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Winning the Hour: How Rising Early Sets You Apart

Last Updated: February 8, 2024 by Team


A mentor once broke it down for me: rising an hour early each day gives you 30 extra hours a month. With those hours, you could finish several books or make headway in a new skill… This is how gaps widen between people.

Fired up by this logic, I immediately set out to implement it.

Yet, enthusiasm faded quickly. Each morning, a myriad of excuses would surface in the split second I was woken by my alarm: lack of sleep affects daily efficiency; missing a bit of study time won’t hurt; I’ll make up for it tomorrow…

After succumbing to sleep again, I’d fall into a cycle of regret and self-reproach: “Useless. I dream of vast ambitions, yet can’t even wake up early.”

Like many, I’ve repeatedly resolved to rise early, only to repeatedly fail.


The biggest obstacle? Lack of clear goals.

A top-student friend once told me, maybe what’s missing is an undeniable yearning. If you truly wanted that six-pack or to excel… perhaps you’d leap out of bed before the alarm even sounded.

I began to understand. Many struggle to wake up early because they lack a definitive desire.

This is a common scenario: wanting to wake up early for English study or to read, yet lacking an urgent need; doubts creep in after a few pages, questioning the purpose. While reading and studying English are beneficial, a lukewarm attitude makes persistence difficult. Conversely, with a firm goal, no matter how distant, pursuit becomes inevitable.

Consider the question, “Why could Tang Seng obtain the sacred texts?” While many jest about Monkey King’s role, a teacher once clarified, “From the moment he left Chang’an, he knew his goal was in the West and never wavered. Who else but he could succeed?”

Many waste their days, burdened by fatigue, not from lack of effort but from hesitation and uncertainty. So, before discussing discipline and early rising, consider why you’re rising early, think of the destination you aim to reach in life. With clarity, motivation to rise early and direction for effort naturally follow.


Time is precious. Viewing a day in full, one-third is spent sleeping, another third on work or studies, and the rest on meals, socializing, and chores, leaving little for personal growth.

Consider this story:

One morning, a sleepy apprentice complained to his master about the seeming futility of daily stance practice. The master asked, “Could you run non-stop to a beloved waiting miles away?” “Of course not, I’d collapse halfway.”

The master replied, “Exactly! Daily progress outpaces stagnation. Whether it’s one mile or ten, as long as you’re moving, you’ll reach your destination. The tragedy lies in standing still, lamenting the futility of effort.”

Incremental daily efforts lead to significant achievements; no great deed is done without stepping forward one foot at a time.

Friends utilizing that extra hour for reading, or those losing weight from morning runs, or mastering a language through consistent effort, showcase how life’s overtakings often happen.


Lin Xu has maintained an early-rising habit since I’ve known him. Freshman year, he finished his reading list; sophomore year, he improved his running; junior year, he picked up Japanese. Now working, he still sticks to his routine, saying, “I like the extended morning hours and feeling a step ahead.”

Essentially, to gain more, one must do more.

“Rising an hour early” is about dedicating time daily for learning. Without gradual accumulation, how can transformation occur?

Some ask, “What if there’s no success after five years?”

One response stays with me: “No problem, you’re five years closer to your dream.” Though outcomes may vary, each step forward brings joy.

Life is a mountain peak we all wish to conquer. Some achieve young, others bloom later; everyone has their pace.

But as long as we give our all, hope remains ever-present.

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