Ditching The 9-5 Idea

Image Description: patio table work station overlooking a small pond with a waterfall and lush green trees in the background.
Photo from Laurie Ziegler ~ A perfect place for her to focus on work, enjoying the sounds of the waterfall and not getting bogged down by regular nuances of work.

“If you don’t develop a habit of waking up before the rest of the world, you won’t be able to change the world”

We’re so stuck on this idea that the early bird will get the worm, but it’s time to accept that as a society that norm is changing.

There’s a lot about what is expected when it comes to work that frankly needs some re-imagining.

Concepts like morning routines and jumpstarting your day with various activities are wonderful, except from a wellness or chronic illness perspective they leave a lot to be desired. Take a second to do a search about best morning routines…

You’ll be bombarded with what the top executives and entrepreneurs do first thing in the morning. They get up before the sun rises. They exercise. They listen to a podcast or journal. They’re drinking lemon water and eating breakfast.

All of it sounds really great, but what if there was something better?

Picture this:

As you’re slowly stretching, waking up to the sun shining through your curtains you can take a moment to breathe. You glance at your phone – not a single notification because it’s been on airplane mode all night. For 20 some minutes you slowly get out of bed, do some light stretches as your coffee is brewing and then take in the first few sips totally free from distractions of the world.

No alarm clock. No pressing snooze. You simply slept until the time that felt right for your body to be awake. For most people that’s still relatively early as our internal clocks tend to align with the sun coming up. But roughly 10% of people who have insomnia actually have a delayed sleep phase disorder, meaning their internal clock is naturally pushed back by an hour or two.

What do you do with the rest of the morning? Once we return to our devices, we’re faced with the reality of everything demanding our attention right this minute.

What if I told you that going to work isn’t something you really need to do until after lunch?

Recently, I listened to this inspiring podcast that interviewed David Allen where he shared that a main portion of his morning routine involves sleeping as long as he can in the morning. He checks the night before what time his first engagement is, and plans accordingly. To him, sleeping as much as possible is the key to his success and managing stress.

How would you alter the way you spent your morning?

I’ve seen some incredible takes on this from various people across the world:

One entrepreneur I follow shared that her mornings are a time that is sacred between her and God. There is no place for work or focusing on the realities of the world. She spends her mornings behind mindful and intentional with her actions. She stretches and meditates and spends a good portion of her time reflecting or in prayer.

I’ve seen other people make a huge effort to spend their mornings with family. They get up early enough to help get the kids ready for school, cook breakfast, and tidy up the house. On weekends, that time shifts to time spent doing various activities and truly engaging with their kids. This may seem like something small, but parents are no longer engaged with their children. They live busy lives and everyone is constantly rushed, leaving no time to actually spend as a family. When weekends come around, the concept of intentional time spent together is no longer regularly practiced.

Many writers I know take a different approach to their mornings. They plan to do much of their work in the afternoon so they spend the morning reading and catching up on emails leaving their dedicated work time free of other obligations. This is something I believe is a great process for people who are more creatively focused and want to spend their time free from distraction and allowing things to simply flow.

Personally, my mornings are a time spent for myself on allowing my body to naturally wake up and feel good as the day goes on. I spend time sipping coffee, looking at beautiful art, and journaling. It’s a time to relax and breathe before deciding how the day needs to be spent.

So, why does this incredibly slow and individually personalized start to the day work so much better than how most of us start our mornings?

If you painted a picture of what your morning looks like now, I’m guessing its a bit of a mess. You’re instantly angry at your alarm clock. Today’s a Monday so your day was probably ruined last night in the anticipation of going back to work for the week. You probably don’t leave yourself enough time in the morning to account for whatever is bound to go wrong, and shit here you are brushing your teeth, hair dried weird and now you’re not going to have time to make coffee. Maybe you won’t get coffee, maybe you’ll be late trying to pick it up on your way into work while commuting much further than necessary…

Just typing that out is stressful, so living it everyday is bound to take a toll. If you work from the day you’re 18 until the day you’re 65 that’s 47 years of rushed mornings and a general distaste for how your life is going.

47 years.

It’s no wonder there aren’t a lot of morning people out there.

Yet, we live in such a digital and connected world that productivity is no longer limited to the “9-5” construct. Outside from finding a job that has a later shift – opting for retail shifts that are afternoon/evening shifts – you can make changes with your regular desk job or abandon it all together. Flex-time allows you to restructure your hours at work, meaning you can come in later and potentially work from home. While focusing on your own business truly gives you freedom over your hours.

It all goes back to the original statement. We want to wake up before the rest of the world… but the rest of the world is finishing their day when we wake up. Meaning the concept isn’t valid and is only used to foster an idea that you have to hurt yourself and do unreasonable things and early hours to be successful. The world is always up and they’ve been spending their money and working the entire time you were asleep.

What if you could capitalize on that? Even just one small portion of it.

What if you could find a way to balance your financial needs where you only needed a part-time job working for someone else and the rest of the time you dedicated towards your own business or various side gigs and freelance work? Have you ever even thought of that?

Your days could begin to look like a refreshing morning, spent dedicating time to yourself, your spirituality, and your hobbies. Your afternoon and early evening could be spent working on your most prominent aspect of work, from the comfort of a cozy office or surrounded by the sounds of nature. After dinner you can focus on freelance work or a small business that can bring in revenue while you’re sleeping. You can end the day by completely unplugging – listening to a podcast or music, writing down your thoughts or ideas, reading a book… however you want it to look.

It sounds a lot nicer in my opinion.

The most successful people aren’t working 9-5, but the most successful people also aren’t only working 40 hours a week. That’s the difference between getting by and getting ahead.

But, you don’t have to start by dedicating 60 hours of your life to something.

Find something you’re passionate about and find a way to do something with it. Find something you’re knowledgeable about and learn how to present the information in a way that adds value to someone else’s life, and market that.

Understanding that we don’t have to do the whole 9-5 thing is a huge step for me in deciding what it is I want to and can do.

From a chronically ill perspective, where I still can’t gauge how I’ll be doing on a day to day basis, but I can begin to gauge my personal interests and how my knowledge can be applied I can find work that allows me to be outside because fresh air and sunshine keep us healthier and happier. I can find schedules that make sense for me, even if they leave the regular Monday – Friday construct.

I can start to learn online based industries and identify markets that my ideas would fit into. I can start someplace small.

And as one small thing develops, maybe I can start something else small.

And maybe the life of my dreams will be built on a combination of little things that I’ve created. Or maybe that will give me the base I need until I can fit in larger freelance opportunities and it will all continue to grow from there.

Regardless of where you are, the most important thing to realize is that eventually you should start living your dreams rather than creating someone else’s.


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