How Effective Are Your Goals?
January 2019

“How Effective Are Your Goals?” Ensign, January 2019

How Effective Are Your Goals?

Take this quiz to find out how you’re doing with setting and achieving goals.

targets and arrows

Do you ever find yourself making goals that just never seem to pan out? Our plans to improve our scripture study, to work on developing Christlike attributes, to do well in school, to serve others, to eat healthy and exercise—all of these are worthwhile pursuits, but in each case, achieving them is much easier said than done.

Often the reason we don’t reach our goals is that the goals themselves are lacking. President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, observed that “those who accomplish the most in this world are those with a vision for their lives, with goals to keep them focused on their vision and tactical plans for how to achieve them.”1 But how do we set goals and make plans that are focused and move us toward our ultimate goal—“to live eternally with our Heavenly Parents and our beloved Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ”?2 Take a moment and use this quiz to get an idea of how effective your goals are.

My goals are …









relevant to my needs

irrelevant to my needs


not time-limited

I measure my goals’ success based on …



progress-based success

pass/fail success

When I share my goals with someone else …



I feel driven to work harder

I feel immediately gratified

When I come close to reaching a goal but don’t quite reach it …



I’m encouraged because I’ve made progress

I’m discouraged because I failed

My goals involve …



a concrete action plan

a simple intention to change

accountability to multiple people and God

accountability only to myself

Did you answer mostly A’s? mostly B’s? or somewhere in between? The more A’s you chose, the more likely your goals are to be effective. While these answers suggest that your goals are focused and healthily motivated, the B’s lean toward the general and unrealistic. If your results aren’t quite what you expected, don’t give up. The key to reaching your goals is being patient with yourself, learning from setbacks, and doing your very best to improve.

Most importantly, as President Ballard said, “We must keep the doctrine and gospel of Jesus Christ at the center of our goals and plans.”3 Keeping an eternal perspective is crucial. “If we focus on [Heavenly Father’s] eternal path,” taught President Ballard, “we will inevitably qualify to return to His presence.”4

Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, the direction you’re heading and your reliance on Him is more important than your speed.


  1. M. Russell Ballard, “Return and Receive,” Ensign, May 2017, 62.

  2. M. Russell Ballard, “Return and Receive,” 65.

  3. M. Russell Ballard, “Return and Receive,” 64.

  4. M. Russell Ballard, “Return and Receive,” 63.