Breaking Bad Habits


In January I made a decision I still can’t quite believe. I decided I would get up at 4:30 a.m. on weekdays.

At first I kept it quiet. I didn’t know if I’d be able to do it, I didn’t know if I’d stick to it. I didn’t know if it would make any difference to my life. But, of course, word spread. And the main question I fielded was why? Why am I getting up so early?

The easy answer was because I joined a challenge. There was a group of people getting up at 4:30 a.m. for 21 weekdays in January. I found it intriguing. But now it’s October and I’m still getting up at 4:30 a.m. Why?

Before this, here’s how my days were going.

  • Get up
  • Make coffee
  • Get ready for work
  • Go to work
  • Go home or to the gym
  • Eat something
  • Watch TV or do freelance work
  • Go to sleep

Follow this routine for long enough and you become stressed out and exhausted. It also leads to some bad habits that are hard to break when you’re tired all the time. This had been my lifestyle for at least seven years. I needed a kick-start, a re-boot, and a re-energy for going after the things I wanted in life.

For me this was more than just getting up a couple hours earlier. It meant I had time to prioritize what mattered to me. Through the challenge I learned how to craft a morning routine to help me focus and have found it not only life giving, but energizing. I’ve carved space for Bible reading, for cooking, for morning exercise, and for writing. All the things I tried to cram in at the end of my long days I was now doing first—before the world wakes up. I’ve seen positive changes in my health, my spiritual walk, and the quality of the work I do.

This challenge has allowed me to discover how to make the most out of my days, and I’m grateful for it. Ephesians 5:11-16 is a passage I think of often. It keeps me motivated to continue pushing to become my best self, and break the bad habits that keep me down.

Don’t waste your time on useless work, mere busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness. Expose these things for the sham they are. It’s a scandal when people waste their lives on things they must do in the darkness where no one will see. Rip the cover off those frauds and see how attractive they look in the light of Christ.

Wake up from your sleep,
Climb out of your coffins;
Christ will show you the light!

So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times! (MSG)

Something I’ve learned this year is good intentions don’t effect change, action does. For me it meant sacrificing things like evening socialization, television, and fast food but what I’ve gained is so much greater I don’t even miss it.

I don’t think I will ever be a morning person, but that doesn’t mean I can’t get up early. I’m learning to break habits and guard against laziness by deciding ahead of time what my actions will be. I know this can’t last forever—but for now it’s helping me figure out how to make the most of the time I have in my current life stage.