What I’m Reading (and How I’m Getting it) When I’m Not Reading the Scriptures…

pocketIt is going to sound more impressive than it is (especially once I’ve explained the caveats) but I haven’t missed a day of scripture study since at least July 1991. Probably a bit earlier than that. I’m not that smart, nor am I known for being overly committed to anything. And there have been numerous nights where I just read one or two verses to keep my streak alive. This record isn’t much, but it’s mine.

I suppose people joke that an institute/seminary teacher spends all day reading the scriptures and listening to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Not so. And I don’t just supplement my scriptures study with the Ensign, either (though, I do like the Ensign)…

Just in case it ends up being interesting, here’s what I’m reading and how I’m getting it.

Currently I’m spending more of my non-scripture-reading time on the iPad as opposed to hardbound books. I still have a book by my bedside (The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration, by Isabel Wilkerson) and I will probably always be in the middle of something. But I’m finding a lot of great articles (some long and some short) online following the pattern described here:

1. I find great articles from all over the place on Twitter, especially @PocketHits. @PocketHits keeps track of what have been the #mostsaved articles to the Pocket app.

2. I don’t read the articles I find right then (most of the time). I send them to the Pocket app, which I have an account for and have downloaded on the iPad.

3. When I have time (between projects or before bed or after church or waiting for a sporting event to start) I relax and read the articles.

4. Anything worth keeping, whether they be quotes or entire articles, gets saved to Evernote.

evernoteWhat I’m liking about this method is that I get to read widely and often. I have articles that take a few minutes to read, but I also have article that are considered long-reads that may take a considerable amount of time to get through.

It looks like I currently have articles from the New York Times, The Atlantic, TED blog, GQ, Priceonomics, Art of Manliness, Vogue, PewResearch.org and a few others. The list changes weekly. Some of the subjects? Krakatoa, Jon Ivy, Meditation, social media and the news, physical fitness history, a lightbulb that has been burning for 113 years, apps that TED staffers use, self control, aging to 100, Bill Gates, walking and thinking, stress, a being a hermit, among others…

I do also download talks from BYU Speeches and other LDS sites and blogs, but I think I have a good balance of reading ahead of me at any given time…

Be Encouraging…

BJM

How to Not Be Offended by General Conference…

conferenceNo, I’m don’t usually feel offended or hurt during General Conference. In fact, I never do. I mean, I do get a little sting every once in awhile because I need to change, but more often I feel comfort and peace and I feel excited to get to work on what needs to change in my life.

What I do see online, however, are people expressing thoughts along the following lines: How could President Packer say that? He obviously doesn’t know what it is like to __________… or This is the problem! Elder Anderson just made matters worse when he said __________…

In fact, I’d imagine that people are going to get a little worked up about Elder Cook’s priesthood session address where he stated to unmarried young men (that are in the marriage age realm):

quentin-l-cook-large…the longer you remain single, after an appropriate age and maturity, the more comfortable you can become. But the more uncomfortable you ought to become! Please get anxiously engaged in spiritual and social activities compatible with your goal of temple marriage. (Elder Quentin L. Cook, Conference Report, October, 2014)

I can imagine some people saying: Easy for him to say! He’s married! Doesn’t he know how badly I want to get married? I’m trying! I already feel uncomfortable. His words only make me feel worse…

I just don’t think it needs to be this way, and there are a few keys from this most recent conference mixed with a conference address from a few years ago.

President Uchtdorf gave some instruction regarding our attitudes during conference addresses:

dieter_f_uchtdorf_MDIn these simple words, ‘Lord is it I?’ lies the beginning of wisdom and the pathway to personal conversion and lasting change. (President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Conference Report, October, 2014)

Now, stick with me for a moment. Yes, the start of really learning and growing through our participation in General Conference is to ask ourselves where we are on the subject being spoken of. At that point, you typically have two options. Either it is me, and I need to listen both to the speaker and the Spirit to determine what the next step is for changing. Or, well, it isn’t me. At least not now. Then what?

Here are some thoughts from Elder Jeffery R. Holland regarding that moment:

jeffrey-r-holland-largeIn wanting to measure up to the stern as well as embrace the soothing in our general conference messages, please be reassured that when we speak on difficult subjects, we understand not everyone is viewing pornography or shirking marriage or having illicit sexual relationships. We know not everyone is violating the Sabbath or bearing false witness or abusing a spouse. We know that most in our audience are not guilty of such things, but we are under a solemn charge to issue warning calls to those who are—wherever they may be in the world. So if you are trying to do the best you can—if, for example, you keep trying to hold family home evening in spite of the bedlam that sometimes reigns in a houseful of little bedlamites—then give yourself high marks and, when we come to that subject, listen for another which addresses a topic where you may be lacking. If we teach by the Spirit and you listen by the Spirit, some one of us will touch on your circumstance, sending a personal prophetic epistle just to you. (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Conference Report, April, 2011)

In other words, for the young man who thinks that Elder Cook is only making matters worse because the he is already trying to get married despite the fact that things haven’t fallen into place quite yet, Elder Holland has the answer: Give yourself high marks…and move forward. If you have asked yourself, “Is it I?” and the answer is clearly, No, this one isn’t for you…then you can move on, cheerfully, and look for something else to work on.

The gift of discernment would be helpful here. Certainly we don’t want to assume that a talk doesn’t apply to us because we can’t sense in ourselves a weakness. But at the same time, there is no need to beat ourselves up over an issue where we are already improving.

If the speakers in conference only spoke on topics where there was universal need to improvement, they would only be allowed to speak on pride. Instead, they follow the dictates of the Spirit of God and hopefully each listener finds an item or two where they can improve…

Be Encouraging…

BJM

“Challenges often come in multiple doses applied simultaneously…”

richard-g-scott-largeI have new practice of filling my extra time with interesting reading and then grabbing the highlights and organizing them in a way that helps me retrieve them when needed. I’ll go into this new habit soon enough. Today, I want to focus on one of the gems of some recent study.

I always thought when people expressed that their trials seem to come in waves that they were just seeing their life in a pessimistic light. Of course, if I look back into my journal I would probably notice the pattern holding true for me and my family as well. And, as I was recently studying an address from Elder Richard G. Scott, he seemed to share the same sentiment:

“Just when all seems to be going right, challenges often come in multiple doses applied simultaneously. When those trials are not consequences of your disobedience, they are evidence that the Lord feels you are prepared to grow more. He therefore gives you experiences that stimulate growth, understanding, and compassion which polish you for your everlasting benefit. To get you from where you are to where He wants you to be requires a lot of stretching, and that generally entails discomfort and pain.”

(Richard G. Scott, Conference Report, Oct. 1995)

Does that sound familiar? Just when all seems to be going right, challenges often come in multiple doses applied simultaneously? Problems seem to either invite more problems, or weaken us in a way that makes small problems seem much bigger than they might really be.

Seeing those moments as “evidence that the Lord feels you are prepared to grow more” may be the key to not only weathering the storms but allowing the polishing we really do desire. Much of our success may lean on the glasses through which we try to see our challenges. And there are ways to acquire those glasses…

Sometimes in the middle of the “multiple doses”, I try to imagine what I want to teach my children down the road or share with a congregation about what I learned and how I grew during the current trial. As I imagine the lessons learned, I try to determine how I should act now so that I will be able to genuinely teach those principles in the coming years. That perspective–which is not often easy for me to develop–often helps me start down the road of inspired problem solving much earlier than is my personal pattern. More quickly, I learn to lean on God, ask for inspired advice from family and friends, humble myself, and repent (when needed, which for me is more often than not). As I emerge from the other side of the challenge, it is easier to discern the lessons and pinpoint the principles.

So, here’s to the “multiple doses” since they seem to come anyway. Maybe they are proof of “good things to come” (Hebrews 10:1)…

Be Encouraging,

BJM

 

Facing Long-Term Challenges By Facing Today’s Challenge…

christofferson-weddingI’m in the middle of a project where I’m trying to study young adults through prophetic eyes. This research has given me the chance to read some incredible addresses from apostles and prophets that were directed to members of the church from ages 18-30. I’m not ready to report on anything from that study, but I do want to share one gem that was uncovered while reading this morning.

Rather than let my words get in the way, I’ll just share the idea, as expressed by Elder D. Todd Christofferson:

In the 1950s my mother survived radical cancer surgery, but difficult as that was, the surgery was followed with dozens of painful radiation treatments in what would now be considered rather primitive medical conditions. She recalls that her mother taught her something during that time that has helped her ever since: “I was so sick and weak, and I said to her one day, ‘Oh, Mother, I can’t stand having 16 more of those treatments.’ She said, ‘Can you go today?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Well, honey, that’s all you have to do today.’ It has helped me many times when I remember to take one day or one thing at a time.”

 

The Spirit can guide us when to look ahead and when we should just deal with this one day, with this one moment.

Wise words from a woman who was staring down 16 more treatments after only having one. We are often paralyzed at the thought of how bad things are going to get and that paralysis stops us from thriving–or even living–today. 

Most of us are being challenged by something right now. Whatever that something is may be (or at least feel) long-term, and the thoughts of facing what seems to be an endless river of problems can be overwhelming. But, can you do _____ today? Can you face today’s issues with faith and effort and enough energy to build some momentum? We can “just deal with this one day” today, and the Lord will create plans to help us deal with tomorrow…

Be Encouraging…

BJM

I’m Brian Mickelson and This is How I Work…

How I WorkI’m copying here. Total copycat. But if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then my message is clear. I love the Lifehacker’s “This is How I Work” series of articles. No, I mean, I love these articles. I found them through the blog Art of Manliness, where Brett McKay did a similar thing and then linked me to Lifehacker’s posts. I completely fell in love with this series.

You may be asking what this series of posts is about and you may also not want to follow the link to see for yourself. Here is their last paragraph, which is the same in every post in the series:

The How I Work series asks heroes, experts, and flat-out productive people to share their shortcuts, workspaces, routines, and more. Every other Wednesday we’ll feature a new guest and the gadgets, apps, tips, and tricks that keep them going.

I’m none of the above. But I’ve been reading these posts and putting together the trends, patterns, etc., that seem to cut across the board with these people. The more I read, the more I got interested in analyzing my own “work life”. So I copied the questions from the site and answered them in a Google Doc. The more I’m finalizing the answers, the more interested I became in sharing them here.

I’m not sure why you’re still reading, since I’m not an overly-productive fellow. But, you’re certainly welcome to stay. Or go. I won’t be offended…

I’m Brian Mickelson, and This Is How I Work

Location: Northern Utah

Current gig: Husband, father, Institute Instructor, blogger, photographer, family history guy, crappy but interested gardener…

Current computer: iMac (OSX 10.9.4) at home, PC laptop at work (but I hope that will change at some point…)

Current mobile device: iPad mini, iPhone 4 (with a much-needed upgrade coming in a month, and pending the announcing of the iPhone 6)

One word/phrase that best describes how you work: Balanced and in intense bursts

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

I can live without anything I suppose, but here is the list of apps, software and tools that I love:

Ipad Mini: I use this thing for everything but power-stuff. I don’t want to type out a 2000 word document on the screen very badly, but I study, research, read, watch Netflix, study scriptures, etc., on the iPad mini and use it everyday, all day.

Google Docs: I love having access to lessons I’m working on, talks I’m preparing, and my personal journal no matter where I go or what device I’m on. Using Google Docs for my journal has made it so much easier to keep a consistent journal. I love it. At this point, I prepare all of my lessons on Google Docs.

Reminders: I know there are a ton of great apps out there for listing what I need to accomplish, but Reminders is simple, hooked with Siri, and easy to use. If a todo app isn’t easy to use, I won’t use it, I’m sure. I used to use ToDo and quite like it.

Calendar: I use Apple’s native Calendar app on the iPhone for the same reason I use Reminders. I know there are better ones. Don’t care.

Evernote: I’ve used Evernote off and on for a couple years, but recently realized how great it is. I take all of my notes from the various meetings I attend on Evernote, keep track of recipes I want to use, keep track of restaurants that Janese and I like, and keep track of the family history research I’m almost always in the middle of. More will come. Evernote is wonderful.

Pinterest: I’m a highly visual person, so I love keeping photography ideas coming using Pinterest. Plus, I find a lot of recipes I like here as well.

Pocket: New to me as well, but I’m using it a lot. I do love to read articles in my spare time.

Notebook: I almost always keep a notebook close by when I’m working on project. There are some notes I just need to hand-write and I don’t need access to them later. I use the Norcom 100 page composition notebook (9″x7″) and the Staples Composition Book Polypropylene College Ruled (5″x7″) 80 page. I just keep one with my laptop and one by my home computer. When I’m doing family history research, there is always something I need to write down and keep in front of me while I’m looking up related. When I’m preparing lessons I like to make simple outlines of gospel principles and ideas before I start typing.

LDS Gospel Library: There are a lot of LDS scripture apps and christian scripture apps that do so much more than LDS Gospel Library. What I love about the LDS Church’s app is that it syncs in the cloud and I have access to everything on my laptop as well. This app just makes scripture study and annotating painless and a natural part of my daily scripture study.

Twitter: I don’t spend very much time on news sites anymore. I just follow the feeds of any new organization I want, as well as interesting people, entities, and friends. I love Twitter so much more than Facebook right now. So very much more…

Swell: This is the best podcast aggregator available. Hands down. (Apple shut it down for now. Not happy.)

What’s your workspace like?

I just had a change in my employment and currently have two offices, as well as a workspace at home. My office in Brigham City is still a mess since I don’t do as much preparation work there as I do in Logan. I have two desks in Brigham, one I don’t use very much while the other is very simple: it supports my laptop, scriptures, iPad mini, and whatever books I’m using. My bookshelf is full of books and I’m referencing those periodically.

My second office is in Logan and I love working there. I have all kinds of bookshelf space, and two books… Most of my research is based in the scriptures and the words of the prophets from General Conference, so I just don’t need much. Any other book I need, I just get out of the institute library. What I love about this office is that, even though it may be the smallest office in the building, it has a window. I work so much better where there is natural light.

At home, I don’t have a personal workspace, per se, but a family workspace. In the kitchen. Like every other family. But there is where I do my photography editing. The iMac’s screen is glorious and makes editing a pleasure…

What’s your best time-saving shortcut/life hack?

I don’t know if this qualifies, but it works: I accomplish a lot between official work sessions and I watch very, very little television. Put those two things together and I can get quite a bit done. I typically work certain hours. But between those spaces of defined work, I accomplish other things that interest me. For instance, I get a lot of podcast listening to done in the car from home to work and back. In the morning, when I’m eating breakfast, I often do family history or write blog posts. When I’m exercising, I never listen to music. I listen to General Conference addresses or podcasts. I edit photography while I’m correcting work for BYU-Hawaii (I help with some of their online classes). I never, ever just turn on the TV to see what’s on. I’d rather be doing something. If I want to relax with the TV, I am very purposeful and use Netflix or the NFL. And this is pretty limited. I would imagine that I watch about 2 hour of TV during the week, tops, which leaves me a lot of time to accomplish other things, even non-work-related things.

One final life hack. I’ve turned off all notifications on my phone. I don’t see when someone tries to contact me on Facebook or Twitter. In fact, my iPhone is on “do not disturb” more than half the day. This allows me to focus in very intentionally on projects I’m working on, and makes my effort all directed at the matter at hand. I used to hear my phone vibrate every time anything on social media happened or when I got a text. Now I control when I am contacted by someone else. I love it. Totally frees me up.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without?

Again, not much I can’t live without. Other than my digital stuff, I really love our Blendtec blender. My wife won it at a race she competed in and we’ve never looked back. I also purchased a little Gerber Curve knife that hooks to my keychain. I bet I use it at least once a day. Sharp, small, and has a few little tools to boot.

I love my composition notebooks. I’ve never found a better note-taking device. I’ve seen better note managing and organizing devices, but nothing better to scratch out notes quickly and in whatever level of detail I need.

The last gadget is my garage. I could live out there.

What everyday thing are you better at than everyone else?

Honestly, I’ve never been that guy. I’ve never, ever been better than everyone else at anything, ever. Doesn’t matter the size of the group of people we’re looking at, I’m never better than everyone. I gave up on that a long time ago.

But, with said, there are some things I’ve gotten pretty good at. I’ve really focused a lot of energy and effort on encouraging others. I’ve also developed the habit of accomplishing a lot of things between official work sessions (as noted above). And finally, I have an inborn ability to become very passionate about something and driven to become adept enough to get the benefits. Once I develop an interest in something new, I’ll spend a very intense period of time studying, practicing, and developing. It can drive people crazy but my energy level rises when I’m in the middle of this intense time. Add to that the fact that I get interested in a wide variety of things: bird-watching, podcasting, family history, fly-fishing, cooking, blogging, gardening, tech stuff, writing, etc. I get to do a lot of things…

What’s your favorite to-do list manager?

Apple’s Reminders app. Simple. Linked with Siri. Alarms. It is the only manager I use and I have no complaints. I used to use ToDo by Appigo and really liked it.

What do you listen to while you work?

While at work, I either listen to nothing, with the door closed, or I use Pandora and use the Baroque Radio channel or the LDS Hymns channel. That fits what I’m usually studying. When I’m editing photography, I listen use Grooveshark and listen to just normal top-40 embarrassing stuff. Or, I like to listen to Peter Breinholt….

If I’m doing mindless stuff like organizing the garage or doing dishes or driving or exercising, I listen to podcasts. I think if I had to only listen to one thing, I’d choose podcasts and would work in silence when I didn’t want noise. My favorite podcasts: RadioLab, This American Life, Car Talk, Conversations, and 99% Invisible. I used to use the Swell podcast app which was perfect. Then Apple bought it, shut it down, and will probably come out with a version I don’t like as much as I like Swell.

What are you currently reading?

I study the scriptures every day (outside of work) and have since 1990. So I’m reading the scriptures every day. I’m currently also reading endless articles online. I just finished Orwell’s 1984, and in the middle of Bushman’s Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, and have been working on a few Hemingway books which I haven’t loved. I recently started getting back to some of the classics in literature and have enjoyed that. I’m starting Lord of the Flies, Grapes of Wrath, and probably a few other books that everyone read in high school.

I recently finished Christensen’s How Will a you Measure Your Life, Oaks’ Life’s Lessons Learned, am always in the middle of Les Miserables, Wells’ Successful Home Gardening, and Sibley’s The Sibley Guide to Birds. I’m also slowly studying Preach My Gospel again.

Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert?

The question makes it sound like a person is one or the other. I doubt many people are. I’m probably an ambivert. And a lot of this depends on how much sleep I got the night before. I really enjoy being in the classroom and have no qualms about being in front, teaching and discussing, etc. I like small get togethers with other couples. I like being with friends in small groups. And I get a lot out of small group collaboration. But I really gain energy from time alone doing tasks and being in the quiet. I think I need both. I’m rarely the loudest in the room.

What’s your sleep routine like?

I get to bed by 10p-ish and read or watch a show on Netflix and try to get to sleep between 10:30p or 11:00p. I almost always wake up just before 6a, with or without an alarm. With teenagers, I don’t always stick to the bedtime, but my bladder is set to 5:45a…

Fill in the blank: I’d love to see _________ answer these same questions.

Clayton Christensen, Elder David A. Bednar, Harmony Holmgren, Steve Jobs (this one is unlikely), Bobby Lewis, Stephen R. Covey (again, unlikely). There are others. I love this series of questions and learning about how others get things done.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

This is an unfair question, as I’ve received a lot of great advice, and have read a lot of great advice. Here are three:

President Gordon B. Hinckley stated that “you can get a lot done if you don’t care who gets the credit.”

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11, NIV)

When I first started teaching, one of the most experienced teachers shared with me that I should have interests outside of my work life that I could be passionate about and spend time thinking about. Over the years I’ve found that having a list of non-work related things that I like doing with my family and by myself has made my work-related efforts better. Wish I could remember who shared it with me!

Ebola: Proof There is No God?

140802-kent-brantly-10a_bf22241c5e66a2193459a750131e1f76A friend of mine recently posted a story from the web reporting two things: First, that Dr. Kent Brantley, a physician who recovered after being infected with the Ebola virus, gave God the credit for his recovery, and that, secondly, people shouldn’t believe in a God that saves one person from Ebola but allows 1200 other people to die from Ebola (because, as the story states, what kind of God would do that?).

I think there is some error in that reasoning. Here are a few points that are at least worth pondering even if you’re not inclined to believe them:

1. If a real, loving, compassionate God never let people die, that would make for kind of an odd earth experience. There would be a lot of people per square mile. A lot of old people per square mile. A lot of people who would be three and four hundred years old.

2. In articles like the one referred to above, death is seen as bad, and God doesn’t allow bad things to happen to good people. I realize that the death of a loved one causes us to be understandably sad, but I don’t think anyone is sad that a person who has died has the chance to move forward in God’s plan of salvation. We’re sad because we will miss the deceased loved one. When my grandmother passed away, there was a big part of me that was excited for her to see grandpa, to see the son she lost during the Korean War, to be able to see more clearly and walk more easily. The last decade of her life was much harder than the first eight. Death was a progression in the plan and a happy moment for her I’m sure.

3. Death isn’t a heaven-sent judgement that you’ve become unusable to the Lord in life, therefor He stopped keeping you alive. Lazarus was brought back from the dead, but I think that everyone realizes that Lazarus also died some time later. There seemed to be some real blessings that came from Lazarus’ return to our world four days after his death, but I don’t think that Lazarus’ eventual death some years later proves that God forgot about him and his family or ignored him or ran out of use for him. And I’d bet that when Lazarus died and wasn’t brought back, there were loved ones who prayed for another miracle but had to let go of Lazarus this time.

4. If God allowing some to live and others to die is some kind of proof of his non-existence or non-interest in us, how would one explain the Savior’s earlier departure from this world? Surely people prayed that He wouldn’t die….But as their understanding grew, so would their acceptance that Jesus’ death wasn’t proof of an unloving God…in fact, quite the opposite was (is) true…

5. Having a trial-filled life isn’t proof of an unloving or non-existing God. Having a trial-filled life is proof that you are mortal and that there is testing of the highest order happening in mortality. I don’t suppose there is any scriptural proof that God has to treat everyone exactly the same, and give each person what they want, in order to exist and love His children.

6. In light of the fact that we lived as spirit children of Heavenly Parents for a long time and that we will live eternally (and that is a long time), I imagine that once we’re deceased, we will be able to look back on this life and see how relatively short it really was. Any suffering that we experienced (and we all will have experienced a lot of it) will fade quickly in light of our eternal natures.

Let me end this way: We have a Heavenly Father who loves us. We have a Savior who loves us. When a loved one passes away, whether from Ebola as a ten year old or from cancer at an old age, they have the chance to move forward toward more learning, more light, and an eventual resurrection and reuniting with those they love. Those assured blessings are proof to me of a loving, guiding, providing Heavenly Father who I can trust…

For more information on this subject, explained much better than I can, please read this

Be Encouraging…

BJM 

PS… you may disagree, but please do it respectfully…

An Open Letter to All of My Former High School Students Now Going to College…

580-institute classWell, you’ve had your first day of freshman year. You’ve already missed multiple hours of needed sleep, thought about your parents more than you thought you would, forgot to charge you iPod, and made eye contact with a pretty attractive person in one of your classes. Now that you’ve got those moments under your belt, can I just share a couple odd pieces of advice? I’ve known a lot of young adults and you know me…I’ve asked a lot of questions. Here are a few things you should know:

lds-young-single-adults-arriving-at-institute1. Take an institute class. Yesterday was my first day teaching institute adjacent to a large university and I asked these upperclassmen why they keep signing up. Two answers set the pattern. First, they all seem to love the break from a very, very hectic and stress schedule at the university. Second, multiple students expressed the idea that institute helps them “not stay in the same place spiritually, for too long”… Just walk into the closest institute building, find the front desk, and they will help you find a class. Any class! Any teacher! If you want to register for a class online, start here: Find an Institute. Whether you liked seminary or not, I promise you will love institute. Plan on attending their activities. Plan on attending classes all through college. Plan on doing some homework in the lounge area at the institute.

2. Stop treating sleep like your ex-boy or girl friend. What I mean is, stop ignoring your sleep. In high school it was badge of honor to tweet about how little sleep you got (#nosleepclub). In college, you will drown. Your instructors expect a lot out of you every day, and classes cost you (or your parents) a lot of cash. Go to bed on time, get up early(-ish) and live like an adult!

3. Get up on the first Sunday of your college experience and go to your assigned ward. Do not go home and attend mommy and daddy’s ward (Parents, don’t freak out…they’ll still come home…they have to do laundry). Walk up to the bishop on that first Sunday, shake his hand, and share your name. Accept a calling. Go home or visiting teaching. It is time to treat your spiritual life like you value it. If you haven’t been in the habit of studying your scriptures daily and praying often, start now and never stop. Ever. I have noticed that students who drive home every weekend and don’t connect with their college ward struggle most of their young adult life to stay connected to the church. God know which ward you live in and He expects to find you there each Sunday.

reminders4. If your junior year at high school didn’t do it, college should help you develop a plan to stay organized. You have to have a way to write things down, keep track of assignments and appointments, and have a schedule of work, play, homework, and sleep. Use your iPod. Download an organizational app and get to know it. Every day should have at least a flexible plan. Set alarms on your phone so you don’t forget things. I don’t know any successful people who aren’t at least moderately organized.

5. Take your dating life off of social media and put it into real life. I know, sounds weird, right? But in high school, you can tell who is breaking up with who by the way they subtweet their life events surrounding the break up. No more tweeting stuff like, “So this is how it is going to be” or “I deserve better” or “I thought things would be different this time”… If you have something to communicate to a significant other, tell them, not everyone but them. Use Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc., in ways that will uplift you and others, send others a positive message about the type of person you are, and in ways that invite fun and humor. Want more info about how social media can be used? Go here.

6. Last but not least, if you want to re-invent yourself positively, now is the time to start. Relatively speaking, very few people know you on campus. They don’t know what you were like in high school. They won’t question your motives. If you’ve always wanted to be someone who is friendly, but just weren’t that person in high school, you have permission to start today. If you were always a little hesitant to raise your hand and comment in seminary, you can start in institute. No one knows that you were not a “share-er” in seminary. Determine who you and the Lord want you to be and move that direction, starting right now.

Of course, there’s more to success in college than what I’ve shared. These six ideas are part of a much larger pattern of success in young adult life. You’ll figure it out. I have all kinds of confidence in your ability to discern what invites happiness and success. And please, check in with your old seminary teacher every once in awhile!

Be Encouraging…

BJM