In conclusion, let me tell you about a personal planning cycle I developed about the time that I was ending my formal education, with the hope that it will cause you to seriously reflect and plan the future. I was a little older than most when I graduated from college; a mission and World War II had slowed the process. I graduated from college just a few months before my twenty-seventh birthday. I was married, and the first child was on its way. Family responsibility has a special way of bringing a maturing process. I decided if I was to accomplish my life's objective I needed to form a plan and review my performance regularly against the determined plan. My decision was that I would hold an annual review on each of my birthdays to evaluate my progress. On my twenty-seventh birthday my first plan was prepared. On my twenty-eighth birthday I made my first annual performance evaluation and plan revision. This I have carried out each year until the present. The plan includes the same ingredients we have discussed here tonight. First, a physical plan: it is near my birthday each year that I go to the doctor and have an annual physical examination. My plan includes some established goals for an active and restive pulse rate, a blood pressure reading, and a weight range. Annually I check my performance in my physical plan.
My physical plan also includes a financial plan. I wanted to have thirty years of accumulation where I could become financially independent. My plan at the end of those thirty years was to be in a position where I could call the shots, be flexible, do what I wanted to accomplish. I would be able to fill a second mission, or to devote my time to community service or education. Each year I would prepare a personal balance sheet to evaluate my progress toward achieving this objective.
Second, I would evaluate my relationships with my wife, my children, my friends, and my business associates. I was continually asking the question, "What kind of an influence in the world am I for teaching righteous principles?" I wanted to be balanced socially and emotionally.
Third, I established a study program to improve my mind. I would mark a calendar each year with my study objectives of how many chapters I would read each day in a 365-day year. I am afraid that in my early years I was moving too much toward the objectives of my professional life. Now my program has changed, because I have discovered the great value of the scriptures. My program now is to read two chapters in the scriptures first thing every morning. By so doing I can cover the Book of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the New Testament each year.
Fourth, each year I gave myself a very careful temple worthiness interview. I would ask myself the questions, "Am I morally clean?" "Do I live the Word of Wisdom?" "Am I honest in paying my tithes and offerings?" "Am I regular in my attendance at my priesthood and sacrament meetings?" "Am I keeping my life in harmony with the principles of the gospel?" "Do I sustain my stake president?" "Do I sustain the prophet of the Lord?" "Is my testimony of the Lord and Savior vital, alive, and an active force in my life?" This process has had me focusing in a special way each year on what I wanted to accomplish within the time allotted to me in my mortal experience. Each year I would feel the thrill of accomplishment, but more strongly the determination to do better.(1)
1. L. Tom Perry, “‘I Need Thee Every Hour,’” 1977 Devotional Speeches of the Year, (Provo, UT: BYU Press, 1978), p. 8.