“Big Goals, Little Goals,” New Era, Oct. 2020, 34–35.
The first time my family drove through Yellowstone National Park, I had three things on my list of must-see wildlife: a bison, a bear, and a moose. I kept my eyes glued to the window, and by the time we left, I’d been able to spot two of the three—not a bad score!
It was only after talking to the park rangers and reading a book on Yellowstone ecosystems that I realized all the other amazing wildlife I had missed out on. I could have spotted a lot of other cool animals if I had just taken a closer look and explored a little more. Big-horned sheep and bobcats, badgers and minks, pikas and shrews, fish and birds of all sorts.
The bison, bear, and moose were the easiest to spot and the most fun to snap pictures of, but by ignoring the smaller animals surrounding them, we missed seeing all the other beauty right under our noses.
Choosing a goal can be a lot like my experience of looking for animals at Yellowstone. Sometimes we tend to just focus on the biggest or most noticeable goal. Or something really fast or impressive.
But good, useful goals come in all shapes and sizes, and they’re often smaller than we expect. It might be easy to pick a big goal like “I want to eat healthier.” If we look closer, we’ll be able to see less obvious goals that make achieving the bigger goal easier, like “learn how to cut a bell pepper,” “figure out how portion sizes work,” or “practice reading nutrition labels.” If we only focus on the big goals, we miss out on a lot of the smaller goals that help us achieve the bigger goals.
Here are seven types of goals you might not have considered before and some examples of how to use them as spiritual, physical, intellectual, and social goals.
Exploration Goals: Sometimes we want to explore new things to learn what we want or like.
Spiritual: Try listening to recordings of conference talks in addition to reading them.
Physical: Try a new sport like badminton.
Intellectual: Learn to program a simple computer game to see if you like programming.
Social: Try out a new after-school club.
Goals for Experimenting: Sometimes we want to test something out to see if it works for us.
Spiritual: Do you notice a difference if you pray before scripture study?
Physical: Does having a healthier lunch at school make you less tired in the afternoon?
Intellectual: How much faster do you finish your homework if you turn off your phone?
Social: Do you like going to stake dances?
Information-Gathering Goals: Sometimes we need to find out more information about a goal before we start.
Spiritual: Read about the temple recommend questions before your first interview.
Physical: Research some workouts you can do from home.
Intellectual: Look up the requirements of a college you want to attend.
Social: Ask your friend what they like and don’t like about learning to play the piano.
Goals for Starting (or Stopping) a Habit: Sometimes we want to start a good habit or stop a bad one. (These don’t have to be daily habits.)
Spiritual: Stop checking your phone during church and seminary.
Physical: Walk for 10 minutes each day listening to your favorite music.
Intellectual: Start reviewing your study notes whenever you’re on a school bus.
Social: Stop interrupting people around you when they’re talking
Practice Goals: Sometimes we want to practice something to improve it.
Spiritual: Practice bearing your testimony in front of groups of people.
Physical: Practice a special soccer move.
Intellectual: Practice conducting music.
Social: Practice talking to adults.
Problem Solving Goals: Sometimes we choose goals to solve a problem in our lives.
Spiritual: If you keep forgetting to bring your scriptures to church, try storing them by your neckties in your bedroom.
Physical: If you don’t feel prepared for your big hike coming up, go on a long walk this weekend to practice.
Intellectual: If you keep forgetting your homework, try putting a reminder on the doorknob to your room to help you remember.
Social: If you don’t have any friends in the town you just moved to, learn the names of everyone in your Sunday School class.
In-Progress Goals: Sometimes we set goals to improve the goals we are already doing. For these examples, imagine you are already participating in a sports team.
Spiritual: Pray for your team members to be safe.
Physical: Show up on time to practice.
Intellectual: Learn more about the rules of your sport.
Social: Encourage your teammates more during games.