(Warning: This is a long post. Nobody's forcing you to read it.)
(And it is about ME, ME, ME and MY
problems, issues, goals)
(Since we are all wrestling with different things - this is merely an attempt to show how Conference figures into MY attempt at self-betterment in my 4th Quarter Comeback)
Hey gang! Here we are, October 5. Five days into the 4th quarter. I know some of you are making a push to get some unresolved goals knocked out before the end of the year. For those who don't know what I'm talking about, please refer the "The 4th Quarter Comeback".
Last Friday night I went to the BYU-USU game at the Lord's University Football Stadium. And just as it should have happened, BYU pulled off an amazing 4th quarter comeback to win the game. It was exciting, and made me more excited to take on the "comeback" myself.
Saturday, with notebook in hand, I listened to Conference with my ears and mind open for any counsel that might help me finish out the year strong. I was looking to reevaluate my goals, as well as define strategies to git 'er done.
I was not disappointed on either count. But before I share those thoughts with you...
-----(MMM steps aside for a self-absorbed soliloquy)-----
"Oh wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities. I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and sins which do so easily beset me."
----Oops! That wasn't my soliloquy - it was Nephi's! (2 Nephi 4:17-18)----
Mine is more like this:
I just turned 50. The big 5-0. The majority of my life is over. (Unless I live to be 100 - and I have no desire to live to be 100) So that means I am running out of time to accomplish what the Lord wants me to do, and accomplish what I want and need to do. There is a real sense of urgency to me.
But I'm also tired. And pudgy. And creaky. And a little mentally fuzzy at times. I don't feel like I am as sharp as I used to be, and from where I stand, the downhill slope looks pretty steep.
I don't spend as much time with the FOMLs as I should. I struggle to keep up at work. I've gotten sloppy with my temple attendance and family scripture study.
I watch too much TV. I play on my computer too much. I don't get enough exercise. You know - all of those things that I was going to resolve with my New Year's Resolutions nine months ago.
Did I mention that I'm tired?
----(End of soliloquy - pity party is over)----
Sitting with my sons in the Conference Center, President Eyring was speaking to us about serving in the priesthood when he said these words:
"Our bodies age as we do. Our capacity to learn and remember what we have read will diminish. To give priesthood service the Lord expects of us will take more and more self-discipline every day of our lives."
More and more self-discipline? Excuse me? I don't even have enough as it is!
At that moment different thoughts ran through my mind, including things I had heard as recently as that morning in Conference.
Prayer. I need to improve my prayers. I need to make prayer a vital element in the success of my "comeback". I need to involve my Heavenly Father. I need to beg for his help. I need to be stronger spiritually in order to tackle all of my challenges. I need the Lord to help me gain self-mastery. This is where it must begin.
Self-Mastery. I need to make better use of my time - hello Elder Ardern. "As we follow the command to cease to be idle we must be sure that being busy also equates to being productive." And then, "Today would be a good day, while the clock of mortality ticks, to review what we are doing to prepare to meet God."
Another thought came into my mind - a single word that Elder Bednar used as an introduction to his talk.
Sequence. "As we study, learn and live the Gospel of Jesus Christ, sequence is often instructive."
Then the scriptures started flooding my mind:
...not requisite that a man run faster than he has strength (Mosiah 4:27)
Do not run faster or labor more than you have strength...(D&C 10:4)
By small and simple things are great things come to pass. (Alma 37:6)
Line upon line, precept upon precept.
Could that be one of the reasons I fail at things like resolutions? Bad sequencing? I make goals and try to do them all at once - and I'm not prepared, and I fail. Maybe I need to step back and take a look at the sequencing of my goals, and my preparation.
So that is what I did. Later that night, I wrote down a list of things that I want to get done, and the things I need to get done. This was not a "sky-diving-type bucket list". This was more important things - like being ready to serve a mission with my EC at the same time the FOML5 steps on the plane for his.
As I studied my list, I began to look for sequences that could help me get thing done in an order that is more believable. Attainable. Realistic.
And then the conversation with myself began to explore how to make this happen:
(Remember this is MY conversation with ME. Yours will be very different - focus on the process - not my specifics, and comment accordingly.)
How can you make sure you get on a mission in 10 years?
I need to make more money.
I need to get out of debt, de-clutter my life.
Why aren't you doing those things now?
I'm sorry - what did you say?
Why aren't you doing those things now?
I'm not focused.
Why aren't you focused?
I feel mentally fuzzy, and I'm tired.
How could you fix that?
Why don't you exercise more?
Lack of time.
Bull. You have time to play on Facebook and watch TV.
OK! Busted. I guess it's just because I'm tired.
Oh - so we are back to tired. Why are you so tired?
Because I usually only get 5 hours of sleep.
That's stupid. Why?
I get up at 5:30am.
To make lunches, read my scriptures, etc. I can't change that.
What about the other end? When do you go to bed?
Man, that's not much sleep. Why so late?
Kids, TV, internet, etc. I'm a "Night Owl".
So go to bed earlier.
Great! Goal to set - Go to bed earlier! All done? Nope!
Can't. Can't go to sleep early.
Not used to it.
I'll bet that 44oz Mountain Dew at 8:00pm doesn't help much.
I'll bet the ice cream doesn't help you sleep well either.
So, drop the soda.
I'm. not. that. strong.
Well, not yet anyway. How about cutting yourself off at 6:00pm?
I can do that.
And go easy on the late night Ice Cream?
I can do that too.
Can you turn off the TV and computer at 10:30pm.
Maybe... Yes I can.
Great. Go to bed at 11:00pm, and you will get 6.5 hours of sleep instead of 5.
That doesn't sound like much.
What? It's a 30% increase!
OK, but then what?
Then maybe you will feel more like exercising.
And then maybe some of that mental fog will lift and you will be more productive.
Yeah! And then I can lose weight, make a fortune and save the world!
Easy tiger - not so fast!
Well - those things might help me lose weight...
..and make me more coherent for family scripture study.
Stop! You are still getting too far down the road.
What do you mean?
Just start with 3 things.
1) Soda & Ice cream cutoff 2) TV & internet cutoff, and 3) 11:00pm bedtime.
That's it? That is my big "4th Quarter Comeback"?
Yes. That is it. For this week. And pray about it.
You see, I have 13 weeks. If I can get myself better rested the first week, then add some more exercise the second week, then maybe I will have more energy and clarity to take on the other goals that I have set for myself.
Wait! Isn't there a promise that says that? Oh yeah!
"Retire to thy bed early, that ye be not weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated." (D&C 88:124)
So that is what I'm going to do - that and improve my prayers and beg for help. Dramatic? No. Possible? Yes.
Phase I of the comeback is underway.
And that is one way that Conference helped me this weekend.
My best to you in your own comeback.