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She thought that being popular would bring contentment. She never felt like she was enough. She believed the success equation was: work 24/7 + more work. She chased bigger and faster and more more more. Her marriage began to crumble. Yet, she believed she couldn’t slow down. If she missed a minute on social media, she might miss something. She didn’t think she was doing anything wrong, just what she had to do to keep up. She chased an elusive standard of perfection and she MISSED HER LIFE.
She was me several years ago. I chased my tail until it all began to crash and burn.
If you have been feeling restless lately, so badly wanting things to change, but believing that it’s impossible, I know one thing for sure: there is a way out. Going from constantly chasing something I would never catch, to living in grace didn’t happen overnight for me, but it did happen. It happened little by little, step by intentional step. And the little-by-little, and big leaps of faith along the way, were worth it!
Hi, friends! Welcome back to Part 2 of 2017 Goal Setting. If you are new here, welcome! Hop on over to read Part 1 here to get started.
And thank you all for the birthday wishes. I’m so grateful for another year of life, and that I get to spend my birthday each year here with you, planting good seeds for what’s ahead! Today is a good day!
Okay, let’s get to it.
I wrote the handwriting piece above (which has since been shared on the interwebs tens of millions of times—so crazy) not about skydiving, traveling to a foreign country, or anything you might typically see on a bucket list. I wrote this late one night in my kitchen, just after putting Grace to sleep when she was a baby, about wanting to finally read the Bible from start to finish. It felt like a daunting task, but I wanted to grow my faith. I was determined. This really mattered to me. And when something really matters to you in the big picture, how you do it doesn’t matter as much as why you do it. My why drove me forward, especially during the many times I fell behind or wanted to jump ship. Little by little, over the course of a year and a half, I did end up reading the Bible–and it changed everything. The little-by-little added up.
Maybe you want to cultivate a stronger marriage, find confidence in your career path, or grow in community with others. Maybe you want to learn to steward your finances well, live with less, or finally do that thing that’s been on our list forever. Whatever it is, let’s talk about it! Let’s plan the first seed.
STEP FOUR: As we start this journey together, what’s one thing you want to cultivate in the year ahead? No perfect or polished answers needed here! This is just to get you thinking as we start uncovering the good stuff. What’s the first thing that comes to mind? Write it down, and I encourage you to share your thoughts in the comments for accountability, and to encourage others too. I’m going to leave my answer in the comments alongside you!
STEP FIVE: We talked about the good things from the year in Part 1. Now, let’s look at the hard things. What were the challenges you experienced in 2016? What areas of your life need to be tended, watered, or soaked in sunshine? Don’t just write or say, “Everything.” Get specific and list your greatest challenges—the places that feel overgrown with impossible weeds right now. I know you want to make this your most purposeful year yet, so don’t let negative self-talk paralyze you as you make this list. Write the facts and move forward. Each thing you write down is a potential area of your life that could be made completely new.
Once you have your list of the challenges from 2016, name some of the lessons you learned from those challenges. Here are some my lessons from 2016…
A note of encouragement. Perhaps you are still in the thick of a challenge right now, and have no idea yet what it’s supposed to teach you. That’s okay! Wherever you are, let’s share the challenges and encourage each other. Leave your thoughts in the comments and help encourage others as well.
STEP SIX: Who helped you cultivate what matters in 2016? Looking back at your list of good things from Part 1, and all that you’ve written so far in this series, who helped you to live on purpose this year? Who encouraged or inspired you? Download a free printable worksheet here. Write the names of those you are grateful for and why. And then… do something about it. Thank them for the specific things they helped you with or inspired in you! You may think they don’t need encouragement, or it won’t matter, but words have power. Gift your people with those words! You never know what good it might spark.
Photo by Robyn Van Dyke from baby Sarah’s Sip-n-See. I love these friends!
This year, more than ever, many friends made enormous sacrifices for our family. Here are just a few of the many.
– Every single person who was a part of our adoption—from our adoption consultants, to my friend Casey, and many more. Thank you to so many friends who prayed us through this! We kept a private blog throughout the process for family and close friends, which was one of the best things we did all year. It was a safe space for us to share what we were experiencing, and allowed friends to connect with us and pray specifically.
– When you’re in the thick of it, it can be hard to reach out and ask for help. Knowing this, lots of friends simply showed up. They showed up with food, extra hands, prayers, and encouragement. My friends Talia, Tori, and Bianca often took Grace for play dates with their girls, and this was huge. It was a hard transition for Grace with two babies added to the family so quickly (and two very tired parents all of a sudden). Our friends took her out for play dates, and this was so good for her little heart. I’m so grateful!
– Several generous friends gave us milk for Sarah. This was an enormous gift. I pumped for Sarah while I was still nursing Josh and made enough for a couple bottles a day, but it was undeniably hard. That is a story for a whole other post! These friends filled in the rest, and what a blessing. I’ll never forget this gift.
– As the transition eased and the hard season came to a close, I needed someone to help me sift through all that had happened, and to make some decisions about how I would spend my time moving forward. I began coaching with my friend Diana. Diana has helped me make God-led decisions in the wake of such rapid life change.
– One year ago, I prayed for a wise mentor to help me prepare for adoption, write my book well, and grow my faith. That was a tall order! But, God sure did answer. I still can’t believe how He orchestrated this. I was in an airport going through customs and I heard, “Lara!!” We had never met in person, but Renee spotted me and we exchanged emails. Months later (and I don’t even remember exactly how this happened but that’s God for you), Renee generously offered to drive three hours to my house to help me with my book outline and to encourage me as we prepared for adoption. I was blown away. She showed up with buckets of encouragement and wisdom for me… and it turns out it was her birthday! This generous and selfless gesture sprouted a friendship. I don’t know what I would have done without this lady in the hard seasons of this year. I love you, Renee!
– My team. My team! This has been quite the year for us. As I’ve mentioned, beginning of this year with all of our family transition was trying on our team. But through it all God was growing all of us. I am so grateful for these women.
There are so many more! If you’ve sent me an encouraging email this year, prayed, given me a hug, or if you were the lady in the grocery check out line who told me I was doing a great job on my first outing with all three kids by myself (when two out of the three were crying, and I was feeling anything but confident in my ability to wrangle three littles at the grocery store at the time!)—thank you. Your encouragement has genuinely made a difference.
Who are you most grateful for this year? Leave your answers in the comments, but most of all, send some love to the people on your list!
OPTIONAL* BONUS STEP: Get visual! Great photographs and colors can make my heart sing. If you are like me, you will really love this step. Make a Pinterest board of images that will inspire a purposeful year. What do you want to grow? Title your board “Make it Happen in 2017″ so we can search for each other’s boards! Now, one word of caution. I rarely use Pinterest (like, twice a year) because it can be the black hole of distraction and discontentment. The goal isn’t to have a Pinterest-worthy year, so pick images that have deep heart, not just pretty things. Here’s my board from last 2013 and from 2014, 2015, and 2016. I’ll be pinning 2017 here. *I made this step optional for a reason! If Pinterest distracts you too much, skip this step! There are no rules here. Do whatever will help you to make what matters happen.
Okay, I’ll be back tomorrow for Part 3. Tomorrow’s post includes a powerful step that will help you simplify your year ahead, and I can’t wait!
Comment with your answers from each step as we go through this series to be entered to win the prizes below. I can’t wait to read your answers, and share mine with you too! One person who comments with answers to every step in this series will win a bonus prize: one of everything from the Cultivate Shop! Yes!!! This includes 2017 PowerSheets, the Cultivate What Matters sticker book, the Cultivate What Matters flair pens, books, journals, art prints and so much more!
1. 10 sets of 2017 PowerSheets!
2. A Fitbit Flex
3. A gift card for a massage
4. The 2017 Floret wall calendar
5. A Fresh Start prayer journal from Val Marie Paper
6. Farmgirl Flowers bouquet
7. A (monogrammed!) Cultivate clipboard
8. Watercolor set from Artist’s Loft
9. 2017 Simplified Planner
10. ARE YOU READY FOR THIS?! Mrs. Meyers cleaning products + a free house cleaning!
11. Sweeter than Honey coloring book from Lindsay Letters
12. My favorite Jonathan Adler Grapefruit Candle
13. Five copies of the Make It Happen book
14. A Write the Word journal (we’re sold out of all of them except peach!)
15. A Meyer lemon tree – a family favorite around here!
Enter below and be sure to leave your answers to each step as you go through the series with me!
Giveaway ends January 30th. Winners will be announced on January 31st here on the blog. Shipping some of these items can get costly, so hard goods are for US entrants only. We can convert some of these to digital prizes for my international friends, though (gift cards instead of shipping the item). If you don’t claim your prize within 48 hours, another winner will be selected, so mark your planners and stay posted! : ) Also, this post contains some Amazon affiliates links. No extra cost to you, but it helps us raise funds for Love One Another Project!
Ready for 2017 Goal Setting, Part 3? Here you go!