The Good That I Would


One of the most popular features in The New York Times is called “Sunday Routine.” Each Sunday, the paper details the hour-by-hour activities that describe how a celebrity typically spends the day of rest.

It’s the first feature I turn to, even though the featured persons are uniformly and vomit-inducingly pretentious. 

Without fail, each will own a captivating dog or cat, clever children in private school, a fetching and equally successful spouse/partner, brunches at little-known but marvelous restaurants where they are fast with the owner, dinners with fascinating friends, and on and on.

I am much more interested to know about the daily routines of regular people—like me.

Because as an entrepreneur who makes his own schedule, I have been unable—for the life of me—to follow a routine.

Believe me, I’ve tried. I have read numerous books and articles on the subject. I have tried to imitate and emulate high achievers who seem to have it together. I have created template after template of a possible pattern for my day. Each seems wonderfully workable on paper. But when I put the plan into motion the next day? Poof!

Where I fail is in my lack of discipline in adhering to any of the routines I plan for myself.

I’ve read, for instance, that certain leaders—Pope Francis, for one—may rise as early as four in the morning to be productive or meditative during pre-dawn’s dark quiet.

So I set my alarm for four. But when the alarm jolts me awake, I acknowledge that this is a ridiculous idea, and I continue abed.

I am at my most creative in the morning, so I decide to start my day’s writing with my first cup of coffee. But morning comes and I find myself doing a “quick” check of email, or the news, or Facebook or LinkedIn. Before you can say Jack Robinson, I have addressed all the items that seem more pressing at the time, and the administrivia has drained my creative juices like an arachnid sucking the liquefied innards of its prey.

Here’s the last example. I’m aware that many big-time novelists like to work from early morning to mid-afternoon. At three or four o’clock, they go for a solitary walk to refresh, renew and reflect on the next day’s effort. So for weeks, now, I’ve tried to follow a daily schedule built around the same idea. But each day, when three o’clock rolls around, I surrender to a wind too blustery or a splatter of rain or a bowl of fresh popcorn.

Right now, for instance, it’s 3:30 on a sunny, early spring afternoon. I have the beaches and woodland trails of Outer Cape Cod available outside my door. But a half hour ago—at three o’clock—I convinced myself that it's more important to write this blog post than to go rambling.

Whether it’s sticking to a daily routine or a healthy diet or an exercise regimen, I have a hunch that I am not alone in my lack of self-discipline. Even St. Paul admitted in his letter to the early church at Rome, as quoted in the King James Bible:

“The good that I would I do not; but the evil which I would not, that I do.”


Read my newest book, Fat Guy in a Fat Boat, in print or Kindle from Amazon:

Also available is my e-book, A Light from Within, about the small moments of our lives that seem commonplace until they are examined under a creative lens.

And my weekly reflection on each Sunday of the Jubilee Year of Mercy can be found at:

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