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How to Use Your “Golden Hour” to Create the Life You Want

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If you’re participating in the Whole Life Challenge, you’ve at least accepted the idea that self-care through the practice of daily habits is important, right? The question that plagues everyone is this: How do I get it all in?

In today’s day and age, it’s very challenging to get time alone that you’re in total control of — time during which you’re focused, undistracted and paying attention to the things that are important to you.

Consider what is constantly tugging on you: emails, text messages, social media, television, work, children, breaking news. These things all demand your immediate attention, but what they all have in common is that they are all other people’s priorities.

Whether it’s your spouse, a friend, a work colleague, a news channel, a TV series, your kid’s teacher, your boss, or even Facebook, all of these things — “attention channels,” as I call them — are tugging at you, asking you to spend more time with them. They want you. But the question is, what do you want?

There are several questions that consistently arise when you take the time to think about your life, where you want to go, and how you want to get there. If you haven’t thought about them yet, there’s a good chance that your life is on autopilot and you’re just getting by right now.

So first, I suggest that you spend some thing thinking about, and then answering, a few questions:

  • What is it that keeps you on track in your life?
  • What nourishes you?
  • What feeds your soul?
  • What activities keep you moving in the direction of your purpose?
  • What are your priorities for your own health, fitness and well-being?
  • What are the things you need to do every day to keep you at your best?
  • What actions have you defined as mission critical for you (not for everyone else)?

Once those questions are answered, you have to decide how to fit those actions and activities into your day. Your day is probably full already, and you can’t just manufacture time, but I have a solution for you.

The time to get it done is first thing in the morning, before anyone else in your household is up, when it’s quiet, peaceful and dark. This is the only time of day that you are completely in control of.

It’s called the “Golden Hour,” and it’s a concept I first read about in a book called “The Miracle Morning” by Hal Elrod. In it, he talks about carving out that time, getting up early enough to have access to that time, and making sure you schedule things into the hour that are important and meaningful to you.

The first step is to actually make the space, which likely means waking up a bit earlier. That can be a difficult task in and of itself, but it’s not always enough. You also need protect this time as if you were a guard at the gates of Azkaban (the magical prison from Harry Potter) because, in spite of it being your hour, those “attention channels” in your life will still be pulling on you and trying to suck you back in.

So here’s the action plan for you:

  1. Decide that you’re going to take on and experiment with the concept of the Golden Hour in your life.
  2. Decide how much time you can afford to put into your Golden Hour. (A “Golden Half-Hour” might be all the time you have right now, but that’s still a great step in the right direction.)
  3. Decide upon a wake-up time and then set your alarm.
  4. Decide which things you’ll put in your Golden Hour and how much time you’ll allot for each task. (This is going to take some experimentation to figure out timing, sequence, and what’s meaningful for you.) Here are a few ideas from my mornings:
    – Meditate
    – Pray
    – Recite a mantra or affirmation
    – Express gratitude
    – Journal
    – Read/listen/learn
    – Exercise
    – Mobilize
    – Drink water
    – Take supplements
    – Take a walk
    – Write love/support mini-notes to your family
    – Take a contrast shower
  5. Make it happen… and keep track!

That’s it.

If you try the Golden Hour, I’d love to hear how you’re going about it. Check out the Whole Life Challenge Facebook group and let me know what time you get up to make your hour happen, what tasks are in your hour (even if it’s just one), how you keep track, and how it’s going. And if you have any questions, the group is a good place to ask!

For more exercise and Whole Life Challenge-related tips, follow me on Instagram (@andypetranek). I’ll be doing regular Q&As there — look for them in my Instagram stories!

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Andy Petranek
Andy is what you’d call a modern day Renaissance Man: a former professional trumpeter who attended the Eastman School of Music; a snowboarder, mountain biker, surfer, kayaker, outrigger paddler, mountaineer, and former Marine (Gulf War veteran); a professionally sponsored adventure racer; and the oldest participant to qualify for and participate in the CrossFit Games at the age of 43.

Andy is a certified CHEK Practitioner and holistic lifestyle coach. He holds a spectrum of certifications from CrossFit and is also a Vivobarefoot certified running coach. He has trained as a Zen buddhist and graduated with a Master’s degree in spiritual psychology from the University of Santa Monica.

Andy founded CrossFit LA one of the first and most successful CrossFit training centers in the world and the first to be featured in national media. He is the co-founder of the Whole Life Challenge, Inc, currently its president, and is also a consultant and life/business coach. Andy lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Julia, and son, Dashel.