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What we choose to believe in life can either break us down or build us up. Many people know the reason for their existence, or their “why,” and want to make a difference. They just need the “how” to achieve a successful life. Checklists and plans work best when implemented on a daily basis, and while we may feel there are never enough hours in the day to dedicate to ourselves, we’re wrong! Waking up at 4 a.m.- or just two hours before our usual wake-up time, is one of the tools for achieving a more successful life.

There’s something beautiful about being awake when the rest of the world sleeps. Getting an early start and being able to take time to relax and slowly ease yourself into the hustle and bustle of a new day.

Instead of waking up between 6-6:30 a.m. to be at work before 8 a.m., waking up at 4 a.m. allows for two extra hours to work toward planning the day and your life goals. But why 4 a.m., instead of 3 a.m., or even 5 a.m.? The idea is that most people start their day at 6 a.m., getting the kids ready for school, making breakfast and getting dressed before leaving on their daily commute.

If you work at night – or have some other kind of atypical work schedule – the idea is to simply wake up two hours earlier than you normally would. It’s important to note that those two hours aren’t spent lying in bed, but used as “me time” toward achieving your goals for a more successful life. No matter the challenges one faces and no matter how much success one has achieved, there is always room for more achievement, regardless of what the word “success” might mean to you.

Consider waking up at 4 a.m. as if each day was a race in the journey toward your desired more successful life, and that waking up at 4 a.m. allows you to be on the track to start the race each day two hours earlier than most people.  It will allow you to find the time to work on yourself, read self-help books and biographical books to learn success principles which will guide your path to a more successful life.

If you agree to commit to the challenge of waking up two hours earlier before you typically start your day for the next six months, here are three routines that may help guide you:

Routine 1

The initial task of waking up two hours before you start your day will not be easy initially. First of all, you’ll need to go to bed early to allow yourself 7-8 hours of sleep each night.

Try setting your alarm for 4 a.m. Once it goes off, use the five-second rule by Mel Robbins, who spoke about this idea during what eventually became one of the top 20 TEDx talks in the world. The principle behind it is simple: Simply just jolt yourself out of bed to wake up.

“If you have an impulse to act on a goal, you must physically move within five seconds or yourbrain will kill the idea,” Robbins said. Whatever your goals are, show the world, and yourself, that you’reserious by taking action, however insignificant that action may seem, right now.”

When you physically move, she added, your brain starts to build new habits. When you do something you’re not used to doing, you are in the act of building new habits and erasing existing ones.

Just in case you can’t quite buy into the five-second rule the first time, set a second alarm – one that’s really loud – for 4 a.m., and put this alarm in the living room. That way, even if you’re temped to turn it off and go back to sleep, your partner, children, or even your will to sleep uninterrupted will force you out of bed to turn off the alarm.

Routine 2

OK, you’re up and it’s 4 a.m. Now what? That’s an easy one. Take the first two minutes to focus on yourself until the following becomes second nature: While still up and on your feet before sitting down at your table or desk, follow some power posing techniques like the one suggested by Amy Cuddy in her TED talk based on her research at Harvard on power posing, or Tony Robbins’ 8-minute talk on The Doctor Oz show entitled “Tony Robbins on How to Break Your Negative Thinking.”

Stand up, spread your arms, open your hands and try to harness the excitement you’d feel if you had just won $1 million. At the same time, try to relive or envision the happiest moment of your life with the embodiment of confidence of a fighter pilot or your favorite athlete.

This might look a little strange at first, but think about it: There’s no one around that early in the morning, and you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain if the researchers from a top university like Harvard are correct in their findings that have shown these simple two-minute exercises will boost your confidence and decrease your stress hormone.

Can you think of a more valuable way to spend the first two minutes of your day? Repeat these exercises multiple times throughout the day as you see fit.

Guess what? It works.

Routine 3

Take about 10 minutes to set your to-do list for five goals you want to accomplish for that day. Since you’re up early anyway, why not use those two extra hours to give yourself your first win for the day? This means taking one of your two hours to read a few pages or a chapter of a book from one of the foremost experts in the field or line of work you believe to be the purpose of your life (your reason of being on this planet).

Take 30 minutes to read on improving your knowledge of your current job. Finally, take the last 15 minutes of your two hours to exercise each morning, either by jogging in the neighborhood or on a treadmill, riding on a stationary bike at home or just doing some push-ups and sit-ups.

By following the techniques above and waking up at 4 a.m. (or starting your day two hours before you typically do), you’re creating valuable time in a place in your life you may feel you didn’t have it.

You’re also starting your race two hours before the other runners on the track of life are even getting out of bed. You have a head start! Think what that could lead to if done every day; the possibilities are limitless.

Wakingup at 4.am. is just one checklist item for success. There are many more thatwill move you one step closer to a more successful life once you make thecommitment to expand your horizons and enact a life-long plan for a betterexistence.