8 Tips for the New-Year Scripture-Study Challenge

Hadley Griggs

At the start of the new year, take Elder Stevenson’s challenge to replace 10 minutes of daily social media time with reading the Book of Mormon!

When I was 16, I made a goal to run a mile every weekday. Confession: I had never run one mile, let alone five miles a week. After the second day, I quit when I rediscovered that lying on my couch and eating popcorn was way easier than jogging. The goal was a ridiculous one, and I had pretty much set myself up for failure.

Goals can be tricky. We often bite off more than we can chew and burn ourselves out quickly. But it doesn’t have to be like that—instead, we can try for manageable goals. That’s what’s so great about the challenge from Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: it’s manageable! In his October 2016 general conference address, Elder Stevenson said, “Many young people spend an average of seven hours a day looking at TV, computer, and smartphone screens. … Will you replace some of that daily screen time—particularly that devoted to social media, the internet, gaming, or television—with reading the Book of Mormon … even if for only 10 minutes a day” (see “Look to the Book, Look to the Lord”).

With the start of the new year, it’s a perfect time to take Elder Stevenson’s challenge: take 10 minutes of your usual social media time and use it to read the Book of Mormon instead. Want to make this goal a habit? Check out these eight tips. They’re sure to help you out!

1. Write down the goal and the benefits.

Writing something down can help you remember it, focus on it, and feel like it’s real. And if you write down the benefits too, then you know what you’re working for. Ask yourself what blessings come from reading the Book of Mormon (you can start by checking out Elder Stevenson’s conference talk). Adding a little extra reward on top (like a piece of chocolate for certain milestones) can’t hurt! (Check out “How the Book of Mormon Transforms You.”)

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2. Decide now when you’ll read, and stick to it.

You know yourself better than anyone else, so you know what works for you: should you read 10 minutes before allowing yourself any social media time? Is there a part of your day that would work best? Should you read in the morning or are you more of a night owl? Answering these questions now will help you keep your goal from slipping under the radar, and writing down that plan can help you stick to it.

3. Remember that nobody’s perfect.

If you’re on a 10-day streak and miss a day, your motivation can drop. But don’t give up! Tomorrow is a new day. Make a plan (use a progress calendar or plan for rewards after certain milestones) so that when you do miss a day, you can get right back on track. Also examine why you missed—maybe there’s something you can change to keep it from happening again.

4. Put your scriptures—or a reminder—somewhere visible.

To remember your goal, put your scriptures in a visible place, like on your pillow or in your backpack. Or set an alarm or set a reminder as your phone’s or computer’s background or lock screen.

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5. Be accountable to someone else.

Having someone to motivate you is often much more effective than working alone. Tell someone about your goal and ask them to check up on you. Better yet, have a friend do the challenge with you!

6. Annotate your scriptures.

Why is social media so fun? Often because it directly relates to you: it’s a live feed of your peers doing things you’re interested in. So how can you make the scriptures more interesting? Liken them to yourself (see 1 Nephi 19:23). Don’t be afraid to write on your scriptures or use the mark, note, and tag features on Gospel Library to make your reading yours. (Check out “Successful Scripture Study” for some ideas about how to study.)

7. Use the Lord’s help.

You always have someone rooting for you. Remember that “God … doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive” (Mosiah 4:21). He has so many ways you can ask for help, like fasting and prayer.

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8. Believe in yourself.

Think positively. Celebrate your successes. And when negative thoughts come, turn them around with the word but. If you catch yourself thinking, “I’m terrible at this,” turn it into, “I’m terrible at this … but if I keep trying and ask the Lord for help, I’ll get better!” Don’t get discouraged—you’ve got this.