Get on the learning train
We’ve discussed before the need to quit life on autopilot and live life intentionally. Refusing to break out of the same old routines will keep your life in that same old routine. To have something you never had, you have to do something you never did.
That’s where learning a new skill can help you live your best life. Doing something new intentionally breaks you out of the same old routine. You’re reaching for a new experience you can use to help make a new life — your best life!
As we’ve already mentioned, to have your best life, you need other people. When you learn something new, you have something you can use to involve those other people in your life and influence them to decide in your favor.
Imagine two people, one who’s content with staying the same and another who’s busy learning a new skill. Who do you want to get to know more about? Certainly not the one content with staying the same. That person will just influence you to stay the same, and that means not living your best life. However, the one busy learning a new skill offers hope that life can be better than what it has been, that the changes you want to have your best life are possible.
Including learning something new in your conversations with other people will not only give you something interesting to talk about but also makes you more interesting to others, enabling you to forge more effective connections with them that will influence them to decide in your favor. Learning something new in a class environment can also be the means for meeting the new people you need to have your best life.
Select your skill
What new skill should you learn? With no limit on what you could choose, the options are endless. But the best skill you can learn is always the one you need to learn right now.
This is where partnering with the Lord comes in. He can help you understand what you should do. We’ve discussed before how the Lord is anxious to assist us as we journey towards our best life.
That said, He may see wisdom in letting you decide for yourself. In that event, just follow your heart. What have you always wanted to do? Perhaps it’s to play a musical instrument. Or maybe you want to speak a foreign language. Maybe you want to have more confidence in conversations. Perhaps you’d like to learn how to cook something new. Or maybe it’s to draw or swim or sew. Select something you want to try and go for it!
Get after it now
Once you’ve made your choice, don’t delay! Start today! Start right now to do something that will move you in that direction of learning your new skill.
Starting now, even if your action is minuscule, sets you up for success. Results come from one thing and one thing only — action. So when you delay taking action, you delay receiving results. The more you do that, the easier it gets to delay more and more.
But when you take action, no matter how small, you set yourself on the path of action. That makes it easier for you to take more action. The more you do that, the easier it gets to take more and more action, until at last you have your results.
So don’t wait. Try something new today. You’ll get out of life on autopilot and embrace the enthusiasm and vigor from living with intention. You’ll be better able to influence for good other people in your life as well as to bring into your life those others who you need for your best life. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Take a lesson from a farmer
Many don’t believe that. They assume life is the collection of circumstances outside their control. But that’s why many people aren’t all that happy.
Your focus determines your reality. Because you can choose what you focus on, you can choose your reality. True, most don’t choose their circumstances, but that never stopped anyone who lived joyfully from living joyfully. These people lived their best life because they made different choices with the same circumstances.
Some of us should take a lesson from a farmer. Farmers don’t choose their circumstances. They have the soil and the water that’s available. Their seeds for planting are whatever they are. The weather will be whatever it will be. So much of what’s needful for the harvest is outside their control. Yet with hard work in what they can control, they produce bountiful harvests year after year.
In like manner, we haven’t chosen many of the circumstances of our lives. What we have is what we have, and it’s often all we have. But if we work hard in what we can control, we can produce harvests of truly joyful living year after year. This is what I call your best life.
Embrace what you control
I can hear many of you now. What exactly can we control? Here’s my answer: Standards, attitude, approach.
It starts with standards. You’ll never design your best life without knowing what’s acceptable and what’s not. The best delineations between what you’ll tolerate and what you won’t are made after partnering with the Lord to get good with you. Once you know and accept who you really are and what your personal ministry should be, you can best draw that line between what you’ll accept in your life and what you won’t. The more clear you make that definition, the more able you’ll be to live the life you intend.
Once you know exactly what you want, you need resolve to do whatever it takes to get it (within the realm of covenant living, of course). You need the attitude of the victor and not the victim. That attitude will fire your imagination to design a life you’ll truly enjoy and pull you through to that fulfilling end when the road there gets tough.
Of course, attitude without action will never bring you achievement. To live a life you design, you must take action. Working smart as well as working hard requires attention to one’s approach. Too often we think what we seek must come in one specific way. But much of life is not path-dependent; there’s often more than one road leading to the top of the mountain. And sometimes the road that’s best for us to travel is not the one we expect.
Get clear and get going
With these three elements in place — standards, attitude, and approach — you can decide what you want your life to be and feel the joy that comes from working to make it happen. Usually that means taking small steps every single day to inch yourself closer to the life you dream.
That’s where many of us fall short. We don’t do the little things everyday that can near us to our best life. Then, after a larger block of time has passed, we can’t help but notice we’re left standing on the pier because our ship has long since sailed.
That’s where being clear about your standards, attitude, and approach holds its best value. Once you’re crystal clear on those elements, what you need to do everyday will be obvious. Performing those seemingly small and insignificant actions everyday will collect to create the very significant life you design for yourself.
So what are you waiting for? Get clear, and then get going. None of this happens overnight. But as you move closer to the life you design for yourself, you’ll feel the joy that comes from making progress. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Put your pieces together
As I reflect back on my life, I can’t accurately pinpoint any one trigger that brought me a phenomenal attitude. The change seems more a process than an event. That said, I can identify some key elements in my transformation.
Without question, developing a more solid relationship with God has been pivotal. You can’t have true joy in your life if you’re not good with you, which means you must know who you are. And that requires knowing who your Heavenly Father is.
When you come to understand who you really are as His child, you’ll realize your power to choose your reality. We do that when we select our thoughts, our self-talk, and our focus, because these produce our reality. When I realized how these elements worked in me, I felt empowered to take control. I could stop settling for mediocrity and start insisting on phenomenal.
Get some attitude
That’s when a new attitude emerged within me. I’ll no longer settle for anything less than a phenomenal life. I won’t settle for giving anything less than my absolute best. No longer will I accept failure or unhappiness or anything less than my best as my normal, and I’ll never give up on myself ever again.
I want phenomenal success. I want phenomenal fulfillment, phenomenal results, and phenomenal relationships. I want phenomenal for myself!
I can’t settle for anything less, because that’s giving up, and giving up is just plain flat out wrong. God gave me my gifts and talents not only to better myself but to better the world. When I refuse to let my light shine, others won’t have the improvement they might have had in their lives.
That’s why I insist on phenomenal in my life. It’s not about me. Giving up on myself and failing to achieve my potential means giving up on those who stand to benefit from that achievement. But when I strive to move closer towards my greatness, I automatically provide positive influence to everyone around me.
And so I can’t accept mediocrity. I’ll never be perfect, I’ll always fall flat on my face, but to quit trying to live my purpose, to fulfill my personal ministry, and to achieve greatness in my life is unacceptable. There are just too many people who would suffer, most of whom I’ve never met and likely never will. But it’s because of them I can’t accept anything less than my absolute best as my normal. I will never settle for anything other than phenomenal.
Make it happen
I have only one life to live. This is it for me. I’ll never get another opportunity to live this life. God gave my unique combination of gifts, opportunities, and personality to me and me only. So this is it. It’s do or die, greatness or bust, phenomenal or nothing. I must make it happen.
And that’s another key element in my transformation. The day I realized my life wouldn’t improve until I owned it was life changing. All the energy I’d wasted wishing my circumstances were better I should have spent wishing I were better. Instead of wishing for less problems, I should have wished for more skills. Instead of wishing the result I wanted would just come to me, I should have been working to make it happen.
Of course, I struggle where everyone else struggles — with the natural man. We’re all our own worst enemy. But working hard is the cost of entry to anything worthwhile. And so I put my shoulder to this wheel because I know people’s lives will suffer if I stop.
The best part is I’m not the only one. What’s possible for me is possible for you. If you want this transformation for you, you can have it. Embrace true foundational principles, do the work you need to do, and you’ll improve your life. And when you truly surrender yourself to that process, you too will have phenomenal. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Sister Craven begins by describing a sign she once saw advertising happiness for only $15. Of course, the sign was deceptive. The trinkets and souvenirs offered in exchange for that $15 could never bring the true happiness each of us yearns to have.
Sister Craven’s experience describes how many of us are similarly deceived. A casual approach to spirituality may seem inviting and even appropriate. But only by being careful with our covenants and obeying them with exactness can we hope to yield the true joy we seek.
Sister Craven explains,
What a magnificent insight! Sister Craven continues,
The amount of joy we receive from covenant living is in direct proportion to the care and attention we give in living those covenants with exactness. We can unleash true power in our spiritual lives when we reject a casual approach for a careful one.
I remember on my mission hearing my leaders advocate obedience with exactness. What fascinated me as I heard Sister Craven repeat that idea was the thought of expanding that attention to every aspect of our lives. If being careful with our spiritual lives can yield great power, how much more power would being that careful with every aspect of our lives bring?
What would happen if we were just as careful with those who matter most to us? Think for a minute about the people who mean the most to you. Of course, others will always have their own agency, but how much more enjoyable would those relationships be if we exercised great care in the details of those relationships?
And what would happen if we exercised great care with our mind? If we were more insistent on having certain standards for the books we read, the music we listen to, the movies we watch, and the other forms of media that we consume, how much more pure, powerful joy would sweep into our lives? What if we were more careful with improving ourselves — taking a class, learning a new skill, or improving some aspect of our character? What increase in joy would come from that?
How much more power could we procure if we were truly careful with our body? Too many of us are quite casual when it comes to diet and exercise. Too many of us aren’t very careful with personal finances. Too many of us take a casual approach to our careers by allowing the here and now demands of our job to overwhelm any notion of career direction. How much better would we feel about ourselves and our lives if we exercised greater care towards our body?
Act with order and diligence
If you stop to think about all this for a moment, you may conclude as I did. Exercising great care in any one area is work. When you extend that work to every area of your life, the task can quickly feel overwhelming.
The Apostle Paul counseled, “Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40). King Benjamin taught his people similarly. “And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order” (Mosiah 4:27).
In other words, we don’t need to be perfect today. But we do need to exercise care by doing something every day to move towards personal improvement. As we exchange our casual approaches to every aspect of life for more careful ones, we will reap a harvest of joy and power from the seeds we have sown daily. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
Elder Uchtdorf’s remarks are no exception. He begins by describing King Solomon’s trappings of worldly success — money, power, fame, prestige. But at the end of his life, King Solomon described his success as vanity. All his advantages weren’t enough to secure his happiness.
Many LDS singles experience something similar. Though they’ve many blessings surrounding them every day, because they focus excessively on the one blessing they lack, they too see life as vanity. They too wonder what really has worth when the blessings they want most continually seem out of reach.
Of course, it need not be that way. Life is wonderful and beautiful. And Elder Uchtdorf describes how we can capture that vision everyday when we believe, love, and do.
Everything starts with belief. That’s why faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the first principle of the gospel. If we don’t believe, we’ll never receive.
That’s because true belief always motivates to action. You wouldn’t flip a light switch in a room if you didn’t believe the lights would come on. Everything you do is based on a belief that some result connected with your action will occur or could occur.
Elder Uchtdorf agrees. He declared,
I remember a time in my life when I wanted all the trite sayings about having a happy life to be more than just words but something I felt and lived every day. I wanted more than just the same old superficiality, pretending the life I wanted was just around the corner. In short, I wanted real.
I think that point comes into the life of all LDS singles who are single when they thought they wouldn’t be. Whether through divorce or death or just not marrying, LDS singles hunger for real in their lives.
But do you believe — I mean, really believe — you can get it? Do you believe the miracle you want to happen can happen? That it will happen? Belief is always the first step. If you don’t believe, you’ll never receive.
The belief God will perform a miracle for you becomes easier when you feel His love for you. This is why the Prophet Joseph Smith taught one cannot have faith in Christ without a true understanding of God’s character. It’s through God’s love we best realize all of God’s attributes.
That’s because, when we feel God’s love for us, that love simultaneously communicates every other attribute describing God. When you feel God’s love for you, you know more than just that He loves you. You know He’s good because His love is good. You know He’s kind because His love is kind. You know He’s compassionate because His love is compassionate. You know He’s merciful because His love is merciful. You know He’s just because His love is just.
Elder Uchtdorf declared,
John the Beloved spoke truly when he wrote, “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love” (1 John 4:8). When you truly believe, you can reach out to Him and taste of His love.
Of course, love like faith prompts us to action. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that the man or woman “filled with the love of God is not content with blessing his [or her] family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race.” When we fully give ourselves to that effort, we can transcend any of life’s difficulties, including the challenges of LDS singles life.
That’s why I’ve long encouraged LDS singles to adopt a personal ministry. When we partner with the Lord, a personal ministry can increase our belief in God and the miraculous blessings He wants to give us as well as provide opportunity for us to love those we serve the way God loves them. And when we allow the love of God to motivate us in fulfilling our personal ministry, we can feel for them the way God feels for them and see them the way He sees them.
Elder Uchtdorf invites,
I add my testimony to that of Elder Uchtdorft that when we truly believe with all our hearts, love God and others with all our hearts, and do the right things for us with all our hearts, we will not just feel happy but be happy. And that will bring more joy in our journey.
Last week we discussed the importance of taking action to get the results we want in life. Often that means practicing small habits every day that lead to our desired results. When we stay consistent with those habits, eventually we achieve the results we want.
For example, if I want to learn to play the piano, I need a daily habit of piano practice. I need to dedicate a set amount of time every day to learning how to play.
Sometimes, however, the small daily habits needed for desired results are not so simple to envision. Many LDS singles wonder what habits will help them achieve the temple marriage they desire. Some may think the small daily habits they need revolve around finding the right person. Such an approach assumes people don’t need to improve upon themselves to attract the right person into their life.
And that’s why that approach rarely works. All of us have such imperfections that looking to improve ourselves is really the more effective approach. Instead of looking to find the one companion we want to take into our life, we need to be the one companion for the person we seek.
Make yourself more agreeable
Effective approaches often find root in fundamental principles. So how is being the one instead of looking for the one rooted in the fundamental principles of LDS dating? It all revolves around agreements.
Progress in your dating journey depends upon your ability to secure each agreement you need to move to the next stage of your journey. That means you need to be agreeable in someone’s view, because people aren’t going to agree to an unattractive prospect. That just isn’t agreeable.
If you focus your approach on finding the one, any improvement in your chances of securing the agreement you need will be marginal at best. But focusing your approach on becoming the one exponentially increases your probability of success because, when you work to become the one, you’re making yourself more agreeable
Take the next steps
That fundamentals-based approach begs this question: What must we do to make ourselves more agreeable? The answer will of course vary with the individual. We’re all so different in the totality of the dating prospect we represent that what we’re each missing to become more agreeable will also vary greatly.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t answers. Previously I’ve explored applications to the lives of LDS singles from Elder Larry Lawrence’s October 2015 Conference address on securing revelation through the Spirit. The Spirit can and will give us the next steps we need to improve ourselves and our lives. When we faithfully follow the instructions we receive, we are blessed with a better life and more instructions for making that better life even better.
Often those steps will be small. Elder Lawrence describes a single adult who asked after her next step and received the prompting to clean her room. That is a small step, but it also can bring about great results. Clearing the clutter in our local landscape can clear the clutter from our perspectives, helping us to feel less burdened and more capable of focusing on the work we need to accomplish. Whatever small step the Spirit prompts you to take, do it.
Secure the power of small
The success LDS singles desire in their dating efforts won’t likely come overnight. However, persisting every day in the small habits of making ourselves more agreeable dating prospects will over time transform us into more capable travelers in our dating journey. Small things give rise to great things.
This is the way the Lord works. “And out of small things proceedeth that which is great” (D&C 64:33). When we take the small steps that will help us become the one someone else wants, we become more agreeable to potential dating partners. And that means increased probability of securing that agreement we need to progress to the next stage in our dating journey.
Yes, finding the one is important. You can’t have the companion you want if the two of you never meet. But simply crossing paths with someone isn’t going to influence that person to make the agreement you need to progress to the next stage of your dating journey. Being a more attractive person will. And you’re likely to cross paths with many prospective companions as you get active in becoming the best version of you that you can be.
So don’t focus on finding the one. Rather focus on being the one. Your progress in becoming your best self will by itself invigorate you. At the same time, you’ll be making yourself more attractive. Giving your all to those right things for you will bring you happiness. And that will bring you more joy in your journey
Last week we discussed how to find your useful passions and get busy making other people’s lives better. Until you do, you’ll never see the results you want to see from adopting a personal ministry.
But that’s true in every arena of life. If you want results, you must take action. And isn’t that what we all really want? No matter where we are in life or what we’ve been through, at the end of the day we all want results.
How do we get results? Results come from one and only one thing: action. Too many of us are sitting on the sidelines waiting for God to act so we can receive results when in actuality God is waiting for us to act by using the agency and the talents He gave us to deliver our results to ourselves.
We must act. When we know what we want out of life, we need to get down on it and get busy going after it. Only then will we have our best life.
Most people do nothing to effect the change they want. When life throws them a curve — and life will always throw you a curve — most people complain. They complain about how unfair it is, how disadvantaged they are, or how luck doesn’t favor them. And the only thing they do in addition to complain is complain some more!
But where does that leave them? It leaves them at the station because they never got on the train; they never took action. And therefore, they didn’t get results. Results don’t come without action. So if you don’t take any action, you don’t get any results.
In addition, your focus determines your reality. That’s why people who constantly complain can never rid their lives of the misery and depression that prompts them to complain about how miserable and depressed they are. When you focus on the negative, your reality will be filled with negativity. The way to change your reality is to change your focus. To have a positive reality, take action to focus on the positive.
Change it up
Now, I can hear some of you saying, “Yeah, well, I took action and I didn’t get results.” Maybe you asked someone out and got rejected. Maybe you applied for a job you didn’t get. Maybe you tried to stick to a weight-loss diet and couldn’t resist eating that pizza. Whatever it was, you saw what you wanted, you took action to get it, and you fell flat on your face.
It’s true that if you don’t take action, you don’t get results. But perhaps it would be better to say if you don’t take any different action, you don’t get any different results. Your results are always consistent with the action you take. So when you want different results, you need to change it up and take different actions, ones consistent with the results you want.
Is your life the same as it was two years ago? If so, it’s because last year you didn’t do anything different than you did the year before. And next year will be just like last year unless you start doing something different. The next two, five, or even ten years of your life will be just like the last two, five, or ten years unless you start doing something different.
Look for the little things
And this is where most people get stuck. They know they need to do something different. They just don’t know what that something is.
Enter partnering with the Lord stage left. When you partner with the Lord, He’ll show you what you need to change. “And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things” (Moroni 10:5) — including the truth of the changes you need to make to move towards your best life.
In that effort, it’s best to look for the little things you need to change — the small habits you can practice every day that will move you in your desired direction. After all, the big wins we want in life are just collections of the little wins accumulated consistently over time.
When you know what little habits you need to adopt every day, get down on it and stick with it. Don’t wait for your blessings to appear magically. Know the results you want, determine the actions you need to take to get those results, and then get down on it. When you start to move in the direction of your goals and dreams, feeling that progress will invigorate you to do and be more. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Most people settle for mediocre lives. They become comfortable inside a status quo. That’s human nature — establish a habit and then stay inside that “safe zone.”
Yet that safety lies well beneath the potential we all have to accomplish extraordinary achievements. Greatness abounds in all of us because we’re all children of the greatest measure of greatness in the universe — our Heavenly Father.
Nevertheless, so many of us live every day beneath our potential it’s insane. Instead of contributing goodness to others, we wander within ourselves. Instead of spending time in service to others, we spend time in service to ourselves voraciously consuming content via the Internet, video games, movies, and other forms of entertainment. Instead of taking control of our lives, we simply react as the waves of life toss us to and fro.
Too many of us are just standing on the sidelines of life waiting for extraordinary blessings. That’s not the way life works. To have your best life, you must skip the sidelines and get in the game of making other people’s lives better.
Find your useful passions
We all have talents we can leverage to improve others’ lives, and very often using these talents elicits passion within us — a passion for excellence, a passion to contribute, a passion to serve, and a passion to be the best we can be.
That passion becomes useful when it drives you to use your talents to fulfill a personal ministry bringing goodness to others. Your useful passions can carry you beyond your troubles into a life of joy if you let them. By adopting a personal ministry, you can transcend the challenges of LDS singles life and live your best life.
How do you find your useful passions? Start by separating yourself from daily distractions to gain clarity of vision. The temple is great here, but you should also have somewhere in your home where you can reflect without distraction. Then look inside yourself and ask what you do the best with the least amount of effort. Those are your talents.
How can you use those talents to bring goodness into the lives of others? Which of those ways would you do even if it brought you no personal gain or benefit? Those are your useful passions. They will fuel you to carry out your personal ministry despite the obstacles in your way. And when life overwhelms, postponing your efforts, your useful passions will always bring you back to sit at the table of contribution.
Turn it on
Surely the Lord wants you to make your contribution — one only you can make. Only by following His example of making that unique contribution will you live your best life. When you partner with Him, the Lord will help you discover your useful passions. And once you know what you need to do, get busy. Don’t let others wait for the blessings they’ll receive because of your contribution of goodness.
Throughout his career, my father has supervised others. Often when inquiring after an undone task, he’s heard,“I haven’t got around to it yet.” In response, my father would obtain small wooden discs and write the letters T-O-I-T on them. Then whenever someone would tell him, “I haven’t got around to it yet,” my father would give that person one of his special wooden discs and say, “There’s your round ‘to-it.’ Now get to work!”
Once you’ve identified your personal ministry, turn it on and get to work. “We all have work,” the hymn teaches. “Let no one shirk. Put your shoulder to the wheel” (Hymns, #252). When you allow your useful passions to drive your personal ministry, you can more easily find your life by losing it (see Matthew 10:39).
Stay in the game
Of course, life has a way of distracting or sometimes outright knocking us off course, thereby obstructing our personal ministry and restricting our contribution. When that happens, we’ve got to get back in the game.
Life will always present challenges. That’s by design; it’s partly why we’re here. But if you know who you are, if you’ve identified your useful passions, and if you have a personal ministry, then keep on keeping on that road of service. Your contribution may not change the world, but it will mean the world to those whose lives you change for the better.
Don’t just sit on the sidelines of life waiting for your best life to come to you. Make your best life happen! Skip the sidelines and find your useful passions that can fuel your own personal ministry. When you lose yourself in that effort, you’ll find your best life, because you’ll become the best version of you that you can be. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
If you’re like most people, whatever New Years resolution you made hasn’t stuck with you. Or more accurately, you haven’t stuck with it. By now, most will have given up on the changes they resolved to make just two weeks prior. They’re just too comfortable with the same old same old.
When our sincere efforts to change fail, what can we say to ourselves that will encourage us to keep trying and at the same time allow us to maintain a level of integrity with ourselves? We can tell ourselves we haven’t succeeded yet. This statement recognizes we still have more to do — more we can do — while at the same time being truthful.
Of course, the most important word in that statement is yet. There’s magic in that word yet. It speaks of possibility and opportunity. It invites us to keep doing what we need to do for success to come to us. When we allow that word yet to motivate us to keep on keeping on, we unleash the power of yet in our lives.
Believe in possibility
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Your focus becomes your reality. When you focus on what you haven’t done, you embrace a reality of inability, one in which you become frustrated at your lack of progress. But when you focus on what you can do, then you embrace a reality of possibility, one in which action enables you to feel a sense of movement towards success.
That’s the magic behind the word yet. Yet invites us to focus on what we can do by reminding us of possibility and the opportunity we have each moment to try again. Only when we believe in possibility will we take the action needed to produce results that lead to success.
Conversely, when we disbelieve in possibility, when we believe the changes we want to make are impossible, then we give up on our dreams. We quit trying to go after them. We effectively give up on ourselves.
Be reasonable with yourself
We should never give up on ourselves. Nor should we demand too much too soon. Some things take time to realize. That’s why we asked in life just to make measurable progress in reasonable time.
That’s the key word: reasonable. We all have different talents and different backgrounds, so we all progress at different rates. What’s reasonable for one may not be reasonable for another. And yet (pun intended) too many of us spend too much time looking at others assuming that, because we haven’t made the progress in our lives others have made in theirs, we’re somehow deficient or defective.
Again, the word yet can work magic here. By reminding ourselves that we haven’t progressed as far as someone else yet, we give ourselves permission to believe in what can be. And that can provide hope that tomorrow can be different than today or yesterday.
We’re all different enough that no one-size-fits-all life plan will truly work for everyone. Why then do we cling to any one-size-fits-all life plan? Why can’t we embrace our own personalized life plan, one we create after partnering with the Lord? As long as we keep trying, the Lord will recognize our efforts, even though we haven’t progressed as far as we would like yet.
I’m still working on all the goals I established for myself two weeks ago. I’m making terrible progress. In fact, my effort is so pathetic I’m not even sure I cam claim to have made anything that could reasonably be labeled as progress.
But I’m not discouraged — not in the least. I know the power of yet. When I tell myself I haven’t achieved my goals yet, I remember that as long as I get back up every time I get knocked down or fall flat on my face or my butt, eventually I will succeed. As long as I keep trying, I know it’s OK I’m not yet where I want to be because I’m on my way there.
And that’s the power that yet can have in each of our lives. When we seize the opportunity we have every moment to begin again and continue towards our goals and dreams, we accept the invitation in the word yet to believe in possibility and do what we can. That movement will inspire us with hope and encouragement to keep on keeping on. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
You must believe
People make resolutions with the best of intentions. In fact, those good intentions drive us to create the resolution. We see something we want in our lives, or maybe something we want out of our lives, and we resolve to change.
But the road to hell is paved with good intentions, so good intentions alone are insufficient to achieve greatness. Good intentions reflect good desires, and as such they make a good start. But you must also believe in the change you want for yourself.
If you don't believe, you won't receive. Without believing that what you want for yourself is possible, you won't even try. You’ll quit before you start. And you’re guaranteed not to achieve anything if you don’t try.
But you must believe in more than possibility. You must believe what you want for yourself is probable. And you must believe in yourself and your ability to make what you want more probable. That’s of course easier to do when you partner with the Lord. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).
You must plan
Once you believe the attainment of your desires is not only possible but also probable, you must take action, starting with a plan. What steps will you take to achieve your desires?
How we achieve our goals may not happen exactly the way we envision. In fact, they very often don't. But a good plan provides concrete action you can take. It gives permission and direction to be busy doing. And that's essential, because results come from one thing and one thing only — action.
The best plans provide specific actions you can take. Clearly defined, simple tasks conform well to how the brain is hardwired. Our brains are hardwired not to think but to execute clear, simple instructions. When you break your plans down to that level, you align yourself with how you’re built. And that significantly improves your probability of success.
The best plans also consider environment. Your brain is hardwired to determine normal by assessing your surroundings. Let’s say you want to lose weight. If the people usually around you have some pounds to shed themselves, then your brain will think being at that weight is normal, and it will be harder for you to lose weight because most of us don't want to be abnormal; we want to fit in and belong to the group. You must also consider potential distractions in your environment. Again, if you want to lose weight, make sure your food stores don't contain anything that will work against you.
Finally, the best plans consider psychology. Many who are overweight use emotional eating to compensate for something they lack. They use the pleasures of eating to feed their emotional needs (pun intended). If you try to lose weight without addressing deeply seated psychological influences, it's more probable you won't succeed. Your plan must include healthy ways to address your emotional needs that can support you in achieving your goals.
You must act
With a good plan in place, the only thing left is to do. Results come from one thing and only one thing — action. Action plus attitude equals achievement.
Your past attempts ending in failure can provide lessons for success. A failed attempt doesn't mean you’re a failure; it just means your approach is a failure. Direction determines destination, so make a slight change in your approach — in the direction you take — and you can arrive at an entirely new destination. Anything you can imagine you can have. Anything you can dream you can live.
A new year is now upon us, and with it comes new opportunity to improve upon ourselves and to live our best life. When we believe, plan, and act, we can achieve anything. Now is the time for you to rise up and claim your best life. When you do, you give others permission to rise up and claim their best life. That makes life better for everyone. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Howdy! I'm Lance, host of Joy in the Journey Radio. I've been blogging about LDS singles life since 2012, and now I produce a weekly radio show to help LDS singles have more joy in their journey and bring all Latter-day Saints together. Let's engage a conversation that will increase the faith of LDS singles and bring singles and marrieds together in a true unity of the faith.
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