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We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Decisions and Goals

                My regular readers probably realized weeks and possibly months ago that I do write very often about the current political happenings.  I just cannot seem to get interested in whether or not Hilary Clinton lied to Congress in her most recent appearance before Congress.  I am to the point of “what difference does it make now?”  I wonder if she will have to answer to any charges even though crimes were committed – her email server for one.  We only have to look at the Department of Justice’s unwillingness to bring Lois Lerner to face the consequences of her using the IRS to get back at conservative people to know what would happen to Hilary.

                I would much rather spend my time and effort in improving myself and sharing some of what I am learning with my readers.  I found our lesson on making decisions and setting goals to be very interesting even though much of the basic information was not new to me.

                The entire lesson was based on this scripture from the Doctrine and Covenants 9:7-9:  “Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me.  But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.  But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong….”

                The Lord spoke to Oliver Cowdery in this scripture and gave him the pattern for making decisions:  (1) evaluate all the facts available on both sides of an issue; (2) make a decision; (3) ask God if it is the right decision.  Then the Lord gave directions on how to receive personal revelation:  If the answer is yes, one will receive a warm feeling – “burning in the bosom;” if the answer is wrong, one will receive a “stupor of thought” or forget it.

                Our instructors gave us some wonderful articles to read while learning more about making decisions.  President James E. Faust reminded us that we face many choices every day.  Some of those decisions are important and some are not; some choices are between two good choices or opportunities; many choices are between good and evil.  He reminded us that our choices have consequences; even if we choose to not make a decision, we have already decided not to choose and may lose a great opportunity.  He stated that we can make good choices, choices that we can live with, grow, and prosper – IF we learn to ask God for divine guidance – and that the best way to learn from experience is to learn from the experiences of others.  He reminded us that if we make a wrong decision, in most cases we can repent and get back on track by (1) recognizing our error, (2) forsaking the wrongful conduct, (4) never repeating it, and (4) confessing and making restitution.  His last reminder is that we do not use our God-given agency wisely if we use it in opposition to God’s will or to priesthood counsel.  Tomorrow’s blessings and opportunities depend on today’s choices.

                President Thomas S. Monson spoke about “The Three Rs of Choice.”  The three Rs of choice are the (1) Right of Choice, (2) Responsibility of Choice, and (3) Results of Choice.  Since we were all given the gift of agency – the right to choose – in our premortal life, we have the Right of Choice here on earth.  In that life we chose to follow the Savior.  We will always have the right to choose no matter the circumstance.  Even in the worst of circumstances, we still have the right to choose how we will let the experience affect us.

                President Monson reminded us that there is no neutral ground in the battle between good and evil.  There is a very thin line separating Satan’s territory from that of God.  We cannot straddle the line or safely take detours into Satan’s territory.  Heavenly Father has however given us some tools to use:  prayer, scripture study, and the Holy Ghost.  Satan also uses tools; he will cause us to be angry, pacify us telling us that everything is okay, or use flattery.

                Using Alice in Wonderland to illustrate his point, President Monson told the experience of Alice asking the Cheshire Cat, “Which path shall I follow?”  The Cheshire Cat replied, “That depends where you want to go.  If you do not know where you want to go, it doesn’t matter which path you take.”  When we know that we want to return to the presence of God and live with Him for eternity, we know the path we should follow.  The Savior showed the way and gave us the commandments to help us follow Him.  President Monson closed by reminding us that our decisions will determine our destiny.

                As for setting goals, Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles told us to first set our priorities and then set short-term goals that support those priorities.  “Set goals that are well balanced – not too many nor too few, and not too high nor too low.  Write down your attainable goals and work on them according to their importance.  Pray for divine guidance in your goal setting.” 

                Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles used his experience of playing football to tell us that we must keep our eyes on the ball, meaning that we have to keep our eyes on our goals if we really want to reach them.  In a different talk Elder Wirthlin suggested that we can have a joy filled life by making “Three Choices.”  Those choices are:  (1) Choose to Repent, (2) Choose Your Priorities, and (3) Choose the Right.  He explained that we cannot live in the past and must not let our past affect our present and future; we can repent and move forward.  We can choose our priorities for each day by writing down the three most important tasks we have each day and working on them in the order of their importance.  Even if we do not accomplish all of them, we will have worked on the most important ones.  Even though we choose to repent and choose our priorities and make good decisions, our lives will still be empty if we do not choose the right.  The right is found in the scriptures and the words of the living prophets.

                Our lesson included instructions on making S.M.A.R.T. goals.  According to Roger D. Duncan and Ed J. Pinegar in their book Leadership for Saints (2002, 94-95):  The best goals are smart goals […] SMART stands for the five characteristics of well-designed goals […] Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound.”

                Our lesson material then defined those five words:  Specific:  What will be the specific result of your goal?  What are the specific steps needed to achieve it?  Does the goal sound too vague or too general in any way?  Measurable:  Do you have a way to measure your progress?  When will you review progress?  Attainable:  Will you be able to achieve (attain) this goal?  What are the reasons you believe you can accomplish this goal?  Have you spoken to people that have achieved the same or similar goals?  Relevant:  Does this goal fit in with your larger life goals and your eternal purpose?  Time-bound:  Do you have a specific date this goal should be achieved by?  Is there a time-frame that you will work in to accomplish this goal?

                Our application activity was to set a SMART goal and make sure it is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.  In addition, our goal was to be done in a week’s time.  After much pondering and prayer, I decided that my SMART goal would be to set up an organizational system for the paperwork for my two classes.  I am partially completed my goal and am already reaping great benefits from it.  I also shared what I learned with my friend, and she too is benefitting from making SMART goals.

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