Joy Journey Day 4: Set Goals

Luke 14

28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?

Proverbs 15

22 Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established.

Proverbs 16

9 A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.

Are you living a life of intention or just going through the motions.  Those who live with the most joy are those who take accountability for their lives by making a plan, charting a course and setting goals.  If you don’t have a plan for where you are going you are much more likely to end up in places you don’t really want to be.

I am a list maker and that has been one consistency in my life… my notebooks with the lists of what I want to get done each day.  I love the satisfaction of crossing off the things I have accomplished.  I also ponder at the beginning of the year on what one word I would like to focus on to improve my life for that year. For my business I am constantly setting and working on goals to offer new stories and downloads to help families teach their children the scriptures.  As a writer and speaker I create goals and challenges that help me reach out to the world in my attempt to help individuals find ways to better anchor in Christ and His teachings.  Goals are a very important part of my life.

I know personally how important it is to have a plan and to be setting goals.  There was one point in my life where I found myself in a very miserable place.  I had made some really poor choices that almost devastated my family and caused myself a huge setback in life.  It took a lot of time, introspection and work to get back to a place where I was truly happy again.  Part of my introspection revealed to me that it was the first time in my life I had not been using my lists or setting and assessing goals for myself.  Goal setting became a big part of my return to happiness.  I will never again have a time in my life where I am not charting a course and setting goals for myself.

Why is it important to set goals?  I completely agree with Mark Twain when he said, “Without dreams and goals there is no living, only merely existing, and that is not why we are here.”  We were sent to this earth for a purpose.  We are supposed to be working on becoming our very best self, striving to achieve the potential God sees inside of us.  We cannot possibly reach this potential if we are not living with intention, if we are just going through the motions.  Goals give us direction and clarity for what is most important in life. They help us determine where we want to end up and what we must do to get there.  They help focus our efforts and give us motivation to move towards self improvement.  They help us acquire knowledge and develop new skills and talents.  Goals help us manage our time and use it most effectively.  They help us live with real intent and achieve a higher quality of life.  When we have defined our own personal purpose, goals have an even more powerful affect on our lives and on the lives of those around us.

What does an effective goal look like?  There are four different categories of my life that I like to focus my goals in.  I feel like most goals that help us reach our full potential can be sorted into these four categories… Physical, Mental, Social and Spiritual.  I am inserting a chart you can save to your computer and print if it will help for you to see your goals more visually.

Growth Chart

For a goal to be its most effective it needs to be a S.M.A.R.T. goal. 

Specific:  If a goal is vague it is not motivating, achievable or measurable.  You must be very specific about the goal you want to set.  If for instance, I wanted to learn how to play the piano rather than just say, “I want to be more musical.” I would say instead, “I am going to learn to play the piano.” That is more specific and more attainable.

Measurable:  A goal needs to have the ability to be measured so I know if I am making progress.  I could even make this goal more measurable by picking a specific song I am going to work on. I should be able to tell week by week through my practice efforts if I am getting closer to achieving my goal.

Achievable:  It is very important that we set goals that are difficult enough to challenge us so that there is actual improvement but not so difficult that it is impossible.  A goal that is impossible only causes us frustration and disappointment. It would be smarter in our scenario to pick a song like the birthday song rather than Fur Elise to start with.  We can always increase the difficulty of our goals as we increase our abilities.

Relevant: A goal needs to be relevant to the direction we want to be headed in.  If we want to be more musical than a goal to learn the piano, especially a particular song is a good way to move in that direction, it is relevant to the overall direction we want to be headed in.

Time Based: We must set a deadline for our goal for it to be effective.  There is a law referred to as Parkinson’s Law that states that “work expands so as to fill the time available for it’s completion.” It is for exactly this reason that almost every one of us when we were in high school  stayed up until midnight to finish a report that was due the next day.  But we did get it done! And if it had been due the week before, we would have gotten done then too.  So setting a goal with a deadline is much more likely to be achieved then one that has no finish date.

Now that we know what a good goal looks like, how does one set a goal?

*Visualize the change you want to see.  What is the end result you are looking for?

*Decide how you will word your goal.

*Write it down.  You are much more likely to follow through with a goal that you have taken the time to write down.  (And at my age, more likely to actually remember it. Ha!) Then post your goal somewhere you will see it each day.  Then read it out loud each day.  This will help you stay focused on it.

*Tell someone about your goal.  Or tell 3 someones.  The more you talk about your goal the more likely you are to stay on track with it.  It helps tremendously to have accountability to someone else who will be checking on your progress.

*Make a plan.  Break your goal down into small measurable sections.  What will you do to work on it this week?  What will you do each day to move toward the weekly accomplishment? I love this saying, “Little by little, a little bit makes a lot!”

*Set a deadline.  Once you have decided when you want to have your goal accomplished, write it in the same place your goal is.

*Pick a reward for your goal.  Our brains are very trainable.  When they associate a reward with the accomplishment of a goal they become much more helpful in our achieving it.

*Act on your goal.  Be diligent.  Read and research where you need to for optimum success.  The more you learn about what you are doing the more successful you will be.  Be disciplined in pursuing your goal.  Remember that motivation comes and goes but discipline is what keeps us moving forward.

*Take a break.  Don’t burn yourself out.  Work on your goal for 6 days and then take a day off.  Let you brain breathe.  Do something relaxing and invigorating.  This allows us to come back to the goal with fresh eyes and an ability to see where we need to make adjustments.

*Partner with God:  This is perhaps the most important step.  I believe in a God who loves me passionately and wants to see me have success in my life, not just in my spiritual pursuits but in every good and worthy cause.  Not only does He want to see me succeed but He wants to help me.  If I have a goal in mind and I make Him my partner He can give me strength beyond my own endurance, inspiration when I draw a blank, and ideas when I need adjustments.  If I can’t come up with a goal, I am well aware of how much He absolutely loves the humble question, “Where do you think I need improvement in my life?”  My best and most successful goals have started with this question.

Soul Searching Question: What goal will you set today?

Song:

The Motions by Matthew West

Face to face with the author:

Joy Journey Day 3: Find Your Purpose

4 Now there are diversities of gifts but the same Spirit.

5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.

6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.

7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;

9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;

10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.

13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

14 For the body is not one member, but many.

Romans 8

28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Philippians 2

13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

Ephesians 2

10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

We are each given special gifts and talents from a loving Father in Heaven to enable us to bless the lives of His other children, those in our sphere of influence. All gifts are important in His kingdom. All help Him fulfill His purposes through us. Our gifts, talents, abilities and unique experiences enable us to serve Him well. When we are able to identify the special needs we are able to meet through these things we have been given, that is called our purpose. Each of us has one. Each of us is accountable for what we do with it. And so… we need to discover and pursue it.

Besides understanding that God has a purpose in mind for us and that we are accountable to Him for, why else is it important for us to discover our purpose? Having a purpose allows us to fully discover joy. The better we live that purpose the more joyful our lives will be. Living our purpose is our unique way to connect with and give back to the world around us. It has been proven that those who find a sense of meaning in life are more productive and less likely to be depressed.

Mark Twain said, “The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.”

So, how do we figure out what our purpose is? Finding your purpose is a journey. You will not be able to sit down in a day and iron it all out. But there are some exercises you can do to start seeking it out.

The very first thing I would do is go to the Lord and tell Him you earnestly want to know what your purpose is. That you want to know in what way He wants you to make a difference in the lives of His other children.

The next thing I would suggest is some introspection. Start asking yourself questions. I would encourage you to actually write the questions down and give them some thoughtful consideration and then start writing out your answers. You will most likely find that as you write, more thoughts will come to you. Here are a few questions to get you started.

What comes naturally to me?

What am I doing when I feel the greatest joy in my life?

What do others tell me I do well?

What am I often asked to help with?

What makes me feel fulfilled, excited, and inspired?

What makes me feel alive?

What am I passionate about?

What difference do I want to make in the world or the community around me?

Another exercise you can do was developed by Chris and Janet Attwood. It is called a Passion test. Write down this statement and then feel in the blank with a verb. When my life is ideal, I am _________. Do this 15 times. Then look for similarities in the actions you are doing when you feel joy. Then compare the statements against each other and come up with your top 5 list.

After you have some ideas and maybe a list of things you feel would qualify as your purpose, take those things to the Lord. He will be able to help you sort through them and give you more thoughts and feelings to fine tune your journey. This may be quick or it may take a long time. He may need some more time to prepare you for what He has in store for you. I have found that most of the time my answers from the Spirit come one little piece at a time. But I can tell whether or not I am on track by the amount of joy I am feeling.

Another thing to remember is that there is a time and a season for everything under heaven. I know that my purpose 10 years ago when I was in the thick of raising my children is a little different than what I feel compelled to do now. Yet, when I look back over that time I can see how I was being prepared for the broader purpose that I feel now.

In the spring of 2017 I was listening to a religious talk by one of my favorite speakers. The topic was becoming who you are born to be. I listened to it 3 times because I my thoughts kept running away from me as I listened. Every time I listened new information came to my mind and heart. I felt inspired with ideas of needing to pursue different goals than I had been working on. I started feeling called to something bigger and more far reaching than I had currently been involved in. At that point I started a journey of finding my purpose and understanding what God wanted me to do. The more I pondered and prayed about it the more ideas would come to me. Then I received some very concrete answers… and they terrified me! How was it possible to do all that was being asked of me? I remember one morning feeling completely overwhelmed and crying as I prayed asking how God could expect me to do all this when I didn’t even know where to start. I received the sweetest comfort and a very clear answer that I didn’t need to know how. He was preparing me and He would show me the path one step at a time and that He would also show me the when. I am here to tell you that my journey is not over, but I have been shown very clearly each step along the way. The more emphasis I put on my “why” the more doors He has opened to the “how”.

Our Father in Heaven loves us so much! He wants us to have joy in this life. The greatest joy comes from understanding what our purpose here is and working to fulfill that. He will help you get your why if you open the first door by asking Him to help you discover your purpose. Then He will open the path to your how one door at a time. Start by asking some questions. But begin by partnering with God.

Soul Searching Question: What is your purpose?

Song: Gracefully Broken by Matt Redman

Face to face with the author:

Day 12: He Restores Vision

John 9:

1 And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.

2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?
3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.
4 I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.
6 When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay,
7 And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.

39 ¶ And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.

When I went blind in my right eye 8 years ago, stories about Jesus healing the blind really began to resonate with me.  I understood the fear and the yearning that comes with this particular impairment.  One of the wonderful things I learned from this trial  is how much more I appreciate Spiritual vision and alertness.  Having a loss like this and feeling a great need to turn to the Lord for help brought so much depth and fulfillment to my life that I didn’t even realize I had been missing.  As much as I would love to have my full vision restored to me, I would not trade it for the Spiritual sight I gained!

Though many may never struggle with the trial of losing physical vision, I think we all from time to time lose our spiritual vision.  It is so important for us to be doing the primary things to seek a personal relationship with the Lord so that He can keep our vision healthy and clear.  It is so important that we spend regular time seeking increased learning and growth.  Through these efforts He can teach us and guide us even when we sometimes walk in the dark.

Song:

Open the Eyes of My Heart

Talk:

For I Was Blind but Now I See

http://www.lds.org/general-conference/1999/04/for-i-was-blind-but-now-i-see?lang=eng

Thought by Mathias Held:

“In addition to our rational minds, another dimension to gaining knowledge can give us guidance and understanding. It is the still and soft voice of His Holy Spirit speaking to our hearts and also to our minds.
I like to compare this principle with our visual capacity. Our Father in Heaven has given us not only one but two physical eyes. We can see adequately with only one eye, but the second eye provides us with another perspective. When both perspectives are put together in our brains, they produce a three-dimensional image of our surroundings.
Likewise, we have been given two sources of information, through our physical and spiritual capacities. Our mind produces one perception through our physical senses and through our reasoning. But through the gift of the Holy Ghost, the Father has also provided us with a second perspective, which is really the most important and true one because it comes directly from Him. But since the whisperings of the Spirit are often so subtle, many people are not consciously aware of that additional source.
When these two perspectives are then combined in our souls, one complete picture shows the reality of things as they truly are. In fact, through the additional perspective of the Holy Ghost, certain “realities,” as pictured exclusively through our mental understanding, can be exposed as deceiving or plainly wrong. Remember the words of Moroni: “By the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.”
In my 31 years as a member of the Church, I have experienced many times that if we rely only on our rational mind and deny or neglect the spiritual understanding we can receive through the whisperings and impressions of the Holy Ghost, it is as if we were going through life with only one eye. But figurately speaking, we have actually been given two eyes. Only the combination of both views can give us the true and complete picture of all truths and of everything we experience in our lives, as well as of the whole and profound understanding of our identity and purpose as children of a living Heavenly Father.

Soul Searching Question:

How can you choose to see the Savior’s hand more clearly in your life?  Where can you increase your investment of time or energy to help your vision become more clear?