4 Ways to Avoid “General Conference Overwhelm”
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Digital Only: Young Adults

4 Ways to Avoid “General Conference Overwhelm”

General conference has a lot of great messages, so it can sometimes feel overwhelming. How do you know where to start in applying what you’ve learned?

190th Annual General Conference: At Home - Germany

Continuing revelation is one of my favorite parts of the gospel. The fact that God wants to talk to us now just as much as He did back in scriptural times is a testament that He really loves us and is interested in our lives. And general conference is one of the main ways we receive that inspiration—it’s an awesome opportunity for us to hear from living prophets and apostles.

But if you’re like me, you might walk away from conference feeling what former Primary General President Joy D. Jones called “general conference overwhelm.” 1 The sheer amount of instruction and inspiration, as wonderful as it is, can sometimes feel difficult to digest and implement in the six months we have before the next conference.

So what can we do to focus on the inspiration we’ve received without getting discouraged or overwhelmed? Well, here are a few suggestions.

1. Ask the Lord to tell you one thing you’re doing right.

As you reread talks and review your notes, pray to Heavenly Father and ask Him to let you know where you’ve been succeeding. It might be easy to see Heavenly Father as a judge, but remember His preferred title—Father! He is our parent, and while parents do correct and discipline their children, they also teach, encourage, and celebrate their successes. Feeling assurance that you’re doing some things right can help you feel hopeful about changing other things in your life.

Sister Bonnie D. Parkin, former Relief Society General President, testified that “we need to know that [the Lord] sees the good in us. Feeling His love encourages us to press forward, reassures us that we are His, and confirms to us that He cherishes us even when we stumble and experience temporary setbacks.” 2 Let the Lord show you the good that He sees in you.

2. Honestly evaluate yourself.

Self-awareness can be a valuable tool in determining where to start when it comes to applying what you’ve learned from conference. Here are a few questions to get you started on your own evaluation:

  • Do I engage in regular, meaningful scripture study that helps me understand the gospel better?

  • Do my prayers help me feel more connected to Heavenly Father?

  • Do I feel the Spirit regularly?

  • Am I experiencing any mental, emotional, physical, or social struggles that are making me feel distant from the love of my Heavenly Father and the Savior?

  • Am I paying attention to those around me who might be struggling and in need of my help?

  • Are there any behaviors in my life that I need help either starting or stopping?

  • What Christlike attributes do I need to further develop?

Reflecting on these questions can help you identify areas for personal growth and help you select conference messages that will be helpful as you seek to improve. If you need more ideas, you can look through chapter 6 of Preach My Gospel. 3

3. Pray to know what to focus on.

It’s important to reflect on and evaluate our own strengths and weaknesses, but Heavenly Father knows them even better than we do. Additionally, He can help us prioritize once we realize where we need work. Including Him in this process will help you know what area of your life to focus your efforts on based on the conference messages you’ve heard.

Every conference talk has valuable messages, but some might be more applicable and needed for you personally right now. As President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency, explained: “The number of good things we can do far exceeds the time available to accomplish them. Some things are better than good, and these are the things that should command priority attention in our lives.” 4

4. Start small.

Your chances of successfully implementing changes are much higher if you focus on just one or two things. Even where a large change is required, it can be helpful to start small. The Lord will help you make big changes with your small, steady efforts.

Elder Michael A. Dunn of the Seventy taught that “every effort to change we make—no matter how tiny it seems to us—just might make the biggest difference in our lives.” 5 The Lord sees and values our efforts and will help us as we try to make general conference messages part of our lives.

If you go into conference with a real intention to learn and improve, there will be something for you. Elder Robert D. Hales (1932–2017) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said:

“I promise that if you will listen, you will feel the Spirit well up within you. The Lord will tell you what He wants you to do with your life.

“In conferences we can receive the word of the Lord meant just for us. …

“What is said is not as important as what we hear and what we feel.” 6

Heavenly Father wants to help you feel motivated to change and progress. If you find yourself getting overwhelmed, turn to Him to find out how you can best apply the messages of conference in your life.