What really works, I have learned, is setting goals and identifying the habits that lead to accomplishment of those goals. But there is also a place for routines and rituals.

In the annual pattern of life, we have holidays and special times throughout the year, and every month contains something to work on. January is the month of self. That means getting myself back into my routines… which is frankly hard. This week I’ve done four cardio sessions and two strength sessions. I plan to fit in one more strength session this afternoon, but that’s not back to my  normal routine.

I’m still throwing out holiday leftovers in the form of candy and cookies. I also have holiday ingredients hanging around the kitchen. Thus the cranberry coffee cake above. I have lots of dairy products on hand. I could speed up the process and throw them all away, or I could continue making things like pasta with cheese sauce, cakes, and cookies.

I’m having a gradual return to my No Decisions eating routine.

Physical fitness is an important form of self-care, and so is fiscal fitness. I’m working on that, too. I realized that I have a habit of responding to payday with a purchase of books or craft supplies. “When I get a little money,” said Erasmus, I buy books. If I have something left over, I buy food and clothing.” Imagine that Erasmus enjoyed needlework and that’s me.

Instead, I am establishing a habit of making an additional payment on debt. I must develop a routine for this so that it works out properly with my household budget, but I know it must be my new routine.

Every evening, I have a household chore. I change my sheets on Monday, clean the bathrooms on Tuesday, and so fort. Except that I haven’t been. And I have been snacking in the evening. This is no part of my proper evening routine.

I added a couple of things to my evening routine. I now put my hot water bottle in its woolen sweater into the bed half an hour before I settle in. That makes my bed warm and I can sleep better. I have also set the lights to warm and dim themselves before shutting off at 10:00. That keeps me from staying up late reading, and also helps me sleep better.

I also want to add the Examen back into my evening routine. And Sunday School back into my Sunday routine. I went to Sunday School today and the leader introduced the concept of the Examen, so I guess God is helping me out there. He told us to think about lighting a candle. In other words, making it into more of a ritual to emphasize its importance.

But I am still, two weeks into January, working on getting my morning and evening routines reestablished