Why waking up at five a.m. helps me win

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By Jessica Brodie

“The first battle of the day is winning the war against the alarm clock.”

That’s been sticking in my mind lately. My husband, Matt, shared it with me as his game-changer sentence, the one that popped him out of his seeming inability to wake up in the morning. It comes from a book Matt was reading by retired Navy SEAL commander Jocko Willink, who with Leif Babin wrote Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win. “Discipline starts every day when the first alarm clock goes off in the morning,” Willink wrote—that’s the “first test” of the day.

Now it’s becoming my own game-changer sentence.

As I write this, it’s back-to-school month. I have a child in elementary school and a child in middle school, and it’s been the summer of chaos. A working mom, I struggle to stay on my routine in the summer. I think I’m going to be able to wake up early all summer and get so much accomplished, but I end up justifying the need for extra sleep, and my oldest’s desire to stay up late “because it’s summer and all my friends do” tends to work on my tired mama logic. Even though I technically have much more free time slated for the summer, I am far busier, and I know it’s because I’m off-track.

My discipline has gone awry.

With back-to-school season and a desperate need to get on a good schedule again for my own sanity and productivity, I decided I’m going to start waking up at five a.m. again to get my workout out of the way for the day. (So far, so good!) Then at six I can jump into the routine of getting everybody out the door and where they need to be, and I can get to work. Still, it’s hard. To get up at five, I really should be going to sleep by nine or ten, but some nights it’s been eleven or later.

But we pick our battles, and my obstacle right now is time-management. And so viewing the alarm clock as a battle to win in my overall war on time management is an effective strategy.

We all have battles we fight daily, and they’re far deeper than time management. We fight against evil. We fight against temptation and sin. Your first battle might be resisting the urge to cut someone off in traffic, or refusing to join in when coworkers are gossiping. Maybe it’s standing up to a bully on behalf of a friend, or not judging someone in tattered clothing but giving the benefit of doubt—or seeking ways to help instead of sneer.

The apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 6:12, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (NIV).

Everything we do, even seemingly insignificant things like waking up in the morning, has eternal significance. It’s a battle, but with God and faith, we can win the war.

Stand strong, my friends. Walk in the Lord.

Your turn: What ways are you doing battle in regular, everyday life?

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