You Snooze, You Lose

This morning I had a thought. It occurred as soon as my alarm sounded. I hit the snooze button on my phone (Why is snooze the big yellow button in the middle of my iPhone screen, instead of OFF?). My thought was to continue laying there. Maybe today I don’t get up. The desire to stay comfortable a little longer was very strong. If the rest of the world is sleeping, why shouldn’t I?

How many days have I lost? All those times I did not get up when my alarm went off, if I even set an alarm. I can’t begin to count the days and hours lost due to sleeping in.  I have squandered so much time. I will never get that time back again. It is that thought that caused me to change my sleeping habits. It is that thought that caused me to set that alarm for so early in the morning. It may be okay for the rest of the world to sleep in. That is their choice. I don’t want to be like the rest of the world.

How long, O sluggard, will you lie there? When will you rise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the arms to rest –then poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like a brigand. Proverbs 6:9-11

There are those that despise their alarm clock. It goes off way to soon and signals the start of another day of going through the motions. I have been there. I have woken up and the first thing on my mind is “survive the day.” But until I saw the above tweet, I have never looked at my alarm as an opportunity clock. Here is the signal to start again working toward a better life. Here is the opportunity to get better physically, mentally, and spiritually. Here is the opportunity to get ahead of the rest of the world. For while they are sleeping, I have the chance to improve. Ultimately, it is progress that I am looking for. I may never separate myself from the rest of the world, but I can improve upon the person I was in the past.

Getting up that early used to be really hard. When I was younger, I heard the really successful people in life did it. I tried it. I failed. About 9 months ago, I started attempting the early wake up again. I didn’t like working out after work, so I decided to make the move to the mornings before work. I probably averaged 2 days a week of actually getting up and going. Around November of last year, I heard The Jocko Podcast for the first time. I was intrigued. Here was a guy (former Navy Seal Commander, Jocko Willink) who said if you want to get up at 4:30 in the morning, then get up. There was no slow acclimation. There was no beating around the bush. Just do it. So I started doing it, not 2 out of 7 days, but every day including the weekends. During that time I read his book, Discipline Equals Freedom. The content was more of the same: You can achieve your goals with hard work and discipline. It is that mentality that gets me up in the morning. How can I achieve the things I want in life if I am always sleeping in? I can’t. If you want to achieve a different result, then you have to do things differently. I had to wake up.

Discipline Equals Freedom by Jocko Willink, “Begin”

If this post inspires you to change, then do it. Along the way, you may find accountability helps. If you can find a group of like-minded individuals, you will be amazed how much more consistent your progress will be. There are several twitter groups (#0445Club and #SamaraiGang) that I associate with. They are both very positive groups that inspire me to achieve greater heights. Since last November, I have lost about 35 pounds, have read about 26 books, and written more than I have in the previous three years. I am far from where I want to be, but I have a lot more discipline. In turn, I have so much more freedom.

Battling Hills, Fighting Weakness

There are five hills on my usual running route. Four of them are only 100-200 meters in length with a moderate incline. When I get to these hills, I attack. I pick up my pace and run them as fast as I can. The fifth hill is different. It is about four times longer and has just a slight, barely noticeable incline. This hill is deceptive. It is stealthy. The end isn’t visible at the beginning. Running up this hill, I find that my intensity wavers. My focus will drift, and soon I will notice my pace has slowed down.

There are some battles that are easily won. They are not drawn out, and the damage is minimal. Then there are some battles that have no end in sight. They drag on and the attrition begins to affect the mind. The long drawn out battles are dangerous as the intensity wavers.

We don’t decide to be weak. We allow it to creep into our lives. We justify small decisions without considering the long-term consequences. In his book, Discipline Equals Freedom, Jocko Willink explains this well:

We are defeated one tiny, seemingly insignificant surrender at a time that chips away at who we should really be. It isn’t that you wake up one day and decide that’s it: I am going to be weak. No. It is a slow incremental process. It chips away at our will- it chips away at our discipline. We sleep in a little later. We miss a workout, then another. We start to eat what we shouldn’t eat and drink what we shouldn’t drink. And, without realizing it- one day, you wake up and you become something that you never would have allowed.

That one hill is a reminder to be ever vigilant. It reminds me that without a constant focus on every action, I am susceptible to allowing weakness to creep into my life. Some of those choices may seem miniscule, a mere drop in the water. But who is to know the lasting ramifications they can have? Who is to say that slight detour doesn’t take you along a path just slightly different than the one you should be on? As Miyamoto Musashi said, “There is no end to the path of discipline.”