November 1, 2021
Have you ever felt like you want to be better but don’t know where to begin? You’re not alone! After watching the reconstruction of the Salt Lake Temple, Russell M. Nelson, prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, said, “As I have watched workers dig out old tree roots, plumbing, wiring, and a leaky fountain, I have thought about the need for each of us to remove, with the Savior’s help, the old debris in our lives.”1
Self-improvement can be a balancing act between changing for the better while still recognizing the good in yourself. It may be difficult, but it is possible! Consider following these four tips to help you start your personal renovation.
1. Evaluate your foundation
After looking at the 128-year-old temple’s foundation, President Nelson said in the October 2021 General Conference, “The foundation of any building … must be strong and resilient enough to withstand earthquakes, corrosion, high winds, and the inevitable settling that affects all buildings.”2
Your personal foundation should be grounded in your purpose — or the “why” behind your actions — which gives you direction and strength to do the right things for the right reasons. The strongest foundation we can have is a desire to become like Jesus Christ. Once you’ve identified your purpose, President Nelson suggests that “[you] implement extraordinary measures — perhaps measures [you] have never taken before — to strengthen [your] personal spiritual foundations.”
2. Acknowledge debris
Strengthening your foundation starts with identifying the old debris in your life, but in a healthy and constructive way. Debris is anything that limits your ability to become who you want to be — and who God needs you to be.
Personal reflection is one way to acknowledge what needs to go and what can stay. In the Harvard Business Review, Jennifer Porter said, “Reflection gives the brain an opportunity to pause amidst the chaos, untangle and sort through observations and experiences … and create meaning.”3
Consider taking some time to think about your thoughts, words, and actions. Are they helping you come closer to or pulling you away from your goals? You might write the things you want to change and the things you are doing well. Once you acknowledge the “debris” in your life, you’ll be able to make plans for how you want to improve in a positive and realistic way.
3. Take action
After you see what you need to fix, the next step is to take action. It isn’t enough to stop bad behavior; you have to replace it with something good! Try to pick one thing that will help counteract a personal flaw and do it consistently. The key is to start small and stay consistent.
Given time, these small actions will clear away the old debris in your life, helping you become “happier, more productive, and less burned out”4 and giving you the confidence to strengthen your spiritual foundation, as President Nelson suggested.
4. Preserve the good
Through personal efforts to renovate, don’t forget that you have many magnificent qualities too! Just because the Salt Lake Temple has cracks and flaws during construction doesn’t make it less valuable or sacred — and the same goes for you. Despite shortcomings, your infinite value to God never changes.
President Nelson said, “Please believe me when I say that when your spiritual foundation is built solidly upon Jesus Christ, you have no need to fear. As you are true to your covenants made in the temple, you will be strengthened by His power. Then, when spiritual earthquakes occur, you will be able to stand strong because your spiritual foundation is solid and immovable.”5