Every time I resolve to turn over a new leaf the same thing happens:

The first day of the rest of my life I wake up bright and early. I plan my day, mentally checking off a series of decisions and resolutions to be accomplished. I set off on my first vital task, and, just about then, a little voice goes off in my mind and points out that the job I'm about to start isn't so important after all. There are more important things I should be focusing on.

Right this voice is, after all failing to plan is planning to fail. So I make a cup of coffee, review my to-do list, prioritize and prune, and then settle down to setting off again.

But maybe I was right the first time after all? I'd hate to waste all my newfound energy and rapidly dwindling time on an inconsequential, so I phone a friend or wake my wife and request their advice. I have another coffee and commit myself to really getting on with it, whatever it is.

I review my to-do list, prioritize and prune, and then settle down to setting off againBy the end of the day I've planned a lot and procrastinated even more. I've got nothing to show for all my reformist zeal and lost my enthusiasm for self-improvement. I'm probably better off going back to my old ways. Or am I? I'll wake up early and decide, first thing tomorrow morning.

What went wrong?

This week's Torah reading introduces the perplexing mitzvah of the "Red Heifer," with the words: "This is the chok [supra-rational commandment] of the Torah."1 Rashi remarks that the Satan will often attempt to confuse you before you begin to do a mitzvah by asking, "Why are you doing this mitzvah?"

It's a trick. Your yetzer hara (evil inclination) is trying to distract you from your task. Why this mitzvah and not another one? How do you know that this is the priority, is it not possible that you're neglecting another, more important responsibility?

You get so hung up deciding and defending yourself that you never actually get around to doing the mitzvah.

Just Get On With It

The solution is in the text: This is the chok of the torah. Just do it. Think less and do more. As Rashi puts it: "It's a decree from G‑d, and you don't need to contemplate so much."

Whatever presents itself, so long as it is one of G‑d's mitzvot, you can't go wrong. Roll up your sleeves, get stuck into it, finish one job and then, and only then, look up just long enough to pick another post-it note off your desk.

Nothing invigorates like success. The knowledge that I'm plowing my way through my problems, fulfilling my potential and living up to my G‑d, will be enough to keep me on the bandwagon for as long as it takes to work my way through my wish list and change my life properly, one mitzvah at a time.