Welcome to my Seventh-Annual Make It Happen Goal Setting Series! I’m so grateful for this series, and for all of you who join each year. How has it been seven years, friends? I’m so pumped for this year!!!
Want to listen to this post instead of reading? Here you go!
Let’s get right to it: what brought you here?
Maybe you feel frustrated as you look back at 2017.
Perhaps you didn’t make progress on some goals, or forgot about them completely (You are not alone! I have done that in years past!).
Maybe traditional goal setting has failed you before and you feel defeated already thinking about 2018.
Maybe you stumbled on this post because you want change to have happened yesterday.
Well, I have good news.
Really good news!
After almost a decade of studying goal setting and what motivates people to change and follow-through on their goals, here’s what I know for sure:
What causes people to change is one pivotal moment. It’s the moment where you decide that the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.
This moment might just be that moment for you.
Maybe your thoughts have been something like mine lately: I want my life (or an area of my life) to change/grow/be simplified. I don’t know how it will happen and the unknown is scary, but I KNOW I don’t want to stay the same any longer!
Friends, your restlessness is welcome here.
In fact, it’s a really good thing.
We’re gonna use our restlessness and frustration to propel us forward to CHANGE. Really good life-giving change!
If you’ve been craving something new, you are in the right place. And if you aren’t convinced yet that goals can be life-giving, you’re in the right place, too!
If you are new to this series, welcome—you’re in for a treat this year! Let me back up a bit and introduce myself, because we’re going to have some fun together over the next few days as we go through this 5-part series. I’m Lara. I’m a mom to three, a grateful wife, CEO of a growing company, and I love getting my hands dirty in my garden here in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
I’ve written two books about goal setting and intentional living. (My book deal came from an editor at Thomas Nelson reading this annual series!) I’ve led a conference called Making Things Happen for 9 years. My nickname when I was a personal trainer in New York City was “Ms. Motivator.” But! This all makes me giggle a little bit because I haven’t always loved goal setting. In fact, the words “goal setting” used to give me the heebie-jeebies!
I have a lot of things to take care of in my life (like you), and I don’t have room for a whole lot more (I’m guessing that’s like you, too), and I get tense even thinking about the pressure to accomplish something beyond my current capacity (areyouwithme?).
I started seeing real results in my goals when I flipped the usual process on its head. And that’s exactly what we’re going to do together here.
We don’t do traditional pressure-filled, do-it-all goal setting around here. We uncover intentional, less-is-more goals. I call these “cultivated goals.”
Cultivated goals are about growing what you’ve been given–what you already have: your relationships, your money, your possessions, your work, your children, your home, your health, and your time. A little intentional forethought goes a long way!
Over the last seven years that I’ve been writing this series, as my life has dramatically changed, so has this goal uncovering process. I’ve studied what makes people feel unmotivated, and I have listened to you. I’ve followed your stories and challenges and incredible successes over these years as we’ve done this together. Through it all, I’ve discovered some pretty amazing not-so-secret secrets to getting unstuck.
Uncovering cultivated goals is not about doing it all; it’s about doing what matters. Whether you’re a mom, a student, a business owner, in transition, in the wait—in any place where you are in life, we’re going to let go of guilt-filled, fleeting resolutions, and embrace a whole new way of doing this goal setting thing. For those of you like me who do not like traditional goal setting, you are in the right place.
Listen in as I tell you my story…
Consider the script officially flipped!
From here on out, when I mention “goals” or “goal setting,” know that I’m talking about cultivated goals.
Here’s what cultivated GOALS are all about:
Grow what matters
At a time
Little by little your
Seeds will grow
The alternative to uncovering cultivated goals is going through the motions, not feeling confident that you’re on the right path, lacking motivation, and not taking care of what you’ve been given well. (Speaking from experience here.)
Cultivated goals–the kind we are going to uncover together–give you direction and motivation. You can’t simultaneously do it all and do life well. But you can choose to cultivate what matters, right where you are.
Here’s what you can expect in this five-part series: Each day of the series, I’m going to walk through a mix of goal uncovering steps from my first book, Make it Happen (which you can sample here), insight from my new book, Cultivate, prompts from the 2018 PowerSheets, and I have some new ones that we’ve never done before!
The PowerSheets and my books have many more goal uncovering prompts than I’ve listed in this series. This is just a sampling.
A peek above at one of the new pages this year: the Break Your Identity Box page. And, yes, I love PostIts!
A word of freedom here! Do you need the PowerSheets and books to have an intentional year? No. You don’t need them to live this life well. They are powerful tools if you choose to use them, but if you only do this blog series, and use scrap paper to write your answers, that’s great, too. 🙂 Use what you have! If you are someone who has been stuck in indecision lately or feeling fear about diving into new things, practice what I call “making a mess!” Use whatever you have available to write with, and on. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Just dig in.
As we go through each step together, use the comment area here to leave your answers, or write them in your PowerSheets, a journal, or on scrap paper. Don’t just think your answers. Thinking them doesn’t count. Write them out and, if you want accountability, leave them boldly here in the comments. I want to cheer you on, and this year I’m going to leave some of my answers in the comments, too. Friends, help me out here and cheer each other on, too. You never know who how your words might change someone. If you need an extra kick in the pants to make it happen, I have a giveaway at the end that might encourage you!
Ready to dig in? Step 1, here we go!
STEP ONE: In order to leap into the new, we first must know where we are leaping from. I’m going to ask you the golden question: How are you? Really. How are you? Let’s look at each area of our lives and do a little check-in. Look at the categories below and write out how you are doing in each one:
– Family (including your significant other, if applicable)
– Spiritual + Personal Growth
Feel free to write in your own categories, too! Give each area of your life a rating between 1 and 10, along with a few thoughts on why you chose that number. 1 means you are not satisfied in this area and want to see radical change. 10 means you are happy as a bee on honeysuckle!
One of the new 2018 PowerSheets features: The Cultivated Life Evaluation. This is a simple check-in that helps you to know where you are and where you want to go in each key area of your life!
This is step one for a reason. “How are you?” seems like a simple question, but when answered from our heart of hearts, it can help set you on an entirely new path.
Knowing where you are now, mess and all, helps you to leap to where you’re going.
The soil you’re standing on right now is your growing ground.
How are you? What’s in that soil of yours right now?
Reply in the comments, or on paper right now. I’ll leave my answers in the comments too! And don’t get stuck in the negative soil. Include thoughts about what is good in each area! For instance, as for my feelings about finances: I’ve been challenged by contentment and emotional spending at times, but I have become skilled at managing money. It took ten years, but I now feel comfortable navigating Quickbooks, doing our business finances, and analyzing where we are. (A couple years ago I wouldn’t have been able to type that!) Allow yourself to write the things that may feel undone, imperfect, or hard, and write in some positive thoughts too—even if the positive feels tiny!
Now, a bonus challenge: let the dirt be dirt. Once you’ve written everything out, be still with your feelings for a moment—whatever they may be—without trying to change them or push them away immediately. Let the challenges and places you’d like to grow sink in a little. If you’re like me, I often want to fix my circumstances right away instead of letting myself feel anything at all. My instinct is to reach for a distraction when faced with something that feels hard. (Anyone tempted to go scroll Instagram right now?) But, that never brings me peace or clarity. So, let’s not do that. Maybe the soil of your life needs some fresh nutrients, or maybe there are some big rocks in the way of you planting new things. The only way you’ll know though, is to see what’s there first.
All those rocks and weeds?
They are pockets of purpose waiting to be transformed!
STEP TWO: Watch this video (or at least the first 30-ish seconds) that some of my closest friends and I made for you…
What have you been chasing recently, or in the last year? Do you feel like you are “chasing perfect” in some ways—attempting to measure up to an impossible standard? Write or type here what you have been chasing, and how that has been making you feel. Maybe you’ve been chasing success, significance, or approval. Maybe you’ve been trying to keep up, survive, or just get through. Whatever you’ve been chasing, name it boldly and know that you are not alone. To name your chase is to destroy it.
STEP THREE: In traditional goal setting, you focus on the future, and on achieving your goals as fast as humanly possible. That is a recipe for b.u.r.n.o.u.t. I’ve done it many times in the past, and it’s no bueno. But! Uncovering really good goals means learning from the past in order to cultivate what’s next. The past has a lot to teach us! Let’s take a look back at the last year.
What good things happened in 2017? What grew well? What are you grateful for from the last twelve months?
I know this can be a challenging step. We often don’t like counting our blessings because it may feel self-indulgent or like it won’t get us anywhere fast, or perhaps you are thinking that there were no good things that happened in 2017! It’s easy to look back at an entire year and see only the hard parts, like when something happens to you at the end of the day and you automatically call it a bad day, regardless of what happened the other twenty-three hours.
Let’s do a little digging! A few tips to unearth the good stuff:
– Talk to your significant other or a close friend about your year and ask him or her to reflect some of the highlights back to you. He or she may remember some that you have forgotten! This is also a great way to celebrate the good things of the past year with others. Make it your dinner conversation tonight.
– Take a look back at your calendar, blog posts, social media updates, or photos. Those might give you a clue into some of the good things you’ve forgotten.
– If you are a PowerSheets user, read through your 2017 PowerSheets!
– Review your finances from the year. This is like reading a journal of places you went, and what some of your priorities were.
My Good Things: My word for 2017 was LIGHT, and even in the challenges, it was a year of God’s light changing me and, even in the hard things, a feeling of lightness after a heavy and hard 2016.
A little recap from the last seven years:
2011 – Our marriage is falling apart and then the impossible happens. My husband, Ari, becomes a believer and Grace is born.
2012 – We are parents and life is crazy. I go through post-partum depression and try to figure out how to be a mom and run a growing small business.
2013 – The Lara Casey Shop opens and we release the first version of the PowerSheets. Out little shop takes off faster than we expected. After reading this goal-setting series, a publisher offers me a book contract. I begin writing Make It Happen.
2014 – We try to have another baby and miscarry. Through the grief, I write and release Make it Happen. We start thinking and praying about adoption. The same night I finish our adoption paperwork, I feel a little off. I am pregnant with Josh!
2015 – I start writing Cultivate and Josh is born in August. We match with our birth mom and, with much prayer and open hearts, we say yes to two babies in the span of six months.
Photo by Nancy Ray
2016 – We adopt Sarah and I finally finish writing Cultivate in the middle of the mess. 2016 was a challenging year (I wanted to quit my business), but, I learn that good things grow out of hard things. I let my hair down, we change the name of our company and I pass the torch for my role as Editor-in-Chief of Southern Weddings.
2017 – I finally release Cultivate after two years of writing and re-writing and I begin homeschooling Grace. Our company grows like wisteria in March (a lot!) and I spend the year living what I wrote in Cultivate: ‘Getting our hands dirty in the soil–hands and heart undistracted. Celebrating sprouting seeds, golden yellow weeds, and everything in between. Rejoicing in our weakness. And receiving God’s limitless grace during the many, many, many times we mess up.’
This year, I was so grateful to see all that we teach in action in my own life and goals! I set four goals for the year and made more progress in each than I ever thought possible. A year ago, I knew I’d be so grateful I started these goals, and little by little, they happened! Did I mess up every along the way? Yes! Did I have some challenges? Definitely. But, imperfect progress is still progress and when you embrace that fact, you are far less likely to completely jump ship. 🙂
My four 2017 goals:
Goal 1: Read the whole Bible again. Yes! Read all about this goal here. I am on track to finish the Chronological reading plan on December 31 and I’m probably gonna cry when I finish I’m so grateful for this! I’ve decided to celebrate by going back through all the highlights I’ve collected in my YouVersion Bible app all year and marking them in Grace’s journaling Bible with love notes to her. I’m so excited to do this!
Goal 2: Run, and finally get back into weight training. The former personal trainer in me was a little ashamed of this at first, but you guys, I have made progress! I haven’t had a gym membership since Grace was born, and I haven’t done real weight training in just as long. I used to love being in the gym and feeling strong. But, the logistics with kids and the gym just haven’t worked out. So, I made it work! Read more here.
Goal 3: Live a year of radical gratitude and praise. After a challenging 2016, this was something I needed to cultivate. As I wrote about in Cultivate, complaints are clues. They reveal to us places in our hearts where we don’t trust in God’s goodness or His power. While cultivating gratitude is a life-long pursuit, I am so grateful for how I dug into this goal this year! From praise dance parties to practicing praising God through really hard challenges, this was really good. You can read more about how I made progress in the monthly posts I’ll share in a minute…
Goal 4: Cultivate our life-giving home. This included starting homeschool with Grace this fall, living with less, living in a life-giving space, implementing a plan for the office to semi-transition out of our house, growing our marriage, and planting a family legacy within the seemingly-mundane everyday routines of life, and the bigger celebrations of life (holidays, traditions, milestones) too. Wow, I am in awe that so much of this happened! We started homeschool and we have been loving it. It was a big transition for my work schedule and it has caused me to have to say no a lot more, but it has been worth it. We also made some much-needed home repairs this year, and I created our Cultivated Calendar for 2018. The one thing that changed here was moving the office out of the house. Instead, we made the office better (reveal coming in a few weeks) and I’m so glad we made it work! P.S. My friend Sally wrote a beautiful book about cultivating a life-giving home that I highly recommend! Also, you can catch our live broadcast together here.
You can read all the details of my 2017 goal progress in my monthly updates:
My list of good things from 2017 in my PowerSheets is above. *You’ll notice I have some things covered in my PowerSheets throughout this series. If I wrote about something that had to do with another person, for their privacy, I covered those names and items. Some highlights:
- The progress I made on my four goals this year! 🙌
- Through many challenges we’ve experienced together this year, our marriage grew! We are stronger and more joy-filled because of all we have been through.
- I started homeschool with Grace.
- Our business grew in a new life-giving direction. I was invited to join C12, we added several new team members, and we are excited about the future.
- I finished writing my second book! This was a HUGE praise after two years of writing (and re-writing!).
- There’s more, but I don’t want to do all the talking! I’m sharing just a few things on my list to get your mind turning. I would love to hear from you.
Name three lessons you learned from the good things. For example, in my life there were many times last year that good things happened when I let go of control—whether getting on my knees (literally) in prayer or in looking at how I could change instead of hoping others would change. The lesson for me was a big one: let go. Surrender. Humble yourself. That’s where change begins. I continued to learn that it’s okay to grow slow, and embracing change can be good.
Your turn! Today’s Goal Uncovering Steps:
1. How are you? How are you doing in each area of your life and which areas do you most want to improve?
2. What have you been chasing lately? How is that making you feel?
3. Write your list of good things and lessons you learned.
Then, share your answers here in the comments to encourage others. I can’t wait to personally cheer you on!
And remember this: There is no room for comparison in cultivating what matters. A page from my 2016 PowerSheets:
Whether you had one good thing happen or twenty, celebrate the good stuff and let’s help each other do the same. Let’s turn comparison into compassion and cheering on.
Okay, that’s it for today and that’s plenty to work on. I’ll be back Friday with more goal uncovering goodness!
Take your time with this and remember, cultivating what matters is about progress, not perfection. This is not about writing the perfect list of perfect goals with a perfect pen. It’s about digging into the dirt, right where you are, to grow, tend, and harvest what you’ve been given. This process will have a big payoff, but you have to commit to working through it. Let your 2018 goals bake, like a pan of homemade hot cinnamon rolls fresh out of the oven. They wouldn’t be flaky and yummy zapped quickly in the microwave, would they? They’d end up as a big pile of mushy dough. I’m not going to hand you your 2018 goals; we’re going to do this right and bake them well together, little-by-little, with some bold leaps of faith along the way. Sound good? Awesome!
Need an extra kick in the pants? How about this for motivation? Welcome to the Ultimate New Year’s Giveaway. There are lots of prizes and fun ways to enter. Most of all, though, I hope you comment with your answers from each step as we go through this series. 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 2018 PowerSheets, the Cultivate What Matters sticker book, books, journals, art prints and so much more!
A big thank you to everyone who entered! What a joy it was to hear your responses and get to chat with you in the comments! Congratulations to our winners below! If you’re a winner, fill out this form to collect your prize!
1. 10 sets of 2018 PowerSheets! — Gail boos, Sara Baker, Carrie Condra, Beth Kuligowski, Melissa Kelly, Cierra LaShay, Kara Wallitsch Tydlacka, Charis K, Staci Good Bedenbaugh, and Cara Gordon
2. A Fitbit Flex — Lexie Hart
3. A gift card for a massage — Chris Koiro
4. The 2018 Floret wall calendar — Jen Harris
5. A 2018 Yearly prayer journal from Val Marie Paper — Heather Chollar
6. Keepsake Kitchen Diary from Lily and Val — Zulema Uscanga
7. Farmgirl Flowers bouquet — Bianca Norman
8. Our popular PowerSheets Companion Bundle — Jennifer Harper
9. 1-year membership to Thrive Market — Vanessa Wright
10. 2018 Simplified Planner — Sarah Gonzales
11. ARE YOU READY FOR THIS?! A free house cleaning! — Kara Earhart
12. 5 signed copies of Cultivate — Madelyn Smith, Emily Soroka, Julie Davis, Cortney P, and Shannon Hunsley
13. A seat at Financial Peace University — Kady Curtis
14. 5 signed copies Make It Happen — Keatyn Bergsten, Emily Montgomery, Jenna King, Ann Kuhns, and Kaitlyn Payne
15. Write the Word All Seasons Collection — Hannah Tate
16. A Meyer lemon tree – a family favorite around here! — Lindsey Abrego
17. A 6-month membership to Skillshare — Jessica Gilson
18. A LegacyBox! (Amazing!) — Kerry Batty
19. One of everything from the Cultivate Shop! — Sarah Kemer
Why am I doing this? I want you—yes YOU—to get renewed, and to uncover a solid direction for the year ahead. Help me spread the word, and let’s get all our friends in on this! Here’s to a meaningful, intentional 2018—I am cheering you on friends.
Giveaway ends January 30th. Winners will be announced on January 31st here on the blog. Hard goods are for US entrants only. 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 and all proceeds are donated!
Photos by Gina Zeidler