3 Things to Consider When Setting Goals

By Sheena Perron

The beginning of a new year brings a sense of new beginnings which motivates us to create goals for ourselves. The goals created are unique to each person and can range from more simple goals to more time consuming, lengthy goals. At the beginning of each year I feel invigorated, and ready to tackle the goals I set, but after a few months the goals I set earlier in the year are often overlooked or forgotten. Do you find yourself in the same predicament? Do you set goals only to find them slowly getting overlooked as your life gets busier and busier with things that you consider ‘more important’.

We are now halfway through the year, and the goals that I had set for myself have been forgotten. I decided to take some time to study by reading some talks on this topic to learn what I can do to help myself and my children set and achieve worthwhile goals.

In 1976, President Thomas S. Monson (council of the twelve, then) gave a talk during General Conference about goals. He began his talk by describing the super freeway we know as, I-15. He then shared an experience he had. “Several days ago, while driving to my home, I approached the entrance to Interstate 15. At the on-ramp I noticed three hitchhikers, each one of whom carried a homemade sign which announced his desired destination. One sign read ‘Los Angeles,” while a second carried the designation “Boise.” However, it was the third sign which not only caught my attention but caused me to reflect and ponder its message. The hitchhiker had lettered not Los Angeles, California, nor Boise, Idaho, on the cardboard sign which he held aloft. Rather, his sign consisted of but one word and read simply “ANYWHERE.”

“Here was one who was content to travel in any direction, according to the whim of the driver who stopped to give him a free ride. What an enormous price to pay for such a ride. No plan. No objective. No goal. The road to anywhere is the road to nowhere, and the road to nowhere leads to dreams sacrificed, opportunities squandered, and a life unfulfilled” (“Which Road Will You Travel”; Thomas S. Monson; 1976).

We are blessed with the ability to choose the direction we will go. All we have to do is make the decision and stick with it. President Monson also shared this experience: 

“When I was about ten, my boyfriends and I would take pocket knives in hand and from the soft wood of a willow tree fashion small toy boats. With a triangular-shaped cotton sail in place, each would launch his crude craft in a race down the relatively turbulent waters of the Provo River. We would run along the river’s bank and watch the tiny vessels sometimes bobbing violently in the swift current and at other times sailing serenely as the water deepened.

“During such a race, we noted that one boat led all the rest toward the appointed finish line. Suddenly, the current carried it too close to a large whirlpool, and the boat heaved to its side and capsized. Around and around it was carried, unable to make its way back into the main current. At last it came to rest at the end of the pool, amid the flotsam and jetsam which surrounded it, held fast by the fingerlike tentacles of the grasping green moss.

“The toy boats of childhood had no keel for stability, no rudder to provide direction, and no source of power. Like the hitchhiker, their destination was “ANYWHERE,” but inevitably downstream.

“We have been provided divine attributes to guide our destiny. We entered mortality not to float with the moving currents of life, but with the power to think, to reason, and to achieve” (“Which Road Will You Travel”; Thomas S. Monson; 1976)

Our Heavenly Father sent each of us here with the right tools and supplies for our journey. We are not  just floating along with nowhere to go. What can you do to help yourself out to ensure that you don’t get stuck in a whirlpool and end up with a life unfulfilled?

Sister Peggy S. Worthen said this concerning goals, “Goals are a very significant part of our lives. Goals help us to keep focused. Goals help us plan for and attain the things that are important to us” (An Unexpected Path; Peggy S. Worthen; BYU Speech). 

In Sister Worthen’s talk, she shared 3 things to consider when setting goals. I would like to share these three items with you today.

Ask: “Will this goal help me achieve my own full divine potential?”

“In other words, are our goals in harmony with Heavenly Father’s plan for us, which is to gain “eternal life, . . . the greatest of all the gifts of God” (D&C 14:7)?” {Peggy S. Worthen}

Sis. Worthen shares that one great way to make sure your goals are in line with those of Heavenly Father’s plan is to read your Patriarchal Blessing.

“Patriarchal blessings are our own personal ‘road maps’ and help us to know what Heavenly Father has planned for us. We need to study them, especially when we set goals. What does your patriarchal blessing tell you? What does Heavenly Father want you to do?”

Did you know that you can now read your patriarchal blessing online? To read your blessings online visit lds.org and sign-in to your account. If you are already logged in just go to the top right corner of lds.org and click on My Account and Ward. A drop down menu will then appear, and under My Account you will see ‘Patriarchal Blessing’. You’ll need to request for your blessing, but it doesn’t take long.

Along with achieving your divine potential, you also need to remember the duties/responsibilities you have in your life. Maybe you have a goal to read a book each week, but will that take you away from more pressing matters?

Sit down and make a list of all your goals and responsibilities you have to do. You want to create a happy medium where you can work on goals as well as remember the important duties and responsibilities you have. Creating a list will help you remember to put the most important things first.

Make A Continuous Effort

Reaching a goal, especially a long-term goal, will not happen without small, daily actions. Imagine for a moment that I was holding five balls and your goal was to catch all of the balls. I then threw all the balls at once. Do you think you would be able to catch every single ball? Probably not. What if I threw each ball one at a time? That would give you a much better chance of catching each of the balls. This simple object lesson helps show the importance of working little by little to accomplish a goal. You should not expect to achieve a goal all at once.

When setting a goal, write down small steps to take to reach your goal. What can you do 

each day to accomplish the goal you have set for yourself?

Be Flexible

Life doesn’t always go as planned!

“It is important that we learn to adjust to change. We need to learn not to panic when things don’t go exactly as we have planned. One thing I have learned is that there is no such thing as an uninterrupted pathway to the goals we make. As someone once observed, there is no freeway to perfection. We usually face detours or unexpected events that occur while trying to achieve our goals” 

“I have also learned that if we pay attention, prepare for the unexpected, and learn not to panic when we are forced to take a longer detour or a different route, things will often work out better than we could have planned on our own. Learning to be flexible and adjusting to change can often be very difficult. However, if we are striving to reach our full potential and are setting goals that are in line with Heavenly Father’s plan for us, He will help and guide us. We need to remember the Lord’s words in Isaiah 55:8–9:  ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways. . . .For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (An Unexpected Path; Peggy S. Worthen; BYU Speech). 

Achieving goals will be easier if we eliminate things that discourage, detour, or distract us. At times we may feel discouraged, especially when we feel we are failing. Remember to have a positive attitude. Celebrate each accomplishment, no matter how large or small it may be. Remember to include the Lord in your goals and turn to Him for guidance. Live in such a way that you will feel close to Him and hear Him more clearly and more often in your life.

Sheena Perron is the founder of Little LDS Ideas and Seek Christ Daily. Her mission is to help others become seekers of Christ through uplifting online content and events. She has been featured in the EnsignDeseret News, and KSL Radio. Follow Sheena Perron on Instagram and Facebook

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