Robin Sharma, world-class leadership trainer and bestselling author of ‘The 5AM Club’ explains the concepts behind his book and how each step of his morning routine is designed to optimize growth and self-development.
Robin Sharma realized that the most successful and fulfilled people on the planet had one thing in common – their morning routine.
He began to compile common habits of these individuals and analyzed them to try and understand what gave these extreme performers their success and daily motivation.
Based on his findings, he formulated an effective morning routine which he documented in his bestseller, “The 5AM Club”.
It illustrates just how powerful your morning routine is since it sets up how the rest of your day will be.
“The way you begin your day dramatically sets up how your day is going to unfold. That first hour from five to six, (I call it the victory hour) is really the one habit that will elevate every other habit.”
Here’s how the routine works.
1. 5:00AM – 5:20AM – Getting Out Of Bed
The first twenty minutes of your day should be spent on intense physical activity. Do burpees, go for a short run – do any sort of exercise that would wake your body up.
“What’s going to happen is you’re going to actually activate a pharmacy of mastery in your brain. You’re gonna release brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) which repairs your brain cells from stress. John Rady at Harvard calls it miracle-grow for the brain,”
“You’re also going to reduce cortisol and activate your metabolic engine, so you burn fat more quickly.”
According to Sharma, starting your day with just 20 minutes of vigorous exercise makes you happier and more focused.
By 5:20AM, you’re no longer groggy, cranky, or longing to head back to sleep – instead, you’re ready to move on with the next 20 minutes of your day.
2. 5:20AM – 5:40AM – Reconnecting with Yourself
The next twenty minutes are all about reflection and reconnection. At this stage, it’s important to think about your values and goals.
Picture your goal as a mountain you need to conquer and reconnect with your mountain top, which symbolizes your ultimate victory.
“Think about your values, write in your journal, meditate, pray, reconnect – rebuild the relationship with your truest self instead of your ego and/or your insecure self.”
Sharma also highlighted the importance of journaling as a tool to reconnect with your goals and your sense of self.
“When you write in a journal, you are rewiring your narrative and reprogramming your subconscious mind. There’s something incredibly powerful about writing with paper and pen on who you want to become, instead of writing it digitally,”
“Researchers call it a pre-commitment strategy. A lot of people say, ‘I can’t get things done,’ – well the key is writing down your intentions and who you want to be. It’s a pre-commitment strategy that gives you willpower.”
He also explained that meditation should be practiced twice a day – 20 minutes in the morning, and 20 at night.
“If you want to get up at 5:00 AM, it really depends on what you do before you go to sleep. And one of the best things you can do is meditate,” he explained.
Meditation cultivates mindfulness, and meditating during these times of the day can help you clear your mind. It also helps you relax and develops your focus.
3. 5:40AM – 6:00AM – Self-Growth
The last pocket of the 20-20-20 formula is all about growth. Sharma says it’s extremely important to dedicate time in the morning for personal development.
He noticed that the most successful people understood that the person who grows most, wins.
“So this is where while the rest of the world sleeps, you spend 20 minutes watching a Mindvalley course, a TED Talk, or listen to an audiobook. You go through your battle plans and do something to develop your growth.
“Now it’s six o’clock, you’re on fire, you’ve optimized your cognition, your energy is high, and you’re reconnected with your priorities.
“If you did that consistently, imagine what would happen to your day? Imagine how much better the quality of your performance, prosperity, & quality of life would be?”
However, Sharma says there are other things you need to be mindful of to make the most of your morning routines which are,
4. The Four Interior Empires
Sharma also presented the model of the four interior empires to complement his 20/20/20 formula.
He stressed that personal growth is much more than just building the right mindset; it’s also building the three other elements – heartset, healthset, and soulset.
“Mindset is your psychology. You can have great psychology and strong beliefs, but if you have a toxic heart you’re going to sabotage yourself.
“Heartset is your emotionality. If your emotions are primarily that of sadness, pain, anger, and you haven’t forgiven people, you’ll be blocked from reaching your full potential. You’ll never be able to achieve world-class performance.
“Healthset is understanding that energy is even more valuable than intelligence. Your healthset is about your vitality, energy, and living a long life, so you can serve and do great things.
“And then, soulset is connecting to your higher nature and noble virtues every morning while the rest of the world is asleep.”
“So every morning at 5:00 AM, if you take that victory hour and spend 60 minutes working on your mindset, heartset, healthset and soulset, you consistently improve yourself.
You become more focused, productive, brave, and of so much service to the world that you cannot help but change it.”
5. The Flexibility Of The 5AM Club
Despite its success, ‘The 5AM Club’ has received its fair share of criticism. Those who have read it ask, ‘Well who’s got time to wake up that early anyway?’
The secret lies in managing your time well enough so that you can wake up just an hour before sunrise, allowing you to have a quiet period to yourself before life gets busy.
If you know that you need 8 hours of sleep and you have to be up by 5AM, then you can go to sleep around 9PM and get the proper amount of sleep.
Contrary to popular belief, sleeping earlier does not mean less productivity. In fact, Sharma says it’s better to focus for several hours a day rather than distributing your energy over the entire day.
“One of the most important things I say to do is work five great hours a day. That’s it. A work sprint of massive intensity, and then go mountain biking, go get a massage, go to an art gallery, and enjoy life.”
The 20/20/20 formula is all about self-growth and getting a headstart before the sun rises. Like all other habits, it takes time to form and is definitely difficult in the beginning.
However, if you can stick to the practice for 66 days and remember your priorities throughout the journey, you’ll build positive, lasting habits.
You’ll experience a massive growth spurt in your life, and enjoy increased productivity, prosperity, and overall better quality of life.