The beginning of a new year is intuitively a time that many people choose to evaluate their lives and set goals for themselves. Sometimes temporal concerns such as losing weight or making more money are at the tops of our lists. But perhaps we should be more concerned with developing Christlike qualities: being more patient, or renewing our commitments to be honest in our dealings with others. Or perhaps we want to study the scriptures more regularly, or spend more time in service to others.
Whatever we feel we need to work on in our lives, here are some ideas for setting and achieving those goals.
1. Pray for Help
Our Father in Heaven knows us and loves us perfectly, and He can show us those things that we need to work on most. The Lord tells us in the Book of Mormon:
And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them. (Ether 12:27)
It’s not always fun or even easy to see our own weaknesses, but we can trust in the Lord’s judgment and in His promptings as we strive to improve.
2. Write Goals Down
This accomplishes a couple of things. For one, it helps us clarify what our goals are, at least enough to put them into written language. And the acts of writing them down and reviewing them regularly help us make and keep commitments to achieve these goals. President M. Russell Ballard, a modern-day apostle and the president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, once said:
I would suggest that if you want to have success in the goal setting process, you learn to write your goals down. I would even put them in a very prominent place—on your mirror or on the refrigerator door. Keep your goals in front of you, in writing. Then, with the desire to reach your written goals, you will be more willing to pay the price that successful goal-oriented people must pay. (M. Russell Ballard, “Do Things That Make a Difference,” Ensign, Jun 1983, 68)
3. Commit to Your Goals and Pay the Price to Make Them Happen
Excuses may help us feel justified in not taking action when it comes to our goal, but they do nothing for bringing us to where we want to be in our lives. Benjamin N. Woodson says:
For my part, I have concluded that the quality which sets one man apart from another—the factor which lifts one man to every achievement to which he reasonably aspires while the other is caught in the slough of mediocrity for all the years of his life—is not talent, nor formal education, nor luck, nor intellectual brilliance, but is rather the successful man’s greater capacity for self-discipline (quoted in M. Russell Ballard, “Do Things That Make a Difference,” Ensign, Jun 1983, 68).
With these guidelines in mind, here’s wishing all of us a successful new year!
This post was originally published in December 2007. Minor changes have been made.