Duce's Wild: Getting an early start on resolutions

Published: Friday, Nov. 29 2013 5:00 a.m. MST

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The "Come, Follow Me" youth curriculum has recently focused on self-reliance and self-improvement, and as a result, LDS youths have set enough goals during the month of November to carry them through to New Year's resolutions and beyond. I thought I’d share some of their goals in case the adults in their lives want to follow their examples.

In our Sunday School class, we established a mind-set for goal-setting using Elder Dallin H. Oaks’ general conference talk called “Good, Better, Best,” as well as President Gordon B. Hinckley’s classic advice from devotional at Brigham Young University:

“You are good. But it is not enough just to be good. You must be good for something. You must contribute good to the world. The world must be a better place for your presence. And the good that is in you must be spread to others.”

We created and graded a self-reliance quiz comprised of 60 questions — 10 in each category of physical, emotional, spiritual, financial, social and functional. The quiz prompted hearty conversation as the teens evaluated their skills, talents and preparation for full-time missionary service and life beyond.

Examples of questions in the physical category were in line with expectations for missionary service: Can you walk 8 to 10 miles per day? Can you ride a bike for 8 miles? Can you climb stairs? We also threw out other physical betterments like: Do you know the basics of self-defense? Do you actively try to improve your posture?

Self-reliance goals to evaluate emotional readiness for missionary service as well as living more peaceably now, included: Can you speak publicly and with confidence? Do you know your best method for deep, mental relaxation? Can you resist the urge to respond to a hateful text? Can you calmly administer first aid to someone bleeding profusely?

Spiritual self-reliance benchmarks included: Do you think about praying before you take a bite of food at a meal? Is your room orderly enough to be a spiritual haven? Can you repeat memorized sections of Joseph Smith’s First Vision?

Evaluating financial self-reliance for teenagers included: Can you make change? Do you have a written budget, no matter your income? Can you grow a garden and eat what you grow?

Signs of social self-awareness included: Can you introduce a stranger? Do you know how and when to tip? Can you write a meaningful hand-written note and address an envelope correctly?

Our last category for living functionally and self-sufficiently in our society included: Can you charge a car battery using jumper cables or change a tire on the car you drive? Can you start a fire with wood and matches? Can you change a furnace filter? Can you make a week’s menu of breakfasts, lunches and dinners?

At the end of the quiz, we tallied where the majority seemed to be lacking in skill set and ideas were bounced around for planning future mid-week activities to help. Individually, each chose a skill or two that they would like to learn that week.

Next, we created a good, better and best chart using Elder Oaks' example: it being good to hold a church meeting, better to teach a principle at that meeting and best to actually improve lives as a result of the meeting.

Together, we brainstormed “better” and “best” upgrades to the following “good” attributes: being an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, reading scriptures every night before bed, avoiding the don’ts of the Word of Wisdom, attending seminary and mid-week youth activities, paying tithing, doing homework and visiting your grandma.

Invariably, we're only our best when we are sharing, serving and changing the world like President Hinckley suggested above. We can all set goals and resolutions for self-improvement but we’ll never succeed in becoming our best selves unless we lose ourselves in charitable service to others.

Stacie Lloyd Duce is a columnist and magazine editor featured regularly in several Montana and Utah publications. Her columns appear Fridays on deseretnews.com. Email: duceswild7@gmail.com

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