The 5 AM Club – it is a book written by Robin Sharma, that proposes a lifestyle to be a world-class performer. It is written as a novel, and the lessons are expressed through the dialogue of the characters.
When the reader is ready, the book appears.Naval Ravikant, @naval on twitter
I picked up this book in early October 2022 while checking out the contents of the office shelf. At that time, I was thinking yet again that I need to change my life. I didn’t know how (again). So when I read the title, I thought, maybe this could help. I just needed a new idea. Several pages through it came the idea of waking up early, at 5 AM. Many inspirational and motivational statements were already shared. But the reason behind 5 AM was not revealed yet. But it was obvious in the direction of creating a new routine. So I continued reading and was intent on finishing the book since that’s what I needed: a new routine to follow.
There are many lessons shared in this book and proposals to improve one’s life, especially in terms of performance in one’s career. They are vague enough to be applicable to any field. But the action items surrounding the core practice, were specific.
That core practice is the Victory Hour, that starts at 5 AM. Hence, the 5 AM Club, that you join if you commit to it. I very well liked this concept.
The Victory Hour starts early so you have that time for yourself in peace. There’s a hint (I gather) to the idea that very few others are awake at this time, so you are starting the day ahead of others. This victory hour is meant to get your self-improvement done first thing in the morning, that you already feel awesome. It is comprised of 3, 20-minute segments: MOVE, REFLECT & GROW.
MOVE is when you exercise. Yes, about the first thing to do when you wake up. You have to sweat and catch your breath during this time. The rationale for doing this is that cortisol in your brain drops, while dopamine and serotonin rise. Cortisol is the hormone related to stress, while dopamine is the reward and motivation neurotransmitter, and serotonin is the neurotransmitter associated with happiness. These three substances have much more roles and mechanisms in the body, but for the use of this book, the aforementioned properties suffice. 😀 In short, one expects to feel good right after the 20-minute exercise.
REFLECT – you can spend the next 20 minutes to journal, meditate, plan, pray or contemplate. This window can help you have an increased gratitude, have serenity, increased awareness, etc. That adds up to your positivity at the start of the day.
GROW is dedicated to increasing your knowledge. You can also add more motivation by reviewing goals in this section. Granted you work on the right things, this will improve your craft, career and down the line, income and impact.
In instilling the habit, the book recommends doing the practice for 66 days. The habit installation has 3 phases: 22 days for destruction (of the old habit), 22 days installation and 22 days integration. Then you reach the “automaticity point” on day 66.
I am writing this blog post on day 67 – a day after reaching the automaticity point! I started doing the victory hour on November 6, 2022, and did not miss a day.
At first, I was hesitant for to 2 reasons: (i) I eat breakfast first thing in the morning. That has always been my habit. So psychologically, I didn’t think I could exercise on an empty stomach. And after eating, I needed time to digest food before exercising. (ii) Second, I already had a system for my regular exercise, since I started that in 2020. That consisted of 3 days doing strenuous exercise for 40 minutes, and on alternating days, doing shorter 10-to-15-minute exercise. How about my scheduled long exercise? I wondered.
I solved those by: (i) Having 1 bite or spoonful of breakfast just before starting the MOVE phase. This way, I didn’t have to wait prior to exercising. Also, I am not starving while doing it, just by having a little bit of food in the stomach. I wake up a few minutes before 5AM to quickly prepare breakfast (and pee and hydrate). After the one bite, I exercise. Then I eat the rest of the breakfast while at the REFLECT stage. (ii) As for the exercise dilemma, I decided to split my workout on days of supposed long exercise. So, after the victory hour, I continue my exercise for another 20 minutes or so.
One thing I consistently include in the REFLECT phase is taking a moment of Gratitude. I use an old notebook to write 1 thing I’m thankful for everyday. The thing I write is usually about what I’m thankful for the day before. As for the GROW phase, I listen to portions of my favorite podcast episodes, just to keep reminding myself of the lessons from them. The top 2 I keep coming back to are Tim Ferriss’ interview with Seth Godin about The Practice, and Naval’s How to Get Rich without Getting Lucky. Sometimes I also review lessons from the book.
While it is recommended to do this at least 5 times a week, I chose to challenge myself by doing the 66-day habit installation daily. That’s because I already wake up relatively early, and regularly exercise. So I wanted to feel the difficulty. 😀
The main challenge to this new routine is any situation that would cause me to lose sleep. Work that goes overtime and gatherings that keep me up at night. Another challenge is getting sick. I got sick on Day 25-26, but pushed through. I also got a little bit sick on Day 65! Makes me wonder if I’m doing this excessively. LOL. I also got a little bit of shoulder injury, probably due to the excessive exercise. Prior to this, I would have 1 or 2 days a week of rest. In those challenging moments, I reduce the intensity of my exercise. I also catch up on sleep in the middle of the day whenever I could. Oh, I’m lucky to not be working conventionally to be able to do that.
There are many more lessons shared in the book. It lists rules, steps and values. Basically, the victory hour should help one translate world-class performance in other aspects of life. “World-class willpower isn’t an inborn strength, but a skill developed through relentless practice. Getting up at dawn is perfect self-control training.” That’s one of “The 5 Scientific Truths Behind Excellent Habits”, which is part of “The 5-3-1 Creed of the Willpower Warrior”. You get an idea of how the book presents its encouragement.
I’m still trying to instill some of the recommended actions in the book. In terms of world-class, I have a lot of changing to do! There is the 90/90/1 Rule: for 90 days, allot the first 90 hours of work on the 1 important thing with the highest impact. This is the first item I adopted in tandem with the 5 AM habit.
I am sharing this because I do feel great about adopting this new routine. I’m no authority but hey, do you want to join The 5 AM Club? Own your morning, elevate your life! 😀