Posted by on February 19, 2015

To Do ListWhen the To Do List meets the right Reward, things get marked off and perseverance wins another battle.

It’s a little early to tell, but I think I may have discovered a way to follow through on my goal list and resolutions.

Before I get right down to it though, let me just preface this wonderful new discovery with some history. If you know me, then this isn’t news, but if you don’t then you need to know that I’m…well…let’s just say I’m a little laid back. I don’t mind a few dishes sitting around or a floor that needs a scrub, and I’ve only washed my car once since I got it. I don’t beat myself up if I don’t meet a word goal, and my writing career’s not over if I don’t post a blog.*

And that’s where my epiphany started– with an unwritten blog and a sink full of dirty dishes. 

A few weeks ago, I stacked a dirty plate on the counter with the others and thought, Hey, they’re not going anywhere. I’ll get back to them later,– a thought I’ve had a million times, but then as I headed for my Kindle and some Scramble time, a new thought caused my socks to stick to the floor (or maybe that was jelly). This thought whispered, “Imagine finding the kitchen all clean and in order.”


That was a nice little thought. So I turned myself around and cleaned up the counter. And later when I was exhausted and ready for bed, my sparkling kitchen smiled and sent me on my way.

Now to be perfectly honest, I think I read about this process in a book I borrowed from a friend a year or so ago (and haven’t finished) (Thanks Steve!). It’s all about finding a payoff. With the dishes, my clean kitchen overshadowed my fifteen minutes of hard labor.  

But the payoff alone isn’t enough.

The proximity of the reward with the work creates a recipe for success.

Exercising to lose weight doesn’t have a payoff that’s close at hand. Writing a novel to have your work in print doesn’t happen fast. And the same goes for most of the big New Year’s resolutions people come up with. 

The key, perhaps, rests in the reward.

Small successes pave the way for every long-term, momentous achievement.

Reward from my To Do List 2This formula wakes me up at 5 AM every morning, pulling me down to my computer to write. And it repays me daily with my story lingering in my head, the peace of knowing I did something toward my dream today, and the ease with which I can return to my story the next time.

Maybe it’s all about perspective and how you look at things. Or maybe it’s about slowing down and recognizing all the little triumphs instead of whining about the finish line.

Run the race with perseverance, my friends. There are graver things at stake than dishes and novels. But if we can’t pull ourselves together enough to handle the little stuff, how will we ever manage to change the world?


*On a blogging note, I’m so sorry for not being around in the blogosphere. One of my goals this year is to not let you folks wait so long between posts. So don’t cancel that blog subscription yet! I’ll be trying to bless your socks off at least once a week!

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David Brannock
David Brannock
9 years ago

Mary Beth, thanks for another great post. Glad to hear from you again in the blogosphere. Also, I want to thank you for a post you shared last February. At the end you provided a link to Hillsong United’s song “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail).” You have no idea how much God has used that song to minister to me over the past 12 months. In fact, I have come to love that song so much I have referenced it in my (almost finished) book for high school graduates called Choose This Day: Trust God to Guide Your Daily Life.… Read more »

Deb Partridge
Deb Partridge
9 years ago

Wow what a timely blog for me today! I too am laid back about household chores and have struggled to find a balance between “clean enough for a visit from the Queen” and clutter that grabs me at every turn. Little rewards…I never would have thought to reward myself in small ways for an empty sink or a vacuumed rug. Although it is nearly March, perhaps I will set goals that I can accomplish. Thanks for inspiration!

andy lee
9 years ago

Loved this!!!! Kindred spirit. Please write more. 🙂

Mary Ann Hall
Mary Ann Hall
9 years ago

Wow Mary Beth ….you wrote this for me I feel it….The laid back definitely runs in the family. I am going to try and relish my small successes on the way to the big picture. Thanks so much for this inspirational blog. Going to share with the girls too. Miss you all

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