Viewpoint: Have a Destination in Mind

Contributed By the Church News

  • 4 January 2015

Write down attainable, worthy goals. Have a destination in mind when planning for your future.

Article Highlights

  • Setting goals gives us direction and leads us to success. Make careful consideration in planning your goals, and write them down.

“Set short-term goals that you can reach. 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 M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve

In the classic novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, Alice asks the Cheshire Cat for directions.

“‘Cheshire Puss,’ she began … ‘would you tell me, please which way I ought to go from here?’

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

“Alice, not knowing where she wanted to go responded, ‘I don’t much care where.’

“‘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.’”

Alice’s predicament during her fictional adventures in Wonderland can be illustrative for many of us as we seek to make and keep new year’s resolutions.

In making goals, we must not only analyze where we are now but also where we want to be one year from now.

“It is necessary to prepare and plan so that we don’t fritter away our lives,” said President Thomas S. Monson. “Without a goal, there can be no real success. One of the best definitions of success I have ever found goes something like this: Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal. Someone has said the trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never crossing the goal line” (Teachings of Thomas S. Monson, p. 123).

According to a study published by the University of Scranton in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, an estimated 45 percent of Americans make new year’s resolutions. However, only about 8 percent of those are successful in achieving their goals.

Elder Franklin D. Richards, then an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said during his October 1969 general conference address that objectives and goals should not only be worthwhile but also be realistic: “They should be an incentive to work effectively. Thus the setting of realistic objectives and achieving them becomes an important part of the great process of eternal progression.”

In Doctrine and Covenants 60:13 the Lord counsels us: “I give unto them a commandment, thus: Thou shalt not idle away thy time, neither shalt thou bury thy talent that it may not be known.”

As we look at our goals for 2015, it is important that we use our time wisely. The words of a hymn illustrate how sacred time is:

”Time flies on wings of lightning;
We cannot call it back.

It comes, then passes forward
Along its onward track.
And if we are not mindful,
The chance will fade away,
For life is quick in passing.
’Tis as a single day.”

(“Improve the Shining Moments,” Hymns, no. 226.)

An important part of using time wisely is understanding what we need to accomplish and where we want to go. We must ensure that, unlike Alice in Wonderland, we are not content to just “get somewhere.”

Elder Marvin J. Ashton, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said in his October 1983 general conference address: “The direction in which we are moving is more important than where we are at the moment. Goal setting should cause us to stretch as we make our way” (“The Word Is Commitment”).

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shared a formula for goal-setting success during his April 1987 general conference address:

“First, think about your life and set your priorities. Find some quiet time regularly to think deeply about where you are going and what you will need to do to get there. Jesus, our exemplar, often ‘withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed’ (Luke 5:16). We need to do the same thing occasionally to rejuvenate ourselves spiritually as the Savior did. Write down the tasks you would like to accomplish each day. Keep foremost in mind the sacred covenants you have made with the Lord as you write down your daily schedules.

“Second, set short-term goals that you can reach. 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” (“Keeping Life's Demands in Balance”).

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said during his October 1989 general conference address that, like a marathon runner, we should set goals to finish the race of life. “You should look ahead now and decide what you want to do with your lives,” he said. “Fix clearly in your mind what you want to be one year from now, five years, ten years, and beyond. Receive your patriarchal blessing and strive to live worthy of its promises. A patriarchal blessing is one of the most important guides in life that members of the Church enjoy. Write your goals and review them regularly. … Your ultimate goal should be eternal life—the kind of life God lives, the greatest of all the gifts of God” (“Duties, Rewards, and Risks”).

Alice wandered through Wonderland never finding her destination because she didn’t know where she wanted to go. May we remember as we look into 2015—and beyond—that the roads we travel should be chosen with a final destination in mind. As the Cheshire Cat explained, we should set goals based “on where you want to get to.”

“I plead with you to make a determination right here, right now, not to deviate from the path which will lead to our goal: eternal life with our Father in Heaven,” said President Thomas S. Monson during his October 2010 general conference address. “Along that straight and true path there are other goals: missionary service, temple marriage, Church activity, scripture study, prayer, temple work. There are countless worthy goals to reach as we travel through life. Needed is our commitment to reach them” (“The Three Rs of Choice”).