way out of the house.

b. The clothes you're going to wear the next day should be decided and laid out where you can just grab them and put them on after you shower and brush your teeth.

c. Decide whether you want to eat breakfast, and if so, what you're going to have. Eating breakfast is highly recommended, as it increases your energy. Make sure to include some carbs and protein for a mixture of quick and long-lasting energy.

d. Choose the first few tasks you want to knock out in the morning, or in other words, what the first few hours of your morning will consist of.

3. Go to sleep on time.

How can you expect to wake up early and have the energy you need to tackle the day if you can't get to bed on time?

How can you cultivate the discipline you need to wake up early every single morning if you can't get into bed early enough to make sure your body wakes up satisfied?

Getting to bed on time plays a huge role in whether you become a morning person, and it isn't only because you need to get a certain number of hours of sleep. Getting to bed on time is crucial to becoming a morning person because it helps you cultivate the necessary discipline, and because it shows you exactly how all of your decisions build on each other.

Let me put it this way: successfully becoming a morning person is not merely about making a decision to open your eyes and get out of bed at a certain hour. My decision to wake up early tomorrow morning at, let's say 6 a.m., requires much more than just getting out of bed at 6 a.m.

I not only have to wake up at 6 a.m. when my alarm goes off, but it requires me to go to sleep at an early enough hour so that I have the energy I need for the next day. To allow myself to go to sleep early enough so that I can wake up on time and with sufficient energy, I must avoid going out too late, or making commitments that will harm my ability to get to sleep early.

There's a never-ending cycle of decisions that we make that all play on one another. We think that our decisions are all separate events that aren't intertwined as intricately as they actually are. Every single decision you make has a lasting effect on your future actions.

4. Have a reason to wake up.

To become a morning person, you need to have a purposeful morning planned, a task that you want to accomplish before the madness of the day starts to slow you down. This could be an appointment or a meeting. Maybe you have fitness goals you want to act on early in the day.

You need a reason to get up because if you wake up with no purpose, you'll get up, wonder why the hell you're awake so early, and you'll go back to sleep. You need to have something that you're energetic about and excited to complete, either a necessary task that you can get out of the way or an activity that will drive your day in the best way possible, giving you some energy and getting your happiness going.

5. Hold yourself accountable

Why is it that when we read an article like this, or watch a YouTube video of successful people telling us how amazing it is to wake up at 5 a.m. and start the day, we get very excited to create all these positive changes in our lives, but can't keep that mentality for more than a few minutes or a few days? To truly stay committed to our goals we need to have information that continues to guide us on the right path, motivation to keep us going and to help us remember why we made the decision to change in the first place, and accountability to keep us in check when we really aren't feeling motivated.

You can keep yourself in check by telling your friends and family about the fact that you want to be a morning person - and more specifically that you are going to become a morning person soon. You can look up videos and talks about the importance of the morning from famous and successful people to keep you motivated. You can look for strategies on the best ways to spend the morning time you have. It's really about finding ways to keep yourself engaged, excited, and with a concrete goal in mind that you can continue to act on.

At the end of the day, every single step outlined above is hugely important to successfully becoming a morning person and creating the perfect morning routine to start the day. Know why you want to make this change and what you can do with the extra time. Start working on the discipline you need to get it done, and tell everyone about the change you want to make.

The Master Your Morning Sidekick Journal

Two friends and I recently created the Master Your Morning Journal specifically to help those people who are having trouble becoming early risers get over the hump. The journal is meant to be your personal trainer for adding good habits and creating the perfect morning routine every day.

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