January is a great time for each of us to reflect and evaluate the past and look forward to a bright future. As parents and gospel teachers, it is also a fitting time to encourage and help those in our care make goals for the coming year. My husband and I have made a goal to do this the first Sunday of every month with our children, by sitting down with each of them and discussing things they would like to place special focus on throughout the month. In Luke 2:52 we read, “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” Let’s break this scripture up into four parts (see handout below).
Wisdom = Knowledge
Stature = Physical Well-Being
Favor with God = Spiritual Strength
Favor with man = Social/Friendships
* * *
A few months ago I was prompted by the Holy Ghost to become physically stronger and that by doing so my mental wellbeing would also improve. I needed something that it would help calm me each day, having (like yourself I’m sure), demands of a busy family, church and work-life. I made a goal soon after that I would begin practicing Bikram Yoga (also known as hot yoga) in a nearby studio. It’s been the most challenging thing physically I have ever participated in, but each time I went to class I left feeling like I had accomplished something spectacular! Little did I know that late December I would be hit with a wave of depression like never before. The kind of deep depression that truly hurts. You don’t want to get out of bed. You don’t want to talk to anyone. Breathing was quite literally all I could do. You may not be able to comprehend this unless you or a loved one has struggled with similar issues. Despite sever melancholy and total lack of interest in anything, I would push myself three to four times a week, struggle out of bed, get dressed and head to yoga class. I went from telling myself, “This 90-minute workout is going to kill me!” to “I will do my very best today knowing that each minute I spend in that 105 degree room will not KILL me; it will SAVE me.” With the support of my family and an added measure of strength given to me by a loving Heavenly Father, I made it through this difficult time because of one goal. It was and still is a mighty miracle in my life. Each of us can do hard things and come out better, stronger, and more empathetic to those who might be suffering around us. Is this not all part of His plan; the refining process that will bring us closer to Jesus Christ, our Savior? I believe it is with every fiber of my being.
The Savior is our ultimate example of one who set and achieved goals in the pre-mortal existence and while on earth. Luke 4: 18 states, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.” As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we are a covenant keeping people. We know that by “small and simple things great things are great things brought to pass” (Alma 37:6). Let’s liken this scripture to goal setting. If we make and keep short or long term goals, we are more likely to make and keep sacred and eternal covenants. This is our greatest goal. If we want to become the person the Lord intends us to be, we need to work hard now. We become what we do. The “small and simple” goals we accomplish today will become great blessings in which we will partake of tomorrow. From developing a testimony, making and keeping baptismal covenants, to receiving sacred blessings of the temple, we must do all we can to live a life worthy to return and live with our Heavenly Father again someday. Of these things I testify, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Here are a some tips and wise counsel from Church leaders to help you get started:
8 TIPS ON GOAL SETTING
1. Chose goals that are realistic, not so high that they’re impossible to attain.
2. Set mini-goals. The more you achieve, the better you’ll feel about yourself.
3. Write down each of your goals and keep them in front of you on a daily basis. Remember, a goal not written is only a wish.
4. Set a deadline for your goal. A finish date will help you move to action!
5. Share your goals with a friend, and encourage that person to set some, too. You can motivate and cheer each other on.
6. Be committed to your goals. Do what you have to do to achieve them, and don’t become discouraged if they’re challenging.
7. Don’t compete with others. Compete with yourself. Don’t make your goals depend on another’s performance. Decide to attain a level of personal excellence no matter what others achieve.
8. Share your goals with Heavenly Father. Talk to him in prayer. Ask for help in reaching your goals or in understanding why you didn’t. He’ll help you feel good about the positive things you achieve.
Making and achieving goals helps strengthen our self-worth. Sister Ann M. Dibb, “The small and simple things you choose to do today will be magnified into great and glorious blessings tomorrow. Living each day as an “example of the believers” will help you be happy and more confident. It will strengthen your testimony, help you to keep your baptismal covenants, and prepare you to receive the blessings of the temple so that eventually you can return to your Heavenly Father.”
Elder M. Russell Ballard, “We can become the masters of our own destinies by practicing self-discipline and by setting worthy goals that will lead to higher ground so that we can become what our Heavenly Father wants us to become. Set short-term goals that you can reach. Set goals that are well balanced, not too many nor too few, and not too high nor too low. Write down your attainable goals, and work on them according to their importance. Pray for divine guidance in your goal setting.”
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “May I invite you to rise to the great potential within you. But don’t reach beyond your capacity. Don’t set goals beyond your capacity to achieve. Don’t feel guilty or dwell on thoughts of failure. Don’t compare yourself with others. Do the best you can, and the Lord will provide the rest. Have faith and confidence in Him, and you will see miracles happen in your life and the lives of your loved ones.”
The following are suggestions of worthy goals to get your mind going:
Learn what it means to seek, receive, and act on personal revelation.
Establish a habit of daily personal prayer.
Develop the habit of studying the scriptures every day.
Read the Book of Mormon.
Qualify for a temple recommend.
Attend the temple regularly.
Study the words of the prophets in Church magazines or on LDS.org.
Learn to repent daily.
Freely forgive others.
Pay an honest tithe, and attend tithing settlement.
Share your testimony more often.
Attend and participate in all Sunday meetings.
Fast with a specific purpose, and give a generous fast offering.
Receive your patriarchal blessing, and study it often.
Accept opportunities to speak or teach.
Record memorable spiritual experiences or events in a journal.
Participate in family history work.
Register and index historical records.
Pray to know what gifts the Lord has given you, and use one of those gifts to bless others.
Study the words of prophets and Church leaders about strengthening families, marriages, and homes.
Read a book that will increase your faith and strengthen you spiritually.
Learn about and develop a new skill or interest.
Improve your ability to communicate with others.
Improve skills for an occupation.
Learn another language.
Learn to budget wisely.
Develop a plan of preparedness for emergencies.
Learn a new homemaking skill.
Study Doctrine and Covenants 89 (the Word of Wisdom), and apply its principles to improve your health.
Develop healthy eating habits and patterns.
Learn to cook healthy foods.
Develop a program of regular exercise.
Improve emotional and mental health.
Improve your personal appearance or hygiene.
Create opportunities to be active with family and friends.
and the list goes on…