Simple Habits Help Us Live with Purpose and Real Intent

Contributed By Marianne Holman Prescott, Church News staff writer

  • 17 February 2015

Watch this video for highlights from Brother Ridd’s talk.

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Article Highlights

  • Taking the sacrament, praying, and studying the scriptures are simple yet vital ways to avoid distractions and maintain an eternal focus.

“Start now. Live a purposeful life. Put the power of the compounding of daily disciplines in place in the important areas of your life.” —Brother Randall L. Ridd of the Young Men general presidency

It is through living a deliberate, focused life that we will find success and become more like our Heavenly Father, taught Brother Randall L. Ridd, second counselor in the Young Men general presidency, during a recent worldwide devotional. 

“The compounding effect of daily disciplines, with purpose and real intent, can make a big difference in all areas of your life,” he said. “It can mean the difference between struggling through an ordinary life or being immensely successful and filling the measure of your creation.”

Passive drifting

Having so many choices and opportunities can be a blessing and a curse. “Too many choices, and the fear of making bad decisions, often lead to decision paralysis.”

Too often people question whether a better option is around the corner, so they wait and choose nothing. That passive state is like being in a lifeboat with nothing but rolling waves in every direction and not knowing which way to row. A glimpse of land is needed to provide both motivation and purpose. “People who don’t maintain a clear sense of purpose are drifters. Drifters allow the tides of the world to decide where they are going.”

The antidote for that passive state is living with purpose and real intent.

Living with purpose

Because of the gospel, we can focus on fulfilling our purpose, rather than spending our entire life trying to discover our purpose.

When Brother Ridd was trying to decide whether to serve a mission as a young man, he was enrolled in school, had a good scholarship, a girlfriend, and a good job, and was in the army. He started to think it was too late to serve a mission because he was a little older than other missionaries. He prayed to receive the answer to not go. Then the thought came to him, “What does the Lord want you to do?” At that time he had to decide if he was going to do what he wanted to do or what the Lord wanted him to do.

“That is a question we would all do well to ask ourselves often,” he said. “Many times we have the attitude of ‘I’ll go where you want me to go and do what you want me to do, dear Lord—as long as it is where I want to go and what I want to do.’”

Living with real intent

“Living with ‘real intent’ means understanding the ‘why’ and being aware of the motives behind your actions. Socrates said, ‘An unexamined life is not worth living.’ Ponder how you spend your time and ask yourself regularly, ‘Why?’ This will help you develop the ability to see beyond the moment. It’s far better to look ahead and ask yourself, ‘Why would I do that?’ than to look back and say, ‘Why, oh, why did I do that?’ If the only reason why is that God wants you to, that’s reason enough.”

Avoiding distractions—the importance of focus

When we are distracted by the things of the world, we are robbed of time we could invest in doing good, plus we miss out on the spiritual world around us. “We may not be able to recognize the spiritual promptings that the Holy Ghost is anxious to give us to direct our lives and to bless others. Conversely, if we focus on the things of the Spirit … we’re less likely to be sidetracked by the temptations and distractions of the world.”

The power of small things

The idea that small, simple, but purposeful acts can have dramatic consequences is supported all throughout the scriptures. There is great power in the compounding effect of little things done each day.

“Small and simple things are at work in your life right now—working either for you or against you,” he said. “Just as the Lord uses things to build you up, Satan uses them to distract you and lead you slowly, almost imperceptibly, off the path.”

Three small and simple things that can help us “look to God” and maintain our eternal focus are:

  1. Taking the sacrament

  2. Praying

  3. Studying the scriptures

Make regular disciplines like taking the sacrament, praying, and studying the scriptures a top priority, Brother Ridd taught.

“Prophets past and present have pleaded with us to do small and simple things like praying and studying the scriptures. So why doesn’t everyone do them? Perhaps one reason is that we don’t necessarily see dramatic negative consequences if we miss a day or two—just as your teeth don’t all decay and fall out the first time you don't brush. Most of the consequences, positive and negative, will come later, over time. But they will come.”

It is through living a deliberate, focused life that individuals will find success and become more like their Heavenly Father.

“Start now. Live a purposeful life. Put the power of the compounding of daily disciplines in place in the important areas of your life. I promise that in a year from now, you will either be glad you started today, or you will wish you had.”

Brother Ridd spoke at the Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults, which originated from the BYU–Idaho Center in Rexburg, Idaho, and was broadcast via satellite throughout the world on January 11.