In bishopric meeting this morning, our new bishop shared the spiritual thought. He chose the subject of goals and quoted from page 146 of Preach My Gospel on how to set them. Here are some excerpts of the goal setting advice offered on that page:
“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.” What we reach for in goals reflects what we desire in our hearts. Our goals reveal our true selves.
Goals, faith and agency
“Goal setting and planning are acts of faith. Do everything in your power to achieve your goals while respecting the agency of others.” I believe the best goals are the ones that we can control. It does little good to set goals dependant on the actions of others.
Think about it. You can set a goal to have another person do some specific thing that is desirable, but you have no control over what they actually do. You can ask, invite, persuade and demonstrate why they should, but you can’t make them do it.
Service improves progress
“The ultimate measure of success is not in achieving goals alone but in the service you render and the progress of others. Goals are a means of helping you bring about much good…” I like the idea of setting goals in areas that benefit not just our own lives.
I believe that the progress of others is directly influenced by the service we render to them. I have seen this over in over in my own life. Those whom I love and serve seem to respond better when I ask them to do something that I believe will help them.
Goals, plans and activities
“Carefully considered goals will give you clear direction and will help you fill your days with activities that help people…” The achievement of goals requires that we make plans and then act to carry out those plans. Goals are not achieved by magic.
“Challenging goals will help you work effectively and lead you to stretch and grow.” Nothing good happens without work. If you want to achieve something worthwhile in life, there must be effort put forth to bring about the achievement of good goals.
Goals and the big picture
Like me, I’ll bet you’ve had the experience of someone else setting a goal for you that was not achieved. Perhaps you’ve even gone to the trouble of setting goals for others and then wonder why they don’t get reached. The goals were worthy.
I’ve discovered over the years that unless I have a clear vision of how a goal benefits and blesses my life or my loved ones, then I am less than enthusiastic in putting forth the effort to achieve it. I don’t think that’s selfish. I think that it’s just human nature.
Shared vision motivates
So anytime we start talking about goals in church, I always look for the leader to help me understand their vision. Unless I can see for myself what they hope will happen, I have a hard time connecting my energy and focus into carrying out assignments.
Again, I don’t think I’m expressing any fundamental character flaws here. I look for the same thing in working with people in my career. A great leader is one who inspires by sharing vision. When vision is shared and understood it is highly motivational.
Where there is no vision…
How do you feel when someone asks you to do something that is hard to do without sharing with you the vision of what they hope will be accomplished when the task is completed? If you’re like me, sometimes other things take priority over the assignment.
Don’t get me wrong. Most of us fulfill the basics of what we are asked to do. It’s not hard. We have instruction manuals and if you have been in the church for a while, you can pretty much figure out how to do any calling successfully with enough time.
Vision based on true principles
But I suspect that we can be much more effective in our callings and in our lives when we have a vision of ourselves achieving the righteous desires of our hearts. I also suspect that we don’t spend enough time creating and enlarging those future visions.
I am convinced that the best leaders motivate by sharing vision in a compelling way. Hopefully the ability to inspire and help people see themselves in different or better circumstances is based on true principles of honesty, integrity and hard work.
Summary and conclusion
So I have come to the conclusion that the best way to set goals, at least for me, is to concentrate on discovering the desires of our hearts. Activities that create a vision of each other enjoying those righteous desires are motivating and encouraging to me.
Once you know what you really want, find a way to visualize it and share it with others. The more people that share your vision, the more likely it is that it will be achieved. The goals and plans we make then become the stepping stones to fulfill our visions.