A few years ago, I shuffled into my local Starbucks at 6:00 a.m., eyes pinned open with toothpicks and yawning as I ordered. At the time, 6 a.m. was the middle of the night for me and Patrick, the regular barista watched me swaying on my feet as he poured the coffee.
He eyed me cautiously and carefully slide the drink across the counter.
“Do me a favor. Drink that before you drive anywhere.
There are certain things I shouldn’t do before I’ve had my coffee. Operate heavy machinery, interact with people, or interact with people.
I am not now, nor have I ever been a morning person.
The world is split into two kinds of people. Larks and owls. I’m an owl.
For most of my life, I’ve been made to feel bad about my lack of enthusiasm for mornings. I slept sitting up through 5:00 a.m. morning prayer at the convent and my parents preached that the day was wasting if I slept in until 9:00 when I was home for break.
We are a society geared towards the larks of the world - leaving the owls like myself feeling like we need to change in order to better fit into a typical workday and feel more productive.
Going to bed early sounds almost noble (and like a fantasy for those of us who struggle to sleep anyway), but if I go to bed and sleep in late that almost sounds lazy.
The thing is if I have my druthers, (I tried to order some druthers through Alexa because if I have druthers I can have anything I want. But she didn’t understand me).
If I had my druthers, I’d get up around 8:00 or 9:00 and probably stay up until 11:00 or 12:00. That’s the way I’ve always been wired.
I know I’m more productive at night. In fact, I’m currently writing this post at 11:00 p.m. on Tuesday night (See also an earlier post on procrastination). Sure I could set my alarm to get up and write it in the morning, but I’d feel foggy while trying to write at 5:00 a.m.
That’s just not my best hour.
I hear plenty of friends and clients who get frustrated when they try to develop a morning workout routine but find themselves hitting the snooze button and skipping more workouts than they make. Then they judge themselves for being lazy and unmotivated and tired.
In reality, they’re trying to force a round peg into a square hole.
Listen, I know there are a lot of tight schedules out there, and some owls can and have to make a morning workout routine stick.
Plenty of people do what they need to do to get the workout in and that’s fantastic.
But if you’re trying to build that new habit of getting to the gym, I go back to one of my favorite quotes from Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron is “Start where you are.”
If you are an owl, work with that. A habit is much more likely to stick if you stop trying to change who you are.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again.
Change what you do, don’t change who you are.