How understanding my introversion helped me wake up at 6am

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Like most people, I struggle to wake up early.  Reading LifeHack about how CEOs wake up at 4.30am and hit the gym did nothing for me. With every article about successful larks, there’re also articles of more successful owls – Winston Churchill as pin-up poster boy. He led Britain to victory in two world wars, and was an accomplished writer and painter.

This year while teaching a class on Motivation theories, I am reminded of my Malaysian students who turn up for my 0830am class – on time, sometimes even earlier than me.  They cross the immigration border every morning, instead of living in expensive Singapore, while others saunter into class at 930am, if they even show up.

Intuitive-Feeling NF

As a Feeling person, I am inspired by these Johor Bahru students. For these students, I come to class early and want to be a happy teacher, not one with morning “peevishness”.

Coming from a “Shame” culture, knowing that many successful CEOs wake up early, does nothing for me. I feel ashamed of my inadequacy. And then guilty, because I’m a mixed up bag of a globalised Asian steeped in western education.

Introversion

As an introvert who lectures 30hrs-33hrs a week to class sizes of 45-100 university students, the last thing I want to do, after work-hours is to be with other people.  I’m exhausted from standing and speaking and responding to questions. I stay back after class to speak privately with other introverts who do not ask questions in front of other students. This overstimulation creates stress hormones which must be rid of.

 #1 Get rid of the negative toxins

Getting up early starts the night before. I hit the gym and exercise away the negative toxins. If I go to bed immediately, my brain will process all the over-stimulation of my senses from the day’s class. Studies have shown that introverts have a shorter neural pathway to the brain, they are stimulated faster than extroverts. Watching movies over-stimulates my senses. I read light relaxing materials.

Don’t ruminate. “F” are concerned about relationships. Stop going over the day’s events. If a thought comes up, Oh did I say something stupid in class. I stash such thoughts away, or I send positive thoughts towards that student.  Bashing myself up is not going to make me a better person.

#2 Ring-fence your time

As a Feeling person, its natural to want to attend to others first and my responsibilities. Its anti-social to want to go to bed early or not go to that dinner party with friends. I feel guilty for  not turning up for dinner with friends the night before an 0830am lecture.

Now I give myself permission to be selfish to spend “Me” time. Time for yourself is motivating for introverts. Waking up early gives me an hour, my best time to do something creative before showing up for work.  I have responsibility to the 100 students I’m meeting at 0830am and 12pm. They deserve a teacher who’s energetic, not one grouchy from lack of sleep.

#3 Set your alarm 

I’m a weak J. I’m not spontaneous. I work better with structure and knowing where I’m heading.  With a good nights rest, I wake up at 6am. The alarm goes off. If I’ve given my body at least 7.5hrs sleep, and set an alarm, my body wakes up slightly before the alarm goes off. If I tell my body the night before, that I’m waking up at 6am and mentally rehearse what I’ll do when I’m awake. First I drink coffee, then 2 cups of warm water, my breakfast at a coffee joint and I write one page…

Now I stop procrastinating. Most mornings, I don’t allow for snooze.  If I’m very worried over something and wake up at 3am, I get up and stop lying in bed. Either I meditate or write down what I can do about the situation. Lying in bed replaying the event is worse for me.

I discovered from a Traditional Chinese medicine book long ago that the ideal time to sleep around 10pm when the body is healing the large intestines and wake up between 5-7am.

This has worked for me especially where bowel movements is concerned. Drinking two glasses of warm water helps me kick start my day.

As an Intuitive, I draw meaning about my life’s situation and how time management can help me towards life purpose and leading a more meaningful existence.

What’s your MBTI?

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