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.


GCBC Week 11: “Desire” by Elder Dallin H. Oaks

I loved this talk by Elder Oaks.  He laid out an excellent framework of the connection between our desires, our choices and our actions.  It made me take a good look at what I really want and how well those priorities are reflected in the life I live.  It’s a real thought-provoking message.

“Desire” by Elder Dallin H. Oaks

What did you learn from this talk?  Share your thoughts and conversation in the comment thread below.  If you’re new to GCBC, check out the club here.

GCBC Week 7: Of Things that Matter Most

“Of Things That Matter Most”
President Dieter F. Uctdorf
Second Counselor in the First Presidency

This talk is a perfect sequel to Elder Christofferson’s talk about consecrated living that we just read last week.  President Uctdorf reminds us what to focus on, and he communicates with testimony and example the same principles from King Benjamin that “it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength.”

This was one of my favorite talks from conference.  It made me realize that when I feel overwhelmed, I tend to react in a counter-productive way.

“If life and its rushed pace and many stresses have made it difficult for you to feel like rejoicing, then perhaps now is a good time to refocus on what matters most.”

I’m learning that the joy comes from the basics:  from choosing them, using them, and focusing on them.

Plus, this talk has one of the greatest laughs from conference, where President Uctdorf jokes about always speaking about airplanes.

Did you all receive your general conference edition of the Ensign in the mail by now?  I love to curl up with mine by the fire.  I felt full-blown famous when I realized they published my quote on p. 128 about you guys and what we do here.  I can’t think of any issue I’d be more excited to be a part of than the general conference edition.

So, how about you? What are your favorite moments or quotes from this talk?  Is there anything you learned here that you had not considered before?  What stood out to you as you studied it?  And, most importantly, what did it make you feel or want to do?

Lazy eye

I’m no vision expert, but I believe a lazy eye is when one eye is misaligned, doesn’t focus simultaneously with the other eye, and loses its ability to see details.  It’s an analogy for how I’ve felt ever since I got back from our vacation.  February here is quite bleak, especially compared with Florida.  Part of me knows exactly what I should be doing around the house and in pursuit of my own personal goals.  Another part of me– the lazy eye– just doesn’t feel like it, and would rather do lots of other non-productive, low-effort things.

My back yard has looked a whole lot like this the last week or so:

And all I want to do is sit by this:

And watch or read this:

I KNOW I should do this (except with more clothes on):

and a lot more of this kind of stuff:

But I’ve felt so lazy, and I’ve been allowing myself to become distracted.  It’s easy to be distracted– sometimes by my own cares and moods, sometimes by lesser things.   But it’s a yucky feeling because I can do so much better, and it’s much easier when I’m consistent about doing the things that inspire me.  So, I’m recommitting myself to this (fast forward video to about 5:30 for the most applicable points):

So, yeah, February kind of bites, but I’m powerful.  God has asked me for “an eye single to His glory,” and when I focus on what matters most, especially with BOTH eyes, He makes me fit for whatever life requires of me.  Anybody else out there struggling with focus right now?  Let’s reclaim our wandering eye together.  I declare today the last day of my funk.

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. 🙂