“Winners find a way. Losers find an excuse.”

-Anonymous

When I was a teenager, I thought the snooze button on my alarm clock was the greatest invention ever. I could hit the ‘just 9 more minutes’ button if I was too cold, too tired, not feeling well or had any excuse to stay in bed longer.

Discipline takes practice. Start with small gestures like setting your alarm 15-30 minutes earlier than usual and do not press snooze. #sharpenyouraxe

Be on time, every time

When I was 15, I started part time work at McDonald’s. On weekends; I would do the ‘Walkers’ shift. 4am starts, standing in a freezer, loading meat from a truck. I would clock in at the start and clock off to finish my shift.

I realised by hitting snooze on my alarm clock was just an excuse.

Now I was being held accountable, so I could not sleep in. My managers expected me to be on time and they could see if I wasn’t. I believe at the time we were paid in 15-minute increments, so if we were 1 minute late, we were docked 15.

A few years later, I was fortunate to land a corporate job in Sydney. My start time was flexible, so I could start and finish early or start and finish late. It was all too tempting for me to hit snooze, once again. “Just 9 more minutes”, I thought to myself, “And no one is going to hold me accountable if I am late”.

Hold yourself accountable

Fast forward 5 more years and I was accepted into the New South Wales (NSW) Police Academy. Early into my training, I heard the often-repeated mantra, “Just get the job done”. I understood it meant stop making excuses and do what you must.

Our first day on parade ground at 7am, around 250 of us were standing to attention. A few students were just a minute or so behind and had to run to join the group on time.

All these students had heartfelt apologies and seemingly legitimate excuses. Our Sergeant would stand about an inch from each of their faces to reply. I’m paraphrasing here but I believe he yelled something like, “I don’t give a shit about your excuses. Just get the job done”.

Senior police officers at the NSW Police Academy made it clear they could remove anyone, for any reason, without explanation. We were in their world now and they had heard every excuse imaginable.

Snoozing your alarm clock is yet another excuse

I learned a valuable lesson from my experience. I stopped hitting the snooze button from then on because I realised it was a metaphor for all my excuses in life. Was it too early? Was I too tired? Did I feel less than 100 percent? Maybe these things were true, however, no one else cared. If I allowed myself, I would continue to find excuses, instead of finding a way.   

Small gestures, like waking up at first alarm, set the tone for everything else you’re going to do in a day. Not hitting your snooze button may be a small discipline but you should think of it as a metaphor for the excuses you make in life.

Former Navy Seal Commander turned Entrepreneur, Jock Willink, had similar advice about self-discipline. “When your alarm clock goes off, just get up. Don’t think about it. Don’t rationalise anything. No snooze button. No, just 5 more minutes” (Ferriss, 2019).

Discipline is like a muscle. You need to train it. #sharpenyouraxe