I have a fascination with observing and analyzing successful people. I don’t mean success as in they’re worth billions, or even millions. Successful people, to me, are the ones who have found their passion, continuously hone their craft, and are somehow making a life out of it, even if that life isn’t financially worth a lot.
Another component to a successful person is the peaceful energy they exude. They’re at peace because they’re building their life upon the things that they love. They’re not chasing money, trying to attain the materialistic things society has told them to love; instead, they are pursuing their often intangible, complex, and mystifying passion that ignites their energy and fulfills their soul.
Through all the books I read and interviews I listen to, there is one particularly common theme between these subjectively successful people: They all wake up early. Around 5-6am.
If you think about it, it shouldn’t come as a surprise: Staying energized is much easier when one is doing an action out of love, than it is when fulfilling an obligation. When people pursue their passion, sleep is no longer their escape from the mundane world– it is the only thing separating them from a world full of creativity, art, excitement…
So it’s no wonder Americans are addicted to caffeine and Starbucks is becoming the modern day equivalent to the Roman Empire. (Too far? Probably, but you get the point.) It’s no secret that alongside the flashy cars, mansions, and Keeping up with the insanely rich, America is a country full of depression, stress, and obesity– and when you look at the crazy hours we’re expected to work, to pay off the enormous debt we accumulated in order to go to college to get that very job that is now overworking and underpaying us– the statistics are not surprising.
Bottom line: there’s a lot of confusion, and a lot of anti-depressants, alcohol, and Adderall involved. That’s why successful people are so intriguing to me. They’ve somehow learned how to cultivate their own peace amidst the chaos. Many people stay in jobs they hate. They feel stuck. They don’t know how to turn the things they enjoy into a profitable career, or they’re in need of the money, so they devote 40+ hours of their life each week doing tasks they don’t care about. They go home drained, because their work isn’t fulfilling them–it’s depleting them. And because their work isn’t fulfilling, they try to fulfill themselves with things— an upgraded car, a designer bag, an overpriced watch, a bar tab, or a full-blown shopping spree.
Wake up for work, go to work, commute home from work, the moon is almost out, so might as well eat, sleep, and repeat. Until the weekend. Then it’s time to spend, spend, spend.
This isn’t one of those blog posts that tell you to quit your job, sell your shit, and backpack all over the world because “every moment unhappy is a moment wasted” or “the only thing to fear in life is fear itself”. As awesome as that sounds, I actually hate posts like that. When you have a child to feed, loans to pay, or just limited money for groceries let alone a solid backpack to travel the world with, those posts may sound encouraging, but they’re not motivating.
Last year, my friend went to Banff Film Festival and told me that one of the featured films centered around a guy who had a solid job, but would escape each weekend to travel and embark on an adventure. They called him the “Weekend Warrior,” and his lifestyle of maintaining a steady job whilst using all his free time to pursue what he loves, is more inspiring than any meme with a sunset.
So many people dream of a different life, but that’s all they do– they keep that life as a dream, at an unattainable but safe distance because they feel too trapped or scared to make their fantasies a reality. But you don’t need to be all in or all out in order for you to make your dreams come true. Unless your job consists of a 60+ hour work week and you hate it, you don’t need to quit your job to do what you love.
Instead, do at least one thing that makes you happy or puts you in a creative flow each and every day. Whether it’s doing yoga, cooking, reading, looking at art, writing, practicing photography, building– do just one thing, each day, at any chance you get, and as you get older you’ll realize how much those moments add up.
After all, life is made up of little moments, and successful people are the ones who use those free moments to ignite their energy, pursue their passion, and follow their peace.
Perhaps successful people wake up before the rest of the world because they can’t wait to begin their days. But perhaps it wasn’t always this way. Maybe successful people started waking up earlier because they needed time. Maybe their schedules were so hectic, their lives beginning to feel so mundane, that they needed to wake up earlier just so they could have an hour or two to themselves, a time when they could be free to do what they please.
And as those hours add up, they continue to hone their craft, feel inspired, and ignite the energy within, all the while becoming more at peace with themselves and everything their life stands for.