in life

Making Time For Your Dream Starts Before Sunrise

I wake up insanely early. It’s true.

But the time before sunrise. The time before my wife wakes up. The time before emails start filling my inbox and voice-mails start filling my phone. The time before I’m pulled in a million different directions for meetings and projects. That time, this time, is precious to me.

We all know that time is valuable. It’s the only commodity we never get back. We’re all guilty of saying (sometimes in a Jessie-Spano-like-way) that there’s not enough time. That there are never enough hours in the day. That we can’t possibly get everything checked off our to-do list. That we’ll never get into Stanford…

But what if I told you that there ARE enough hours in the day? What if I told you that you could start every day with a blank to-do list and an empty inbox?

You see, our problem isn’t a lack of time. The problem is a lack of focus. A lack of prioritization. Taking on too many commitments. Saying “yes” more often than we should. There is time, if you make time. But first, you need to know what you’re making time for.

Jon Acuff calls it “being selfish at 5 am”:

“You can be selfish at 5AM. Or 11PM if your spouse goes to bed early and staying up an extra hour doesn’t wreck your next day. You can carve out time in your day and claim it, if you’re willing to hustle. If you’re willing to find your time at the beginning of your day or the end, chances are you can tweak your schedule a little and be a little selfish.

We all have commitments we have to keep. In one form or another, we all have spouses with expectations that are not worth breaking. We all have dreams that need hours and hours of attention. But right now, let me give you permission to be selfish with your dream.”

A couple points to take away:

1. We’re all busy.

Get over the “I’m busier than everyone else” philosophy, and for god sake, stop wearing “busy” as a badge of honor. We’re not impressed. We’re all busy. Stop using it as an excuse.

2. Work better, not harder.

I’ve said it many times before: As much as it may FEEL like it, you’re work is not validated by the sheer number of hours put in. We’re trained to think that way – but I challenge you to break free – and work smarter, work in a more focused environment without distractions. Get more done in less time. Stop filling your time with “busy”. Work better, not harder.

3. Wake up earlier or stay up later.

Look, I know sleep is great – and sleep is important. But if something really, truly, (madly, deeply) matters to you – you’ll make time for it. You’ll be excited to set your alarm 30 minutes earlier. You’ll want to stay up late through the night to work on it. You’ll be so focused, so excited, so dedicated, that you’ll lose track of time.

Today I challenge you to focus on one thing that you want to make more time for: What’s your dream? What do you keep putting off?

  • Maybe you haven’t been running at night because your too tired. What if you started running first thing in the morning before you had any excuses?
  • Maybe you told yourself you were going to write 500 words a day for your book – but find it’s the last thing you have time for once you get caught up in work. What if you got 500 words in before sunrise?
  • Maybe you keep telling yourself that your dream job isn’t realistic. What if you spent an hour each morning or an hour before bed at night MAKING it realistic? Learning, creating, and hustling.

If a dream isn’t worth waking up a few minutes earlier for, it’s probably not the right dream.

Tomorrow, set your alarm to go off one hour earlier and work on that one thing. Work on your dream. You’ll be amazed at what you can do with time spent working on ‘work’ that matters.

What will you start working on tomorrow?

Add Your Voice



  1. Last night I even wore my training clothes to go running. But then I convinced my self am too tired.. You give answers to my most inner postponing attitudes. Thank u.

  2. I started taking your advice on waking up earlier near the beginning of the Summer and it’s made a huge difference! I go into the office at 7 instead of 9, and get out at 3 instead of 5. With that 2 extra hour head start in the afternoon, I’ve been working with a start company that’s launching in January. I’m not really a morning person, but I am a coffee person.

  3. So true and so timely, this fall and specially these past few weeks I’ve found myself waking up later, sleeping more and finding less motivation at work and yesterday night, I stood up 2 hours later than I usually do to set up a demo, a dream that I’ve procrastinated for too long, I’ve been able to get early this morning even though I should be tired from lack of sleep, the passion and the adrenaline generated by the conviction that I am pursuing the right dream drives me more than any 10 hours night sleep. Thank you for writing this post today, I find it comforting, energizing and inspiring.

    Great work! Keep it up!

  4. i use weekends for this, early in the morning. it feels like i’m the only one on the planet, and i can write, hike, or even get some client work done. email’s never open, neither is social media.

  5. And there’s something to be said for that righteous feeling of, “That’s right, I accomplished *mad* feats of creativity/athleticism/self reflection before most of the world was even thinking about brewing their coffee.” Makes the whole up before the sun thing almost addictive…

    As always Matt, well said.

  6. You’re so right! Got up this morning and ran in the dark…

    But Matt – you gotta admit this is an easier article to write now that days are getting shorter & we haven’t suffered through ‘time change’ yet… :-D

  7. Nailed it! If it were up to me, I wouldn’t sleep.

    I really think the most important part of the article in application of this is the focus. At least for me, and what my dream is.