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Sunrise in the woods

Overcoming Depression – Part 3: Early Riser

This is part three of my introductory posts on the Maker/Mistaker blog. I'm taking you on the journey of how I got out of my depressed and worried state of mind. My last post covered how I built positive habits and left off with establishing an early-morning routine. My morning routine has been the single-most important factor in my change. But there's one more important post before I get to my morning routine. 

This is part three of my series of posts on how I woke up. I’m taking you on the journey of how I got out of depression and changed my worried state of mind. Read part two and part one. My last post covered how I built positive habits.

Becoming an Early Riser

All this talk of keystone habits inspired me to try to build a waking early habit. I’ve always been a night owl and was proud of that. It was part of my identity and nearly impossible for me to change. I hated getting up early. On June 3rd I checked into wake up before 8 am for the first time on Lift. I normally wake up at 9 am and go to bed at 2 am.

Waking up early was my new thing I told myself. Until I failed to wake up early the following day. Then I started again, then skipped two days. Every time my alarm clock went off, all I could think about was how tired I was. I hit the snooze over and over. I was doomed. Getting up early is hard.

Then I read the Power of Habit which taught me about cue, routine, and reward. Train yourself to perform your routine on a cue and then reward yourself for it. This is also a good article on making waking early a habit. In fact, Steve Pavlina, has a tried and true method for becoming an early riser that I think you should check out.

What Worked for Me

As soon as I woke up I went straight to my laptop and watched a new episode of a television series. No shower. No teeth brushing. Just coffee and television. This wasn’t so bad! When the show was over, I had a little extra time so I actually took a walk outside while I listened to the Power of Habit audiobook and dove into some podcasts on personal development and productivity.

Boy, this was a game changer.

Walking was an excuse to listen to the audiobook. I couldn’t just sit there. Then I got to enjoy the fresh air. I even started going to the park. The benefits are tremendous. In an upcoming post (it’s up now) I’m going to show you the secret that I have found to create the most amazing morning routine. It’s too much to get into now. In my next post I’ll talk about how this morning routine made me insanely more productive.

Think Traffic and Podcasts

If you remember, I discovered Think Traffic via Nathan Barry. I somehow found my way to the Think Traffic Toolbox. I was blown away with some of their suggestions on driving more traffic to your site. If you have a site of your own, I highly recommend them. I wanted to consume all of content in the Think Traffic Toolbox, but I couldn’t all at once. I started listening to their Fizzle Podcast and they referenced all kinds of books and other podcasts to listen to. I added “watch Think Traffic video” to my Lift habits to make sure I watched every day. They really started to resonate with me.

One of the things they really recommended was the 5 by 5 podcast Back to Work – specifically the episodes about Getting Things Done. So I added all those to a playlist in Instacast (my podcatcher of choice). This got me inspired to try GTD again, something I abandoned years ago as I fell out of the habit. I ended up buying the book  Zen to Done because it was a simpler, more zen-like way of being productive. I am a big Leo Babauta fan anyway, so why not.

I decided to try Omnifocus for Mac and did an initial mental sweep and unloaded all the stresses and lingering todos in my mind and put them into Omnifocus and sorted them by projects. This was massively cathartic. I needed to this and it helped me get control of things. Omnifocus has now become my trusted place for all to-dos. Nothing gets lost or stuck in my mind, it is all emptied into Omnifocus. I know there are a million todo apps out there (I used to use TeuxDeux a lot) so use whatever works for you.

Sean Webb and the Equation of Emotion

One of the podcasts that Think Traffic recommended was the Passive Income podcast with Pat Flynn. I had listened to the shows they recommended, but as a new subscriber, a new episode popped up and I started listening while at work. They introduced Sean Webb and he talked about how emotion worked and boy did it intrigued me.

On June 17 I bought his audiobook How Emotions Work. Incredible and mind-blowing. I was able to see exactly how sadness and depression are caused. This introduced me to the concept of the self. The ego. Let me say that I’ve never thought about it this way before and it all made sense. Sean has a podcast that he calls the I AM Spirituality Podcast. Which at this point looked like nothing I’d be interested in. Yet. I have since subscribed to his podcast and love it.

The Miracle Morning

Around this time the iPhone app Lift started introducing a groups feature. I subscribed to a “Sea Change” group from Zen Habits as well as other mindfulness ones. But I noticed there was a group called “Early Riser” for fans of the book called Early to Rise. Remember, I started building a waking early habitI didn’t know about this book so I looked it up on Amazon. Reviews were good, but mentioned the heavy Christian slant and focus on prayer.That was not for me, but I did find a different book called The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. This was right up my alley because I was already trying to do a morning routine, but I had already failed a bunch of times. I thought I’d buy a book about it. Boy am I glad I did!

The Miracle Morning book really changed my life. It gave me a recipe for the perfect morning routine. My waking early habit now has an actual purpose. I started with just an hour earlier than normal but after reading this book I now get up two and a half hours early and am considering pushing it to three or even four! I can’t wait to share my actual routine and get into some nuts and bolts with you in my next post.

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