A while back while watching one of the tennis Majors, the commentators explained what Venus Williams was reading in between games. She had made a list of her tendencies as a tennis player; thus, when she made a lot of back hand errors she would look at her list to remind herself of the ways in which her mechanics tended to break down. Thus, she even if she wasn’t doing well she knew what she needed to do to improve. Venus Williams is a wise person: she realizes that it’s often difficult to keep in mind all of her flaws at once. Even when practicing every day, small errors sneak in that can throw off one’s entire game.
Perhaps Venus Williams insight into tennis can be translated into the spiritual life. Often our vices can become so deep-seated that we cease to recognize them in ourselves. Thus I propose making one’s own personal examination of conscience; don’t just use the stock-examens provided in the back of church, but make a list of all of the ways in which you usually tend to fail. Not only does this make one’s confession more complete, but if this examen is used every day it prevents those flaws from becoming buried and forgotten.
In order to compile the list, I recommend reading Archbishop Dolan’s Priests for the Third Millenium. Don’t be fooled by the name; it’s a wonderful book for laymen, too. The book is a collection of lectures on the virtues, and Dolan does not pull his punches.