I love waking up early. Early for me is 0500. I do that every day. It feels great! Has it always been like this? No. My name is Jonathan, and I am an addict. I am addicted to sleep. Given the choice my body will always choose sleep over waking up. My body is naturally lazy.
The problem with having a lazy body that is addicted to sleep is that there are so many things I want to do every day. If I am sleeping in I am wasting precious time. There is so much to do and so little time. Sure my body needs to sleep, but not longer than is needful. God did not put me on this planet to sleep. Sleep is only necessary because this mortal body gets tired and needs to rejuvenate.
So how did I overcome my addiction to sleep? Over many years I have tried many different things. Then finally I went to my Heavenly Father in prayer and told him that I could not do it. I had tried it on my own and just could not. I had tried everything I knew and waking up early and consistently was just beyond my grasp. I told my Heavenly Father all of this and ask for His help. I knew He knew how to wake up early and I asked him to help me do it.
The very next morning I popped out of bed at 0500 awake and ready to go. I thought, wow, prayer really does work. However, that was just one day. The next morning came and the exact same thing happened. Heavenly Father got me up and out of bed at 0500 every morning for the next several months. I can honestly say that I had very little to do with it. It was great.
Then one day it stopped. It was like Heavenly Father had flipped a switch off. For months after that I could not duplicate what He had done. Then I realized something. Heavenly Father was teaching me something. First, He taught me how much He loves me. He showed me that He takes the time to listen to prayers. He show me that He is concerned about what concerns me. He proved to me that He has the power to do whatever I ask of Him. He also showed me that this life is not about Him doing things for us. This life is about us learning how to do things for ourself. This life is about our going to Him, our Heavenly Teacher, and asking him to teach us and then learning how to listen to His responses and then DOING what it is that He instructs us to do.
In those three or so months that Heavenly Father was waking me up every day, He showed me that it could in fact be done. He showed me that a sleep addict like me could actually wake up consistently at 0500 every morning. Then, like the perfect teacher that He is, after demonstrating the principle Himself, he stopped and let me try. And I fell flat on my face. He picked me up, let me try again, and again I fell flat on my face.
See, there is a process to learning and growing. The process is not always easy. In fact, it is most often hard, uncomfortable and even painful. However, just like building physical muscle, our mental, emotional, and spiritual muscles have to be pushed past their limits, and broken down so that they can repair themselves and become even stronger. Heavenly Father understands this process perfectly. Of course. Not only that, He knows each and every one of us better than we know ourselves. He knows exactly how each of us learns.
After returning to failing in my attempts to wake up at 0500 every day, I began listening to what my Heavenly Father was trying to teach me. What I have learned so far is that it really has nothing to do with motivation. It has to do with choice.
We are spirits, living in physical bodies. We, as spirits, have our own thoughts, ideas, and desires. These physical bodies that we are wearing also have their own thoughts, ideas, and desires. Like any relationship, it takes a lot of time, patience, perseverance, and good communication to truly understand how we work best with our bodies. From the day we are born we start trying to figure out how to work this body that we have been given. We learn how to vocalize, we learn how to see, hear, feel, touch, and taste. Then we learn how to move the arms and legs in a way that allows us to crawl, then walk, then run and jump. This partnership we have been put into with these bodies takes years and years to perfect. In fact, we may never in our lifetime perfect our relationship with our bodies.
The point that I want to make though, is that our bodies were made for us, not us for our bodies. We are in charge of our bodies. Or at least that is our choice. If we choose not to take charge of our bodies, then our bodies go into default mode and do their own thing. Our bodies naturally want to be lazy. We, are what gives our bodies life. It is our choice what we do with our bodies. Some people may have bodies with different propensities than others, but we all have the power to choose what we want to do with our bodies.
Therefore, as I said before, it all comes down to choice. It really has nothing to do with motivation. Except that motivation is the result of making a choice. Motivation comes from within. No one and no thing can motivate us. We are the only people that can motivate ourselves.
It is like having a car, with plenty of gas, plenty of power, plenty of road and no one to step on the gas pedal. The gas pedal is the motivation trigger of a car. That motivation is only triggered by the choice of the driver. The car can wish itself into motivation all it wants, but it is not going anywhere until the driver presses on the pedal.
Similarly, we are the “drivers” of our bodies. Our bodies are not going to be motivated to do anything until we step on the gas pedal and actively motivate our bodies.
The question, then, is how to actually make that choice.
While listening to an episode of the Live on Purpose podcast, I learned a principle called, “counting the cost”. I am sure that learning that principle was part of Heavenly Father’s curriculum for me.
I understand the principle of “counting the cost”, as it applies to goals, to mean, taking into consideration the major obstacles that could present themselves while you travel down the path toward your goal.
For example, some of the major obstacles on the path to my goal of waking up every day at 0500 were the following:
- My body may not want to wake up
- I may have gone to bed late and my body may be extra tired
- When my alarm goes off I may have all sorts of enticing thoughts about how much more sleep I “need”
- My bed is so soft and warm and comfortable
- I love how it feels to sleep
These were some of my major obstacles to waking up every day. After I identified as many “costs” involved with reaching my goal of waking up every day at 0500 as possible, I also took the time to recognize that there would most likely be other “costs” or obstacles that would arise that I had not yet identified. Once I had made all these realizations I weighed these costs against my goal. I had to ask myself, was my goal worth all of the costs involved with reaching that goal?
For me the answer was, “yes”. The costs were worth it because I really wanted to reach the goal of waking up every day at 0500.
The last step was to muster the courage to make the choice. I recognized that the choice should only be made once. If I had to re-decide every morning, then I know the choice would always be to sleep in. It was really important that I make the choice only once so that I never have to make it again.
I did it. I counted the costs, weighed those costs, decided that the goal was more valuable to me than the costs involved in reaching the goal, and then courageously made the choice.
That is then end of it. I no longer have to fight it. I have made my choice and I do not have to make that choice again.
It took me a long time to get to that choice. It was painful. But it was also worth it. Like climbing to the top of a mountain. The process is difficult but the vista at the top is exhilarating and worth it.
I asked Heavenly Father to help me wake up every day at 0500 and He did it. Actually, WE did it. Him and I together. For that is the most important relationship we can and should develop here in mortality. The relationship with our Heavenly Father. We of ourselves our nothing. Yet, with Him we can do and be absolutely anything that we want to be. We are finite. He is infinite. Anyone who can do the simple math of adding infinite plus finite will know that the result is infinite. With Heavenly Father on our team, our possibilities are infinite. Having Him on our team is another choice.
Life is all about choice. We are free to choose.
What will you choose?