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Goals: A Pathway to Excellence

January 6, 2014

Writer: Caleb Trujillo

"When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported back, the rate of improvement accelerates."
—President Thomas S. Monson

Go ahead and fill in the blank. "This is the year I finally..."

Chances are you have already considered this statement and created a new set of goals to achieve for 2014. Whether we are determined to lose some extra weight, run a marathon, write a book, receive a promotion, reconnect with friends and family, or increase our spiritual capacity, we all could benefit from some simple goal-setting council.

In Preach My Gospel, the manual that our missionaries use for daily preparation, Elder M. Russell Ballard shares, "I am so thoroughly convinced that if we don't set goals in our life and learn how to master the techniques of living to reach our goals, we can reach a ripe old age and look back on our life only to see that we reached but a small part of our full potential. When one learns to master the principles of setting a goal, he will then be able to make a great difference in the results he attains in this life."

Maybe you haven't even set a goal yet. All is not lost! Take the time to sit down and think of what you'd like to accomplish this year. Perhaps you have some long term goals. What can you do this year to lead to greater happiness in the future? Just the simple act of having a goal is the first step.

In Lewis Carroll's novel, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Alice, having no idea where she is going, asks the Cheshire Cat for directions. Their conversation looks a little something like this:

"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?" said Alice.

"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.

"I don't much care where—," said Alice.

"Then it doesn't matter which way you go," said the Cat.

"—so long as I get somewhere," Alice added as an explanation.

"Oh, you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."

Do you know where you want to go with your life? Well, you certainly have an idea if you are a part of Pathway. But what more are you doing to reach your dream?

SMART goals are: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound.

Once you have an idea of your selected goals, an absolutely crucial step for success is to write the goals down! Writing down your goals makes it ten times more likely that you will achieve them. When feeling down, disheartened, or doubtful, you then will have those goals to refer back to for needed inspiration. Make sure to place these goals in a place where you will regularly see them. A weekly review or glance at your list will also help you keep those objectives fresh in your mind.

When setting goals, make sure that they are SMART. This is an acronym you can use to measure the strength of your goals. Let's take an example of a simple goal and run it through the SMART setup.

"I want to be better at reading my scriptures."

While this goal is fueled by righteous intentions, there is still more we can do to make it productive and personally unique. SMART goals are:

Specific

Measureable

Attainable

Relevant

Time-bound

So, let's make a few changes to our goal. It could look something like the following:

"I want to read the Book of Mormon and the New Testament by October 1."

With this structure we have an attainable, definite timeline of when we can accomplish our goal. We are not left to gauge our success based on a vague and immeasurable statement. We could even gauge how well we've been doing come April or May.

Another tip to help you achieve your goals is to share them with others. By informing friends and loved ones of what you wish to accomplish, you become more invested in reaching your goal. These people can help encourage you when you are feeling uninspired. They can routinely check up on you to see how you are progressing. President Thomas S. Monson has shared, "When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported back, the rate of improvement accelerates."  

Your goals can take on many different forms. They do not have to all be spiritually-centered, nor must they all relate to physical or mental performance. A good mix of spiritual, educational, physical, and social goals is a great way to ensure you have a well-balanced progression for 2014. It is also good to set both long-term and short term-goals. Ask yourself, "Where do I want to be in ten years?" Short-term goals are easier to create and accomplish if they lead to a long-term objective.

"Goals reflect the desires of our hearts and our vision of what we can accomplish. Through goals and plans, our hopes are transformed into action. Goal setting and planning are acts of faith."
Preach My Gospel

One of the greatest enemies to the completion of our goals is procrastination. We have all felt the effects of this time thief in one form or another. There are many books, studies, and websites loaded with information to help combat this problem. The best way to fight against procrastination is by identifying when you are procrastinating and acting quickly to accomplish something related to your goal. You can create To-Do lists, use a planner, or give yourself mini-rewards to help you stay on track. You could even have a personal and unique plan of action to follow whenever you find yourself lulled into not being productive.

Whatever your goals are for this new year, we hope that you can stay focused and happy while achieving what you set out to accomplish. We are thrilled that you have made Pathway a part of your plans. Please know that many resources are available to help you in your educational journey, ranging from Pathway advisors and classmates to the scriptures and prayer. May 2014 be a memorable and exciting year for you!