I like to think I’ve been successful in my life. And in looking back, I think the greatest periods of success that I have enjoyed – whether working for others or working for myself – is when I was true to myself in terms of sleep. Let me explain:
There were three jobs in my life that I really thrived at (and these were the jobs I left on good terms, too). The three jobs were retail manager/buyer (twice), and computer tech support. I loved those jobs, did excellent work, and was loved in return. Every other job I had I either got fired, or quit in a huff. And I didn’t like any of those lesser jobs either.
I’ve also owned three businesses in my life – a direct mail advertising business in the 90’s (failed), a computer consulting business in the 90’s (failed), and what I do now (success – going on a decade of success, in fact.) And not only did I fail at the first two, I really didn’t enjoy them all that much either.
Now, here’s the funny thing: I’ve noticed a direct correlation in all of my successes. It’s sleep. Or, more precisely, the ability to work late and sleep in.
No two ways around it – I’m an evening/night guy. I am at my best in the afternoon/evening. The retail jobs I had, since I was the boss, I worked the afternoon-close shift. Tech support was 4-midnight.
My first two businesses were straight “in-person” B2B, meaning I had to rise early. I failed. But my current business is at home, through the Internet – I work late and sleep in.
I noticed in my last two years of business, I changed a little – I wasn’t enjoying it quite as much. Wanna know why? Because I was making an effort to “get up earlier”. Why, I don’t know – maybe I felt it was more “business-like” to be up at 8am. No coincidence that I started having trouble sleeping two years ago.
It took me until right now (well, yesterday, really) to make this connection. Because two weeks ago, I started going to bed when I felt like it (2-3am usually) and sleeping until I naturally woke up (9-10am). In other words, I stopped fighting my body – ever since I was a kid, I was like this. I’m just naturally a Night Owl. And I can’t be successful or truly happy unless I remain true to that. I realize that now.
It’s only been two weeks, but I’m ecstatic about this – I feel one million times better. And I have zero trouble sleeping (and need no help), because I don’t give a @#$% what time I wake up.
To me, this is one of the keys to success – be true to yourself. I realize it’s not always 100% practical (moms everywhere will disagree with me, and even I sometimes have to schedule something early), but going against your nature is going to be more of a hindrance than a help.