Goal Setting and Boat Building


We reviewed the story of Nephi building a boat in 1 Nephi 17-18 (we watched the Living Scriptures video, but you could also read and/or act out the story). This family home evening lesson would also work great with the story of Noah’s ark.

Nephi had a goal to build a boat.  How did Nephi accomplish his goal?  First, he cut it into smaller steps to make it more manageable.  Here are some of the things he did:

1. Gathered necessary supplies – asked the Lord where he could find ore (1 Nephi 17:9)

2. Made a bellows (1 Nephi 17:11)

3. Made tools (1 Nephi 17:16)

4. Didn’t let others discourage him from working on his goal (1 Nephi 17:17-18, 50)

It Couldn’t Be Done

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done
      But he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
      Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
      On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
      That couldn’t be done, and he did it!
Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;
      At least no one ever has done it;”
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat
      And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
      Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
      That couldn’t be done, and he did it.
There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
      There are thousands to prophesy failure,
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
      The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
      Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing
      That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it.
By Edgar Albert Guest

5. Got others involved (team effort) – family helped him (1 Nephi 18:1)

6. Worked diligently, did as much as he knew how, and then asked for further directions from the Lord (1 Nephi 18:1-3). One of my favorite verses in all of scripture is 1 Nephi 18:3 “…and I did pray oft unto the Lord; wherefore the Lord showed unto me GREAT things.”  That is the power of prayer.  Nephi didn’t know how to build a boat, but the Lord did and He showed Nephi how to do it through prayer.  Never underestimate the power that can come from a simple prayer.

Nephi’s goal was very ambitious. He set out to do something he didn’t even know how to do, but with a lot of hard work, determination, and prayer he accomplished the impossible!


After the lesson, we helped the boys accomplish a goal of building their own boats out of egg cartons, toothpicks and card stock. We broke up the bigger goal into smaller pieces — cut up the egg carton, tape on the toothpicks, cut out the sail, etc.  We talked about how each step helped us get closer to our goal.  Their favorite part was decorating the sails with stickers and then filling their boats with all kinds of passengers (various toy animals which made me think we should have done Noah’s ark!).

051 050



Goals should be S.M.A.R.T.

S – specific. If the goal is “I want to become better at the piano,” when can you check that off?  It is better to be more specific.  A much better goal would be: “I want to learn two new songs on the piano.”

M – measureable.  You want a goal to be something that you can check off as done.  There is nothing like the satisfaction of knowing you have accomplished something.

A – achievable

R – relevant

T – time bound

For our two-year-old, we set the goal of learning 3 new signs this week and doing singing time every day for 15 minutes. For my four-year-old we set the goal of working on the alphabet every day and he set a goal of learning to play soccer.  I found a really cute blog post with Goal Setting Charts for Young Kids. This helped me make my goals for my kids S.M.A.R.T, fun, and gave me a way to help them see their progress visually which I think is really important for younger kids.


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