May is mental health awareness month. Though I’ve spoken up about it in the past, below is a new post I wrote for my friend’s Anxiously Creative blog.
The crashing sound of my alarm goes off in the morning. I get up in a foggy hazy to read that it’s 5:00 am.
My mind immediately races to all of the things I need to get done that day. I’ve got the big meeting at 9:00, a proposal due for a major client, and hundreds of emails to sift through and respond to. I want to get a run in this afternoon. And don’t forget about date night tonight!
But none of that matters right now. Those are things that I’ll tackle later. In the early morning, where the normally busy streets in San Francisco are quiet and the moon is my main source of light, this is my time. It’s time to create.
I sit down at my desk that overlooks Golden Gate Park with my coffee to the right of me and put my headphones in.
The first few sentences come staggering out like a giraffe learning to walk. But with each successive sentence and sip of coffee, I become stronger. I turn the music up a few notches. As I get into flow state I feel a high comparable to a marathon runner at mile 17, feeling unbreakable.
When the clock hits 7:00, I know that’s my cue. I save my work, take off the headphones and call it quits on writing for the day. The rest of the world is just getting their day started and I already completed a major task.
Better yet, I just feel damn good.
While that writer’s high may not last the whole day, there is a lingering effect to getting my creative work done in the morning. A mentor told me once that he was like “the Dalai Llama after 8 hours of sleep and Satan after 6.” I feel similarly about my creative time in the mornings.
The morning sunrise looks more majestic, a kiss from my girlfriend tastes sweeter and I am an overall better human when I get my writing done in the morning. The rest of my day becomes easier and, no matter what happens in that morning meeting, I got a big win to start my day.
I post a lot of what I produce. In the past three years since opening my creative doors, I’ve published 200+ podcast episodes, just as many blogs and innumerable social media posts. I love posting and getting feedback and using my work to help people.
But don’t get it twisted: this morning time is mine. I don’t do it for likes or comments. I do it because that’s what feels right. I do it to defeat the anxiety monster that seems to be lingering around the corner each morning when the alarm goes off, telling me how unprepared I am for the day. I do it for me.
Warren Buffet encourages people to “pay themselves first” financially, to save money for their future before buying things.
That’s what I’m doing each morning as I sit down with the first cup of coffee and The Rolling Stones bumping in my headphones.
I spend a lot of my time giving – to loved ones, my team, my clients – but I always pay myself first.
For me, it’ll be at a god-awful early hour, typing up a blog with a cup (or 3) of strong black coffee.