This blog is dedicated to helping you create better life-stories, love God more, increase your spiritual discipline, physical discipline and overall discipline while helping you create better life-habits and better life-rhythms that will help you improve in your life, live free, kick addiction, love your spouse more, be a better leader, build godly character and accomplish God’s call for your life. That’s why, today, I want to introduce you to: The 5-hour advantage.
Let me give you some background first.
The Development of Discipline:
For most of my life, I hated reading. I was social, athletic, loud, extroverted and really unorganized in my life. That’s because I put all my energy into improving and building the main gifts I had: Athletics and socialization. Unfortunately, I didn’t take time to see my blindspots and work on the things I struggled with or discipline myself to create or refine other minor gifts. As a result, I hated school, couldn’t stop talking in class and just plain hated the idea of sitting around in a room or in a library reading. Honestly, I thought it was a huge waste of time!
Fast forward 10 years or so, after living a destructive and an undisciplined life, I felt the weight and consequences of having a disorganized life and mind. I felt the disaster of having a disorganized and non-existent reading life or spiritual life. I felt the weight of living an overly athletic and overly social life with little time to think and learn about myself. In fact, I excelled naturally in writing and english, but at this point in my life I could hardly string two words together in the form of written rhetoric. It took a lot of discipline and effort to get the discipline back (and a lot of patience from my wife).
Eventually, after wandering away and living a disorganized life I re-developed the habit of education and schooling. The result: I attended post-secondary education. I actually began to take it seriously. Down the road, over some time and once some strong habits and strong focusing skills in reading, studying and others discipline were set in place, I stepped into the beautiful world of recreational reading outside of the requirements of formal education.
A Big Step Forward:
This was a big step for me. It opened up a whole new world for helping me to think better in every area of my life. Finally, I stopped being social 24/7 and I started setting more time aside to read, think, contemplate and wrestle with ideas, goals, talents and think through what areas of my life needed attention, improvement, re-construction, trimming and re-shifting.
At first, it took incredible discipline. I felt anxious, unable to focus and like I was always missing out while others were having fun. But over time, I actually started to enjoy and see the benefit of reading. Eventually, I started to read my Bible more and I started to ask big life and big faith questions. I began to spend evenings home alone and weekends alone reading books on how to start a fitness company, lead group fitness classes, develop more motivation, become a stronger leader, be more organized, wake up earlier to accomplish more, eat healthier, build a stronger foundation for life and I learned an invaluable amount about myself, people and relationships.
In fact, this blog, in which I write now on leadership, self-improvement, faith and relationships, was the pay-off of these difficult disciplines of reading, thinking and writing. It’s safe to say: I wouldn’t be doing what I am today if I had not turned my life around, gave it to Christ and began to dedicate my life to some serious life-discipline, especially in the form of reading.
Summarizing The Journey:
So what my point? Long story, short: I learned discipline in every area of my life and it was completely transformational from so many different angles of my life. From so many different vantage points in my life, you could see all-around life-change. I was becoming deeper, 3-dimensional, more thoughtful, less ignorant and more informed in conversation, in every area of my life. Suddenly, I had intelligent things to say. I took real stances and had real opinions on things. I no longer went with the flow of society. Instead, I began to become a leader and I started to ask the big why questions a lot of people weren’t asking.
Why is this relevant to you? Well, today I want to introduce you to what I call: the 5-hour advantage. I’m not going to get into making points for the benefits of reading. I think that is pretty clear, and I hope you see glimpses of the benefits of reading from my personal testimony above. In a big way, the benefits for reading and the accomplishment of reading in your life, as you hopefully saw above, will be advantageous. So what is: the 5-hour advantage?
The 5-hour advantage is: Setting aside an hour a day at a time in the day that works best for you and allows you to accomplish reading 1-hour a day. Eventually, after 1-hour a day, it adds up to 5-hours a week, which gives you an extra edge on your life. It’s the 5-hour advantage in your life.
The trick here is scheduling time when you are at your highest rate of ability to take in new information. Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all mentality here. It’s not a cookie-cutter formula or a magic system. The goal is to craft a unique discipline in your life that works for you, to dedicate and focus your valuable time each week by directing it to the discipline of reading, to improving yourself and to accomplishing what you feel God wants you to do in your life.
Maybe for you, you are a morning person. Turn your alarm clock back one hour and commit yourself to building a new habit of reading each day. If evenings work best for you or your lunch break at work, then build a uniquely tailored routine around the time of day that works best for you. The point is to build a schedule and routine in your life that works for you and allows you to get that extra edge on your life allowing you to grow in many valuable areas of your life.
Managing Our Time More Wisely:
Lastly, I want to touch on two things: Managing time more wisely and the pay-off of reading. Because here’s the reality: we find time to do everything we want to do in life but rarely do we make time to do the things we should do. In fact, I was recently at a musical concert and the man who preached made a good point. He said that we find time to eat, sleep, work-out and do things we like. But we often don’t find time to nourish our spiritual lives. Sadly, this is true! We find time to do everything we want to do, but when it comes to the hard things or things that take extra discipline we find excuses and we find ways to justify how we can’t accomplish that or never will. We sell ourselves short.
With that being said, I encourage you to take 1-hour a day to start reading something that is of interest to you. It will give you that 5-hour advantage in life. Read something that will open your eyes, help you understand the cultural context you live within, witness better to your neighbour, create better spending habits, be a better dad, be a better spouse, take care of your body more, be a better steward of the life God has giving you, expand your horizons and help you accomplish what you feel God has called you to do.
Of course, Bible reading should go without saying. If you don’t spend time each day reading your Bible and connecting with God or leading your spouse in daily Bible devotions, then that’s your first mission. If you are doing this already, then pick a subject, hobby or a book on something that will help get you closer to God. Take a small amount of time each day, even if it’s only half an hour or 10-minutes to start off with. Dedicate yourself to the beautiful and beneficial discipline of reading and over 5-days a week, you will experience the 5-hour advantage in your life.
Of course, everyone wants to know the benefits of hard discipline, right? None of us often do anything unless we see what we can gain from the hard-earned rewards of the sweat of discipline. So what will you get and why should you do it? I’m sure you have picked up on some things I have said already. But let me highlight a few benefits of implementing the 5-hour advantage in your life.
This list is not exhaustive and depends what you chose to read. However, if you can find some time each day to discipline yourself to read, depending on what you chose to read, you may experience a more improved spiritual life, improved relationships, improvement in your career, improvement in finally getting in shape or reading those new books on how to loose weight or how to understand your friend who is an introvert more. You may learn more about eating healthier, learn new tips, tricks and industry-proven hacks on life-hobby’s, learn to write better, think better, process better or you might find it gives you the desire to go back to College and take something new.
The goal is to simply improve in every area of your life. And remember, whatever it is that you are improving in, do it all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Before you start, take time to pray about what you should read or about what God wants you to do with your time and energy. The point is to utilize your time and energy on this earth to move forward, get closer to God, build deeper with people, become a better spiritual leader in your church or in your community while accomplishing the things you have always wanted to do in life to be a better steward of the time and life God has given you.