The combination of winter days and 2020’s gloom hangover is enough to make anyone cling to their duvet – but according to Adrienne Herbert, author of new book Power Hour, getting up an hour earlier might be exactly what you need right now. Why? Because in those magical 60 minutes you really can change your life.
The concept is simple: use that extra hour to work on your goals before the rest of the world wakes up. What you do is up to you (start writing a book, work out, meditate, build a business…), but how you prepare for this time is vital. You don’t want to get up at the crack of dawn only to lose 40 mins to scrolling through Instagram. This is where Adrienne comes in. Her book is a handbook to help you make the most of that hour, sharing the tools needed to improve your mindset, hone your habits and find focus and purpose.
If it sounds challenging, think of it this way: there is no pressure to be productive 24 hours a day, “I just want you to start with one,” says Adrienne. When she first set her alarm for 5.30am three years ago, it was out of necessity to find time to train for a marathon around looking after her son and working as a personal trainer. “But this one hour absolutely changed my life,” she says. She used it to launch a podcast and write a book, and crucially it became a time to heal and thrive. Feeling at an all-time low following fertility struggles and a miscarriage, Adrienne found that hour gave her the space to restore her sense of self. When the marathon was over, she didn’t change back her alarm.
If you’re balking at the mention of 5.30am, don’t panic. “You decide what time to get up,” she says. “The Power Hour is a mindset, it’s about empowering yourself to make a choice and take action.” She endorses early mornings because it’s easier to find solitude and avoid distractions, but she’d rather people found an hour for themselves at any time at all, rather than never.
By her own admission Adrienne is a “professional encourager”, and her voice is an authentic one, gained over years of graft and determination – from growing up in a single-parent family taking care of her siblings to moving to London at 16. She has found success in the wellness world, fronted Adidas campaigns and launched a podcast downloaded more than a million times, all while raising her son, now nine.
Her can-do attitude is inspiring. “Being a woman, a Black woman, not having a degree, coming from a low-income household, these things might have made it more difficult for me to get a seat at the table,” she says. “But, for me, focusing on barriers will not accelerate you. You can accept the circumstances and, in spite of them, pull up the seat and get in there. You can focus on what holds you back or focus on creating better.”
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That’s not to say we should feel pressured to constantly strive for more. “More is not better,” she adds. “But I wrote this book for the people who message me every day asking where I find my motivation, and for the people who say, ‘I would love to do that’, or, ‘One day, if I had more money/more time/if my kids were older…’ It’s them I want to speak to. You owe it to yourself to pursue a life you love – no one else will do it for you.”
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Here are her tips to get you started…
“Is now the time to start a new career or sign up for a marathon? I want people to have ambition and live with a sense of urgency, but the time to start something might be in six months – or maybe it’s today. Only you know that. Know when to start something, when to continue and when to stop. And if getting up earlier every day feels too daunting, you could start with one day and build up. For example, have a Power Hour on a Wednesday morning every week and make it non-negotiable.”
Think small, see big
“Never underestimate the impact of one small change. In my life, there’s never been this overnight success; change has been incremental – a little every month, every year. A small match can light a bonfire. But to really make sparks fly, you need to visualise the bonfire too. If you can’t imagine your goal, you can’t be excited by it – you need to envision it, see it, touch it, smell it. So hold two things in your mind at all times: the here and now – the actionable ‘What can I do today that will take me one per cent closer to that goal?’, and the bigger picture.”
Ask why (then ask again)
“If you’re struggling to get to the heart of your goal or purpose, ask yourself ‘why?’ five times. For example, if your goal is to get fitter, why is that? If the answer is to have more energy, ask why you’re tired – if you say you’re working too hard, ask why you’re doing that. And then ask why to the next answer too. The more specific you get, the more you’ll understand what you want and how to get it. Often when you get to the fifth answer, that’s when you get the ‘ah-ha’ moment. The root of it all, the reason, the thing that will get you out of bed each day with purpose.”
Find your power people
“We all need people who will support us. Look around – who is encouraging you? Who is draining you? Who wants to see you succeed and who doesn’t? The Power Hour is about more than just that one hour. It is a mindset. It is knowing you have the choice to make changes. So if you see that a relationship doesn’t serve you, change it. Knowing you have this ability is empowering – you are saying to yourself, ‘I choose that time/this purpose/those people, and I choose me.’”
Know you can do hard things
“‘You can do hard things’ is one of my mantras. I talk about this on the podcast and it really resonates with people. It is knowing that however motivated you are, however prepared, some things are just hard. Even the people who we put on a pedestal or aspire to be find things hard too, but they do them anyway. Because what’s the alternative? That’s a question I ask people. You can acknowledge things are hard, but go for it anyway. Or you just remain. If there’s something you want to do, explore it. You can do it, because you know you can do hard things.”
Power Hour: How To Focus On Your Goals And Create A Life You Love by Adrienne Herbert is out now.
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