Great Day for UP!

What Exactly Do You Value?



My older son  likes the book by Dr. Seuss called Great  Day for Up! which is full of cheerful chatter about who is up and  what great things can be done with the day. I've always found the book slightly  annoying in it's "morning cheeriness," which grates against my decidedly non -morning personality. That personality is about to be tested again as  my son started pre-K today, and the unstructured summer days are gone. You  "morning people" know who you are, and I wish often that I could join your  ranks.

Ever tried  to change into a night owl from being an early riser? Or vice versa? Did you  succeed for more than a day or two? I can't begin to count the number of times  this issue comes up in coaching, usually couched in "I want to get up earlier,  but can't seem to." I've heard all kinds of solutions, from multiple  strategically-placed alarm clocks to hiding TV remote controls to avoid staying  up the night before. The universal crack in every plan, including my own ... is  that we obviously want something else more than getting up early.

What we  value is reflected in how we spend our time. We may feel we have no choice  in going to work, in our commute time, in our family responsibilities, and so  on. It's true that options are often limited, but there is always a  choice in there somewhere. I apparently value freedom in the night hours  after the kids are in bed to be worth more than a leisurely time to wake up and  get myself and the boys ready for the day. My free time costs me and my family  ... in lost sleep, in often rushing my son to school, in missed breakfasts, and  no time to start the day peacefully.

I've seen so  many clients struggle with these very same issues, as I do, and my approach  tends to circle back past the alarm clocks and good intentions and stop at "What  do you really want?" What do you need to get it?? Does it align  with your  values? Honest answers are hard, but are the foundation of actually  changing a habit, particularly one tied to your own body clock. In your  search, beware of the biggest trap: Wants masquerading as Needs. Do you want a  lifestyle or career or possession that multiplies your need list? My desire to  live in NYC in a brownstone and raise kids there spawns a very large list of  needs, starting with the basics of food and shelter in an expensive city. The  specific wants always come first, determining the needs, which together  may or may not support your values.

For your  next change, look under the hood. List your specific wants, corresponding needs,  and see if your underlying values match up. You'll see how big of a challenge  you'll have in making your change stick. I find I have to value a peaceful start  to my day more than I value accomplishing and unwinding at night. Perhaps I'll  decide differently tonight ... It's a great day to choose!