The plan…

4:30am     wake + hydrate + coffee

5:00am     get ready for the day

6:00am     arrive at Church and prep for Mass with mental prayer

6:30am     Holy Mass

7:30am     Lectio Divina at Church

8:00am     morning commute and Rosary

9:00am      start work

12:00pm      mid-day prayer

12:15pm     lunch with other souls

3:00pm     double down on work efforts, in honor of our Lord’s passion and death

5:30pm     head home, listen to podcast for professional development or call a professional mentor

6:00pm     visit Church on the way back to clock out and decompress with the Boss

6:30pm–9:00pm     dinner, baths and bed for kids

9:00pm      exercise

9:30pm     Rosary with wife

10:00pm     prep clothes and shoes for work the next day

10:30pm     examination of conscience, night time prayers, last words of our Savior from the Cross, bed

4:30am     begin again.

What you see listed before you was once a fire-tried and seemingly bullet-proof plan of life I used to live by. Everything was going swimmingly, I had an order to my day, a recurrence of prayer which oriented me towards God regularly amidst the distractions of the work day, and a constant heart beat of professional development and apostolate. It felt great too. Every night when I laid my head down on my pillow I felt accomplished, like I had conquered the world and elsewhere. The feeling was addicting.

And then….

PLAN GO BOOM!

My wife and I had our third child, I got a promotion which changed the character of my work dramatically, I discovered I had an anxiety disorder for which I needed counseling, and I started discerning a new vocation. On top of all this, I started losing the flame of love I once had for God, souls, and the Sacraments. Every possible conflict flew in the face of my daily plan, with the added sabotage of me just not giving a damn anymore. It was, and in many ways still is, a retired way of life.

“Your interior life has to be…to begin… and to begin again.”

– St. Josemaria Escriva

Ok, begin again. That was the maxim to live by and really the only way to stay sane now that my daily life was stagnate. But how? For about a year, I made one huge mistake: I tried to reinstate that same plan all at once. I forgot all about how I built that plan in the first place: one thing at a time, one day at a time, one moment at a time…until I had mastery over each of the line-items and they became second nature. During a retreat one year, I was reminded of this by an older brother in Christ who gave me the edict to not only “begin again” but “start somewhere.” Start with one thing, and one thing only. Don’t take on too much at a single time, and be persistent, constant, and progressing. So simple. And, if you fail…begin again!

If you find yourself in a similar state, or if you’ve recently read the “Are you living the good life” email from this site and threw your hands in the air with a loud sigh, try this out:

  1. Get a piecer of paper out and write down who you are. This should be a combination of your name and your vocation. Who I am is: Steven Nelson, Husband, Father, Partaker of the Divine Nature
  2. Write down the goal for your daily plan. This shouldn’t be an abstract and out of reach vision statement, it should be a daily goal that keeps you oriented aright in today and in the moment. Mine is: Live every moment in the presence of God. Live every moment as a witness to the Gospel. (having a goal like this gets me to focus on my work as if it is for Him, and gets me to value the people around me above the results I generate professionally—especially when the two come in conflict.)
  3. Write down ONE line-item to begin your plan. I recommend starting with something from the night before your work day. This will help get you prepped for your first “skirmish” the next day:

“Conquer yourself each day from the very first moment, getting up on the dot, at a fixed time, without yielding a single minute to laziness. If, with God’s help, you conquer yourself, you will be well ahead for the rest of the day. It’s so discouraging to find oneself beaten at the first skirmish!” — St. Josemaria Escriva

And pray for the Grace to habituate this plan so you can live the good life.