Establishing an effective system to grow spiritually can seem daunting, but it need not be so.
Each one of us is different, and so our paths to spiritual strength may vary. The key is to find a balance that caters to our unique psychological needs and helps us progress without feeling overwhelmed.
Consider my wife and I.
My wife’s spiritual strength stems from her systematic approach to her personal development. She meticulously sets a timer for her prayers, journaling, and reading, maintaining a routine of ten daily tasks since 2005.
In contrast, I have always grappled with consistency, largely due to my ADHD characteristic. However, my journey took a major positive turn when President Nielsen introduced the Discover, Plan, Act, Reflect (DPAR) system.
Consider your profession.
Observe how the DPAR method invites and empowers us to adapt to the changing circumstances in our professions.
Most of us are very familiar with trying something (ACT), reviewing the pro’s and con’s of our efforts (REFLECT), studying to learn new and better ways of doing things (DISCOVER), making a new plan or strategy to attend to the same problem or project (PLAN) and then trying again (ACT), in an ever repeating cycle.
The same process can be applied to spiritual development.
Achieving a steady rhythm of spiritual growth, and making adjustments as required, leads to inner satisfaction.
In our pursuit of spiritual growth, a benchmark or a vision of our ideal selves is critical. This benchmark helps guide our self-improvement and ensures we stay the course, even as we balance our active and peaceful tendencies.
We often refer to this benchmark as our Identity Statement, or Personal GPS Destination. Simply speaking, it describes how we want to be as a person when we “get there”.
In my own journey, I have found that the principles of the old Franklin Covey system from the 90’s, while beneficial, can sometimes induce anxiety if we set overly ambitious goals. It has been a challenge to learn how to maintain balance.
In an effort to help others learn the same balance, I now facilitate a class called “Eternal Warriors 3.0”.
In this 16 week training course, we focus on building spiritual and psychological strength while maintaining balance. It is not uncommon for people in our culture to expect too much change in themselves too fast.
We have been taught that 1% corrections are adequate. Elder Uchtdorf once mentioned how airplanes often correct their course towards their destination. When we are driving on a freeway, we make the smallest of adjustments, left and right, to stay on the path that leads to our long term destination.
Similarly, we need to have a clear vision of our ideal selves and continually revise this vision as our spiritual North Star.
Let’s consider the fears that sometimes hinder our spiritual growth. Rather than stating, “I’m afraid of…”, let’s counter them by stating, “I look forward to…” or “I am brave because…”.
We must adopt these affirmations as part of our identity, describing ourselves in our own words, as we aspire to be.
The humor and influence of Abraham Lincoln inspired me, but I didn’t wish to emulate him perfectly; rather, I wanted to incorporate some of his qualities into my unique identity.
Remember, our weaknesses do not define us; they are areas for improvement. As we work on them, we can also allow others to compensate for them, fostering a spirit of teamwork and camaraderie. Accepting our weaknesses while striving to become our ideal selves is the heart of spiritual growth.
As we embrace the DPAR method, I invite you to begin a conversation about your spiritual journey with your loved one, primarily your spouse.
Share your experiences, fears, hopes, and ideas. It requires courage and vulnerability to do this, but it is one of the strongest seeds of psychological intimacy.
After a great deal of practice, together, you can each navigate this journey towards spiritual strength, guided by your individual North Stars. You will find that you can be very inspired by the hard work your spouse is doing to improve themselves.