There is a group of individuals I'll label as "wake up early individuals" (WUEIs). People that get an early start in order to tackle goals before the day begins.
For some it's waking up early and exercising. Jocko Willink consistently posts photos starting his day at 4:30 AM. The book "How Children Succeed" gives an example of a middle school chess prodigy who woke up early to practice chess. Joe Satriani, electric guitar extraordinaire practiced in the mornings before school:
When I was a kid, I’d get up and practice guitar for an hour before school, and during that hour I’d do all the boring stuff just to get it over with. That way I could come home, do my homework and then jam with my friends.
How are they able to do it? In a world of distractions (mobile phones, YouTube, etc.) WUEIs find a way to go to sleep early and pull themselves out of bed to get after it. Jocko in his book "Disciple Equals Freedom" argues that discipline is the enabler:
Discipline: The root of all good qualities. The driver of daily execution. The core principle that overcomes laziness and lethargy and excuses.
And that waking up early is the starting point:
Discipline starts with waking up early. It really does. But that is just the beginning; you absolutely have to apply it to things beyond waking up early.
Discipline is one common trait WUEIs share. Fuse the desire to achieve a goal with discipline and you get an individual that will wake up at 4:30 AM. Someone that will do whatever it takes.
Yet discipline is only an enabler. It's a starting point. Showing up isn't enough.
Before discipline you set a goal(s). I want to be a: entrepreneur, author, musician, fit individual, etc. This broad goal (musician) may start to become a bit more specific: 80s shred guitar player.
And thus with your goal you channel discipline to show up and put in time towards reaching your goal. This alone will not be enough. For you can show up everyday at 6 AM and practice guitar, but if the practice isn't focused and the goal is open-ended, one year later you may have not made the progress you imagined.
You must set yourself up for success. So when you do show up you take full advantage.
Break down your goal by setting mini-goals with deadlines. This month I'll learn three 80s metal guitar riffs and will write three original ones. I'll also learn to play one full song. Even more specific: by the end of this week I'll learn one riff and the first 2 sections of the song. With clear goals you now have a roadmap towards where you want to be.
To fulfill the roadmap you'll need a system. The system may even impact how you define the roadmap (the path to reaching your goal(s)). Once you define the path your system is how you divide your time. If I have 90 minutes in the morning, my system may be 20 minutes guitar exercises, 30 minutes learning the song, and 40 minutes composing.
Your focus and attention must be deliberate. It's easy to fall into a habit of repeating the same system everyday. But you're showing up so it must be enough right? Just put in the time and results will follow. This is dangerous and you'll likely stagnate. Today you may need to spend 45 minutes learning the song and 45 minutes composing. Tomorrow it may need to shift again.
With deliberate focus you are constantly aware of the goal, your system, and the progress you are making. You make adjustments as necessary so you don't fall into a mindset that just showing up is enough.
If you combine discipline, goals, deadlines, systems, and deliberate focus, you will significantly increase the likelihood of achieving your goals.