I just finished reading Extreme Ownership by Jocko Wilink and Leif Babin, definitely the best book I’ve read all year. The last chapter of the book is called Discipline Equals Freedom, an idea I’ve heard Jocko talk about before in interviews with Tim Ferriss and Joe Rogan. Here is one of my favorite passages from that chapter:
“Discipline starts everyday when the first alarm clock goes off in the morning… The moment the alarm goes off is the first test. It sets the tone for the rest of the day. The test is not a complex one. When the alarm goes off, do you get up out of bed, or do you lie there in comfort and fall back to sleep. If you have the discipline to get out of bed, you win. You pass the test. If you are mentally weak for that moment, and you let that weakness keep you in bed, you fail. Though it seems small, that weakness translates into more significant decisions. But if you exercise discipline, that too translates to more substantial elements of your life… Waking up early was the first example I noticed in the SEAL teams in which discipline was really the difference between being good, and being exceptional. I saw it with some of the older, experienced SEALs. Those who were at work before everyone else were considered the best operators. That meant they had the best fieldcraft, the most squared away gear, they were the best shots, and the most respected. It all tied into discipline. By discipline, I mean an intrinsic self-discipline, a matter of personal will."
Ironically, just days after finishing the book, I failed the test. I snoozed my alarm for the first time in 160 days. My alarm went off at 5:45am, and I didn’t get out of bed. When the snooze alarm went off 9 minutes later, I could hear the voice of Jocko saying, “You failed." Despite my failure and the end of a 160 day streak, I definitely learned a lot from focusing on my sleep habits.
In the last 160 days, I slept 7 hours or more 132 times: 82.5%
The most important thing in accomplishing this was the discipline of going to bed earlier. I found that when I went to bed early, and got at least 7 hours of sleep, it was easier to wake up early and not snooze. I would also just feel better and have energy all day.
In the last 160 days, I actually only used my alarm 42 times: 26%
The biggest benefit of going to bed early is that I would often wake up before my alarm and just get out of bed. And many times, if I went to sleep by 10pm and didn’t start work the next day until 8am, I wouldn’t even set an alarm because I knew I would be awake and out of bed by 6:00-6:30am anyways. Getting out of bed because your body is telling you it's time, rather than your iPhone, just feels natural and awesome.
Exercising 200% more, and surfing 300% more
In the first 5 months of the year, I exercised 35 times. In the last 5 months since not snoozing, I’ve exercised 82 times. More than double.
In the first 5 months of the year, I surfed 17 times. In the last 5 months since not snoozing, I’ve surfed 54 times. More than triple.
Discipline Equals Freedom
Jocko is spot on. If you have the discipline to go to bed early, you have the freedom to wake up without an alarm in the morning. If you have the discipline to wake up earlier, and not snooze in bed all morning, you have more free time to spend on your hobbies and the things you love to do. If you build discipline in one area of your life, the discipline benefits many other areas of your life as well. Not snoozing sets the tone for a better day, and a better life. And I've really come to love the mornings.