2016 Examination of Ideals

I’m a little late this year, but it’s time for my 2016 Yearly Examination of Ideals. Each year I examine how I did with my ideals, hoping to improve until I am consistently meeting all of them. I may never get there but regular evaluation of my standing is the only way to make sure I am doing my best. For full descriptions of each ideal, refer to my Personal Catechism.

Prayer Ideals
1.1: I should pray to God as if He was my best friend. Grade: 5/5
My relationship with God is very strong, so I did well here.

1.2: I should listen to God. Grade: 5/5
Early in the year I added discernment to my daily prayer. Every day asking for guidance really made a difference. I can’t remember ever getting clear answers to my questions, but I think God subtly guided me where I needed to be.

1.3: I should pray informally throughout the day. Grade: 5/5
A big change I made this year was to not stretch myself too thin. I stayed focused on just a few things at a time, giving me the time to really think about every situation I was in and pray as needed.

1.4: I should pray formally once a day. Grade: 5/5
I did pretty well at this ideal in 2016. I got much more organized about my daily schedule and got into a good habit of praying at the same time every morning.

1.41: My formal prayer should be productive. Grade: 1/5
A frequent problem I had was getting out of bed too late, leading to having to rush my morning prayer. This happened quite often, so I did worse in 2016 unfortunately.

1.42: I should include the Bible in my formal prayer. Grade: 5/5
This is one area I greatly improved in. I added a short Bible reading each day including time for reflection and prayer.

1.5: I should pray the Rosary once a day during Lent and once a week during the rest of the year. Grade: 1/5
I was doing pretty well with this one going into 2016, but I faltered early on. In my busyness I got into the habit of staying up late. I skipped the Rosary entirely for several months. Even the days I did pray the Rosary, I was usually rushing through it right before bed. I can do better.

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 still hope to get there some day, but I am too busy these days to do anymore activities out of the house.

1.7: I should go to confession once a month. Grade: 1/5
I only went to confession during the normal Easter and Advent seasons. This is an area I can improve on in the future, but I am not there yet. Maybe by the end of the year, but there’s a good chance it won’t be until next year.

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: 5/5
I added a daily study time to my schedule this year and got into a good habit for it. I can’t recall ever forgetting to recite the prayers, so I now consider myself perfect in this ideal.

2.2: Once a day I should read a Catholic article. Grade: 5/5
Like my prayer reciting, I made time every day to read at least one Catholic article. Another perfect ideal!

2.3: I should read about the feasts on feast days. Grade: 0/5
I forgot about this ideal entirely last year. It’s something I should add to my daily study time. I should be able to do better this year.

2.4: I should read a few chapters of a Catholic book each week. Grade: 2/5
I got several Catholic books this year and did read a lot during Lent, but outside of that, I didn’t read very often. I plan to add a reading day to my schedule though, so I’m hoping I will do better next year.

Teaching of Others Ideals
3.1: I should teach through my words. Grade: 1/5
I can do this primarily through my writing, but I just didn’t have the time to write much in 2016. It was disappointing, but I am sure 2017 will be better.

3.2: I should teach through my actions. Grade: 4/5
I lived a pretty holy life in 2016, so I was a good example to others. The only way to do better would be interacting more with fellow Catholics. I was just too busy in 2016, and 2017 will probably be the same.

3.3: I should teach friends and family. Grade: 5/5
I am happy to still be perfect with this ideal.

3.4: I should teach acquaintances and strangers. Grade: 1/5
Public speaking isn’t my strength, so this ideal will always be hard. I can do better, but I am too busy at this time. With my current plans, I don’t think I will do better for possibly a few years.

3.5: Whenever someone asks what I did over the weekend, I should always mention attending Mass. Grade: 0/5
I was never asked what I did for the weekend, but if I were asked, I probably would have forgotten. I get a 0 for this one.

3.6: It is sometimes okay to be silent. Grade: 5/5
Just like last year, I didn’t have to defend the faith. I put a 5 because I am a very good listener. I can keep quiet when I know it would be useless to speak.

Service Ideals
4.1: I should address the greatest need with my donations. Grade: 0/5
I only had a little money to donate this year, so I didn’t look into the greatest need. I will look into it when I have extra money again. That probably won’t be in 2017 though.

4.2: I should donate to charities that are in line with Catholic teaching. Grade: 5/5
My one month’s donation went to Catholic charities, so I met this ideal perfectly.

4.3: I should give a 10% tithe per month to the Church and other charities. Grade: 1/5
Due to my medical treatment I was only able to donate money one month out of the year. This year 2017 will probably be the same, but I expect to do better the year after.

4.4: I should serve at least 6 hours per week. Grade: 1/5
My medical treatment also took up most of my free time, so I wasn’t able to serve much. I should have more time in 2017, so I expect to improve greatly on this ideal through my writing and praying for others. I won’t count it as a perfect score unless I can do some service in person though, so the maximum score I can get in 2017 will be 4/5.

4.5: At least one week per year, I should participate in a special service opportunity that uses a lot more time. Grade: 0/5
Due to my health problems, I wasn’t able to do any special service opportunities in 2016. I am still dealing with the health problems, so I don’t think I will be able to do any better in 2017.

Work Ideals
5.1: I should always do a hard day’s work. Grade: 3/5
One of my big goals for 2016 was being more productive. While I succeeded in some areas of my life, work was not one of them. I am much more organized this year, so nothing will stop me this time.

5.2: I should not become obsessive about work. Grade: 4/5
For the most part, I wasn’t obsessive about paid work or service work, so I improved quite a bit. There were still a few occasions I stayed up late doing work or preparing for work. Most of my staying up late was due to my health problems or treatment for them.

5.3: I should take breaks during work. Grade: 3/5
I was pretty good at taking breaks except several days I had lunch way too late. I need to be eating more towards the middle of the day rather than having lunch and dinner bunched up. This happened probably half the year, so there is a lot of room for improvement.

5.4: I should finish work before leisure. Grade: 5/5
I did perfect here. Overall, I had a very productive year considering how much time I spent dealing with my health problems or the treatment.

5.5: I should find happiness in my work. Grade: 4/5
I improved on this ideal, but I can still improve. Here and there I stayed up late to relax after getting all my work done when I should have been satisfied with the day and gone straight to bed.

Health Ideals
6.1: I should eat 3 meals a day. Grade: 3/5
I did eat 3 meals a day, but there were too many times that I delayed lunch. It became a trend. I went in the wrong direction on this ideal, but I fully expect to improve in the new year.

6.2: I should eat one serving of fruits or vegetables with every meal. Grade: 0/5
I never even got to this ideal in 2016, but I have added it to my plans for 2017. I can’t see myself not improving.

6.3: I should get at least 8 hours of sleep every night. Grade: 1/5
My staying up late for the website was replaced with staying up late due to health problems or my treatment. I never got into a good rhythm of going to bed on time more than a few weeks at a time. It disappointed me a lot because I know how important quality sleep is.

6.4: I should give myself enough leisure time. Grade: 1/5
I didn’t do well in this area as I was just too busy. Thankfully, I am getting to a more regular schedule each day, so 2017 should see an improvement.

6.5: I should do 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week. Grade: 3/5
Exercise took a back seat to my treatment most days, so most of 2016 I only had around 90 minutes of aerobic exercise per week. I expect to improve in this area now that my days are a little less chaotic.

6.6: I should lift weights 3 times per week. Grade: 2/5
I was only able to lift weights 2 times per week in 2016. I also didn’t have the time to do as many repetitions, so I regressed on this ideal. I will do better in 2017 for sure.

6.7: I should see the doctor at least once a year. Grade: 5/5
I had to see the doctor for my prescription refills, so it was another perfect year.

6.8: I should see the dentist at least once a year. Grade: 5/5
I saw the dentist like normal, so I was perfect in this area.

6.9: I should see the eye doctor at least once every 5 years. Grade: 5/5
It was an off year for glasses, so I didn’t have to see the eye doctor. I got a perfect score here by default.

Leisure Ideals
7.1: I should schedule my sleep time. Grade: 1/5
I did pretty horrible at sleeping on time in 2016. Most nights I was late by an hour or more. I don’t see anything stopping me from doing better in 2017 though.

7.2: I should turn off internet-connected devices by 9pm. Grade: 0/5
I needed the computer to look up things for my treatment most nights, so I wasn’t able to meet this ideal at all in 2016. For 2017, I am changing this ideal to 10pm. I am so busy I need a little more computer time.

7.3: I should install an internet filter on all internet-connected devices. Grade: 5/5
The internet filter remained on my computer all year, so I was perfect again.

7.4: I should avoid immoral movies or TV shows. Grade: 5/5
I have no interest in immoral garbage, so this was an easy one.

7.5: It’s okay to waste some leisure time. Grade: 4/5
I did a little better this year. I didn’t have as much leisure time in 2016 as I did the year before, so the little I had was usually unstructured.

Money Ideals
8.1: I should spend no more than $100 per month on leisure. Grade: 4/5
There was one month I spent too much money, but other than that one slip-up I was perfect.

8.2: I should save at least $100 per month for retirement. Grade: 0/5
Unfortunately, I didn’t have any extra money this year. I had a lot of medical bills and some unexpected taxes too. I hate to say it but 2017 is probably going to be the same. The taxes are done, but the medical bills are still ongoing.

8.3: I should save at least $100 per month for emergencies. Grade: 0/5
I didn’t have the extra money to save for emergencies, so I wasn’t able to save any money.

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 in 2016, so I got this ideal by default.

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, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4 & 1.42 (5/5) 3.1/5
Study of the Faith Ideals Ideal 2.3 (0/5) Ideal 2.1 & 2.2 (5/5) 3.0/5
Teaching of Others Ideals Ideal 3.5 (0/5) Ideal 3.3 & 3.6 (5/5) 2.7/5
Service Ideals Ideal 4.1 & 4.5 (0/5) Ideal 4.2 (5/5) 1.4/5
Work Ideals Ideal 5.1 & 5.3 (3/5) Ideal 5.4 (5/5) 3.8/5
Health Ideals Ideal 6.2 (0/5) Ideal 6.7, 6.8 & 6.9 (5/5) 2.8/5
Leisure Ideals Ideal 7.2 (0/5) Ideal 7.3 & 7.4 (5/5) 3.0/5
Money Ideals Ideal 8.2 & 8.3 (0/5) Ideal 8.4 (5/5) 2.3/5
Overall Worst: Service Ideals (1.6/5) Best: Work Ideals (3.8/5) 2.76/5

All Time Records
Worst Chapter: Service (1.4/5) in year 2016
Best Chapter: Work (3.8/5) in year 2016
Worst Overall Average: 2.76/5 in year 2016
Best Overall Average: 2.98/5 in year 2015

How I Graded
The year went in a different direction than I planned when health problems got in my way. I either wasn’t feeling good or was too busy with the treatment. While I am still working on my health, the problems are better under control. I was able to improve in Prayer, Study of the Faith, and Work, but everything else was quite a bit worse. That was enough to lower my average below 2015’s average. The year 2016 was disappointing in that I didn’t get much done, but what I did needed to get done. Now that most of it is out of the way, I should be back to a more orderly life. With that comes the hope of a much better year in 2017.

I see many possibilities to improve myself. I expect my average score in Service and Money to remain low, but I should improve in Study of the Faith, Teaching of Others, Health, and Leisure. If I can maintain my pretty good Prayer and Work Ideals, I might have a very nice record score to report on. I am eager to see what I can accomplish in 2017.

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