November 30th, 2011 by ben Leave a reply »

I’ve been reading a lot of self-improvement blogs. This is mainly because I have a huge problem: waking up in the morning.

It’s been a month since my last major post, and I think it’s high time for an update. Nothing really happened during Thanksgiving break.

We had turkey. For once. Well, last year we had some half-baked thing from Pavilions or 99 Ranch Market. I’m not a fan of turkey, and my suggestion was to just make dumplings. But this year, we had to please my little siblings, who had been learning about Thanksgiving and pilgrims in school. They tottered around the dinner table, back and forth between the kitchen and dining room, setting up plates and tableware and pouring drinks for everybody.

The kids didn’t like the turkey. Despite my anti-turkey sentiments, I think I ate the most turkey.

That was the only significant event during the break. My work accomplishments were less eventful. I had this elaborate schedule planned out for every day of my break, and followed none of it. It’s my typical way of spending a break. Well, I suppose I don’t follow schedules even when it’s not a break. The wait until 12/15 is peaceful.

As the date approaches, it becomes even more important to try and forget about it. This is where I’d like to say I’ve been spending my time crafting culinary creations, or learning how to figure-skate. Unfortunately, I don’t have those stories to tell yet; I’ve been spending my free time more on studying math. USAMO is the goal I was never quite able to reach in high school. Even though the case could be made that I really don’t need it, it holds a bit of sentimental value. And– math is beautiful.

There are two kinds of people: those who can follow their calendars, and those who can’t. The main reason: a bad start. My wake time is more volatile than a bowl of alcohol left out in the California sun. And it’s not because I don’t want to wake early. It’s because when I’m groggy, I don’t want to wake early. When I think rationally, I want to follow my schedule; wake on time; eat a good breakfast and get started on my work. Unfortunately, I don’t think rationally very often. And definitely not when I am within five feet of my pillow.

Men are like dogs. Some of us are well-trained to respond to a whistle, or an alarm clock. It’s nothing conscious or rational. I don’t have presence of mind when I’m half-asleep. Thus, if I can solidify within myself a habitual response to my alarm sound, getting up and going to brush my teeth automatically whenever I hear an alarm, morning mood improvements could become possible.

I tried that. I set my alarm for 5 minutes, turned off the lights, and got in bed. After I fell half-asleep, I got up the moment I heard the alarm and walked to the bathroom, washing my face. Rinse and repeat for a few hours, prolonging the alarm time until I really fell asleep.

Here’s my report: it didn’t work. In the morning, I still convinced myself that it wouldn’t hurt to jump back in bed just a little bit longer.

This is what they call self-discipline, isn’t it? What’s that?

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