2015 Examination of Ideals

The new year is almost here, and it’s time to see if I measured up to my ideals. As Catholics, before we go to the Sacrament of Confession, we do an Examination of Conscience to help us remember all the sins we committed since our last confession. My yearly evaluation of my ideals follows the same formula, but instead of thinking about my sins, I compare what I did during the year to my ideals. In some cases, my ideals might even need to be changed. Onward to my 2015 Examination of Ideals:

Prayer Ideals
1.1: I should pray to God as if He was my best friend. Grade: 5/5
This one comes easy to me since I see God as my best friend. Many times prayer from the heart is all that gets me through a hard day.

1.2: I should listen to God. Grade: 1/5
I started the year doing pretty well here, but unfortunately got out of the habit. I was so busy writing thoughts, I didn’t have time for more than a few basic prayers.

1.3: I should pray informally throughout the day. Grade: 4/5
I generally did well at recognizing things to pray about throughout the day. Sometimes I was in a rush, which didn’t give me enough time to think of prayer.

1.4: I should pray formally once a day. Grade: 3/5
For most of the year I diligently prayed every morning. However, I got out of the habit during a few busy months.

1.41: My formal prayer should be productive. Grade: 3/5
I did well most of the year, but during those busy months, I just rushed through my prayer many days. My prayer was not productive those days.

1.42: I should include the Bible in my formal prayer. Grade: 1/5
I started the year experimenting with some prayers related to the Bible, but I got out of the habit. In fact, I didn’t really read the Bible at all except for a few rare occasions. I need a lot of improvement here.

1.5: I should pray the Rosary once a day during Lent and once a week during the rest of the year. Grade: 2/5
I got into a good habit the last few months of the year to pray the Rosary daily, but before that It was super rare. Mostly only prayed regularly for a few days when I was going through a tough time.

1.6: I should spend time each week with the Blessed Sacrament during Lent. Grade: 0/5
This is one ideal that isn’t really possible now. I’m not ready to say too much about why at this point, but there’s a good reason. It’s still a hope I want to fulfill one day.

1.7: I should go to confession once a month. Grade: 1/5
I went to confession during the normal Easter and Advent seasons, but no more. My reasons for not going more often are largely the same as my reasons for not doing Ideal 1.6. I will write about the reasons eventually.

Study of the Faith Ideals
2.1: I should recite the common prayers, the Church prayers, and the Rosary prayers from memory once a day. Grade: 4/5
I did this nearly the whole year, but there were a couple months that I wasn’t really doing any reciting at all.

2.2: Once a day I should read a Catholic article. Grade: 3/5
I did better at the end of the year, but most of the year I only did this when the idea came to me. Even if I’m not interested, I want to have the discipline to read a little each day.

2.3: I should read about the feasts on feast days. Grade: 0/5
Last year I read about a saint every day as part of a special project, but this year I didn’t read about them at all.

2.4: I should read a few chapters of a Catholic book each week. Grade: 3/5
I didn’t set aside any time for this really, but I started a good practice of reading a few pages before Mass started. I need to work on this more.

Teaching of Others Ideals
3.1: I should teach through my words. Grade: 2/5
Since I communicate best through text than speech, writing is how I can teach. I really didn’t do any of this at all, but my work writing thoughts blog had to get done before I could do any writing to teach. Since that had to get done, I consider it to have contributed to my future ability to do this ideal.

3.2: I should teach through my actions. Grade: 4/5
I did pretty well at following the Catholic faith. I didn’t use bad language and mostly kept my emotions from getting out of control. Doing any better would require me to have a regular group of friends I could help become stronger in the faith.

3.3: I should teach friends and family. Grade: 5/5
I was pretty much perfect with this ideal. Whenever anything related to the faith came up, I jumped in to help how I could. I need to do more studying, but I know enough to usually make good arguments about my beliefs.

3.4: I should teach acquaintances and strangers. Grade: 1/5
I have a tough time with public speaking, so this ideal will always be hard. It doesn’t help that I rarely see the same person again. In my daily life, I just don’t come across a lot of people besides family.

3.5: Whenever someone asks what I did over the weekend, I should always mention attending Mass. Grade: 0/5
I can only remember one or two times someone asking me this. Maybe it’s not important enough to be an ideal, but I didn’t do well. The two times I totally forgot about the ideal. I will probably always have a hard time with this one because it’s so rare for me to be asked this question.

3.6: It is sometimes okay to be silent. Grade: 5/5
This ideal was easy only because I was never in a situation that would call for silence. My faith or beliefs weren’t attacked by anyone.

Service Ideals
4.1: I should address the greatest need with my donations. Grade: 0/5
I didn’t even look into the greatest need. This year I just wanted to start regularly donating since I wasn’t doing it regularly before. Since I’m still very busy with some things in this new year, I’m not sure if I will get to this planning. It’s something that I only want to do at the beginning of the year.

4.2: I should donate to charities that are in line with Catholic teaching. Grade: 5/5
All the charities I am donating to are Catholic.

4.3: I should give a 10% tithe per month to the Church and other charities. Grade: 4/5
I am giving 10% but didn’t get around to planning how much to give to each charity. It was mostly just whatever I thought was best at the time.

4.4: I should serve at least 6 hours per week. Grade: 1/5
I was so busy with writing these ideals and my thoughts, I had no time to serve others. Luckily, those are both done now. I’ve got a little maintenance work to do for the new year, such as writing this examination, but then I should be doing fine with this ideal.

4.5: At least one week per year, I should participate in a special service opportunity that uses a lot more time. Grade: 3/5
I did volunteer for the church rummage sale, but I didn’t put that many hours into it. I worked 3 weekdays, about 3 hours per day for a total of 9 hours for the week. Someday I’d like to do more. I just have to figure out what service opportunity would best fit my skills.

Work Ideals
5.1: I should always do a hard day’s work. Grade: 3/5
I could have done a lot better this year. Many times I stretched my breaks longer than I should have just get a little more work in on the blog.

5.2: I should not become obsessive about work. Grade: 2/5
I did pretty well when it came to my paid work, but not with the stuff I did for the website. I got too obsessive many times about writing my thoughts. While that was not service work itself, it needed to be done before I could use my website for any service.

5.3: I should take breaks during work. Grade: 4/5
For the same reason, I graded badly in Ideal 5.1, I graded well here. I took more than enough breaks. I would have put a 5 down for this ideal except I forgot to take breaks several days during work. Many times when I was dedicated to my paid work, I worked too hard to make up for the breaks I had taken before.

5.4: I should finish work before leisure. Grade: 4/5
I did pretty well. There were a few months that I mostly just lounged around. I wanted to be more productive but didn’t work at it. Most of the year, I did well. Finishing writing all my thoughts was a monumental effort that I am very happy about being mostly done.

5.5: I should find happiness in my work. Grade: 3/5
While I enjoyed my paid work, I didn’t necessarily enjoy all the thoughts writing for this site. It became a chore that never seemed to end. I was not happy writing by the end, but it’s mostly done now. I can move on to service work that I enjoy.

Health Ideals
6.1: I should eat 3 meals a day. Grade: 4/5
I almost always ate regularly. Some days I was working too hard on this website or my paid work. I delayed meals. Once or twice, I even skipped a meal. However, at least 95% of the year I did well in this ideal.

6.2: I should eat one serving of fruits or vegetables with every meal. Grade: 2/5
This was one of the big healthy things I was trying to do last year, but in the new year I was busy and got out of the habit. I have yet to get back in the habit. I hope to do better this year.

6.3: I should get at least 8 hours of sleep every night. Grade: 3/5
I recurring problem I had was staying up too late. It usually wasn’t due to leisure activity. Most times it was something to do with this website. While it was good work, sleep was more important.

6.4: I should give myself enough leisure time. Grade: 3/5
Most of the year I did pretty well despite all the work I had to do for this site. However, there were many days I planned to relax a little but then got absorbed by the website. I am hoping I can do better this year now that all my past thoughts have been written and posted.

6.5: I should do 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week. Grade: 4/5
Exercise was one area I excelled at. There were some health problems out of my control that required me to skip several weeks on two occasions, but outside of those times I did an average of 125 minutes of aerobic exercise each week. I’m not up to 150, but it’s pretty close. My time is stretched pretty thin, however, so I’m not sure if I fully reach this ideal at the current time.

6.6: I should lift weights 3 times per week. Grade: 4/5
It was the same for the weightlifting. I did a great job. Sometimes I did too well though. On a few occasions, I had to reduce my weightlifting after doing too much the previous few days. I am still working out my limits for the various exercises, so I don’t injure myself.

6.7: I should see the doctor at least once a year. Grade: 5/5
I have to see the doctor each year anyways to refill my prescriptions, so this ideal is one of the few that are gimmes.

6.8: I should see the dentist at least once a year. Grade: 5/5
I saw the dentist in the spring.

6.9: I should see the eye doctor at least once every 5 years. Grade: 4/5
I saw the eye doctor and got new glasses. I only graded myself a 4 though because I forgot to put the eye doctor on my medical schedule. I got new glasses because it was getting harder to see, not because I had thought about it in advance.

Leisure Ideals
7.1: I should schedule my sleep time. Grade: 1/5
There were a few stretches that I did well setting my alarm, but most days I neglected this. Occasionally, neighbors kept me up, but that only happened here and there.

7.2: I should turn off internet-connected devices by 9pm. Grade: 2/5
I did this a few times but ultimately, decided to use the computer longer to get more thoughts writing done. If I had not done this, I would not have finished that project for another 2 years. I just couldn’t wait that long. This year should be much better.

7.3: I should install an internet filter on all internet-connected devices. Grade: 5/5
I had a filter on my computer the whole year. It was nice not having to worry about seeing bad things. This is another ideal that will be easy.

7.4: I should avoid immoral movies or TV shows. Grade: 5/5
I was invited to watch shows that I didn’t agree with a few times, but I always turned down those invitations. I think I am very good at doing the right thing when it comes to bad entertainment.

7.5: It’s okay to waste some leisure time. Grade: 3/5
I had a hard time with this one because a lot of times I was using my leisure time to work on the website. I really couldn’t waste much time with how much I needed to do. Now that it’s done, however, I should be getting back to my normal leisure time.

Money Ideals
8.1: I should spend no more than $100 per month on leisure. Grade: 4/5
I think I went above this one month, but the rest of the year I usually didn’t spend any money on leisure. The average for the year was definitely below $100 per month, but I don’t want to rely on an average. Every month should be below that number.

8.2: I should save at least $100 per month for retirement. Grade: 2/5
My taxes were taken care of by my employer two years ago, but my career has transitioned to freelance last year. I am waiting until I file my tax return (and the government assesses how much I owe in taxes) before adding extra expenses like saving for retirement. I should know by summer what my true expenses are, and then I can see if I have the money for this extra saving.

8.3: I should save at least $100 per month for emergencies. Grade: 3/5
I did save a lot of money this year but more to prepare for any taxes I will have to pay. I really didn’t do any planning for emergencies until today. I looked over the emergencies that could occur in my life now and how much they would cost on average. Now I have a number to shoot for, I should do better with this ideal in the coming year.

8.4: I should donate any money earned over $30,000 per year to charity. Grade: 5/5
My income was less than $30,000 for the year, so I don’t have to worry about this ideal. Maybe some day. This ideal is mainly here in case I somehow strike it rich one day. I doubt that will happen, but I want to constantly maintain a giving mood.

Year 2015 Statistics
I took the scores I gave myself above and averaged them within each chapter and overall. It will be interesting to compare these scores each year. I will also keep track of my best and worst averages in each chapter and overall per year.

Chapter Name Lowest Grade Highest Grade Average Grade
Prayer Ideals Ideal 1.6 (0/5) Ideal 1.1 (5/5) 2.2/5
Study of the Faith Ideals Ideal 2.3 (0/5) Ideal 2.1 (4/5) 2.5/5
Teaching of Others Ideals Ideal 3.5 (0/5) Ideal 3.3 & 3.6 (5/5) 2.83/5
Service Ideals Ideal 4.1 (0/5) Ideal 4.2 (5/5) 2.6/5
Work Ideals Ideal 5.2 (2/5) Ideal 5.3 & 5.4 (4/5) 3.2/5
Health Ideals Ideal 6.2 (2/5) Ideal 6.7 & 6.8 (5/5 3.8/5
Leisure Ideals Ideal 7.1 (1/5) Ideal 7.3 & 7.4 (5/5) 3.2/5
Money Ideals Ideal 8.2 (2/5) Ideal 8.4 (5/5) 3.5/5
Overall Worst: Prayer Ideals (2.2/5) Best: Health Ideals (3.8/5) 2.98/5

All Time Records
Worst Chapter: Prayer (2.2/5) in year 2015
Best Chapter: Health (3.8/5) in year 2015
Worst Overall Average: 2.98/5 in year 2015
Best Overall Average: 2.98/5 in year 2015

How I Graded
It makes sense that Prayer was my worst chapter. I really neglected it throughout the year. I did pray pretty religiously for short periods, but it was not nearly frequent enough. Health makes sense being my best chapter because my health was a big focus of 2014. I had already conditioned myself to exercising and seeing doctors. I just continued the same practices for 2015.

A 3/5 isn’t bad for the whole year. I had several 0s, so I did better than I expected. I’m especially happy because I wasn’t trying as hard as I could. I was too occupied getting all my Thoughts on Entertainment written to focus on reaching my ideals. A perfect score will be impossible by design, but I think I can get to 4/5 if I really try. I think a 3/5 will be the minimum acceptable grade. Below that and I’m not even trying. That’s technically what happened this year with the 2.98/5.

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