8. Don’t be willing to change course mid-way through Lent. No matter how dysfunctional, mean-spirited, or ill one of your penances might make you, cling to it stubbornly. When salvation is on the line, there’s no room for reevaluation.
9. Give up coffee or Green Goddess smoothies or whatever other food/drink keeps you sane and energized as you go about the business of your day. Who cares if you turn in sub-par work at the office or act like a stressed out nutcase at home. This is Lent! If it’s not stressful, it’s not working.
10. Pick some completely unrealistic penance—like giving up opinions for Lent. Fail miserably at it before the end of the first week. Despair and spend the next 40 days complaining to your friends about what a rotten Lent you’re having.
11. Leave God out of the decision-making process. Don’t pray about what you should give up. Don’t reflect seriously on how you need to grow and what spiritual practices might help with that. Don’t contemplate how you can become more spiritually and materially generous through prayer and almsgiving. And definitely don’t run your Lenten plan by a spiritual advisor or a wise friend. Just Sacrifice All the Things!
Emily Stimpson is a freelance Catholic writer and author. This article originally appeared under the title "Sacrifice All the Things: The Loser’s Guide to Winning Lent" on The Catholic Table. It is reprinted here with kind permission.