Already failing at resolutions?

There's a set of people that I'm jealous of right now. I didn't care so much when I was younger but nowadays I am envious of people like my dad. People like my dad who can fall asleep the minute their heads hit their pillows. People like my dad who can fall asleep without any trouble even on a bad day. People like my dad who're so disciplined that they don't need alarm clocks. People like my dad who're early risers.

I have been struggling with this for quite some time now. In an effort to improve my own happiness and quality of life, I've been tackling various aspects of it, one at a time. I just want to point out that these resolutions were of a very personal nature, and I didn't make them around the new year because I feel that there's no perfect time to start implementing positive change. So these are not my new year's resolutions, just plain and simple life resolutions.

In September of last year, I decided that I was going to tackle my health by a) eating right and b) exercising frequently. I pretty much had that down in two months and now, I eat three proper healthy meals a day and exercise a couple of times a week.

In November, I sketched out a plan for the overall wellbeing of my home because I found myself to be more happy and productive in a cozy and well-put-together environment. Couches that needed throw pillows and comfy blankets were tended to, beds that needed extra pillows for comfort were made whole, bedding that reflected our personalities were purchased, candles that lifted my mood were placed in perfect little corners around the house, the plain and bare bathroom was furbished in little ways to reflect the theme I had in mind, and all the products used around the house were replaced with ones that were safer and better smelling. Moreover, as a bonus in December, I even put up a wall decal that I always wanted, and started caring for a plant that I got as a gift from Shane.

After two months of sorting out my home front, my new goal was to turn into my dad. And by that I don't mean a handsome veteran but a person who has been disciplined throughout his life. The first step was to start waking up early and have a fixed morning routine. I read this beautiful blog post that makes perfect sense and talks about "linchpin" habits. Habits that will foster the accomplishment of your goal. An example that the author herself gives is that of waking up early. When she realised that she wanted to start waking up early, she had to introduce the linchpin habit of going to bed early that would in turn, make it possible for her to accomplish the former goal. I knew that this was exactly what I needed to do. So I started setting an alarm to go to bed at a fixed time. I realised that sleep cycles are important and that getting woken up in the middle of a sleep cycle is what makes you feel tired and groggy when you wake up even after 8 whole hours of sleep. So I did my research and found apps that would tell me when to sleep in order to wake up at a given time, or when to wake up if I went to bed at a certain time. For a while, that seemed to be working but in many ways, I found it restricting. So I decided that I would be in bed by 9:30 pm every night, read for an hour and turn off the lights at 10:30 pm. The glitch was that, as you may already know, I enjoy reading. And often, the lights never went out till midnight.

So I started setting alarms and enforcing the time on myself. But on many occasions, I would be wide awake at midnight even after having turned off all the lights at 10:30 p.m. So I thought, "Surely, I can find aids to put me to sleep exactly when I want?"

Surely, there were many such aids that came to my rescue. There are many apps that generate the kind of soothing sounds that are known to knock people out of within minutes. I thought that was brilliant because there's just a very small subset of people who cannot benefit from this. Guess what subset I fall into? I listened to the entire track and played it twice more in the hopes that the third time would indeed be the charm. The fact that it didn't happen the first two times should have been warning enough.

And now, three weeks into my assignment, I'm re-evaluating. I've always been a night owl. As a child, I admit that I used to go to bed by 8 or 9 p.m, to wake up early for school. That's because as a child, I didn't have many distractions or things to do. Actually, it might be true that I was wayyyy more productive as a child because after school, I'd found the time every afternoon to play with my friends, do my homework, write funny fiction to entertain my dad, watch television, play Road Rash, and read my Famous Five before bed. All this was on top of all the dance and music lessons that my parents had signed me up for. I have my parents and their rigid routines to thank for the discipline in my childhood.

But at least from the time I was in college, this was my routine:

  • Rise at 7 a.m

  • Attend classes from 8 a.m to 2 p.m

  • Nap from 3 to 5 p.m

  • Study/work from 8 p.m to 10 p.m

  • Read/watch something/chat with Shane from 10 p.m to sometimes even 2 or 3 a.m

For the past year and a half, every single evening from about 9 p.m till past midnight, I've been working/reading/writing/chatting with Shane (even when we're under the same roof)/watching something. And this habit that has been ingrained for years is really coming in the way of my ambition to be an early riser. It's so appealing and glamourous to me when I see that some people actually rise in time to watch the sunrise, that no matter how late their night was, they get automatically woken up at 7 every morning, that once the alarm goes off, it's physically impossible for them to fall back to sleep. I was never in need of apps with sounds to put me to sleep when I slept late. In fact, like my dad, I used to be out like a light the minute my head hit the pillow. But I've always struggled to rise early, and the fact that I'm struggling now, after setting a goal for myself, is frustrating.

I'm almost compelled to come to the conclusion that rising early is just not for me. That I could maybe embrace the fact that I sleep late, and be more productive that way. Still, something about it doesn't seem right and I'm starting to get irritated and maybe even a little disappointed in myself. So my questions to you are:

  • Are you an early riser or a night owl?

  • Were you successful in enforcing discipline in terms of sleep schedules in your life? If so, could you please share your wisdom?

I hope I find what works best for me, and when I do, I'll be sure to share it with you.