Do you remember when you first learned how to ride a bike? I started with training wheels that both touched the ground. After I had mastered that, my dad changed the training wheels so that I would use one side and then the other. When I had accomplished that, my dad would hold the back of the bike and run with me, eventually letting go and I would go a little farther before crashing. Finally one day he let go, and I kept on going. I didn’t learn to ride a bike in one day. It was a long and gradual process, but eventually I mastered the skill.
Goals or changes in our lives are a lot like learning to ride a bike. It is not easy to master a new skill or to replace a bad habit with an old one. Usually we need to sit down and make a plan. As we master the baby steps in our plan, and advance to the next and then the next, we find that we have achieved our goal and mastered a new skill.
As members of the church, we know that there is always something else that we can do to draw even closer to Christ. In fact sometimes, it can be downright overwhelming. It is important to remember that we don’t have to master every skill at the same time. At the beginning of each year, I sit down and write down several goals that I would like to achieve. Periodically throughout the year I will take some time to see how I am coming on achieving my goals. My goals have varied from exercising on a regular basis to increasing the time I spend reading to my children to finding ways to make my scripture study more meaningful. I have realized that the goals I achieve are the ones that I have broken down into tiny steps.
As you sit down and decide to change a habit or begin a new one, you should formulate a plan. I found the best way to start the process is with prayer. After you pray, decide on one or two things you want to work on. Write them down. The next step is to form a plan to achieve that goal. If your goal is to begin studying the scriptures on a regular basis, you should pick your method of study and then decide the time that you are going to study. Decide on ways to avoid the distractions that will creep up as you try to study. Then do it. Reward yourself for reading for a week, and then a month and so on, until it becomes a habit.
As you plan remember to make the goals achievable. If you want to lose weight, don’t expect to lose it all in one month. You should also remember limitations and weaknesses you have. I won’t get up early to exercise. I found that when that was my plan, I never achieved it. But when I planned to exercise during my daughter’s nap, I did every day. Don’t set up obstacles in your own path by planning it for times that simply won’t work for you. If you need someone else to be accountable to, talk to your spouse or a friend and check in with them on a regular basis.
As you work on your goals remember that you can ask Heavenly Father for help. Tell him about what you are doing, why you want to do it, and ask for His help to overcome any difficulties that you may be having. He will help you achieve your righteous goals and desires. As you take the time to plan out your goals, and to master each step along the way, I know you will be able to achieve the goals that you have set for yourself.
This can also be applied to goals that you want to work on in your marriage or as a family. As you plan these types of goals, it is important to include all members of your family in the planning process. Your family is more likely to change if they helped to plan the process, and fully understand why you want to change.
It doesn’t need to be the beginning of the year to set goals. After you achieve goals, it is always a good idea to set more. If you continue to focus on improving yourself, a small habit at a time, you will be surprised at what you can achieve. What have you done to help yourself achieve your goals?