Want to listen to this post? I’ll happily read it to you!
You know the feeling you get when your to-do list starts running your life into the ground?
There’s so much to get done and it sometimes feels like there’s never enough time for the rest of life—the joy-filled living part. You can’t slow down, though—not possible. Something might fall through the cracks if you do. So you keep going. Striving to get one more thing done and feeling like the only thing that’s done is you.
Maybe that’s you today.
And you’re here reading this post, searching for something that will make life easier, because you feel like you’re MISSING IT. You think, “When will I start really living?”
Let me go ahead and tell you that conquering your to-do list once and for all won’t actually solve the root of the problem.
It starts with what goes on that list in the first place. Maybe, just maybe, you could start doing less and making it mean a whole lot more. It all starts with answering the one question that will change your life forever.
But, before we get to that question, let me help you with something you may be experiencing. Have you caught yourself feeling like your answers to Part 1 weren’t enough? Maybe you’re wondering if you did it “right?” Yes, my friend, you aren’t just doing this “right”—you’re rocking it! I’ve never been so blown away by such clarity and heart. You are here for a reason and your answers to Part 1 were exactly what they were supposed to be. I’m so proud of you! 🙂 So, have you done this right? Yes! You’re on your way to your best year yet!
Get your 2019 PowerSheets before we sell out for the year! Just for you: use code BESTYEAR2019 for 15% off your purchase.
Today’s action steps are simple and powerful. Are you ready?
Let’s do it!
If you’ve been feeling restless lately, wanting things to change, but believing that change is impossible, I know this for sure: change is possible. There is a way to move forward. I’m going to guide you there, step by intentional step.
I wrote the handwriting piece above (which has since been shared online 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 it late one night in my kitchen, after putting baby Grace to sleep, 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 in the big picture!
And when something really matters to you in the big picture, how you do it doesn’t matter so much as why you do it.
My why drove me forward, especially during the many times I fell behind or wanted to jump ship. (Have you ever felt that way?) 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 stronger friendships, grow your business, or learn to cook dinner for your family. Maybe you want to pay down debt, run a 10k, or finally do that thing that’s been on your list forever. Whatever it is, let’s talk about it!
Let’s plant the first seed right here, together!
STEP 4: Ready for the one question you need to ask yourself to uncover your best goals? Here it is.
Where you want to be when you’re 80—or 90 or 100? What will be important to you then, and what won’t?
The answer to this question is the secret to setting goals that matter—goals you can’t wait to get started on.
Have you heard of S.M.A.R.T. goals?
SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals.
But, time and time again, despite their reputation of being foolproof, SMART goals fail.
SMART goals are missing one key component (the secret sauce of our community’s success!): HEART.
When the goal you want to achieve matters to you in the big picture, you will follow through. No matter how many times you mess up along the way, you’ll get back up—because your heart is in it! How perfectly you get there doesn’t matter as much as why. The heart behind your goals is what keeps you from jumping ship at the first sign of imperfection. (Read more about heart-fueled goals here.)
Uncovering heart-fueled goals is what you’re doing right now as you answer this question— and I’m so excited for you!
So, what will matter to you in the big picture and what won’t?
I’ve asked this question of thousands of women and the answers to where we want to be when we’re 80 tend to be about relationships and growing what lasts longer than us.
What won’t matter to you then? How many likes you had on an Instagram post, how much other people approved of you, or having a perfectly clean house or organized pantry, perhaps? (There’s nothing wrong with any of those things, by the way—if having an organized pantry helps you love your people in the big picture, organize your heart out! And social media can be a wonderful tool to help others when used well. It tends to be more of a distraction for most of us, though.)
Your answers here matter.
You never know how long you have left here on this earth to love others and use what you’ve been given to grow good things. Life is too short and too meaningful to coast through. The good you do today has the potential to change generations. That’s why uncovering good goals and having a clear focus is so important.
We can’t do it all and do it well, but we can choose to cultivate what matters.
The alternative is spending your time lost in distractions. Lost in Instagram. Lost in the chase for perfect, or significance, or approval, or whatever it is that has been holding you back from really living. You may find yourself restless, knowing deep down that there’s more to this life. If that’s you right now, you are in the right place! I know that feeling well, and this is your chance to choose change as you answer this question.
To get uncomfortable.
To think bigger than you.
To press into the fear and give it the boot!
Write out your thoughts—and remember, make a mess. No perfect answers or handwriting needed. Write what’s true for you.
Knowing where you want to be in the big picture helps you simplify your life—and your to-do list—today. If there are things on your list that aren’t getting you to where you want to be when you’re 80, maybe they don’t need to be there! (Take that, to-do list!)
STEP FIVE: With the big picture in mind, what’s one thing you want to cultivate in the year ahead? No perfect or polished answers needed here either! There may be many things you want to change and do, but just focus on one for now. What’s one thing you want to grow or change or simplify in your life—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 SIX: We talked about the good things from the year in Part 1. Now, let’s name a few of the challenges from 2018. What didn’t help you cultivate what matters this year?
This may be the most valuable step you take—this will help you know where you’re NOT going in 2019! Write the facts and know that each thing you write down is an area of your life that could be made completely new.
A few of my 2018 challenges:
— Any time I worried, feared, or gave in to stress, it was because I forgot that God is God and He has done countless miraculous things in my life.
— I’ve had a literal pain in my neck. I’m grateful for physical therapy and doctors but injuring my neck (gardening, of all things—granted it was heavy work… uprooting hedges) has been a challenge for me. I have an angry disk that I pray will return to its home one day soon. On the same note with my health, I’m turning 40 next year and the hot flashes and sleeplessness have crept up on me. I’m feeling it!
— Imbalance in my work schedule. I’ve worked past my work hours about a dozen times this year, which may not seem like much, but to me it’s significant. This year brought a lot of work transitions and, for me, a deeper focus on homeschool. So, I had to juggle my time in heavy seasons. I don’t want working nights to continue, though. That time is important to our marriage staying strong and to my health—sleep makes everything better!
— Letting go of Southern Weddings was bittersweet. We completed the work we were given to do, and we made room for new things. But, it was a challenge for us financially. We let go of a growing business and it was a sacrifice we had to make for the big picture, but it made for a lot of stress on my end as unexpected financial burdens hit us this year. As always though, good things come out of hard things (even when I didn’t think they would!). This is why I wrote “I learned to trust Him more than ever this year” on my Good Things list. My faith has grown and my longing for Heaven is stronger. That is a gift!
There were many more challenges—far greater than these—but I’ll say that in all of them, I grew. Pruning is a gift. And for that, I’m grateful.
If you are a believer, ask God to help you let go of the hard things, learn from them, and move forward in His timing. Some encouragement to get your mind refreshed:
‘I do not consider myself yet to have laid hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize of God’s heavenly calling in Christ Jesus.’ (Philippians 3:13-14)
‘See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland’ (Isaiah 43:19 NIV).
Where do you go from here with the challenges? Do you know how cow manure is one of the best fertilizers for flowers and gardens? It’s the same with our challenges! 🙂 Let’s grow some good things and get some fruitful lessons out of what felt like a big mess!
Use the 15% off code BESTYEAR2019 to do this all year long with the PowerSheets Goal Planner.
Once you have your list of challenges from 2018, name some of the lessons you learned from them. In all the hard stuff, there are gifts—valuable lessons that will help you grow what matters ahead. Let’s do some digging and find the golden nuggets of wisdom hiding in the dirt!
Here are a few of mine:
A note of encouragement if you’re 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, you’re right where you’re supposed to be. Write what’s true for you (“I’m not sure what I’m supposed to learn here,” is a perfectly good answer!) and move forward.
STEP SEVEN: Who helped you live intentionally and grow good things in 2018? 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 you or helped you? Download a free printable worksheet here and 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.
You can keep this simple and still make a huge impact: a text or an email can go a long way to change someone’s day—and change their life. I spent the morning sending emails to friends and colleagues who have meant a lot to me this year, and I’ve felt the glow of sending those happy messages all day!
I am grateful for many. A few highlights from my PowerSheets:
Who are you 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! Make a Pinterest board of images that will inspire your purposeful year. What do you want to grow? Leave a link to your board in the comments—I’d love to see! If Pinterest distracts you, skip this step! Do whatever will keep you focused on your best year yet.
Your turn! Today’s 4 Goal Uncovering Steps:
4. Where do you want to be when you’re 80? What will matter to you then and what won’t?
5. What’s one thing you most want to cultivate in 2019?
6. What challenges did you experience in 2018, and what lessons did you learn from them?
7. Who helped you in 2018? Who are you grateful for? (Go tell them!)
Optional bonus step: get visual and make your 2019 vision board!
I’ll be back next Wednesday, December 26th, for Part 3! Till then, Merry Christmas, my friends! My parents just got here and we’re going to bake, listen to Alabama Christmas, and snuggle up right here together! 🙂 I hope your weekend is filled joy!
Need some extra motivation? The Ultimate New Year’s Giveaway is on! (Amazing! Can I win??) I hope this gives you a little extra encouragement to share your answers as we go through this series. I can’t wait to read your thoughts and hear your aha! moments. One person who comments with answers to every step in this series will win a bonus prize: one of everything from the Cultivate What Matters® Shop! Yes!!! This includes 2019 PowerSheets, the new Celebrations Binder, a Goal-Setting Sticker Book, your choice of Make it Happen zipper pouch, my books, and so much more! There are 35 prizes, so that means 35 of you are going to win one of these prizes—it could be YOU. (Including international friends!)
— 10 sets of 2019 PowerSheets to help 10 of you cultivate your BEST year yet!
— A Goal Guide Bundle to help you dig deeper on your specific goals.
— Five signed copies of Cultivate.
— Five signed copies of Make It Happen.
— One Write the Word All Seasons Collection to help you cultivate fresh faith all year long.
— A gift card (YES!) for a massage to kick off your year refreshed!
— A Balanced Life membership – get moving and motivated with a year of at-home pilates!
— A Floret Flowers puzzle (it’s double-sided and so much fun!)
—A Revelation Wellness membership with a ‘Wellness Kickoff Package” to cultivate your health in the New Year.
— One Artifact Uprising album to document the people and experiences that matters most to you.
— An Emily Ley Simplified Planner to keep your schedule organized in the new year.
— Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University course—a life-changing experience to help you pursue financial freedom.
— One Val Marie Paper Yearly Prayer Journal. I’ll be using one this year, too!
— A Hello Fresh boxto keep you fueled with good food.
— One Art Bar canvas (up to $150 value) to brighten your walls.
— A Fitbit to help you celebrate your literal steps forward.
— An Amazon Alexa to keep you dancing.
SHARE THIS SERIES WITH YOUR PEOPLE. Don’t keep all this goodness to yourself! I’d be so grateful if you spread the word about this free series. Email this kick-off post to your friends, tweet it, ‘gram it (here are lots of sharable graphics for you to make it easy!), text it—sing it to the rooftops! Let’s get all our friends in on this so they can feel as refreshed and clear about 2019 as we will. Here’s to our best year yet together—starting now!
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! 🙂 This post contains affiliate links.
P.S. Need a last-minute gift? Buy her a gift card for PowerSheets! It comes with a printable card and the cutest downloadable gift wrap, too. Best gift ever!