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Saturday, January 31, 2015

New Year's Epistle: "Making Goals Our Goal"

January 1, 2015

Dear Friends and Family,
                 You know how I know I’m changing? There are many ways but let me share a couple stories that have a lot to do with the goal-setting atmosphere of the New Year.
                This Friday in district meeting, the topic in which I was to prepare the lesson was “Making Goals Our Goal- how to set realistic and realizable goals.” (Now I know “realizable” isn’t a word so I just substituted attainable.) So this made me excited to teach because I have a lot of personal experiences with goals! Not in a boasting or prideful way, I have strived from the beginning of my mission to always have some sort of goal that I can work on. I looked through all of my planners thus far and each week there are personal and companionship goals. Some of them are fun and goofy like “destroy Elder Perez in Magic on p-day” or “give weird compliments to ward missionaries” but they were always coupled with a serious, growth oriented goal. Every week or period of several weeks/months I’ve been able to work on something to improve on as a person, as a missionary, as both! And that has been from week 1 till year 1 and its still continuing.
                Needless to say I was really excited to see how I could put something together to help us make goals our goal! So to kick it off, I thought of something Elder Kankkunen said the first day of our companionship concerning goals and desires. It might have been a somewhat insignificant sentence but the fact that he used goals and desires as two separate things really stuck out to me! So I decided to use that to open my lesson. We talked about desires being things that we want and things that drive us and goals being the things that get us to, or help us achieve our desires. Thanks to inspired comments from Elder Swan and Sister Scott, we learned about making sure our goals are within our sphere of influence so they aren’t futile. This allowed for us to discuss the SMART method of goal setting.  SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time) goals were something I remember learning in my sports med class from Coach J. they apply in sports, life, and the gospel! If we set goals that are SMART and we write them down, then we will achieve them!
                So we look at what goals are, what kinds, and how we should set them but what about the kinds of goals we’re making as missionaries? We set personal development goals (the ones I work on most often) like Christlike attributes and physical things but we also set key indicators every night and even weekly! These are the ones that allow us to fulfill and magnify our missionary purpose. As I was going thru this train of thought, I received an inspiration that key indicators are the goals that are directly related with the Doctrine of Christ. Key indicators allow ourselves and those we come in contact with to experience all the blessings of the fullness of the gospel which is now on the earth. Key indicators indicate what people should be doing as a result of being taught; ultimately exercising faith and repenting unto baptism.
                “I am so thoroughly convinced that if we don’t set goals in our life and learn to master the techniques 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 portion 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.” Elder M. Russell Ballard
                Like I said at the beginning, being able to put this lesson together was exciting for me. Being able to say that I am a goalie as well as a GOALie is something that I take confidence in! I have been looking back in my journals from a year ago and it’s amazing 1) to hear how I’ve changed and 2) to see how simple it was then and now to just set a goal, work for it and know that if you keep working and if it’s righteous, the Lord will help you change. That is the Life of a GOALie.
                So what are my goals for this New Year? One is a continuation of a lifelong goal to be more obedient and to be Joyfully Obedient! The other is to draw nearer to the Savior by counseling with Him daily.
                In my effort to be more obedient, I was looking through our new mission policy manual. I came across the mission’s policy for music and found that a bit of my stuff was inconsistent and that a lot of it was music that I had gotten from other elders. Until that point I hadn’t really thought that it was pirated music but I realized that I needed to do something about it! So I invited each member of our district to bring their memory storage devices and I set aside some time after district meeting in which we could take care of all those things. Haha I was very careful not to try and force but I knew that I would be the only one who would do it. But after a while, Elder Kankkunen even hooked up his hard drive and so now the Nelspruit Elders have legally obtained music that is consistent with what our mission president wants and it feels good to be able to be more obedient!
                In my effort to draw nearer to the Savior, I received inspiration in December of a way that I could accomplish just that. I decided to start another journal. In this journal I can take the time to counsel with the savior by speaking to Him reverently but as I would speak with a friend. In order to be able to do this, I have to wake up a bit earlier but the sacrifice of a little sleep is well worth the reward that I get from doing my whole morning devotional. From 6 to 6:30 I kneel and pray, read the Book of Mormon, counsel with the Savior thru journaling and pray to keep the spirit with me throughout the rest of my day. J its one resolution that is really helping me to be able to come closer to Jesus Christ!
                When it all comes down to it, goals are about improving ourselves and being more efficient with our time here on the earth. “For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God..” and we are able to do that if we have a desire to be clean before God and we work towards our goals that will help us get there.
                Friends, I am really thankful for the things that I have learned so far on my mission. I am thankful for the changes that have occurred within me as I’ve been trying to do my best. And I know that that isn’t just the case for me but for each one of us! My challenge is for us to set a goal if we haven’t already done so. If we have, let’s not make it as trivial as “destroy Elder Perez in Magic” but rather let’s work at something that will bring us closer to God. He’ll help us get there :) I testify of that in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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