Monday, February 9, 2015

Resolution Redux

A few weeks ago, I decided to make a New Year's Resolution of doing one small task a night after work in order to break the inertia of housework. I started out like gangbusters and then predictably, it all fell flat. It is easy to write this off as the standard resolution failure, but I wasn't ready to give up yet.

I thought for a few days about what had changed, why had I lost momentum, and then I realized that at the beginning of the year, I had made a long list of small tasks that needed done. I was not physically using that list to decide which nightly task to complete, but I was mentally working off the list! I don't know why it did not immediately occur to me to make another list when the first one was complete, but it didn't. Probably because I didn't quite realize I was working off the list.

So. I have now created a new list. The new list has a variety of tasks, some of which are quite small and others of which will be multi-day adventures. I am a little dubious that some these listed tasks will actually rise to the status of having been done, but they are there just in case I have some extra time. Or something.

Another new habit I am trying to develop is reading out of my Magnificat magazine every morning. Back when I was pumping--thank God I'm not doing that anymore--I had a nice routine of reading morning prayer during my first pump session. When I stopped pumping, that habit fell right away. I intended to get to it during the work day. I have time for it, goodness knows, but somehow it just never happened. It has been several months of randomly reading through a day and then not again for most of the week and then flipping past the pages of shame.

I decided that leaving it to the vague time of "at some point today" just wasn't working so I fixed it to the time I am most likely to actually do it: right when my behind first hits my seat in the morning. I open my email to make sure nothing is on fire and then open Magnificat for the day's morning prayer. I like this routine and it has been working for the last week or so. What's odd is almost everyday I feel the strain of wanting to jump ahead, to procrastinate until later in the morning, and to boot up all my normal processes. I have to resist this urge every morning. I am always glad to have prayed it, but in the decisive moment of doing it, I always feel the slightest "ugh" about it. I take this as a good sign that I have picked the right battle.


Melanie Bettinelli said...

I have the same sort of struggle with morning prayer. It's so much easier for me when prayer times are pegged to nursing. Harder when that disappears. These days I'm so tired in the morning I snooze as Lucy has her morning snack. But I do feel the day is always better when I start with prayer.

Maybe I need to make a list of household tasks that need to be done. And also find a time in the day to do them. I like your method, but since I'm home all day, it's actually kind of hard to get past the inertia and get started on those nagging tasks that I've been putting off for forever. There's always that "later."

bearing said...

Totally the same way about prayer. I know the "ugh" feeling well. Praying my to-do list, à la St. Francis de Sales, has helped, because that's the thing I want to jump in and do first instead. I sanctified the thing that I was putting before sanctification :) It feels a little like cheating but it is so practical.

Jenny said...


It's funny that we have trouble breaking the inertia for entirely opposite reasons. You feel like you have forever to get started and don't actually get started. I feel like there's no time to get started and don't accomplish what there is time for.

Jenny said...


I don't think it is cheating. I still pray my morning offering in the car on the way to work which definitely contains a to-do list. I was pleased to learn that this practice was totally saint-approved. My struggle with praying the to-do list is to keep it from wandering too far afield. I am liable to start problem solving the list instead of just acknowledging what I need to accomplish.

I missed the morning psalm and canticle and praying while *not* driving, but for some reason, that's where the ugh factor comes in. I think it is the difference is that when I am driving, I have no choice to be doing anything else so might as well pray. When I get to work, there are many things I could be doing so I have to exercise my will to do what I ought.