While I drove back to work from home once after my lunch break, I vented by phone to a friend: “I have so much to do, and no time to do it.” She gets it. She has a job and kids and an overflowing plate. While we commiserated, she asked a question I didn’t expect: “What time do you get up in the morning?” I laughed. I had never had the best morning routine. “Not early enough,” I said. That’s when my friend got excited. “Let’s just do it,” she said. “Let’s get up at 5:30, every day, for the next seven days, and see what happens.” I parked my car in the lot at work and spoke the words that solidified something we didn’t know would be epic: “Challenge accepted.”
Our decisions to set our alarms for far earlier than usual were inspired by St. Josemaria Escriva’s heroic minute, as outlined in his book, The Way: “Conquer yourself each day from the very first moment, getting up on the dot, at a fixed time, without yielding a single minute to laziness. If, with God’s help, you conquer yourself, you will be well ahead for the rest of the day. … The heroic minute. It is the time fixed for getting up. Without hesitation: a supernatural reflection and… up!” So I set my alarm for 5:30 a.m. and hoped for the best. Here’s why you should, too.
I wanted badly to hit the snooze, but I never did. I regretted my poor life choices the mornings after I stayed up too late (a habit the heroic minute helped me kick). The heroic minute was totally worth it, for what it provided.
The heroic minute provided much-needed silence. Each morning became the calm that kept me grounded, which prepared me well for the day’s chaos. I could hear myself think, which allowed for reflection and relaxation. I felt refreshed.
The heroic minute also provided space. Much-needed space, between me and the hustle and stress and bad drivers that so long had distracted me from inspiration. It provided space between my day’s start and my obligations, so I could do what I want to do—pray, read, think, write, exercise—before it’s time to do what I’m not as excited to do.
A New Mindset
The heroic minute provided a new mindset about mornings. I’ve always thought of myself as a night owl, but mornings, I learned, can look majestic, like the sun as it rises through the trees in my back yard. Mornings can look practical, like doing laundry, making lunches, or creating my to-do list. And mornings can look funny, like accidentally texting a friend at 3:30 in the morning, the day I forgot other timezones exist.
But the best part of the heroic minute is being more in charge of me than my snooze button is. Your snooze button isn’t the boss—you are. The heroic minute promotes self-mastery, which is a skill that fosters virtue in us. It’s a skill that sets the tone for the whole day. Which is one of the reasons why now, I challenge you. Set your alarm every day, for the next seven days. Commit to not hitting the snooze. Then, see what happens. We think you and your children will be affected in ways you won’t expect—good ones.
What’s your favorite way to start the day?