He laughs some more.
So I edit: Well, let’s make it aim at 10, get there definitely before 10:30.
(Here’s where I need my first new “white space” — as key to loftier successes.)
Two nights later (last night)…
I come snuggling in between warm flannel layers at precisely 10:15.
“There. I did it!” I say. “Put a checkmark on the chart.” (There’s no actual chart but in the mind, the invisible account sheet. And for sure, on this one I have an accountability partner, of sorts.)
“Now you only have 364 more to go!” he chuckles. He’s having a good time with this, anyhow.
He’s not acting mean. He just knows me. Miss Night Owl of 2011. And 2010. And… and… We both know I have maybe the world’s worst sleep habits.
But to the 364-day quip I confidently reply, “No, no, no. Not 364! Only 30!”
“You’re only going to do this for a month?” he asks. I hear the incredulity.
Might seem silly to him, but not to me. Perfectly sensible.
You see, I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions — learned not to, long ago! I make New Month’s Resolutions. And they actually tend to work.
Because… 28 consecutive days’ repetition of an action pretty much forms a routine in the brain — or mindless body, whichever. Then, the reinforcement of continuing it into the next month really starts to harden the wet cement of routine into the solidity of habit!
A third month, the thing is really firming up!
It works. It does.
And here’s the other thing: Grace. Grace unto self, as well as others.
As a parent, as a teacher, as a mentoring friend, I’d never declare anyone a failure the first time they fell down in their effort (or got hindered by something outside their control). So why should I do that to myself?
If a friend in need phones at 10:15, I’m not going to hang up on her angst or his grief for the sake of some punctilious regimen! And even if I go lax and fall short of perfect, what’s the sense in quitting? What kind of resolve is that? One of the best resolutions I ever read was Jonathan Edwards’ “to not be utterly cast down” if he stumbled in his resolutions, but to quickly correct his thinking and resume his efforts.
So even if January’s efforts fizzle, February offers a second chance.
And another grace thing I’d do for any friend: I pray for the supernatural help I know I need. God knows I’m doing this so I can “waken the dawn” to praise Him, so I can better order daytime’s hours to follow Him more effectively. He’ll honor that and help, I’m sure.
Then there’s a third thing: you, my readers. Blogging this little plan makes me answerable to you, as well as my grinning husband.
My report comes due at January’s end, not 2012’s. (Pray for me? I’m not being facetious… Though this goal may seem insignificant, it’s a step to higher things.)
This new year’s gifts:
~A fresh start
~ Reading to each other — and laughing together, sometimes uproariously.
~ Getting to bed, and to sleep (!), at an earlier hour
~ The reliable help of God, giving me His strength in my weakness.
~ Flannel sheets in winter chill.
~ Awake alertness in early morning prayer.
~ Joy in God’s creation, stirred by my Bible reading’s cross-references.
~ Psalms of exultation.