Book Review: Discipline Equals Freedom

After reading this book, I definitely have things to think about. It’s a book that I don’t feel like I can identify with, but that I feel like I learned from nonetheless. The first thing I learned about former Navy SEAL Jocko Willink, is that he is relentless. I am so inspired by him, both the philosophy he’s written down in this book, and his service to his country. The philosophy recorded in this manifesto is what I would call extreme, and maybe won’t fit for all people, but offers us some tactics that I think anyone can use. His commitment to a lifestyle of utter discipline is worth studying, and it also has some great tips for some new workouts and health choices to check out. 

On self-discipline

By far the loudest call I heard in this very rhythmically written book was that there are no hacks, there is nothing besides your own choices and decisions every day that will make you successful. 

“Self-discipline, as the very term implies, comes from the SELF. YOU. It comes when you make a decision to be disciplined. When you make a decision to be better. When you make a decision to do more, to BE more. Self-discipline comes when you decide to make a mark on the world.”

In Willink’s mind, being motivated isn’t a part of the “will I do this or not” equation. Discipline frees him from needing to make choices based on available willpower. He simply chooses to do. 

On just getting started

Talking about building a new routine or habit, the language we use can be really frustrating at times – the way we talk about things is always in the future, and even worse, sometimes is time-boxed. Think of the times you’ve heard yourself or others say “I should” or “30 day challenge”. This sets us up for failure. Your vision is meaningless without action. 

You have to do it. And you have to do it now. So stop thinking about it. Stop dreaming about it. Stop researching every aspect of it and reading all about it and debating the pros and cons of it … Start doing it. Take the first step and Make It Happen. Get after it and you will become the person you want to be. And you become that person through: One. Small. Decision. At. A. Time.

And this applies just as well to procrastination and staying motivated. Willink pulls a brilliant quote from Shakespeare: “Between the acting of a dreadful thing and the first motion, all the interim is like a phantasma or a hideous dream.” Action is tied fully into your commitment to being a better human. If you don’t feel like doing something, or the voice in your head is telling you to take unnecessary rest, go through the motions, push off that rest a little longer. 

On stress

Willink’s view of stress is one that I see as essential to working through life with some amount of peace: 

Stress is generally caused by what you can’t control. The worst thing about incoming artillery fire is you can’t control it. It is happening and you just have to accept it. Don’t stress about things you can’t control. If the stress is something tha tyou can control and you are not, that is a lack of discipline and a lack of ownership.

There are things you can’t control – accept that. If you can control it – do something!

On failure

Many sources of motivational advice right now are advocating for an embrace of failure, to stop being so afraid of failure. Willink does quite the opposite – in his mind, being afraid of failure powers him to keep working, and to work harder. Failure for him, is terrifying. It is almost as if failure doesn’t exist for him. When things are going wrong, he says “good”. So even in the midst of some struggle that some might see as failure, he is constantly leveraging that stress as an opportunity.

All in all, this is a book that had a lot of direct, aggressive advice. I found it inspiring and definitely have had his rhythmic words bouncing around in my head since I stopped reading. Give it a try and let me know what you learn!

Additionally, if you have a book group that would like to discuss Discipline Equals Freedom, I wrote down some discussion notes that I think would help guide your conversation.

Summer Reading List Update

This summer I’ve reading quite a bit and have loved all the new thoughts and ideas I’ve gotten to work through with my book club group. Stay tuned for posts and book club templates for each of these, but for now here’s a rundown of the books I’ve read recently and a short list of what’s on deck.

Straight-forward and inspiring.

I loved this book even though I don’t necessarily want to live quite the extreme lifestyle that retired US Navy SEAL Jocko Willink does. The big takeaway for me is affirming that the only way to get hard work done is to do hard work. The commitment mindset this man has is inspiring and definitely put some new words in play for the motivational voice in my head. If you’re a workout-minded individual it also has some good workout templates at the end. Find it here.

A look at the crazy early days of tech

Ben Horowitz is one of the more famous tech entrepreneurs out there, and in this book shares his experiences of the ups-and-downs of being an executive. This book made me think, as the audience he’s speaking to is probably a little higher level than where I am in my career at the moment, but definitely resonated with me as I work to communicate and manage my teams each day. Highly recommend if you’re looking for war stories from the early days in technology and how some of those companies weathered the storm through the tech crash in the early 2000s. Get it here.

Re-reading a classic

I have an affinity for dystopian novels, and a book club brought this one back to my list – it has aged very well. I hadn’t read 1984 since college, and I’d forgotten how much this book affected me the first time. If you’ve never read it or haven’t in while, this is a good lightweight read that will get your gears turning. Nice break from all the non-fiction I’ve had on my plate recently. Find it here.

If I could give this more stars I would.

I don’t say this often, but this book really did change my mind and my thought processes. It does not skimp on content, and the stories and supported research contained in this book make it hands down the best self-help-esque book I’ve read. Get it here.

Looking ahead to Fall

My list for Fall is starting to take some shape, excited for a new book club book, as well as some other read list items thrown in for fun. Will post on how the books go and provide book club templates for each as well. 

If you have read any of these books or have recommendations as well please let me know in the comments!

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This App Tracks Your Anxiety

Pacifica app screen shots

The other week I was having a really hard time. I was as low as I’d ever been and was struggling to get back to my system for breaking the cycle of negative spiraling. This usually leads to a lot of desperate googling trying to find something to help. This time, it led me to the app store.

Pacifica is a self-help app, that is  “Based on cognitive behavioral therapy combined with relaxation and wellness techniques, we believe in holistic daily tools aimed at breaking the anxiety cycle.”

So I love apps and finding new little routines that are easy to incorporate into my day, that don’t require a lot of effort that my depression/anxiety brain just can’t handle. This app is exactly that!


The Mood Tracker

This is the part I found the most useful. I would set a time two or three times per day to take a moment, try to get out of my head and analyze how I felt, and intentionally try to think about why I felt that way. This truly helped me to see where my low points in the day were, which helped me try to have something prepared to get me through those moments easier.


The goals section of the app also was a huge help. Gamification only gets you so far, but when starting a new habit or experimenting with routines, this can be a huge help! Completing goals helps you level up in the app, giving you a small incentive to go outside or meditate to check those goal boxes.

Thought Trap

Since I am not a paid Pacifica user, I only have access to the “thought trap” section of the Thoughts area in the app. However, I feel that even this small part is hugely helpful! It basically asks you to write out whatever negative thought pattern is going through your head, and then helps you highlight the areas of negativity and try to change it to a more positive thought. This intentional cycle analysis and improvement can help break you out of a current cycle, and also leave little markers in your mind when that cycle comes around again.


There are some preloaded meditations available in the app, which for the first couple weeks I would do when I got home from work, one of my daily low points. Meditating can make a huge difference in mindset, and in this case it can be one of your daily goals! This is another area that is limited unless you are a paid member, but I still found a lot of value in it with the free ones.

As far as free solutions go, I think this app is a great way to get started down a path to a more mindful, healthy life! Give it a try, let me know what you think!

5 Reasons You Never Have Any Money

One of the most important aspects of a lasting routine, is not only the addition of new habits, but also the exclusion of old ones. Finding ways to reduce the habits or stress triggers in your life will open up space in your mind and allow you to be more generous when trying new things

1. You have a gym membership you never use 

Let’s face it – we’ve all signed up for the gym on January 1, ready to face reality and do the work. But around February 15th the motivation fades and your schedule picks up, leaving less time to plan and get to the club. Gym membership fees can run you anywhere from $20 to $80 dollars per month, and unless you’re really working that space into your daily or weekly routine, you’re probably not getting the value out of it that buying a good pair of running shoes or some bar bells for home would give you.

2. You are constantly buying trendy or limited use clothing

If you’re a shopaholic, you need to give it a break, or get more committed to window shopping. If you’re trying to save money, a change of mindset towards buying investment pieces that are going to last a while and go with a lot of different outfits is imperative. There are two specific problems to look out for here:

  • You spend too much on things you don’t need – don’t spend money on frivolous items that you’ll only wear to one party once. Make sure your purchases focus on classic, stylish pieces that dress up and dress down, and that will fit the trend for years to come.
  • You spend too little on things you do needthere are some items a good wardrobe just can’t do without. Make sure you’re investing in the items you’ll where daily and need to last a while!

Check out this article on Refinery29 for the story of one woman finding ways to keep up her wardrobe after going broke in New York.

3. You don’t have automated savings

As with a lot of things on this blog, in order to have enough money on hand when you need it, you need to plan ahead. Automate your savings so you’re saving a little bit from each paycheck into a savings account. I’ve been using SmartyPig, now powered by SallieMae, for about seven years now and I love it! High interest rate for savings and I can set it and forget it – it’s how I saved up for a car down payment and someday will have enough to look at buying a home!

Whether you’re saving for a house or a fantastic pair of jeans, finding more ways to save without thinking about it will get you there faster.

4. You buy too much in one trip at the grocery store

It’s easy to do, but not having a plan when you go to the grocery store can make a huge difference in your monthly bottom line.  [Link to article on tips for spending less on food] Take a moment before you head into the store to think through what you need for the next few days. Pick up an ad sheet and check what’s on sale. Try to go to the store a couple times a week and don’t buy anything perishable that’s not on the menu. Select a couple days a week to be your shopping days to take advantage of deals as they change throughout the week. Most importantly, don’t buy anything just to “have around”. If you don’t need it, leave it at the store.

5. You go out to eat or drink too often

This is one I have struggled with a lot. I love good food and a nice drink now and then, and sometimes now and then ends up getting me into a $60 dollar meal a few times a month. Having an idea of what I’ll be eating for the week, having a plan for emergencies when I can’t make myself cook and don’t have a ton of great options on hand has made a huge difference in my budget in the past year. Try limiting high dollar meals to special occasions and finding some new ways to spice up your menu at home.


Main take away: What each of these points addresses is that if you want to have more money around for saving or travel, you’ve got to make it a priority. Assess what you spend money on and whether it’s essential – get rid of what you don’t need and make intentional decisions to grow that savings balance.