Experience Life in the New Year!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

At a time when many people are already giving up on their New Year's goals and resolutions it's time to talk about Goals vs. Experiences.  From the Merriam Webster dictionary:

Etymology: Middle English gol boundary, limit
1 a : the terminal point of a race b : an area to be reached safely in children's games
2 : the end toward which effort is directed : AIM
3 a : an area or object toward which players in various games attempt to advance a ball or puck and usually through or into which it must go to score points b : the act or action of causing a ball or puck to go through or into such a goal c : the score resulting from such an act
synonym: see INTENTION

Many years ago I was asked to share my thoughts on “Goals” during a church leadership meeting. As I thought about the word goals the first thing that came to my mind was the typical New Year’s Resolutions and the second thing was the endless goals we were expected to pass off in Primary (Children's Sunday School) as part of the Gospel in Action program and later the Young Women Personal Progress Program at church. These goals usually came from a suggested list. They were something quickly finished to earn an award. Although they were often worthwhile activities, they were often overdone projects and I never felt like I personally owned them.So as I prepared to share my thoughts about this subject I went to the dictionary. Although I understood the meaning of the word, I just needed to clear my head. The more I thought about this in terms of spirituality, the definition of the word Goal defined the reason those programs asked us to set goals. And the end point was to return to our Heavenly Father in safety.

Some years ago the LDS church made some changes to the children’s Sunday School award program. The Gospel in Action program was changed to the Faith in God program. And the goals are now called activities. The Young Women organization also revised the Personal Progress program and now refer to the goals as EXPERIENCES! I love this… in order to build their own testimony the youth will need to really feel like they OWN these personal experiences of study, prayer and living the gospel.

Part of the definition of the word experience says, “the fact of state of having been affected by or gained knowledge though direct observation and participation. Practical knowledge, skill or practice derived from direct observation of or participation."

I truly believe the revisions to these programs were inspired…  changing the focus to simple, faith promoting experiences.  And after the small token award is earned it has hopefully become a habit to continually experience and live the gospel as the youth grow closer to the final goal.

And now as I think about New Year’s goals and resolutions, I feel the important part of goals and resolutions is not about the end result. The important part is about the experience. It is only in the experience that we will learn and grow.

Just as an intention to do something does not always guarantee success goals are often given up. So as you give up on or revise your New Year’s resolutions and goals for you and your family… make sure to focus on the experience, not the end result. I believe our biggest role as a parent is to provide experiences for our children to personally own that will help them learn and grow.  In the future rather than give them goals with limits and boundaries, think about providing them with simple experiences.  What experiences do you plan to provide for your children this year?

TLC - Freak Show

Reality TV has brought the old time circus freak show into our living rooms. Really, how far is to far?  This is a funny promo parody including many of the current TLC listings with a twist...

I think there is a difference between education and exploitation.