LDS missionaries are encouraged to plan and set goals during their mission. Returned missionaries are bringing these same goal-oriented attitudes to college after coming home.
“I had dreams before my mission,” said Conner Dewey, a BYU freshman studying pre-management. “Now I have goals.”
Dewey returned from his mission in North Carolina on July 27, 2016. He said his mission provided an opportunity to create a focused plan of who he wanted to become.
Jake Hunter, a sophomore studying mechanical engineering, ended his mission in Montreal, Canada last April. He said before serving his mission he had “big goals,” like getting an education and getting married, that — though important — were vague.
“But now, after my mission, I’ve realized how important those (goals) are, and it’s helped me make more specific goals to achieve those bigger goals,” Hunter said.
Dewey and Hunter were part of a pilot program created by the church called My Plan. The program is meant to “strengthen returning full-time missionaries,” according to the My Plan website.
The My Plan program helped Dewey and Hunter set goals for post-mission life and transition into coming home. They said they used My Plan to complete different objectives for each of the last six weeks of their missions. Each involved a specific topic, such as self-reliance or dating and marriage.
For each topic, they looked up related scriptures, conference talks and videos, and then set specific goals in that area. At the end of their missions, all of the goals were compiled into one document.
Hunter said he liked My Plan, but it was hard trying to make plans while remaining completely focused on the mission. He also said the program helped him avoid distraction from the stress of coming home.
At their exit interviews with their mission presidents, Dewey and Hunter presented their My Plan goals. They also showed their parents their goals. Hunter said when making goals, it’s important to be accountable to someone.
My Plan isn’t available in every mission, but freshman Dalton Bradford, majoring in Middle East studies, had a mission president who gave the rough outline of My Plan and had his missionaries complete it during their last transfer.
“Planning has been a huge part of everything I do now,” Bradford said.
Bradford said a concern for many missionaries and returned missionaries is that they aren’t improving. He said it’s important for individuals to set specific goals, have a plan and ultimately create habits so they are still improving and moving forward even after they return home.
“Spiritual experiences don’t mean anything if they aren’t spiritual habits,” Bradford said.
My Plan is still in pilot form but will be available online for all missionaries soon, according to LDS.org. Missionaries throughout the church will be able to set and achieve goals through this resource, and they will be able to make plans for when they return home.