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Retired Navy SEAL commander explains how to wake up earlier: 'Don't think'

Richard Feloni
Leif babin jocko willink navy seals
  • Jocko Willink is a retired Navy SEAL commander with a leadership consulting company, bestselling books, and hit podcast.
  • His latest book is a "field manual" full of routines for cultivating discipline.
  • He recommends everyone immediately exercise after waking up, instead of doing anything that requires thinking.

Your alarm goes off, but you hit snooze. After rolling out of bed, you end up sipping a cup of coffee as you slowly scroll through emails and articles, and maybe you come up with a to-do list for the day as the caffeine kicks in. You're definitely not, as Jocko Willink would say, "getting after it."

Willink is the retired commander of US Navy SEAL Team 3 Task Unit Bruiser -- the most highly decorated special operations unit of the Iraq War -- and he's spent his retirement from the military sharing his leadership lessons through his consulting firm Echelon Front, his books, and his podcast.

He recently visited Business Insider to talk about his new book, "Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual," and told us that one of the most common ways to sabotage your morning is to get a slow start to your day by gradually waking up over projects that require thinking.

"Don't think in the morning," Willink said. "That's a big mistake that people make. They wake up in the morning and they start thinking."

Instead, as soon as his alarm clock goes off at 4:30 a.m. (he recommends waking up early, even if not that early), Willink jumps out of bed and puts on the workout clothes he prepared the night before. His day's to-do list was done the night before, so he doesn't have to sip a coffee and wonder what he'll do that day. He heads straight to his garage gym for a workout that wakes up both mind and body far more intensely than checking emails and doing some light stretching ever could. By the time he's done with his morning routine, most people are just waking up, most likely to try to start thinking.

As Willink said: "Don't think. Just execute the plan. The plan is the alarm clock goes off, you get up, you go work out. Get some."