We are once again at the end of an old year and the beginning of a new year – a perfect time to set goals and begin anew. Like many other people, I use the New Year to make resolutions or to set goals. I like to use the word "goals" rather than "resolutions" because it means more to me. When we make goals, we plan our lives and make decisions about what we want to accomplish by a certain date. Many people wander through life without knowing where they are going - much less having any idea of how to get there. These people may work very hard but not get any where because they are not working towards any specific goals.
A goal is much like a road map or GPS. Would you consider leaving your home on a journey into the unknown without knowing where you want to go or how to get there? Going through life without setting goals is like driving in unknown areas without a GPS. A road map or GPS can show us where we are and how we can get where we want to be. Goals do the same thing.
When we take the time to think about what we are doing at the present time and what we want to be doing in the future, we began to take control of our lives. I wrote about setting goals and eternal goals last year. Many of the following ideas about setting and achieving goals in general came from this site.
Goals help us to reach our desired destination. They motivate us in the present time and give us a vision toward which we can work. They keep us moving and make our vision a reality. Goals help us to concentrate our efforts and help us organize our time and resources for our best good. We can measure our progress with clearly defined goals and recognize our ability to achieve what we want. Setting goals applies to every area of our lives - career, financial, education, family, talents, sports, public service, etc.
Here are some simple rules for setting goals: 1) See the "big picture." Decide where and what we want to be at a given time. 2) Break the big goals into medium goals and the medium goals into smaller goals. Where do you want to be at the end of your life, at retirement, ten years from now, five years from now, one year from now, six months from now, one month from now, this week, or the end of today? 3) Work toward reaching the small goals and you will be moving towards the medium and larger goals also. Plan your work and then work your plan. 4) Make SMART goals: S (specific or significant) M (measurable or meaningful) A (attainable) R (relevant) T (trackable). 5) Review your plans and make needed adjustments.
Tips for setting goals are: “1) State each goal as a positive statement: Express your goals positively. "Execute this technique well" is a much better goal than "Don't make this stupid mistake." 2) Be precise: Set precise goals, putting in dates, times and amounts so that you can measure achievement. If you do this, you'll know exactly when you have achieved the goal, and you can take complete satisfaction from having achieved it. 3) Set priorities: When you have several goals, give each a priority. This helps you to avoid feeling overwhelmed by having too many goals, and helps to direct your attention to the most important ones. 4) Write goals down: This crystallizes them and gives them more force. 5) Keep operational goals small: Keep the low-level goals that you're working towards small and achievable. If a goal is too large, then it can seem that you are not making progress towards it. Keeping goals small and incremental gives more opportunities for reward. 6) Set performance goals, not outcome goals: You should take care to set goals over which you have as much control as possible. It can be quite dispiriting to fail to achieve a personal goal for reasons beyond your control! … If you base your goals on personal performance, then you can keep control over the achievement of your goals, and draw satisfaction from them. 7) Set realistic goals: It's important to set goals that you can achieve.”
Tips for achieving goals are: “1) When you've achieved a goal, take the time to enjoy the satisfaction of having done so…. 2) If the goal was a significant one, reward yourself appropriately and build the self-confidence you deserve. 3) Having achieved this goal, review the rest of your goals: If you achieved the goal too easily, make your next goal harder. If the goal took a dispiriting length of time to achieve, make the next goal a little easier. If you learned something that would lead you to change other goals, do so. If you noticed a deficit in your skills despite achieving the goal, decide whether to set goals to fix this. Feed lessons learned back into your goal setting. Remember that goals will change as time goes on. Adjust them regularly to reflect growth in your knowledge and experience. Have the courage to let them go if they are no longer attractive to you.”
The most important goal we can set is for where we want to spend eternity. Everyone who wants to achieve exaltation or eternal life in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom must achieve the following: 1) Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; 2) Repentance; 3) Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; 4) Receive the gift of the Holy Ghost; 5) Marriage in the temple for eternity; 6) Keep the commandments; 7) Endure to the end of mortal life.
Some of these requirements are usually needed only once. Most people need to be baptized, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and be married in the temple for eternity only one time. Once we have accomplished these three goals, we can keep them bright and shiny by working on the other four goals: faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, keeping the commandments, and enduring to the end of our lives.
We can keep our faith in Jesus Christ strong and growing by exercising it regularly: praying daily, studying the scriptures daily, attending our church meetings weekly, worthily maintaining a current temple recommend, and attending the temple regularly (weekly or monthly if possible).
We use the principle of repentance to keep our lives clean and worthy of entering God's presence. We do this by repenting daily to keep our mistakes and sins small and by knowing when the Holy Ghost is with us.
We must strive to keep every commandment. We can reach a state of perfection in keeping some of the commandments – such as paying tithing and being morally clean – but we will not reach perfection in all of them in this life. In order to keep the commandments, we must set goals for each of them. For example, in order to pay our tithes and offerings honestly, we can set the goal of paying our tithing first - before spending any income, paying a generous fast offering, and attending tithing settlement.
The last requirement for exaltation is to endure to the end and to do it well. We must keep the faith and not give up because the goal is difficult. We must turn a deaf ear to the whisperings of Satan and not let him convince us that eternal life is not attainable for us.
I know that exaltation is attainable for each of Heavenly Father's children because God's job is to bring each of His children back into His presence. God told Moses, "For behold, this is my work and my glory - to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" (Pearl of Great Price, Moses 1:39).
This scripture names two parts to God's work - to bring to pass immortality and to bring to pass eternal life. The words immortality and eternal life do not refer to the same thing. Immortality is a state of being resurrected, of being free from physical death. This blessing will come to all people. Eternal life is living with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in the celestial kingdom and being like Them. This blessing - which is also called exaltation - comes only to those who keep the commandments and make the necessary covenants.
I know that we all have the potential to reach exaltation because Jesus Christ made it possible through His atoning sacrifice. I also know that the best way to reach exaltation is to set it as a goal and then work towards reaching it. I encourage you to join me in working towards the goal of exaltation and eternal life with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.