Big Goals, Little Steps

Part 4 of ‘The Return of the Missionary’ Series

This is an image that I designed and created especially for this post. A vision of what it feels like for many missionaries as they leave fulltime service and come back into the world.

Sometimes coming home from a mission feels like you are stepping out from Eden into the vast wastelands. Without goals in mind, a missionary can be left to wander the wastelands with little purpose or focus. With larger goals in mind, it may still be rough, but there is purpose and hope on the horizon as they take each day, step by step.

Today’s post is all about how returned missionaries can take those small steps towards the greater goals in life; navigating through the wastelands to find haven within the Temple and the ordinances found there.


Big goals, little steps.

From Dave and Wendy Ulrich

Newly returning missionaries will not be able to create a ten-year plan for themselves (although some would like to). More important is to start doing small things that will help them get some momentum and put them in the path of inspiration. Help them list ten little things they could do in a variety of areas to get started (school, work, social life, hobbies, church, friends, etc.), and the bigger life purposes will emerge over time. Review patriarchal blessings. Make lists of what they have learned, what they like, and what they want.

Some helpful books:

1. What Color is Your Parachute? (Bolles) for direction in career decisions

2. Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, (Steve Covey) for goal setting, planning

3. Seven Habits for Teens, (Sean Covey) for goal setting, planning at a teen’s level

4. The Artist’s Way, by Cameron for imaginative ways to get started with goals


What do I think?

Recently, in talking with one of our daughters, my husband and I explained that if anyone had said to us 25 years ago that this is where we would be at this time of our lives we would have laughed at them. While we are in a very good place, the journey we have taken to get here has been one that we would never have been able to predict. Nobody knows what twists and turns are along the path of life. This is most applicable to missionaries returning home. Many think that they have the answers and burst back into the world with high expectations, only to be discouraged by what they find.

I am hoping that the image I have shared above instills a sense of what it can be like for many missionaries coming home. It certainly reflects the feelings that I had over 30 years ago. As Dave and Wendy stated, it is very hard for a returning missionary to create a 10 year plan. As a returned missionary I knew what I needed to do, but I had little control over the many of the important things. But what I did have was control over the little things. Those little things were what prepared me for the bigger decisions when they came along.

On their departure from their mission, most missionaries are given the challenge by their Mission President to go home, find a companion, marry in the Temple, and raise a righteous family. Honorable, but HUGE goals. For the majority of returning missionaries, these goals will not be met within the first 6-12 months of returning home. They are also goals that most have little control over until the opportunity arises.

So what is vital to these young people is the need to micro manage their lives in such a way that they are working towards those greater goals. Small steps towards the bigger goal…


1. Have you talked to your returned missionary about what they hope to do in the future in terms of work, school, hobbies, church service etc?

2. Have you shared with your returned missionary some of the experiences you may have had in terms of setting goals?

3. Have you taken the time to share with your returned missionary strengths that you see they have?

4. Can you share here an experience your returned missionary has had where setting smaller goals has led to the successful achievement of larger goals?

>> Part 5 Renegotiating Family Relationships >>


2 thoughts on “Big Goals, Little Steps

Leave a Comment...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s