Fix clearly in your mind what you want to be one year from now, five years, ten years, and beyond. Receive your patriarchal blessing and strive to live worthy of its promises. A patriarchal blessing is one of the most important guides in life that members of the Church enjoy. Write your goals and review them regularly. Keep them before you constantly, record your progress, and revise them as circumstances dictate. Your ultimate goal should be eternal life—the kind of life God lives, the greatest of all the gifts of God.
After you visualize yourself as you would like to be in twenty years from now, identify the preparation you will need. Determine to pay the price in effort, money, study, and prayer. Be sure you understand the course or path you will be taking. The ideal course of life is not always easy. Comparatively few will find it and complete it. It is not a well-marked freeway, but a narrow path with only one entrance. The way to eternal life is straight and narrow. When I think of staying on the right path, I am reminded of Lehi’s dream about the tree of life. In it, the love of God was likened to a tree that bore delicious fruit, fruit that was desirable above all others. As Nephi recorded his father’s words: “And I also beheld a strait and narrow path, which came along by the rod of iron, even to the tree. … And I saw numberless concourses of people, many of whom were pressing forward, that they might obtain the path which led unto the tree.” (1 Ne. 8:20–21.) Many of these people later “fell away into forbidden paths and were lost.” (1 Ne. 8:28.) But those who ignored the scoffing and ridicule of the world and held tightly to the rod of iron enjoyed the fruit of the tree. The rod of iron represents the word of God, that leads us to the love of God. (See 1 Ne. 11:25.) You must hold firmly to the rod of iron through the mists and darknesses, the hardships and trials of life. If you relax your grip and slip from the path, the iron rod might become lost in the darkness for a time until you repent and regain your grasp of it.
Remember that success results when preparation meets opportunity in your lives. You will not always know precisely what opportunities will come or when they will come. But you can be sure they will be valuable only to the extent that you are prepared to respond to them. You can see the equation of preparation plus opportunity equaling success in the lives of leaders in the Church, government, business, professions, and, hopefully, in your own lives.
Preparation is vitally important in the Church so you can do your part when called upon and so the Lord can use you when he needs you.
Joseph B. Wirthlin, “Running Your Marathon,” October General Conference, 1989