Website Profile: ReadtheScriptures.com

May 29th, 2007  |  Published in Goals, Mormonism, Scriptures, Website Profile

Welcome to Above Yourself, a blog about self-improvement and faith. If you're new here, you may want to subscribe in a reader or subscribe by email. Many of the topics here are related to my faith in Jesus Christ and Mormonism, but all are welcome to share their own beliefs. Thanks for visiting!

As a follow-up to a previous post entitled “Forming Habits: Daily Scripture Reading“, daily scripture reading for me has not yet become an automatic habit like it was in my high school days when the mornings were filled with early-morning seminary. As part of building a new goal, it’s important to set reminders for yourself so that you can train yourself to turn this goal into a habit. This daily email reminder is the most important feature of ReadtheScriptures.com and the main reason to use this website.

Reading Statistics

Right now the website keeps track of how much of a book of scripture you’ve read and displays the percentage as a small bar. As someone who grew up memorizing the backs of baseball cards, I’d love to have more detailed statistics than this, including some information about how many pages I read per day or how many days I’ve missed my reading schedule.

Read at your own pace

On Read the Scriptures you decide which book of scriptures you’d like to read and how fast you’d like to read it. A few schedules are all set up and ready to use, such as 30, 60, or 90 days to read the Book of Mormon. You can also set up your own reading schedule which will let you read at your own pace.

Work as a team

A newly-upgraded team feature lets you join teams with others and get basic statistics on their reading. Again, I’d love to have more stats here, but it’s enough to tell me that my wife is quite a ways ahead of me in her reading.

Keep notes as you go

I like to keep notes on scriptures, but I sometimes wish I could write more than what I can fit in the space of the margins. Read the Scriptures has a web-reader feature that lets you read and write at the same time, without limiting the length of the notes you can write.

One Goal At a Time

May 24th, 2007  |  Published in Goals

As summer approaches, it means that we’re about as far away as we can get from the New Year, and about as far away as we can get from thinking about our New Year’s Resolutions. That’s okay, though, because it means that we can stop feeling guilty about goals that we haven’t accomplished yet and actually get them done. Zen Habits has a great post on taking goals one step at a time called “The Amazing Power of One“. It’s pretty simple, but it’s very similar to the goals-setting that I’ve been doing myself.

In a nutshell, you list all your goals and pick the most important one to work on and do it until it becomes automatic. As part of your reminder process, you set up a new reminder for the next time you need to do it. Give it a try!

How to Start a Goal

May 9th, 2007  |  Published in Goals

I’m in the process of taking my life off of autopilot. My current mental mode is to live in the future, dreaming of what life might be like once it’s time for our little vacation, or what it could be like when I’m totally done with school. Only recently I realized that it’s so much better to live right now, and to enjoy everything I do. It really makes a difference, and I now look forward to work, play, and whatever. Life’s usually pretty fun (but don’t think that this doesn’t mean that I have ups and downs! We all get them.)

Start with goals.

Settings goals has been a key to enjoying life for me. I like to have goals in a few different categories, including financial, spiritual, personal, and education. In addition to your own goals for yourself, don’t forget family goals or any other type of goals that may apply to your situation. Think of different ways to improve yourself, and work consistently at these goals until they become habits. When I served as a missionary in Argentina, our mission president reminded us that “a goal that is not written down is a dream”. My problem had always been that I didn’t have goals, I had dreams. I wanted to dream about what the future would be like without doing anything now to change that.

Set good goals.

Good goals are SMART. This means that they are Specific, Measurable, Agreed upon, Realistic, and Time-based. These principles apply to all goals, not just personal ones.

Specific Goals

My wife and I are saving up for a new washer and dryer. Our goal is to buy one at the end of next month, but that’s not very specific. In our case we haven’t figured out exactly which one we want (that’s another goal), but once we do, we’ll specify what exactly we want, like “We will save money to buy the Whirlpool Duet Sport washer and dryer”.

Measurable Goals

When we started looking and washers and dryers, we realized that there was a huge price difference between all washers and dryers. Some were high-efficiency and others were top-loading. We want our goal to be measurable, so since we’re saving money for appliances, we want to add something measurable to our goal, such as “We will save $1500 to buy the Whirlpool Duet Sport washer and dryer”.

Agreed Upon Goals

Think of those around you when you make goals. If they are directly involved in the outcome, they should have some sort of say in your goal. In our case, my wife and I both have to agree upon the goal to buy a washer and dryer. This helps us both commit ourselves to saving money for this purpose.

Realistic Goals

If I wanted to buy a washer and dryer next week and hadn’t set aside any money at all for this, it wouldn’t be realistic. Make sure you don’t set yourself up for failure when you set your goals, because that takes all the enjoyment out of achieving it in the end.

Time-based Goals

Having a time-based goal means that you have a specific time in mind for when it should be completed. This way you can measure your progress at any point in time, and track yourself along the way toward this goal. For our goal, my wife and I can say “We will save $1500 by June 30th to buy the Whirlpool Duet Sport washer and dryer”. If the goal is a long way in sight (or even more than a week or so in the future), it’s often helpful to break up that task as well, and say “We will save $200 a week” or something similar, so we don’t end up trying to put together the money the last day of June and calling it saving.

After we have our SMART goals, we’ve got a good start, but we’ve completely left out the implementation. Remembering to address the five principles of SMART, however, will help us realize the interim steps we need to take on that way, and we can set up our own reflection time to track our progress and make sure we are working toward our goals. This process has helped me to enjoy the journey of achieving goals rather than just the end outcome.

Early Morning Goals

May 8th, 2007  |  Published in Goals

Now that my morning schedule has changed, I’ve decided to set a goal to get up early in the morning so that I can go to the gym. My only problem is that my morning nemesis is the alarm clock. How can I get up early in the morning?

I’ve decided that my best way to do this was to inspire myself and reward myself with a more exciting gym workout. I’ve set up my mp3 player to download some new podcasts from IfYeArePrepared.org (I’ll talk more about this later) for me automatically, and I’m pretty excited because these daily podcasts have LDS conference talks and other inspirational messages that will help me start out the day well. Getting up early will also help me move other things to the morning, including my daily scripture reading. I’m pretty excited.

Steve Pavlina has told me how to get up right when my alarm goes off, and 43things has linked me to a community of people who are also trying to wake up early. In my experience, a sense of community is really helpful in achieving goals, especially ones like exercise and weight loss.