Mr. Balaji Rajagopalan of TESCO, is a man of iron will and steely determination. Come, let’s enjoy his amazing story of achieving something that he really put his mind to.
1.Hello Balaji! We are really glad to have the opportunity to feature you on our blog. What are you going to tell us about, today?
While I have had too many adventures with my weight losing trials (I had once lost 15 KGS – by indulging in Walks, Badminton, Runs and diet), my story is around the struggle people have with getting up early.
2. Tell us more about your time as a person who slept very late, a night owl.
I have always been a nocturnal person and used to be comfortable being awake for the entire night (if needed). I used to sleep no earlier than 1 AM (consistently for the many years).
If you challenge me to stay up till 5 AM & I would do it with ease. On the other hand, if you ask me to get up at 5 AM, I would give enough reasons to avoid the challenge.
In simple terms I was not an early bird by any stretch of imagination, I was a night owl through and through.
I keep hearing this statement from many people even today and it makes me wonder if people take pride in saying they can’t get up early!
3. When and how did you decide to make the transition to an early bird?
This year I decided to break this habit and start one of getting up early.
It was tough and challenging but I succeeded in pulling it off like this
I started by making a conscious decision to get up no later than 7 AM (and not 7.30AM) to begin with. This also needed me to get to sleep early which I did from 1AM I moved my sleep to 12. This was the easy bit to be honest. No big change in the body clock.
I practiced this for a week and I realized my body clock got adjusted to this very well.
4. What happened next?
I next decided to target 6.30AM. This also meant sleeping by 11 or latest by 11.30PM. This was slightly challenging but I managed to beat the pattern. Sleeping a bit early meant keeping myself away from technology. I did that successfully but getting up early arrived with a new challenge. What do I do after getting up so early?
I started reading and engaging with my daughter (who would be busy getting ready for school) and started enjoying it a lot. It also gave me a chance to be more social at home.
Halfway through January, I was well into the rhythm of getting up at 6.30AM and sleeping by 11PM.
However, I wanted to break this pattern and targeted 6 AM Next.
5. How did you go about doing that?
It was a lot tougher than the previous challenge but the slow incremental shifts were being well received by my body.
I took the difficulty up a notch by enrolling for Yoga (6.30AM-7.30AM batch). This little motivation forced me to wake up at 6AM.
For two weeks, it felt great but I started missing out on the interaction with my daughter as she would go off to school by 7.30AM
I wanted to have time for her as well.
I took up the next big challenge – Getting up at 5AM.
6. How did you go about accomplishing that?
This was really tough. I realized that I needed the motivation to get up. I am a person who writes regularly in a diary. So I went back in time through my diary of the days when I had lost 15kgs of weight. The fun and energy that I had gained during my days of regular walking, oozed out of the pages and I wanted to get that feeling back.
I decided to go for early morning walks and started visiting a park nearby at 5.30AM.
7. How did that go?
Visiting the park at the same time every day meant seeing the same people every day. This was fun. Slowly the elders and some middle aged people started recognizing me and even started to share smiles occasionally. This went on for a few months and I even started engaging in conversations with the people who were strangers a few months ago.
Missing a day’s walk at the park would mean answering to these people the next day on why I was not there on the previous day. The guilt of answering them was motivation enough for me to not miss the walk.
My daily routine became getting up at 5 AM and going to the park by 5.30AM and returning at 6.45AM to spend time with my daughter.
The best way to manage both the worlds.
I started sleeping early by reading books with my daughter till 10PM. I realized reading a book at night lets the mind relax and get sleep early on.
Now there Is hardly any day that I cannot get up at 5AM. In fact most of the days I get up even before the alarm wakes me up.
8. What did you gain by all of this?
Boost in self-confidence – I can set any target and achieve it
Spending quality time with family
Getting to know more people (at the park)
Becoming fitter and healthier
9. What would be your suggestion to someone who wants to start the habit of getting up early?
First and foremost make the conscious decision to get up early – without which there is no point trying.
Set incremental targets to break the pattern and eventually reach the desired wake up time.
Sleep early (say bye to technology after 9PM).
Try to set some challenges to self on – what to do after getting up early. It could be reading, exercise or anything that interests you.
Be prepared to face the battle because there are going to be many days of disappointment but the point is to appreciate it and get back into the fight on the next day
On days of extreme work pressure (making you sleep late) – acknowledge it and sleep to give the body the rest it needs. Get back to the rhythm a day after because once you break the pattern it’s tough to build it again.