Updated: Aug 14, 2020
Wake-up at 5am for 30 days! What possible benefit could be derived from beating the sparrow out of bed? The way I see it there are two. Firstly, if you do decide to pit yourself against this challenge you will, out of necessity, be forced to cultivate greater discipline. I will not, through fear of patronising the reader, expatiate on the many meritorious benefits of developing greater self-discipline. Yet, though self-discipline certainly is beneficial, in more ways than I care to catalogue, few possess this illusive, Scarlet Pimpernelian quality – wouldn’t you agree? (Oh, and whilst we’re on the subject, how many times did you hit the snooze button this morning?)
“I want to dedicate myself to training and discipline; I want to spend every moment of every day working to improve myself.”
Self-discipline is like the Swiss army knife of personal attributes. Let me explain what I mean by this. One who is suffused in self-discipline won’t just find it easier to get out of bed at the appointed time. They are more likely to:
Exercise greater dietary restraint, choosing healthier food options over unhealthy alternatives
Sustain a physical fitness regime
Avoid running-up personal debt
Uphold the principals of punctuality
Delay gratification and
Pursue eudemonic activities as opposed to indulging in hedonic ones
Because self-discipline doesn’t discriminate you can apply it to pretty much any aspect of your life. And like other personal qualities, such as integrity, honesty and/or reliability, it can be developed, honed and fortified through continued practice. (Though there may be a smidgen of truth in the prevailing supposition that some people have a natural propensity toward self-discipline, those who aren’t so genetically fortuitous can still work on it.) I think it best to treat self-discipline as you would a muscle. If you want to make a muscle stronger, or enhance its functional utility, what would you do? Exercise it of course. Look at this challenge as weight training for your self-discipline.
Secondly, your day will be significantly expanded (depending, of course, on what time you currently enter the land of the living). Simply put, I’m offering you a chance to extend your life. When asked why he arose at such an un-godly hour and slept so little (less than 4hrs a night), Sir Walter Raleigh reportedly said, ‘Because I’ll sleep loads when I’m dead!’ Now I’m not entirely sure whether Walt really did say that but, irrespective of if he did or no, there’s a profound underlying truth there. That truth: once you’ve croaked it you’ll enter a non-experiential state for . . . wait for it . . . eternity! With that in mind every extra minute we can add to our waking day should be our chief endeavour.