Full text of How Waking Up Every Day at 4.30am Can Change Your Life by Filipe Castro Matos at TEDxAUBG conference.
Listen to the MP3 Audio here: MP3 – How waking up every day at 4.30am can change your life by Filipe Castro Matos @ TEDxAUBG
Beyond natural. It’s always better to go beyond natural. In your private or professional life, anywhere and anytime, try to push your limits well beyond your comfort zone. Try to not stay comfortable and, with that, reach things you’ve never imagined before.
But what does it mean to “go beyond natural”? Well, I believe that you don’t need to do a huge thing to make something different. In reality, those big things like employing hundreds of people, saving lives somewhere in Africa, or representing your country when you are part of its government, are the result of many little things, hundreds, thousands, little things that you do in all your life.
Of course, you must be ambitious in your life. But, at the same time, you need to be very patient. Because you only reach your most desired goals with a lot of hard work, a few risks and a little bit of luck. And this may take years.
So, today I’m here to show you that a little thing, in some way different than usual, may lead to something great. The best example that I have for you happened with me last year. It started with a simple challenge: wake up at 4:30 am during 21 consecutive days. A challenge that I gave the name of #21earlydays.
So this is the reason I am here today, and the reason I was featured on Business Insider, also on national TV, newspapers and radio. But why? Well, probably you will agree with me that this is quite unusual but, at the same time, this is something that anyone in the world could do, too. I don’t have any special power to wake up at 4:30 am. But this is something that everyone can do. There are millions of people doing that everyday.
But if we take a better look on it, you see that my challenge wasn’t to wake up so early. What I challenged was a global status quo that says how your life must be, what you must study, why where you must work, what you must watch on TV, and also at what hour you must wake up. I confess: many times I also fall in this chain where you just follow what the others do, without questioning why.
So, why the hell am I waking up so early? What is the reason behind it? The story behind it is very simple, in fact.
One day, I was thinking about why I was doing my days the way I was doing and what I could improve in my life to be a better person. I remembered reading some articles in the press, about how early some of the most successful CEOs in the world wake up, and so I decided to take a chance on it. I thought it was interesting.
But why 21 days? Well, 21 days, I put a limit of 21 days because there are theories that say that it is the right amount of time you need to form a new habit. I didn’t know if it would work, but for me it was more for the sake of establishing a goal. A thing that I always apply to life is to always establish a goal when you want to reach or change something in your life. Because only in this way will you understand if you succeeded or failed.
So, I started to share a lot of thoughts with my network. The advantages of it, the little pleasures and also my progress. Many people started following what I was doing. And 2 or 3 weeks after, there were already people trying to do the same, waking up so early.
But — This thing about #21earlydays really exploded when I shared a blog post on Medium about the lessons I have learned with that. Thousands of people saw my blog post. My blog post was also republished on Business Insider with more than 1 million views, and the Twitter feed around #21early days is endless, still today.
So, what did I learn with this? These were my lessons:
One, Find support along the way. It is always better to find these people that will push you forward and will hold you accountable for failing, even if they criticize you. This is my blog post — my Facebook post, the original one, about the challenge, and where I was more exposed to many people.
Two, People like to see different things. And come on, a young guy like me, waking up so early, is different. At least it’s not what people see on Facebook and at least people see different pictures on their Instagram feed.
Three, No. You don’t need to sleep less. One thing that happened a lot was a lot of people, horrified, asking me: “So you sleep less. How do you manage to do that?”
And I say: “Okay, I don’t sleep less. I only go to bed earlier.” This is what he is saying. That means: Bed early and rise early. In fact this is simple. I went to sleep a few hours before.
Four, Get rid of your obstacles. This is really important. When you want to change something in your life, it’s important to eliminate all the obstacles because it becomes much easier to reach your final goal.
Five, A healthy life is really important if you want to sleep properly. So I sleep well, I eat well and I exercise, and it helps a lot with that. I fall asleep really fast, 5 minutes on average. I sleep well and anywhere if needed, and I wake up without any problems, and this helps a lot, of course with my challenge. This is me exercising. So it’s a proof that I exercise.
Six, Forget snooze, please. For me this is one of the worst inventions ever on mankind. Come on, it doesn’t help you with anything. You delay for 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes of your life. There are studies that say that you get more tired sleeping that time, and you are wasting your time for more interesting things. So forget this. Nothing good comes from snooze.
Seven, I only need 6 or 7 hours of sleep. This is me waking up a little bit. I swear that I’d like to sleep, but my body only demands this much time of sleeping. So why waste my time with sleep when there are a lot of things that are way more interesting?
Eight, I found that doing this, I have more working time. In fact 2 more hours per day. And in the end I can leave the office earlier and have some drinks with my friends enjoying the beautiful sun of Lisbon.
Nine, I found that it was a better way to get messages out of my way. During the morning no one is working, so I can answer all the emails and messages and I have an Inbox zero and no instant answer for today, and this is a great feeling during the morning.
Ten, I found that I have also more time at the gym. So this is the proof that I go to the gym, and I found that waking up earlier, when I go to the gym I am not so tired. As I worked before for 2 hours that’s not an excuse. It helps a lot on those days when you think that you don’t have enough time to exercise.
Eleven, New view on the world. This gave me a few little feeling for pleasures like seeing a sunrise when I was running. This is great.
Twelve and last. You need the will to do it. But if you have it, no one will stop you. So this challenge was the result of many thoughts and many conversations that I had in the weeks before. This was a personal experience that put people to think and discuss about this subject. Many shared the story.