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This Slight Change to Your Mornings Can Set You Up For Success 

Master your mornings with The 5 AM Club, the September selection for Tonal’s official book club, Read Between the Reps.

The 5 AM Club by Robin Sharma, on a Tonal accessory shelf

When you’re in a deep sleep and the blare of your alarm clock jolts you awake, it can be tempting to hit the snooze button instead of leaping out of bed to take on the day. But what if you knew that waking up earlier—at 5 a.m. to be exact—could be the secret to a happier and more successful life? 

For more than 20 years, leadership expert Robin Sharma has been teaching his executive clients to do exactly that. He claims they’ve enjoyed increased energy, improved focus, and new levels of productivity as a result. 

In The 5 AM Club: Elevate Your Morning, Elevate Your Life, the September pick for Tonal’s book club, Read Between the Reps, Sharma reveals how anyone can master this habit to improve their lives.

At the heart of Sharma’s philosophy is the idea that we’re all capable of greatness, but we don’t always engage in the practices that’ll help us achieve our goals. “Genius is less about genetics and more about your habits,” he says in an email interview with Tonal. 

For Sharma, tapping into that inner genius begins with optimizing your morning routine. “Starting your day at [your] peak dramatically changes the quality of your days,” he says, “and great days become the great years that make a gorgeous life.” 

"Genius is less about genetics and more about your habits." - Robin Sharma

The lessons of The 5 AM Club unfold through a story. A frustrated artist and an entrepreneur at risk of being forced out of her company meet a mysterious guru who, sensing their unhappiness, agrees to impart his wisdom  As the three characters embark on a journey around the world, the guru shares his secrets of success—all of which are rooted in starting your day the right way. 

Content warning: This book contains a brief mention of suicidal thoughts.

4 Essential Lessons You’ll Learn From The 5 AM Club

1. Start Your Morning with the 20/20/20 Formula

According to Sharma, It’s not just waking up at 5 a.m. that’ll make you more successful—it’s how you choose to spend those early morning hours. His 20/20/20 formula calls for 20 minutes of exercise, 20 minutes of reflection (journaling, meditating, or quiet contemplation), and 20 minutes devoted to growth (reading, reviewing your goals, or studying a topic of interest). The three components of this hour prime your body and mind for a productive day.  

 “Taking a 60-minute ‘victory hour’ while the rest of the world sleeps gives you a gargantuan competitive advantage,” says Sharma. “You are up at dawn—this makes you feel strong and in control of your day.”

2. Structure Your Day for Success

The work suggested in The 5 AM Club doesn’t stop at the end of your “victory hour.” Instead, Sharma presents an hour-by-hour guide to structuring your day for optimal productivity and happiness. By carving out time for creative work, routine tasks, and social connections, you’ll be more likely to achieve everything on your to-do list and have free time to enjoy your passions.

One strategy Sharma presents for maximizing your time is the 90/90/1 rule: For 90 days, dedicate the first 90 minutes of your workday to one important project. When you’re at your peak cognitive capacity and have yet to get bogged down with everyday demands, you’re more likely to produce your best work. 

 “Taking a 60-minute ‘victory hour’ while the rest of the world sleeps gives you a gargantuan competitive advantage. You are up at dawn—this makes you feel strong and in control of your day.” - Robin Sharma

3. Be Persistent With New Habits

If waking up at 5 a.m. sounds impossible, don’t give up just yet. Like any new habit, it’ll take some time for it to become second nature. “The human brain is built for change,” says Sharma. “The science says it takes 66 days of practice to install a new habit.” 

In the book, he breaks down the three phases of cementing a habit: destruction, in which you challenge yourself to overcome old behaviors; installation, when the foundations of the new habit start to build; and finally, integration, the phase when a habit becomes your new normal. Ultimately, Sharma explains that at the end of the three phases you’ll reach an “automaticity point,” when the new habit no longer requires immense willpower to achieve. 

4. Avoid Distractions

According to Sharma, distractions—especially digital ones—are common obstacles to optimizing your morning, and therefore the rest of your day. That’s why he says it’s essential to keep your 5 a.m. hour technology-free to avoid being distracted by emails, social media, or other notifications demanding your attention. Similarly, he recommends avoiding digital devices after work each day so you can focus on spending time with loved ones, pursuing meaningful hobbies, and a nightly sleep ritual that’ll make waking up at 5 a.m. more attainable. 

The AM Club Book Summary

Told through an allegory in which two strangers meet an unlikely mentor, The 5 AM Club introduces a morning routine designed to maximize productivity, health, and happiness. The book follows the journey of a struggling artist, an entrepreneur, and a billionaire tycoon who come together under the guidance of a mysterious mentor known as the “Spellbinder.” Through a series of early morning meetings, the characters learn the importance of adopting a daily routine that includes meditation, exercise, and focused learning during the precious hours before dawn. Sharma introduces the concept of waking up at 5 a.m. as a key to unlocking one’s full potential and achieving success in life.

About the Author

Robin Sharma is an author, leadership expert, and motivational speaker with clients including NASA, Microsoft, Nike, and Starbucks. Sharma originally worked as a litigation lawyer but realized his true passion was helping others optimize their lives. His other books include the #1 international bestseller The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, The Greatness Guide, and The Leader Who Had No Title

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