What Exactly Do You Value?My older son likes the book by Dr. Seuss called Great Day for Up! which is full of cheerful chatter about who is up and what great things can be done with the day. I've always found the book slightly annoying in it's "morning cheeriness," which grates against my decidedly non-morning personality. That personality is about to be tested again as my son started pre-K today, and the unstructured summer days are gone. You "morning people" know who you are, and I wish often that I could join your ranks.
Ever tried to change into a night owl from being an early riser? Or vice versa? Did you succeed for more than a day or two? I can't begin to count the number of times this issue comes up in coaching, usually couched in "I want to get up earlier, but can't seem to." I've heard all kinds of solutions, from multiple strategically-placed alarm clocks to hiding TV remote controls to avoid staying up the night before. The universal crack in every plan, including my own ... is that we obviously want something else more than getting up early.
What we value is reflected in how we spend our time. We may feel we have no choice in going to work, in our commute time, in our family responsibilities, and so on. It's true that options are often limited, but there is always a choice in there somewhere. I apparently value freedom in the night hours after the kids are in bed to be worth more than a leisurely time to wake up and get myself and the boys ready for the day. My free time costs me and my family ... in lost sleep, in often rushing my son to school, in missed breakfasts, and no time to start the day peacefully.
I've seen so many clients struggle with these very same issues, as I do, and my approach tends to circle back past the alarm clocks and good intentions and stop at "What do you really want?" What do you need to get it?? Does it align with your values? Honest answers are hard, but are the foundation of actually changing a habit, particularly one tied to your own body clock. In your search, beware of the biggest trap: Wants masquerading as Needs. Do you want a lifestyle or career or possession that multiplies your need list? My desire to live in NYC in a brownstone and raise kids there spawns a very large list of needs, starting with the basics of food and shelter in an expensive city. The specific wants always come first, determining the needs, which together may or may not support your values.
For your next change, look under the hood. List your specific wants, corresponding needs, and see if your underlying values match up. You'll see how big of a challenge you'll have in making your change stick. I find I have to value a peaceful start to my day more than I value accomplishing and unwinding at night. Perhaps I'll decide differently tonight ... It's a great day to choose!