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January 5AM Wake Up Challenge Recap

Following a amazing and life changing year in 2018, I set some pretty big and tough goals to work towards in 2019.

Given the nature of these goals, some were going to be very difficult to achieve if I was left to my typical procrastinator self. So what could I do? The answer? The January 5AM Wake Up Challenge.

In order to tackle these goals I wanted to try something different than what I was doing last year. I’ve never been one to stray away from challenges, so why not challenge myself to try and get a better result?

This worked to moderate success last year, when I challenged myself to no screen’s before bed. What did I have to lose?

Alas, while I had very high hopes for this challenge, the outcome was mixed, but I can at least say I learned a few key things about myself in the process, things that should help me going forwards along this path to FIRE, and even post- FIRE.

The Bad

We’ll start off with the bad (when given the choice does anyone actually choose to hear the good news first?)

Side Hustling

I had high hopes for this challenge, specifically in relation to my daunting make $6,000 side hustling in 2019 goal.

I knew that I’d need to get started on this sometime early in 2019 to have any hope of reaching it. Otherwise my procrastinator self would just keep putting it off until I had an extremely tough task at the end of the year.

I envisioned myself researching, writing, setting up freelance profiles and the works. I even thought I could get the year started off really great by earning my first dollar through one of these efforts!

The reality was a whole bunch of researching, and not a lot of action taking.

I was torn by different ideas of what I wanted to do, and indecision led to a colossal amount of wasted time.

I justified this by saying I did not want to waste my time getting started on something that may never see the light of day. By taking this approach, I essentially trapped myself in analysis paralysis, not wanting to do anything until I made a decision.

This lasted pretty much the whole month, which lead to an extremely unproductive use of my time. Essentially no better than the exhausted time after work I was trying to rid myself of.

While some of the research I did was valuable, in terms of the actual side hustling, I’m no better off right now than I was on December 31st.

The Sleep

Another benefit I was hoping to unlock through this challenge was the better sleep that could potentially result from this.

I’ve made no secret on the blog that I’ve struggled getting consistently good nights of sleep, and thought perhaps my later bedtimes could be the result of that.

As it turns out, adjusting your sleep schedule can be very tough. I found it difficult to get into the routine of being in bed at such an early time, (a little after 9pm).

A few things were conspiring against me. One, having a significant other on a vastly different sleep schedule made this difficult. Even though we don’t live together, it was sometimes tough to have to drop off mid text-conversation to get in bed and go to sleep.

In addition, I need some time to unwind and relax after work. Several days, I did not even get home from work until nearly 8pm, and after making, eating and cleaning up dinner it was pretty much already bedtime leaving no time to truly relax.

What I hoped was going to be a month full of better sleep and feeling more rested, turned into a month of less sleep, and the feeling of being exhausted through most of it.

The Good

While the above was certainly not the result I was hoping for during this challenge, there was in fact some good that came of it.

For my current side hustle, charging electric scooters, this provided a great opportunity to charge and release more scooters. There was no excuse really, as I was going to be up early anyways every day so may as well get some money for it.

The result would have easily been my best month ever of making money with this venture had the scooters not been pulled off the streets for nearly a week and a half due to the snowy weather! (The snow wasn’t all bad as you can see below ๐Ÿ™‚ )

Despite this, it was nice to have that side hustle going on to make me feel productive, despite my lack of progress on starting other side hustles.

In addition, one goal that was consistently met was working out and stretching more.

I struggled with consistently working out last year, largely as I suspect my job left me working later and later which made me too tired to get in the gym.

The early mornings helped to combat this greatly. Even though I may have been tired, the early morning gym (sometimes even in my room) and running sessions helped to wake me up and get the day started on a good note. Same thing for stretching – starting the day loose and limber was a nice change.

While I’m not sure these early morning workouts will be a permanent change, if I find myself unable to workout consistently again, this may be the move I make.

The Need For Structure

With the good and the bad of this challenge stacked up against each other, one thing greatly stood out: I need structure.

I’ve always suspected this, given my legendary prowess at procrastination, but seeing this so plainly through this months successes and failures was eye opening.

Successes: specifically setting aside time to drop off scooters in the morning, and get my workouts/stretching in.

Failures: Not having specific goals with the side hustles or setting time lines to get things done, and not setting an absolute, must happen bedtime.

By not giving myself deadlines to make decisions, specific actions to take or the need to get in bed at a specific time, it greatly hindered my ability to get what I wanted done and accomplish what I hoped to.

Just by writing this out I realize I’ve opened a can or worms here and there are definitely not enough words to get out what I want to say in this brief section. Look for a future post diving deeper into this topic and the implications of it in the near future (perhaps next week as it is at the forefront of my mind?)

Despite not getting what I wanted out of it, I’m still very happy I did this challenge. I think it’s important to admit and own up to your failures and not just your successes.

I’ve found that I tend to learn a lot more about myself by analyzing what went wrong with a situation instead of just focusing on what went right.

This way I can take what I’ve learned, implement it into my life, and as they always say on the ChooseFI podcast “just get a little bit better”.

That’s all we’re really after, isn’t it?


Would you ever try this wake up at 5AM challenge? Do you consistently do morning workouts? Do you hold yourself to a strict bedtime? Let me know!

10 thoughts to “January 5AM Wake Up Challenge Recap”

  1. I too started waking up at 5 AM this year and have been mostly successful. I’ve been keeping a 10PM – 5AM schedule. Some days it is tough (like when I have a cold like I do today), but it has be hugely beneficial in writing content for my blog and getting crap done. Even if your side hustles haven’t taken off, it’s awesome that you are pursuing those goals. I’m also trying to up my side-hustle game.

    1. Thatโ€™s awesome it working out well for you and I totally agree it can be really useful. I just need to get myself on a better schedule to make sure Iโ€™m using that time productively! Good luck with the side hustles!

  2. My wife and I have been retired for years and we still get up earlier than that to run. It is easier to run on the streets when there is not much traffic and it starts the day off right to run four or five miles, eight on Saturdays. We are in our sixties and our fellow runners range from 30 to 70 years of age.

    1. Wow thatโ€™s awesome! Yes I found I really did like the early morning running and workouts as there were a lot less people around and it really energizes you and gets your day started off right!

  3. I was very interested to hear how this went. Appreciate the brutal honesty! I don’t think I’d ever do it. I am not a morning person by any means and I go to the gym after work. In fact I was just talking to someone there tonight who said they have a good Saturday morning group of guys who play basketball. Since I play there, I asked what time. They said 8:30 AM. I said nope, not happening. ๐Ÿ˜‚ I sleep late on the weekends and I’m definitely not getting up early to do that, even though I enjoy playing.

    I am in the exact same situation regarding researching side jobs. I literally have a list sitting on my desk at home of various options and I have yet to act on a single one of them. Paralysis by analysis indeed.

    1. Haha yep I hear you. Iโ€™m not writing off the early mornings completely, but if I do it again Iโ€™ll need to make sure Iโ€™m better organized and have a schedule. In the meantime Iโ€™ll be sleeping in to catch up on sleep ๐Ÿ˜‚

      Good luck getting on those! Once a decision is made itโ€™ll hopefully be easier ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Kudos to you on sticking it out for a month, especially given how late you get home from work sometimes. Even with a normal bedtime it’s tough to get home so late and have to fit everything in so I have no idea how you did it during this challenge since some things—like making dinner—can’t be pushed to the morning! I’m with you on needing structure. I think lack of it is a large part of why I’ve been feeling like I don’t have enough time lately. I need to use the time I do have better.

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