The summer of 2009 was a formative one for my family. I served a performing mission in Nauvoo, playing the trumpet in the Nauvoo Brass Band. I experienced lots of things there which set me on my current course, which was different from the summer of 2008, or even the spring of 2009. More about that later; this post is on what my husband (then boyfriend) did while I was away.

He worked full time, took an online class, and used the balance of his free time towards his monthly goals. May’s goal was to learn Photoshop, June’s goal was to learn HTML and CSS, July’s goal was to learn other web development skills, and August’s goal was to learn CAD. (He did the computer and web stuff, but didn’t get to the engineering stuff. We should have taken it as a sign, because three years later, he pocketed his degree in mechanical engineering and took a job as a web developer.) So now, the success of his career and the support of our family rests on skills he learned on the side while working full time during the summer of his sophomore and junior years of college. (What were you doing in the summer of your junior and senior years of college?)

How was he able to accomplish so much, while life didn’t stop?  Using the focusing power of monthly goals.  By saying, “In May I will learn Photoshop”  he also said, “In May I will not be learning skills applicable to my degree; I will not be learning skills related to web development, even though I am starting an online business soon.  I will be learning Photoshop.”

I have 5 major projects on my plate right now.  Family History, this blog, scrapbooking, exercising/improving my appearance, and continuing my education. I really should be doing all  five of them simultaneously.  What that leads to in my life, currently, is not doing any of them.  Instead, I find myself scrolling mindlessly and endlessly on Facebook and Pinterest.

Bryan suggested to me that I use his monthly goals technique.  My hesitation was that I would have to say, “In the month of June I will be working on this blog.  I will not be working on fitness, family history, continuing my education, or scrapbooking.”

Here’s why it would be awesome.  (I’m convincing myself too… I’m having a very difficult time choosing what I will do the first month.)

Option 1: Simultaneous.  On any given day, I am supposed to exercise, read books, blog, go to the family history library, and scrapbook. Oh, and be a mother, wife, homemaker, Relief Society pianist, daughter, sister, visiting teacher.  I can’t dive into any of those roles or projects deeply, because in just a few minutes I need to switch contexts to do my next project.  That involves deleting everything I put into my short term memory to work on the first project, and restoring the info for the second project into my short term memory. As soon as I find where I left off last time, it’s time to leave off again and do something else.

Option 2: Monthly goals.  On any given day, I know what my main project will be.  I know what I will be doing when naptime starts. The last time I worked on this project was yesterday, so I still remember what’s going on.  (That’s really important in family history and scrapbooking…and in reading books and in exercising…) Additionally, if I know I will be focusing on Family History, then I can justify a month’s membership of ancestry.com.  (super excited about that one.)

Let’s pretend that for the next five months, I will pick one project per month and focus on it and hammer it out.  At the end of five months, each project will have had some serious effort put into it.  More than if I had pursued all five projects simultaneously for the same five months.

My last (good) argument is that if I say I am doing scrapbooking, I have to say I am not doing family history.  And I should be doing family history.  “They without us cannot be saved…” Consider this scripture.

A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard.  He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went.

And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not.

Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first.

The second said he wasn’t going to do it now (Option 2: Monthly Goals), but he did do it later.  The first said he was going to do what he was supposed to (Option 1: Simultaneous), but he ended up doing none of it.

So.  Let that be a lesson to me you.

It is very difficult deciding what to do first.  Here is advice from Sister Julie B. Beck, whom I love, during this address.

A good woman knows that she does not have enough time, energy, or opportunity to take care of all of the people or do all of the worthy things her heart yearns to do. Life is not calm for most women, and each day seems to require the accomplishment of a million things, most of which are important. A good woman must constantly resist alluring and deceptive messages from many sources telling her that she is entitled to more time away from her responsibilities and that she deserves a life of greater ease and independence. But with personal revelation, she can prioritize correctly and navigate this life confidently.

I know that I am capable or receiving revelation about my life circumstances.  If I follow that revelation, things will fall into place and my success will be greater than if I had done it myself.

I’ll keep you posted on said success!