With discipline comes freedom, says retired US Navy SEAL commander Jocko Willink.
- Jocko Willink is a retired Navy SEAL commander, best-selling author, and popular podcast host.
- His new book is a “field manual” for instilling discipline in your life.
- He has a simple nightly ritual that prepares him for the next day.
As the commander of US Navy SEAL Team 3 Task Unit Bruiser, Jocko Willink coined a mantra for his men: “Discipline equals freedom.”
It’s the idea that by developing and sticking to tested procedures and guidelines, you will be freed to focus on the mission at hand, rather than be distracted by the process, and therefore be ready to adapt to the unexpected.
Willink has a new book called “Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual,” and it’s a collection of insights and routines he’s shared through his leadership consulting firm Echelon Front and his hit podcast.
Business Insider recently sat down with Willink, who said there are two things he does every night in order to get a running start the next morning — and anyone can use them to similar effect.
Prepare your gym clothes tonight.
As soon as Willink wakes up — at 4:30 a.m. — he heads to the home gym he built in his garage. And even if you don’t want to try one of the workout routines in the “Field Manual,” you should do some form of exercise, Willink said.
“Just do some kind of workout,” he said. “Doesn’t matter if it’s going for a walk around the block, going for a jog, doing some calisthenics, lifting weights, going to a pool and swimming — you name it. But do something that gets your blood flowing and gets your mind in the game.”
The biggest obstacle for people developing workout routines is putting in extra effort to make them fit into your schedule. To make it easier on yourself, Willink said, prepare your workout gear at night so that you can throw it on as soon as you slide out of bed.
Start going to sleep earlier, Willink said, so that you can get up earlier. Your gym clothes will be waiting for you.
Finish making tomorrow’s to-do list
As a SEAL, Willink developed a habit of kicking off his day by moving, not thinking. The way he sees it, you’re defeating the purpose of waking up early if you gradually shake off your lethargy and plan out your day over a cup of coffee. Go ahead and drink some coffee, but go work out instead.
To facilitate this, make tomorrow’s to-do list tonight. You already know what you have to accomplish tomorrow, and you’re better off planning your day out quickly and efficiently.
“Don’t think in the morning,” Willink said. “That’s a big mistake that people make. They wake up in the morning and they start thinking. Don’t think. Just execute the plan. The plan is the alarm clock goes off, you get up, you go work out. Get some.”
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