Discipline Equals Freedom By Sponsored Professional Triathlete Lisa Roberts
It seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it? But if you really think about it from a perspective of trying to achieve your best each and every day, a disciplined approach is the only way to freedom. Freedom can embody whatever it is you are trying to achieve; it can be more free time, a better job or a personal best at your next event.
I haven’t read the Jocko Willink book on this topic, but after seeing the “Discipline Equals Freedom” quote a few weeks ago it spoke to me. I often get asked what my daily routine is or how much training I do each week, especially while I split my time between running my business and racing professionally. Several years ago, I was constantly asked how I had time to fit it all in. I was pretty blunt about saying I had my days scheduled, learned how long tasks really took to complete and budgeted time accordingly. I didn’t do it perfectly all the time, but when I did life was a lot less stressful and I was happier and healthier.
But with that discipline in scheduling my day, there was also a component of the day that wasn’t scheduled: the free time to do the floating things or take other things on board. So by having non-negotiable structured time to buckle down and get things done, I had the freedom to have other parts of my day to explore other options.
After becoming a full-time professional several years ago, I felt first-hand what it was like to be caught with my hand in the “undisciplined cookie jar.” Sure, I had more flexibility to get workouts in and recover in between, but without the structure of an office life it was very easy to waste entirely too much time on unimportant things. So I quickly set my daily schedule of arriving to the pool at a precise time or heading out the door for a bike or run. And when I stuck to that, I noticed I was less stressed, more focused and had more time for exploration.
Setting the alarm for the morning, going to bed early, arriving on time or sticking to a time budget are relatively easy ways to be disciplined. What becomes difficult for many is saying NO. Too often we try to do it all, not wanting to miss an opportunity or having FOMO. We have to be willing to let some things pass by in order to stay focused on our path.
How can we start to get freedom from discipline?
- It starts by planning out your day, starting with the “bigger picture” items first. These could be your training, a book you’re writing or a project. Know how long it takes you to accomplish certain tasks associated with these items and GET. IT. DONE.
- Get up fairly early to utilize quiet time in the morning. This means going to bed at a reasonable hour. Pro tip: Use Klean Melatonin if you need help to get to sleep at first.‡
- Learn how to say no to people, events or time-wasters (ahem, social media!).
- Learn to be polite but firm when faced with people that have the potential to use a lot of your time.
- Identify “time warp tasks” like checking email or making phone calls, and either schedule these into the day or put time limits on how long you’ll do them.
- Don’t be too rigid in your scheduling; you’ll need to leave room for error or unforeseen circumstances.
My hope is if you start to take a more disciplined approach to everyday life you’ll find you’ll actually have more freedom to achieve! You’ll feel less “busy” and more focused, clear, present and determined.