Are You Lacking Life’s Essential Ingredients?

At the end of this day, what will I want to have accomplished?  This question comes from an article I read about having a planning time at the beginning of each day, like chefs do when they prepare for a big meal.  In life, as in meal preparation, I can often be found lacking in the essential ingredients.

At least once a week, at 4:00pm, I glance over a recipe I just found online, decide it looks doable, and get started.  Of course, by waiting until 4:00pm to find said recipe, I now have less than an hour to throw it together.  I pull the frozen meat out of the freezer and defrost it in the microwave while I feverishly chop up the accompanying vegetables.  I turn on the burner, brown the half-thawed meat, add the veggies, and refer back to the recipe for the additional spices and add-ins.  Oh, I must have missed that.  Do I have that?  I rummage through the cupboard, then race to the basement pantry.  No, I don’t.  Now I have to think of a substitute, or can I forgo it altogether?  Well, I’ll just have to.
photo credit:

I pull out my teaspoon to measure out the next spice on the list; a tiny sprinkle emerges.  What?!  I’m out of basil!  Meanwhile, the veggies are burning, because I have been so distracted by my missing ingredients that I forgot to keep stirring them.  I remove the pan from the heat, gather the rest of the ingredients, make adjustments as best as I can, then continue cooking.  Oops, I forgot to start the rice in the rice cooker.  Now, I’ll be 15 minutes late with dinner.  I dig in my lower cupboard for the Corningware dish to bake the casserole in, only it’s not there.  I look in the refrigerator; oh yeah, leftovers from two nights ago are languishing in it.  I transfer them to another container, wash out the Corningware, and add the casserole.

After all of that, I realize I forgot to preheat the oven, and I lose another 15 minutes, waiting.  In the meantime, I do manage to clean up the harried mess I made all over the kitchen.  Then, I scramble to assemble a salad while the dinner sits cooling on the table.  I yell for help with setting the table.

At 5:30pm, we finally sit down for dinner, famished.  I inwardly pray that, despite all the missing ingredients and poor execution, everyone will be able to appreciate the food before them.  Thankfully, there are few complaints.  However, I am left frazzled and worn out from the stressful experience of making dinner, a daily encounter that should be painless and even joyful, if I would just take the time to plan ahead and make sure I had everything I needed to make it a success.

Such is life.  I spend my days wandering and scrambling, unsure of what to do, then rushing to get something done.  My life is lived in reactive mode instead of prepared mode.  I think I have an idea of what the day should look like, but I fail to lay out a plan of execution to ensure its success.  By the end, I am discouraged by my lack of productivity and exhausted from putting out the fires that crop up around me.

In truth, most days are the same around here, so I have compiled a list of ten things to accomplish each day:

1. Get to the gym, preferably before 5:30am.

2. Have a time of prayer, Bible reading and planning time, preferably in the morning.

3.  Guide the children through their schoolwork.

4. Write something, at least 500 words in length.

5. Plan and prepare healthy meals.

6. Establish pick up/clean up times throughout the day.

7.  Read to my girls for at least 20 minutes.

8. Connect meaningfully with one person outside my family (either by phone, mail, email, or in person).

9. Listen to/laugh with/love on my children and husband.

10. Review my day and plan for the next (in the evening).

I cannot think of anything else that truly matters for each day.  In hindsight, though, I realize that I accomplish only a fraction of these on a weekly basis, not even a daily one.  That saddens and convicts me.  It is not enough to have a list, I have learned.  I need a plan of action.  So, to help both myself and perhaps you, each week I will break one or two of these accomplishments into specific steps.  Hopefully, within these steps, we will find inspiration and motivation for our own list of accomplishments.  Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post on Workouts and Worship.

What are your top priorities for each day?  What are you doing to fulfill them?

(photo credit for featured image: