Read Time: 8 minutes
Before we dive in, we just want to throw some huge love to Amy Tanner for collaborating with us on DED & SUMMITs and not only ensuring they work, but that they are backed by some of the best real-world science out there.
The goal of Damn Early Days isn't to solve your life in a single month – it's to build a foundation that will continuously move you closer to the life you want.
THINK OF IT AS A CRASH COURSE IN CREATING INTENTION, FOCUS, AND CONTROL
To start, it's important to understand what you want out of this – both with Damn Early Days and in the bigger picture of your life. Once you know that, we can start breaking down how you can get there.
In order for your Damn Early Days to be successful, you have to spend your time focused on something that's meaningful to you. You need to have something that challenges you, and that keeps you motivated and moving forward.
At CS, we call this your SUMMIT.
What's A SUMMIT?
At its core, a SUMMIT is the highest peak of a mountain. It's the goal. The destination.
It's challenging, it's clear, and it's unambiguous.
It motivates you, you know how close you are, and if you've successfully made it or not.
Over the next 21 days, you'll be defining and challenging your own SUMMIT.
A successfully defined SUMMIT has the following characteristics:
Specific / It is clearly defined and identified.
Unreasonable / It is something that pushes you beyond your comfort zone.
Motive / It gives you an internal why, motivating you from the inside to get after it.
Muse / It gives you an external why, outside motivation that will keep you going when it gets tough.
Intervals / It has checkpoints along the way, so you always know if you're on track.
Trackable / It is measurable, so you when you've succeeded or failed.
What's your SUMMIT?
To give you an idea of how to define your SUMMIT, we've got a work through below.
Before diving into your SUMMIT, ask yourself "why did I sign up for Damn Early Days?"
Now, go deeper. Ask yourself: "what is the real reason I signed up?" What is the thing that pulls at your heart or lives deep in your gut that keeps reminding you that it needs to be done… if only you had more time.
*insert real answer*
With Damn Early Days, you have the time, so no excuses.
As you're committing to getting up every day at 4:30 a.m., you owe it to yourself to make your days count; to make each morning amount to something; that each morning is one step closer to reaching your SUMMIT.
look at each CHARACTERISTIC
Ask yourself: why did I sign up for Damn Early Days?
Example: I signed up for Damn Early Days because I want to write more. It's something I care about but never find the space to do.
Now, go deeper: Ask yourself, what is the real reason you signed up? What is the thing that pulls at your heart or lives deep in your gut that keeps reminding you that it needs to be done… if only you had more time.
Example: I signed up, because I know I have a lot of thoughts, ideas, and ambitions that are buried inside of me. For years, I have wanted to consistently get these on paper, both for other people to read and get inspired by, but also to clear my head of them and bring them out into the world. This pull is strong for me. I feel it in my gut. If I had more time each day, and time that was dedicated to writing, I would be much more fulfilled getting my thoughts written on paper.
Specific/ The What
Your SUMMIT should be clearly defined, identified, and specific to yourself. It should be damn clear what your SUMMIT is and what you want to get out of your mornings.
Pro tip – It should be able to be understood by anyone that has basic knowledge on the subject.
Ask yourself: Have I clearly outlined what I want to get out of my mornings in as much detail as possible? Where am I unclear on what I want to do.
Example: In 21 days, I want to consistently get my thoughts on paper for an hour each morning. To do so, I will set the goal of writing 10 unique blog posts.
Unreasonable/ Your push
While most people will tell you to keep your goal realistic, we're not most people. We believe you should be living outside your comfort zone and right here, we are giving you permission to be unreasonable.
Throw what you think you can do out the window and dig deep. Push your comfort zone and be unreasonable with what you want to achieve.
You're already getting up at 4:30AM, so why not?
Even if you don't get that far, you'll still be further than if you played it safe.
Pro tip – If it doesn't scare you a little dig deeper. Use a gut-check to know if you're in the right space.
Ask yourself: Looking at my SUMMIT, is it something I'm comfortable with are can I dig deeper and push myself harder?
Example: Spending an hour each morning writing, I feel somewhat comfortable committing to writing 10 blog posts in 21 days. That gives me one hour to write it and one hour to finish each. While it's more than I've ever written in a month, my gut tells me I can do more if I'm focused. To push the boundaries, I'm going to up my goal from 10 to 15. While this is significant jump, it will provide the pressure I need to create focus and clarity in my writing. It will also force me not to second guess as I go, as I don't have the luxury of time.
Motive/ Your Internal why
If your SUMMIT doesn't tug at you from the inside, there's no way it's going to drag you out of bed at 4:30AM. Your motive is all about determining why your goal matters to you and clearly being able to tap into that when needed.
Ask yourself: Why does my goal matter to me? Once you've asked yourself that, ask "but why" three more times. Now you know your motive. You'll need this readily available at 4:30AM when your bed is comfy AF.
Example: Going back to my answer above, I signed up because I know I have a lot of thoughts, ideas, and ambitions that are buried inside of me. For years, I have wanted to consistently get these into the world, both for other people to read and be inspired by, but also to clear my mind and externalize them. The pull to do this is strong for me, I feel it in my gut. I know that getting my thoughts on paper will leave me more clear minded and fulfilled, and create more opportunities for me to connect with the world.
Muse/ Your external why
Your muse is your other why – your external why. When you went to bed too late and the morning came to soon and your internal motivation isn't firing, who or what will be your source of motivation. It can be a person who you know would push you to demand more from yourself, a mantra, or anything else that pushes and pulls you.
Pro tip – Do it for a person or cause that would give anything to be able to be exactly where you are right now.
Ask yourself: what outside of myself pushes me to be the person I know I am capable of being?
Example: It’s dark, it’s cold and the clock is blinking 4:30. In this moment, I am absolutely certain writing is not going to bring me more joy than sleeping more. Now what? One of my best friends passed away 5 years ago. Anytime I am dragging my ass I think what she would give to have one more day to go after what mattered to her. Enough said. I'm lucky I still get a chance. Out of bed I go.
Breaking up your SUMMIT into smaller, more manageable intervals is vital to building and keeping momentum. Think of these are basecamps along the way. By breaking it into smaller intervals, your unrealistic goal won't seem so daunting. It also serves to let you know if you're on track and going to be successful, or if you need to pivot.
We recommend breaking your SUMMIT into four parts – one for each week. That will help you know if you're ahead or behind and force you to check-in regularly.
Ask yourself: To achieve my SUMMIT, where do I need to be by Day 5, Day 10, Day 15, Day 20, and Day 21?
Example: My SUMMIT is writing 15 blog posts in 21 Days. By Day 5 I will have completed 3 posts, by Day 10 I will have completed 7 posts, by Day 15 I will have completed 11 posts, by Day 20 I will have completed 15 posts. Day 21 is an extra day if needed.
Trackable / How you measure
Knowing how you will measure your success is vital to having honest check-ins with yourself. We'll be holding you accountable to these, but more than that, you should. Trackable SUMMITs are all about knowing if, how, and when the goal is obtained and how far away completion is.
Pro tip – Really understand how you will hold yourself accountable for this. The more external accountability, the better we generally perform.
Ask yourself: What is success and how do I measure it? How do I know when I've reached my SUMMIT?
Example: For writing 15 blog posts, I will have 15 published posts by the end of the 21 days. I can hold myself accountable to that and a random stranger would be able to do the same. In this case, I’ve got the tangible product to prove it.