Lessons in Daily Discipline #1: NEVER STOP LEARNING

If you follow me on Instagram (@joshuasettlage), or know me personally, you will know that Iive by the phrase, “daily discipline”. Not only is it a clever use of alliteration, but also represents the way we should all strive to live our lives. One of my most popular articles, “Why Do I Get Up Early?” gives an in depth look into one aspect of daily discipline. If you haven’t read the article, you can find it here. I decided to start a series of articles that not only allow me to open up about decisions of discipline or lack there of in my own life, but to also help those who need a little extra push to stay disciplined in certain areas.

Last week I began training for the Submission Pro Tour in October. Once I have a date on the calendar, I am 100% focused. Every aspect of my life revolves around peak performance and gaining a competitive edge against the competition. One of the habits I picked up while training for a previous tournament was buying a $2 notebook at WalMart and begin to study jiu jitsu competitions and other practitioners. I took notes on everything. Their sequence of attacks and certain defenses, transitions, most successful submission, etc. I also took notes on the moves and transitions I learned in class, and how I did during the live rolls of class. In beginning the study process for this next tournament, I realized something. Why am I not applying this amount of focus, passion and drive to learn jiu jitsu throughout the entire year? Not only in jiu jitsu, but why have I fallen out of reading daily? What happened to the discipline of making time to learn something new each week?

Like fresh bread, we must never grow stale. We must never grow complacent with our current position or situation. We must always strive for something more. There is something special about aiming to be better, faster, more efficient, at any task, skill, or aspect of our everyday lives. Not only does learning and growing enhance our quality of life, but the lives of those around us. At this last year’s Global Leadership Summit, founder and senior pastor of Willow Creek Church and head of the Summit stated in his opening session, “Everyone wins when a leader gets better.” Isn’t that so true? When a leader in the workplace gets better, employees enjoy their job more, and are able to deliver with excellence on the tasks they’re assigned. The same for coaches. When a coach gets better, most of the time, athletes get better. When a husband, wife, boyfriend, or girlfriend gets better, the relationship gets better.

Constantly learning allows us to grow in fulfilling the purpose God has for us, or the mission we have set out to complete. In fulfilling the purpose God has for us, everyone reaps the benefit. I realized that in order to become a better strength and conditioning coach I needed to stay up to date on what research is coming out about exercise physiology, as well as learn how to run my business more efficiently so I can help more people reach their fitness goals. I in turn bought Lazlo Bock’s NY Times Bestseller, “Work Rules!”. In reading this book I am learning how not only how to transform how I live, but also become a better leader because of it.

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Some of the books and resources I’ve picked up over the years.

Learning does not necessarily mean learning or studying something that is directly related to your sport or your line of work. It is good to stretch yourself and learn something beyond what you’re comfortable with. When I first met my girlfriend, I hated coffee. If you know me now, that might come as a huge shock. Although, through getting to know her family more and being exposed to great coffees from all over the world, I became fascinated with home brewing. Over the last several years I have accumulated several pieces of home brew equipment and thoroughly enjoy finding the perfect ground to water ratio, the perfect temperature to heat the water, and what coffees taste best with a certain brew method. Learning about coffee not only is fun and enjoyable with other coffee lovers, but it allows me to take a break from all the barbells and jiu jitsu. Sometimes it is nice to step out of the realm I am used to thinking in, and be exposed to a whole new world of agriculture and chemistry.

Making a commitment to learn more is not difficult. It just takes discipline. Here are some of the steps I take when wanting to self educate myself further…

  1. Schedule in time specifically dedicated to self education. Write it in big sharpie, put a reminder on your phone, whatever it takes. Do not just think, “Today I am going to spend some time reading.” People are so busy these days and 9/10 just saying you’ll try to do it does not last very long.
  2. Go grab a book. Any book. Any book that seems remotely interesting and READ it. Don’t leave it on the shelf. Use the first step of scheduling time, and read the thing.
  3. Make a list of hobbies and plug one of those hobbies in with “How to…” on YouTube.
  4. Find an interesting podcast to start listening to during your commute to and from work.
  5. Instead of watching TV in the evening, turn on that podcast and go for a walk after dinner.

These are just some of the habits I have used in the past to self educate myself. It is easy to do all these things when you have all the time in the world. Unfortunately, there is never enough time. Like the great Arnold Schwarzenegger always said, “You will never have enough time. You must make the time!” As mentioned at the beginning of this article, it takes discipline. Daily Discipline. Now go out and learn something. Comment below what you are going to learn this week!

For more information of #dailydiscipline, strength and conditioning, and my everyday life, give me a follow on Instagram: @joshuasettlage. If you have questions or inquiries on personalized programming, customized nutrition plans, and/or personal training, email me at settlagesac@gmail.com.

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Why Do I Get Up Early?

Since I began posting pictures of the digital alarm clock in my room, many people who follow my social media are curious about it. I often hear, “Aren’t you tired?”, “I don’t know how you do it.”, “Why do you get up so early?” After hearing this almost on a daily basis, I decided to share the main motives behind this daily decision and how you can join me in doing so.

I get up early because there is work to do.

I get up early because everyone else is asleep.

I get up early because it’s a challenge.

I get up early because it takes discipline.

I get up early because chances are, my competition is still asleep.

I get up early because if I wake up two hours before the competition does, that is two hours of extra preparation I have ahead of them.

I get up early because I love it.

Getting up early is not easy. It’s hard. It sucks leaving the warm comfort of your bed to head to the gym where you’ll be in pain and sweaty and tired and gross. In all honesty, I too have times where the most beneficial thing to me and my training is to sleep and recover and I am careful using those strategic rest days. Although, for the most part, I choose to ignore that voice in my head and throw the blankets off, drink a glass of water, go down to the squat rack and warm up. When there is work to be done, one must get up early. Nobody has enough time, so we must make the time. If I hear someone tell me they don’t have time to train, and I see them sleeping in till noon, laying around on the couch for several hours and then deciding to get ready and do something with their day, it frankly makes me sick. I do not have enough time to get done everything I need to. I am busy and have responsibilities like everyone else here on Earth. I do not have enough time, but I do have goals. I do have visions, dreams, aspirations, and plans. In order to accomplish those goals I have to make the time to work towards them. Like Arnold Schwarzenegger said, I must sleep “faster” to add two more hours to my day so I can train. Taking one more step towards making that vision a reality. I want to influence, mentor, lead and encourage young people around me to be more disciplined, to be mentally tough, and to be stronger. Getting up early starts the snowball effect for my day. If I have to discipline to get up at 3:30am, I also have to discipline to not cheat on my diet during competition prep. If I have to discipline to do that, I also have the discipline to work on growing my personal business when I am already a full time student, and continue to learn and develop myself mentally and spiritually just as much as I am physically.

Getting up early is a choice you must make the night before. If you normally wake up at 7:00am, you can not simply just will yourself awake to get out of bed at 5:00am. You have to set your alarm the night before and make a conscious choice and commitment with yourself that you are supposed to get up when you intend to. That leads me into my first tip of getting up early.

  1. SET AN ALARM. This seems like an obvious step, but I can’t tell you enough how many times people tell me they are going to start getting up early and yet never set an alarm! If one alarm is not enough set more. I currently have five alarms set so that there is no way I am not awoken when I should have been.
  2. DO NOT HIT SNOOZE. The first act of #dailydiscipline for me starts with refusing to hit snooze. If I refuse to hit snooze, I am on track to getting after it that morning. The snooze button is one of the worst inventions ever created. It is the button that activates laziness. It is a button that entices you to give up on your commitment to yourself of getting up early. If you do not plan on waking up at 5:00am, do not lie to yourself and set your alarm for 5:00am. If you do plan on getting up at 5:00am, proceed to step three.
  3. GET UP. Physically leave your bed. Undo the covers and go from horizontal to vertical as quickly as you can. You can’t fall back asleep if you are standing up and walking around. When I first began making a commitment to getting up early, I would wake up, but lay in bed staring at my phone and seeing what was going on the night before. Before I knew it was being woken by alarm number two. If you leave your bed the first time, there is no longer a desire to hit snooze, there is no longer a desire to get back under the covers, there is no longer a voice saying to roll over and fall back into a deep slumber. You are already up. Act on the first two acts of discipline that took you here.

These three steps to getting up early probably seem like the most obvious steps for any process imaginable. As mentioned earlier, there are a lot of people who tell me they want to wake up early, but don’t know how, or are not committed enough to do it. It is not complicated by any means, it is just hard. Like anything else it becomes easier as your body adapts to the new circadian rhythm. It’s not impossible, you can do it.

I encourage you to start getting up early. Why? Because it takes discipline. If you can have the discipline and grit to wake up early, you can have the discipline to skip the cookie tray at work. You can have the discipline and most importantly the extra time needed to workout even if it’s just something small. Starting your day with one small step of discipline makes for other bigger steps of discipline easier. Another reason I enjoy getting up early is because it makes my day longer. If you currently do not have time to read and work on personal development, or do not have enough time to workout, or do not have enough time to prep healthy food before you leave for work. Imagine all you can do with one extra hour in the morning. Imagine how much more productive you can be if by 8:00am, your workout is done, you have read a chapter of a new book or listened to a podcast, and are ready to tackle the day with your homemade healthy lunch already assembled? Take it from me, you can do a lot.

Get up early. You do not have to get up at 3:30 like me, but just set your alarm an hour earlier. Instead of waking up at 6:30 and hitting snooze till 7:00, set your alarm for 5:30 and actually get up when it goes off. Take a picture of your alarm clock and tag me on Instagram (@joshuasettlage). Let’s create a culture of #dailydiscipline that does not settle for mediocrity and strives to jump start the day. My life has changed since I began waking up early over a year ago. My hope is that yours will be changed as well. GET UP.

Dates on the Calendar

I am going to start with the obvious. Goals are important. Here is another piece of obvious information. Working to achieving those goals are important. Now, for something maybe not so obvious. Having a date on the calendar by which to accomplish them by is arguably most important.

Setting a date on the calendar puts a countdown for you to accomplish those goals you set in place. It gives you a due date. If someone has a goal to, “get stronger”, that goal remains in limbo while you wait around and debate on which program to choose, what time of day to train, conjugate or 5/3/1, what foods do I need to eat, etc. All the questioning leads to indecision and no one gets any stronger. Having a date on the calendar creates a sense of urgency in your life and in your training. If you know you are going on vacation at the end of June, and it’s the beginning of April now, you have about 12 weeks to get in shape for your vacation.

Since May of 2015, I have set goals with very specific dates on the calendar by which to complete them. Beginning in May, I had a goal to gain size and strength by the end of the year. More specifically work up to 175 pounds in bodyweight by Dec. 31st. Next was in April of 2016 when I put the Tahoe Show on the calendar in August. Watching the calendar as week by week I got closer to my first bodybuilding show really motivated me and kept me accountable to training hard and sticking to my diet. After the Tahoe Show, I set out to compete in jiu jitsu again and signed up the day I got back in the dojo. I am now 31 days out from my next Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournament and am counting the days till I step out on the mat and compete again.

If at any time I feel my training begin to grow stale or I no longer am anticipating getting out of bed at 4:15 in the morning to head to the gym, I look at my calendar. If there’s nothing on there, I know it’s time to reassess my goals and chose a date I expect them to be accomplished by. In Tim Ferriss’s book The Four Hour Work Week, he talks about increasing productivity setting timers and cut offs for doing different tasks. He advised to not give yourself all day to get one thing done, because you will inevitably find a way to spend all day doing that one thing. I believe the same with goals. On January 1st, 2017 you probably proudly stated that you are going to be healthier, stronger, faster, more explosive, etc. Did you give yourself a cut off date? Many times people do not set specific dates for these goals and will spend (if their even make it that far) all year working on this one goal, yet never actually achieving it.

These dates on the calendar are almost my accountability partners for training. When I want to break off my diet, the date on the calendar is there to keep me in check. The calendar tells you, “You are five weeks out from your first bodybuilding show a break in your diet now can cost you the physique you’ve spent the last 11 weeks building.” or when I want to skip out on a conditioning workout, “You have two months before the tournament. Building conditioning now will help your training sessions later on, and in turn make you a better jiu jitsu player.”

You might be thinking, “I don’t want to do a bodybuilding show!” or “I hate wrestling and jiu jitsu, I just want to be healthy!” and that’s totally okay! All of us have different passions, goals, needs, and dreams. This is not just specific to combat sports or physique competitions, but for any goal. If you have a goal to be healthier and put on a little bit of muscle and the summer starts in June, use that as your date. Write down your goal and the date by which you want to accomplish it by, and put it somewhere you will be reminded every day, on your phone, the mirror, etc. If you have a vacation coming up this summer, there’s your date. Before I leave for vacation in Santa Cruz, I want to be lean and feel confident in a swimsuit.

Marking that date on the calendar is just the little extra push I need to get through those hard days of training and I believe it just might be the little extra push you need too. Living a disciplined life includes setting goals to better yourself and others. For me, I am focused every day on May 6th, 2017. Every rep, every set, every choke and armbar is all centered around the preparation for the tournament on that date. Those goals are not true goals until there’s a date on the calendar. My goal to compete in jiu jitsu again was not legitimized until put it down in the calendar and paid the competitor fees. Until there’s a date on the calendar, your goals are nothing more than just a dream. A dream that remains in limbo till you pull the trigger and get to work. Not going on vacation this year? Already strong enough for wrestling? You think you don’t need a date on the calendar? Wrong. There’s 365 days out of the year. Pick one of those days and accomplish something powerful before that day comes. Develop the discipline to set a goal and actually achieve it.

#dailydiscipline