These 5 simple habits will make you stronger: Navy SEAL commander

Feel like you’re constantly running behind schedule? Does your day never seem to have enough hours to get all the work done? Do you always intend to go to the gym but end up on the couch?

Time for a change. And Jocko Willink, a retired Navy SEAL commander, knows exactly how to bring that about.

He served as commander of US Navy SEAL’s Task Unit Bruiser, the most applauded special operations unit of the Iraq War. The team owed its success largely to the culture of discipline and responsibility that Willink established. The underlying mantra he used was “Discipline equals freedom” – however contradictory that may sound. Willink advocates that structure and dedication actually help you to live freely and efficiently.

Nowadays Jocko Willink is enjoying his well-deserved retirement, without giving up on some daily routines from his commander’s days. He decided to share his simple yet deadly efficient habits in his latest book.

Here are the 5 most simple yet life-changing ones you can adopt as of tonight.

1) Get up before everyone else does

Forget the snooze button and the morning rush to work. From now on you rise early, before the others do. Even if retired, Willink himself still gets up at 4:30 AM every day. When he joined the Navy SEAL, he quickly discovered that the best performers were the ones who got up the earliest.

He says: “That nice, soft pillow, and the warm blanket, and it’s all comfortable and no one wants to leave that comfort — but if you can wake up early in the morning, get a head start on everyone else that’s still sleeping, get productive time doing things that you need to do — that’s a huge piece to moving your life forward. So get up early. I know it’s hard. I don’t care. Do it anyways.”

‪East coast. GO. ‬

A post shared by Jocko Willink (@jockowillink) on

Of course, you’re not supposed to cut in on your night’s rest. Determine how much hours of sleep you need and go to bed earlier if required. And before you think of cheating during the weekend: sleeping long on Sunday will mess up your newly-found rhythm and ruin any progress you made during the week.

2) Pick your morning work-out routine – and prepare your sports clothes tonight

You can spend your extra morning time in any productive way you like, but Willink recommends doing some exercise. As soon as he rolls out of bed, he heads to the gym. If you’re feeling ambitious, try one his daily workout routines.

If that’s a bit too much for you at 4:30 AM, go for some lighter exercise. Morning time is perfect to get your blood flowing and get your body ready for the day to come.

Do you already feel like giving up, just reading this? Willink has a simple trick to make it somewhat easier: prepare your gym clothes the night before. That way you just have to slip into them in the morning and you’re good to go.

3) Make tomorrow’s to-do list tonight

That’s right, don’t make your list at the breakfast table. You have to kick off your day by acting, not thinking.

Or as Willink puts it: “Don’t think in the morning. 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.”

So make your to do list for the next day before going to bed. This helps to get a clear picture of what needs to be done, so tomorrow you can immediately start getting it done.

4) Fuel up on short power naps

And when we say short, we mean short: 6 to 8 minutes.

Willink says: “If you’re going to wake up early all the time, and you’re working hard, and you’re working out, sometimes you’re going to get tired. That’s OK. We’re all human, unfortunately.”

Try it the Willink way: put your legs up and set your alarm for 6 to 8 minutes. You’ll notice that elevating your legs feels good, but it also benefits your health. After longer periods of sitting or standing, your feet and ankles may swell from extracellular fluid. Putting your legs up can avoid this swelling and benefit your body rest.

5) Say no to free food

Sorry, we kept the most difficult one for last: even if it’s offered to you for free, don’t touch unhealthy snacks. Willink sticks to a low-carb diet based on meat and vegetables, but even if that’s a step too far for you, simply saying no to greasy snacks can do a great deal.

We have food around us the whole time – colleagues bring donuts to the office, or we’re offered a wealth of snacks during a party. To say it in Willink’s words: “If we haven’t eaten for three hours we think we’re starving. You’re not starving. Human beings can go for 30 days without food.”

We don’t want you to do that, but rather stick to a healthy food pattern and leave behind the 4PM sweets in the office kitchen.

For more insights of Jocko Willink, check out his podcast here.

Can you see yourself adopting any of the habits above? Or do you have another life-changing routine to share? Drop us a comment!

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Gosia Kurowska

Gosia Kurowska

Gosia Kurowska was born in Poland and has lived in Belgium before moving to Thailand recently. She has worked for the EU institutions as a speechwriter and press officer for several years. She now launched her own blog on handmade fashion and jewelry from Thailand/Asia,



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