"How to Have the Best Day Ever” (002/005): Discipline = Freedom
by Live Better
If you’ve never heard the phrase “discipline = freedom”, we’d suggest you (right after reading this) look up all resources you can consume by Jocko Willink. A former Navy Seal turned podcast host, leadership advisory firm founder, and overall badass, Jocko has a no BS approach to getting after it.
But doesn’t this idea of instilling discipline somehow hinder freedom? Isn’t that the opposite?
Consider all of the time you spend during the day - how much of it is wasted due to not prioritizing what needs to be done first thing? Think about this for a minute; what if you never made a decision about what to wear in the morning, what to eat for lunch, when you would exercise, or how you started your day?
How much time would that free up to then focus on other things that matter?
We must consider the foundational idea of “decision fatigue” when thinking about how will we spend our time and what we spend energy on to make decisions. It is inefficient to waste this brain power on trivial matters like your clothes or where you’ll get food for lunch. Instead, we’d much rather have energy to progress our career, handle difficult personal matters, start a new side hustle, or keep up a positive attitude after a long day.
This idea that we have a finite number of “decisions” to make throughout the day helps us do the math on how we spend our energy (or, how we fill our tank back up through recovery). Routine building then becomes extremely important - how can we create processes (read: morning and evening routine) that free up resources to make decisions on things that require more energy?
Discipline = Freedom.
The purpose of a morning routine is to prime your day (for success). All parts of your routine should have a purpose (note: we’ve been reading WAY too many articles talking about “64 Things to Add to Your Morning Routine”…unnecessary). A few routines that have become popularized over the past few years include gratitude journaling, meditation, and cold showers. The staples have always been brushing your teeth, breakfast, coffee (duh), and potentially exercise.
This all depends on the amount of time you have in the morning and what you want to accomplish. If you think you don’t have enough time to complete all the tasks necessary to start your day well, simply wake up earlier (and quit bitching about it). First (free) tip; don’t hit the snooze button.
Need to be into work by 08:00am? If your commute takes 30 minutes, that means we need to leave by 07:30am. Shower, hygiene, and getting ready takes 40 minutes. Let’s add a few things into the mix - meditation, journaling, and a light stretch. Let’s say each one of those takes 10 minutes. Simply back into what time you need to set your alarm:
06:10 - Wake up
06:15 - Meditation
06:25 - Journaling
06:35 - Light Stretch
06:45 - Shower
06:55 - Hygiene
07:15 - Get Ready
07:25 - Coffee
07:30 - Leave for work
Want to know the best thing about this morning routine? It can be “packed up” and taken with you anywhere around the world. Even if you’re on vacation or on the road, you can easily follow the same routine. It should allow you to start your day on the best foot possible.
The purpose of an evening routine is to unwind from your day. Sleep is a performance enhancing drug - without it, we are unable to recover. What’s interesting is how much thought we give to adding more energy into our day (coffee, exercise, music, etc) and how little thought we give to preparing our body (and mind) for sleep.
Our minds are racing by the time they hit the pillow. If you have trouble falling asleep, we need to empty all of those thoughts onto paper, have a to-do list, prepare for the next day, and then unwind.
Need to wake up at 06:10am? How many hours of sleep do you need to get to do what you need to do and fully recover (we suggest an absolute minimum of six hours of quality sleep with a target quantity of 7+ depending on lifestyle needs). Let’s say for purpose of this exercise that we need eight hours.
09:05pm - Set alarm on phone, place facedown on bedside table (and DON’T check it again)
09:06pm - Make tomorrow’s essential to-do list on a notepad
09:15pm - Evening tea (we suggest Four Sigmatic Mushroom Cacao Mix with Reishi)
09:20pm - Hygiene
09:25pm - Evening stretch
09:30pm - Read
10:05pm - Bedtime
A couple key points to your evening routine:
Do not check your phone after setting your alarm or sending that last text/email.
Do not engage in any other technology before bed after setting your phone down.
Complete one mindful breathing exercise before getting into bed to active your parasympathetic nervous system (the one that helps you sleep…).
Adjust time as necessary to fit your needs; just don’t expect to go lights out right away.
Other Decisions to Make
Here are a few other helpful tips to help you create some freedom in your day:
Lay out your clothes for the following day
Pre-pack any food you are taking with you
Decide what you’ll be eating the following day, even if you’re going out to dinner (all menus are online…)
Make sure your workout is scheduled; do not leave this up to motivation
Your day should be perfectly set up for your success. If you’re more creative in the morning, leave room for that! If you’re task oriented in the morning, make sure that’s on your priority list. Leave open time later in the day to read or day-dream. There is no perfect mold; the “perfect” routine comes with trial and error, experimentation, and measurement. A journal is helpful for this reason; it gives us a day to day reflection of our feelings (which are often subject to which way the wind is blowing on any given day). Our “growth” happens we notice ourselves having more energy, completing more tasks on time, getting enough sleep (because we planned for it), and having some extra energy on the side for our passions.
Discipline does create freedom. Structure creates opportunity. Most people waste precious time on decisions they could have pre-decided in a better mental headspace (like walking into a grocery store hungry).
What can you make routine that is wasting time? What can you make routine that creates daily growth?
This is the challenge, and this is the opportunity.