Goals. And trying. And failing.

New-Years-Resolutions[image credit]

I like New Year’s resolutions. They do feel like a fresh, new start. And with the exception of a few superhuman individuals, the rest of us don’t always accomplish our goals with the same kind of perfection we intended. You know what? It’s fine. Really. Fine. The trick is to not be such a perfectionist that we abandon goals completely because we don’t like doing them less than perfectly. Sure, we can be more “perfect” by having fewer goals, but growth comes from the effort–from the stop and go, from the oops and up again, and from analysis and course correction.

My sister recently asked me about diminished motivation when goals start going sour, so I did a little research and found some great talks and articles that might be helpful in rekindling your goal-fire.

First, President Uchtdorf shared a recent New Year’s message called The Best Time to Plant a Tree. He says a lot of great things there, but this was one of my favorites:

“Another thing we need to remember when it comes to setting goals is this: We almost certainly will fail—at least in the short term. But rather than be discouraged, we can be empowered because this understanding removes the pressure of being perfect right now. It acknowledges from the beginning that at one time or another, we may fall short. Knowing this up front takes away much of the surprise and discouragement of failure.”

See? Permission. Here are a few more great talks to study, and some quotes from each.

Elder Ballard’s talk Keeping Life’s Demands in Balance reminds me to keep my goals in line with true priorities and treat those successes as the most important.

Many people have heavy demands upon them stemming from parental, family, employment, church, and civic responsibilities. Keeping everything in balance can be a real problem.

A periodic review of the covenants we have made with the Lord will help us with our priorities and with balance in our lives. This review will help us see where we need to repent and change our lives to ensure that we are worthy of the promises that accompany our covenants and sacred ordinances. Working out our own salvation requires good planning and a deliberate, valiant effort.

In Because of Your Steadiness, Pres. Eyring is mostly talking about home teaching, but he reminds me that a little more attention can help my efforts move from occasional to more consistent.

You may have learned endurance playing a trumpet, or throwing a football, or riding a bucking horse, or drawing a picture. But you learned what we all did. Effort only “now and then” didn’t take you far. The dreams that turned into reality stuck with you nearly all the time. You worked at them, either in fact or in your thoughts, every day and almost every hour.

President Uchtdorf is a master at reminding us to get up, get over it, and move on. In You Can Do it Now, these words encourage me to keep working on my goals for my own growth and not worry about the rest:

No one likes to fail. And we particularly don’t like it when others—especially those we love—see us fail. We all want to be respected and esteemed. We want to be champions. But we mortals do not become champions without effort and discipline or without making mistakes.

Brethren, our destiny is not determined by the number of times we stumble but by the number of times we rise up, dust ourselves off, and move forward.

Finally, the talk Stay on the True Course by Elder Carlos Asay reminded me that I am more likely to be successful if I keep my eyes on the Savior and trust that when I do fall, he will be quick to save and get me on my feet again.

The need to remain focused on eternal goals is illustrated in the biblical account of Jesus walking on the sea and Peter’s desire to do the same. Peter progressed over the water so long as he looked to Christ. But when he diverted his gaze away from the Master and allowed fear and doubt to enter in, he began to sink. … We must reaffirm the goal that matters most and press toward it “looking forward with an eye of faith” (Alma 32:40).

So if you’re in a mid-January state of disappointment, pull out your resolutions again, get on your knees again, and get back to work. And give yourself permission to repeat the process as needed. I think we might be doing better than we give ourselves credit for.


General Conference Book Club Week 15: Sister Dibb

Sister Dibb is married to my dad’s cousin, so that makes us practically like sisters, and therefore, I think it’s totally fine that my siblings and I call President Monson “Uncle Tom,” don’t you think? (If I knew how to make really tiny font, it would say here: “Not that we’ve ever met him or anything.”)

Anyway, Sister Ann M. Dibb gave a great talk in the Sunday morning session of General Conference called “Hold On.”  It’s a fun and meaningful talk, plus Elder Holland referred to it in the talk we just studied last week.

You can read the talk here.  You can also  watch it here or listen to it here.

“Heavenly Father has not left us alone during our mortal probation. He has already given us all the “safety equipment” we will need to successfully return to Him.”

“In the scriptures there are very few stories of individuals who lived in blissful happiness and experienced no opposition. We learn and grow by overcoming challenges with faith, persistence, and personal righteousness.”

As you read this talk, what are your thoughts and impressions about “holding on”?


We are already at week 15 (out of 25, I think)!  Can you believe we’re only about 10 weeks out from Spring Conference?  If this is your first visit to our weekly book club, welcome!  (You’ll find details about GCBC here.)

General Conference Book Club Week 9: President Eyring

Alright friends, step away from the pie.  Time to feast on the word of God.  (I hope you had a great Thanksgiving.  I did.)

Let’s study President Eyring’s fantastic talk this week, shall we?  President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency spoke during the Sunday morning session of General Conference and his talk was called “Our Perfect Example.”  I was immediately drawn into his talk in the introduction:  “Different as we are in circumstances and experiences, we share a desire to become better than we are.”

“The message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is that we can and must expect to become better as long as we live.”

“Love is the motivating principle by which the Lord leads us along the way towards becoming like Him, our perfect example.”

“I hope you will go out today looking for opportunities to do as He did and to love as He loves.”


You can read the talk here, watch it here, or listen to it here.  It’s also on page 70 of the November Ensign.  (Go here for GCBC information.)

I know you’ll really like this talk.  Please share some of the things that you learn or think or notice as you study it.  I love reading all your great insights.

General Conference Book Club Week 2: Elder Bednar

A warm welcome to many of the new friends that joined in the Book Club conversation last week.  I hope you stick around for the whole ride.

I wanted to start this round with one of my favorite talks from General Conference.  It offered many answers to my own prayers about how to best prioritize my time and efforts, especially in regards to my family.  Elder David A. Bednar gave this talk, “More Diligent and Concerned at Home,” during the Saturday morning session of conference.  He emphasized three important keys to achieving eternal goals in our families:


  1. Express love— and show it.
  2. Bear testimony— and live it.
  3. Be consistent.

Those suggestions in and of themselves were enough to remind me of some important things I needed to hear, but the rest of the talk is excellent.  I look forward to reading your comments and insights.  You can find the talk here:

To read “More Diligent and Concerned at Home”

To watch or listen to “More Diligent and Concerned at Home”

If this is your first visit to GCBC, and you’d like to know how it works, click here.

(and a little p.s.:  Thank you for your sweet comments and suggestions the other day as I was suffering from my temporary post-conference funk.  My parents came to visit, I successfully carried out several long-overdue home organization projects, and I had opportunities through my calling to teach and bear testimony, and all those things helped me get my “groove” back.  That old adage “Forget yourself and get to work” does wonders.)

Oh, and tonight’s the last night to submit a lullaby for the poetry contest, so get composing. 🙂