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Being late terrifies me. For many reasons. I hate the thought of someone waiting for me. One of my earliest articles here talks about punctuality. I was raised that way - to be on time. In fact, I've done better and prefer to arrive BEFORE the appointed time.
When I started school, there was the school bus. Which means having to be ready at the same time every school day. It was a sin to have the bus wait because there were other kids to be picked up, and I wasn't the last on the route. Hold up the bus and chances are we'd all be late. So...
I cannot swear that at that age (6 or 7 years old) I knew to get up on my own and start getting ready. We grew up with househelpers, and it was part of their duty to wake me up so there was enough time to take a bath, get dressed, and eat breakfast before the bus arrived.
There were mornings when I'd be sluggish and getting ready took longer, so the nanny, to ensure I wouldn't be late for the bus, would spoon food into my mouth to rush me along. Eating a full breakfast before leaving was the rule at home.
If memory serves me right, there was only one or two instances when the bus had to wait a few minutes for me, as opposed to me standing in front of the gate waiting for it to arrive.
Without knowing it, discipline was being inculcated in me at a young age. When we lived in Singapore for 18 months, it was mostly my mother who took care of us (Dad would often be away for work for weeks) and since there were two of us attending school, efficiency was in order.
Having to commute further ingrained discipline in me. After getting back and moving to another school, taking public transportation was more practical. It also meant an earlier start because we had a few minutes walk to get a ride.
That early start meant I would be first or second as school gates opened. It would later be a contest among a small group of friends who arrived first.
Over time, I learned how fast I could move, how long I needed to take a bath, and finish a full breakfast, and that would dictate what time I needed to wake up to still get to school on time... or more precisely, get there early.
And it was habit that I took to high school. Joining cadet training reinforced both time consciousness and discipline. Having to juggle classes, school work and training, which was both physical and mental, meant learning time management even before it became a by-word.
While my wake-up time would change, depending on where I worked, it would always be consistent. Meaning, if I need to wake up at 6 AM to leave by 7:15, then I would do that every single day. Sometimes, it would be earlier or later, but discipline demanded I always be conscious about time.
And that is what I cannot understand about young people today. Discipline seems to be an alien word or concept to them. They operate on the "rush" principle. Alarms are useless. It would just keep ringing, yet it won't rouse them. If it does, they close their eyes again, burrow under a blanket and wake up 30, 40 minutes later. So, they end up skipping a bath, or more often, breakfast.
It's worse with online classes since they don't need to travel, and just end up not taking a bath or eating while attending class. A very bad habit because food is usually sacrificed once lessons begin. No amount of cajoling, convincing, threatening or even scaring can make them appreciate the importance of discipline to stay healthy while accomplishing all that is demanded of them.
Is it the times that's to blame why younger people have little regard for discipline? That they can rely on hacks, or take shortcuts, to get things done? That there are convenience stores, fastfood outlets, and instant food to help them get by? Technology, social media, more liberated upbringing?
It is both frustrating and scary. The real world can be very cruel. And life will certainly throw a lot of curve balls as they tread whatever path they choose to pursue. A strong sense of discipline is invaluable, it is a key factor when there is need to adjust and overcome challenges.
Respecting time, and knowing how to manage one's time is the most basic way to develop discipline. Habits are formed through repeated action, practiced consistently. Charles Read says, "Sow an act and you reap a habit. Sow a habit and you reap character. Sow a character and you reap a destiny."
If you only learned to wake up consistently each day, whether on your own or with an alarm, it will condition your mind and body that at this time I need to get up and start moving.
Whether you jump out of bed or get up slowly doesn't matter. What matters is pushing yourself to get up and start the day. Let that be your first achievement of the day that required effort. It should, over time, be a good motivator to get things rolling and done for the rest of the day.