Jolly Ranchers

I confess that over the past year or so, I got into a really bad habit of sleeping through my alarm clock. Oh, I usually hear it. It wakes me up but I ignore it or I procrastinate getting out of bed until I drift back to sleep.

I have never had this problem before! I think it all started because I started to sleep through Holly’s alarm when she needed to get up early. It was nice. A switch flipped in my mind, saying “it is OK to hear an alarm, and not get up.”

Whatever the cause, it was bad. No breakfast. Being late to work. No shower, which, combined with running all the way to class produces an unpleasant experience for the unfortunate people who happen to sitting nearby. Here I am… hungry, smelly, and undependable. This had to stop.

I tried everything. I put my alarm clock across the room. I turned it up really loud. I changed the ring tone. I changed the snooze to two minutes. I changed it to one hour. I would set it super early or super late. Nothing seemed to help. Then I googled, “stop sleeping through alarm clock” and I tried everything on the list. I slept in warm clothes, went to bed early, did jumping jacks… etc. I even tried drinking lots of water before bed (it worked on The Simpsons). Some ideas helped for maybe a day or two, but all ultimately failed.

Finally, I decided to defeat one vice with another… I would pit sloth against gluttony. I bought a bunch of Jolly Ranchers and I put one by my alarm clock each night. In the morning, I could eat the Jolly Rancher only if I got up with the alarm. If I snoozed or ignored the alarm, I would not get the candy.

It worked.

I’ve been getting up at 5 am for the past month now. As soon as the alarm goes off, I think about how nice it will be to have a Jolly Rancher. It’s tangy and sweet enough that once I pop it in my mouth I don’t feel like going back to sleep. Sure, it’s still hard sometimes, especially when I go to bed late. But the promise of a Jolly Rancher always seems to be just enough motivation to get me up.

Now I have so much more time in the morning. Most days I get to spend 2 hours just reading good books and studying the scriptures (an idea originally suggested by Dan Miller). I’m never late anymore.

Here’s the point. Is my life better because of the Jolly Ranchers? Technically yes, but really, it isn’t the Jolly Ranchers that did it. Jolly Ranchers may not help YOU get up in the morning, just like drinking lots of water didn’t help ME (thanks anyways Bart). The victory comes when you keep trying things over and over, for days, weeks, even months, until you find what works. When something fails, come up with something else. Do it again. Do it again. Do it again.

We’ve all got demons to conquer. Sleeping in, smoking, eating out, watching too many movies, forgetting things, overcommitments, surfing the internet at work, missing foul shots, dropping your cellphone, swearing, road rage, belching, racist jokes, burning the dinner, jaywalking, too much video games, listening to loud music, blowing off homework, sleeping in class, spreading rumors, walking on the grass, using non-fluorescent light bulbs, drinking out of the milk jug, or forgetting people’s names. We can nix our weaknesses one at a time if we are willing to try again and again to beat them.