Discipline = Freedom Pt 3 — Habits and Tools

Brian Huy Mac
6 min readDec 15, 2021


“Discipline equals freedom”
Jocko Willink (Former Navy Seal)

Original Date: February 10, 2018

Welcome to the last post of the 3 part series:

This where the rubber hits the road as they say. After setting a theme and goals around the HWL framework how do I keep myself accountable and headed in the right direction? Hoping to share some of the tools and tips I’ve accumulated in my toolbox and maybe something will work for you.. Everyone is different but the principals I think are essentially the same.


It’s all about “habits” what you consistently do day to day, week to week, month to month. I highly recommend if you get the chance “The Power of Habit”, it is on my recommended list for sure, essentially understanding how habits are formed and drive our behavior. Can’t fight nature’s shortcuts and build things that don’t need the “will-power” argument and make some lasting changes.

So here are some quick principals of the tools / resources:

  • Make it Easy/Simple → Remove Excuses, break it into small pieces ie. Moved to Santa Cruz across street from surf, go once a week, Crossfit box on the way home from work.
  • Accountability → Share publicly, have accountability partners, prepay for stuff (coaching, Crossfit, Spartan Race), and set bets is a fun one too.
  • Have a Plan B → Can’t control everything, anything, so give yourself some wiggle room and a few well if I am in X scenario I will do Y, ie. cut back on drinking = order cranberry juice and soda water in champagne glass.

With those in mind let’s dive into some of the tools!


5 Minute Journal App

Every person seems to have some sort of daily routine/priming that gets them started on the day -

Tony Robbins — Morning Priming

and Tim Ferris has covered some of these in Tools of Titans. One that I enjoyed is this daily practice of “Gratitude”. What are you grateful for? People? Little things — Sunshine on the face? Events that happen? are happening etc. For a long time I was just writing it down on a waiters pad, then when I ran out just mentally went through it in my head. As of January my friend Thomas Golizade Moen introduced me to the “5 Minute Journal” I immediately bought the app and ♥ it!

I like it because it is on my phone and is first thing I do in the morning:

  • 3 Things I am Grateful For
  • 3 Things to focus my energy / time on

5 Minute Journal — Timeline

Then end of the day

  • 3 Awesome things that happened
  • Sometimes a picture from the day

You end up after a little while with this great timeline of all the amazing stuff happening in your life. They also have a paper journal version if you like that pen to paper experience as well.

The next Daily tool I use is Coach.me it’s pretty simple but it’s a list of the habits I want to build / track, and you can set goals for frequency and reminders, join groups etc. For me it’s just tracking and frequency I use, but I can see the benefit of groups/reminders.

Coach.me App


So I am a super visual person and ever since discovering Trello a few years ago it’s the cornerstone of my tracking. You can setup boards different ways for different needs. For me there are 2 Main Boards I use. Personal for the kind of To Do things, and Personal Milestones to keep an eye on the big picture / events coming up, in bucket, etc. to plan. What I really like is on individual Cards you can attach flight PDFs, files, etc., Add checklists, set Due Dates, and invite others.

Personal — Trello Board

With my Personal Board it starts with To Do, Doing, Done, and then lists of things I am working on (Coaching, Bucket ideas, my Focus areas for HWL, Volunteering Opportunities, Learning Resources, and lastly list of movies/books people recommend.

Personal Milestones — Trello Board

For the Personal Milestones board it is broken into 3 Months at a time, a list for This Year, a list for Bucket Ideas, then I have an Info List with cards for various IDs like travel United, Hertz, etc. There is a power up that will let you view the board as a calendar as well. Between the Milestones, Calendar and Facebook Events make sure I don’t over commit to things as well as keep me mindful of managing my energy. Example I know Mar is packed with work travel so get ahead now on projects and don’t commit to events/activities in Mar.


So over 2016 I took the dive and got a coach through Tony Robbins Results Coaching — Free 30min session. Now there’s a lot of fluff around life coaching etc. and it’ll vary based on the coach you got, but what got me into taking the dive was this question of HOW do I take things to the next level? I am pretty self motivated, reflective, and have been my entire life pursuing growth / improvement yet I was feeling complacent, like I wasn’t being stretched. Have to realize that I don’t have all the answers myself. I will have to say I am super happy I did it. I meet with my Coach 1–2x a month remotely for 30min sessions and there have been some crucial turning points for me last year, and in my goals for this year. What I liked / learned:

  • Held accountable — Did I do what I said I would do since the last session — it is a third party you are paying to hold you on track vs friends/family/mentors who have a certain view of you. Calling you out on your bullshit :)
  • Are the goals specific, broken down, work back? — Are the things I am doing moving me in the right direction/focus or just symptoms of boredom. You have these ideas, thoughts, but when you have to put it down and talk it out with someone else it really forces you to be clear especially when they dig into it. “Ok that’s great, what does x look like when it’s done? how are you going to do y to get to z?”
  • Point you to interesting resources — A HUGE breakthrough for me was being turned onto this idea of what values drive people — Why we do what we do — Using this framework had some great connections with my family as well as colleagues. Other great tool was the DISC assessment to understand sometimes I move too quickly and others concerned I am not actually listening, so gotten into the habit to repeat back / clarify so they know I heard them and not just skipped to solution :)
  • Homework — Oh you want to work on your relationships? Ok need you to spend 2 hours in a quiet place writing down what that life with someone looks like, what’s the energy, what are you doing together, etc. Ok with that in mind what’s keeping you from having that? Is it your perspective? B: Ohh but I travel too much… C: What about using technology? schedule facetime, plan trips together, keep momentum B: Damn..


In the end what you get out of coaching is what you put into it. I relate it back to sports / activities having someone look at things from another perspective, give you frameworks/tools for your training will always make more progress then trying to figure it all out by yourself. Even ask STEPH CURRY ;)

Really hope you guys find some nuggets in some of the tools in my toolkit that build those habits, that discipline to open up the freedom to really achieve your goals and fulfill your theme!

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I’ll make a separate post about my favorite books/videos life kit and my travel lightly kit to share some of those cool resources/tools.