Author: Lara

The 2018 PowerSheets Intentional Goal Planner releases one week from today, and what I’m about to say may make you do a double-take:

You don’t need PowerSheets to cultivate what matters.

Have they helped thousands of women? Yes.
Are the 2018 editions our best yet? Most definitely.
Do I believe that they will help you uncover and make progress on your goals? Yes, but you technically don’t need any thing to live intentionally.

There’s something you need before you even consider uncovering goals with the PowerSheets: one essential truth.

Want to know the rock-solid truth that I think we lose sight of most often?

We were created for a purpose.

Do you believe that? (And if you don’t, I’m so glad you’re here with me right now!) You see, there’s this thing that can happen when we look at other people’s lives, other people’s dreams, other people’s relationships or smarts or progress: comparison.

Comparison knocks us from “I have a purpose” to “I’m not as good as _____, so how can I have a purpose??”
Comparison is the greatest killer of contentment.
Comparison isn’t just the thief of joy, it’s the thief of everything.

My friend, if the Lord takes me home tomorrow, and this is the last note I ever get to type to you, I hope you let these words take root:

Don’t let comparison keep you from doing your life and your unique path.

You’re not “just” a stay at home mom (and let’s be real – there’s no “staying” when you’re a mom!).
You’re not “just” a student.
You’re not “just” an empty-nester.
You’re not “just” a ______ (fill in whatever it is you’ve caught yourself feeling lately).

You’re YOU.
Marvelous, wonderful you!

Your goals matter enough to cultivate them–growing them over time as you take small steps forward (and some big leaps along the way, too). Your cultivated life matters enough to tend it like a garden and trust that each effort invested will add up.

I’m a real person typing this to you. I’m not perfect. And yet, I know for sure I have a purpose. Do I sometimes lose sight of that? Yes! But that’s why I believe we were connected together–to keep each other holding on to the truth that what we do here together on this earth matters.

If you do choose to use the 2018 PowerSheets alongside me this year, I hope you live out these words and don’t let comparison distract you from getting after this life. And in the times you forget, I’ll happily remind you that living your unique purpose is about cultivating what you’ve been given (what you already have!): your relationships, your money, your work, your home, your health, and your time.

Everyone else is going to tell you to do it all, to be it all, and to do life like all those other people.

I’m not.

The most radical thing we can do is consistently walk our own unique path.
It’s okay to grow slow.
And failure is just fertilizer.

Have you struggled with comparison or saying “I’m just a ____?” I’d love to hear from you. And I’m so grateful to walk this path alongside you!

—-

The collection officially releases to our Cultivate Shop next Wednesday, October 25 at 10 am Eastern.

It’s here!!! Download our 2018 PowerSheets and Accessories Guide now to see all the details (and new products!).

And here’s a replay of the 2018 product reveal!

 

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From my days as a personal trainer to where I am now, I have seen it all with goal setting! I’ve seen people’s lives transform in profound ways and I’ve also seen people chasing their tails–not making progress, lacking motivation, and eventually giving up.

Photos by Gina with my good friends Brooke and Bailey… and a first peek at the 2018 PowerSheets! 🙂

Over the last 15 years, I have led the Making Things Happen Conference 52 times, witnessed thousands of PowerSheets journeys, and studied how people make their goals happen. Traditional goal setting does not work for me, and it turns out, it doesn’t work for a whole lot of other people too.

Here are 9 solid truths about what doesn’t work in goal setting (surefire ways to chase your tail!)–and what does work.

1. How to chase your tail: Look at other people’s goals and progress to define your own.
How to make progress: Uncover your own unique goals and path.

2. How to chase your tail: Believe in quick fixes.
How to make progress: Embrace little by little progress.

3. How to chase your tail: Wait for perfection before you dig in.
How to make progress: Get your hands dirty and take action.

4. How to chase your tail: Ignore what’s not working.
How to make progress: Examine where you are in order to leap to what’s next.

5. How to chase your tail: Go through the motions, doing the same things you’ve always done.
How to make progress: Create a long-term vision and get after it.

6. How to chase your tail: Wander aimlessly, not setting goals at all.
How to make progress: Set out on a purposeful path by uncovering cultivated goals.

7. How to chase your tail: Place all of your value in the finish line.
How to make progress: Find joy in the journey.

8. How to chase your tail: When you don’t make perfect progress, abandon ship.
How to make progress: Embrace and celebrate imperfect progress.

9. How to chase your tail: Do it alone.
How to make progress: Be in community, sharing your goals and encouraging others along the way.

Have you ever chased your tail in any of these ways? (I have!)

There is good news.

The makes-me-want-to-do-a-praise-dance good news is that it’s not too late for some major change. I have seen this countless times. You can start fresh, falling down seven times and getting up eight. Your next step can be in the right direction, and your little-by-little steps forward will add up. I’m excited for you!

More good news: I have so much in store here on the blog in the days and weeks ahead to help all of us uncover and make progress on cultivated goals. We’re releasing the 2018 PowerSheets on October 25th and I have my best tips and grace-fueled goal setting advice coming your way along with them.

Your turn! Which of the things that don’t work  (and the things that do work) stood out to you the most? I’d love to hear!

P.S. We are hiring an Art Director, and I would be so grateful for your help spreading the word. We can’t wait to share an office with our new team member, Lord willing, very soon!

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This may seem like an unusual place to start one of my monthly goal posts, but I’ve never felt more connected or passionate about cultivating what matters than I feel this week.

I don’t know what you are experiencing right now. Perhaps you are hurting. Perhaps you are not sure how to feel. There have been hurricanes and fires, earthquakes, suffering all over the world, and unfathomable loss in Las Vegas.

My initial reaction was to fervently call on God to help those who are hurting.

My second reaction, however, was fear. I wanted to gather all the kids in my arms and keep them close to me for the rest of my days, never going too far. Not leaving my house. Not putting myself out there.

Until something shifted.

After the kids were asleep on Monday night, Ari and I sat down for dinner and he prayed. Four times during dinner, he stopped to pray for those who are hurting in Las Vegas and in the world. He prayed almost spontaneously, at unexpected moments.

I share this little window into our dinner as a contrast to something you may not know: just a few years ago, Ari did not have a relationship with God and our marriage was a mess. If you know our story, you know his faith and the fact that we are still married is a miracle.

I wrote those words about praying for our marriage and for Ari’s heart in that difficult season. As I listened to him pray on Monday night, it hit me: I was witnessing miracles. Real life miracles right in front of me.

Reminders of God’s power to give us new life.
Reminders that God is big and He hears our prayers.
Reminders that life is fleeting and what we do here matters.

Hope flooded in.

As Ari prayed, I felt God leading me away from fear to a new place. It was as if He was saying, Lara, let the pain of the world lead you to My feet, on your knees, interceding for those who are hurting and using all you have been given to sow seeds of hope and love in this world. Use your hands and feet and mind and heart to give. And, Lara… do not hide. Get out there and give this life all you’ve got.

As we mourn and pray and give to those who are deeply hurting, I hope we don’t simultaneously fall into the trap that I almost did. The enemy wants us to give up, to hide, to run away in fear and escape. (Which is different than grieving and experiencing deep sorrow, as Jesus Himself experienced.) I truly cannot fathom directly experiencing one of these events and feel inadequate to help through my words here. I have been through devastating hurricanes that changed my family, but I certainly don’t know the specific pain that so many are experiencing right now. My heart aches and grieves and hurts for so many.

For those, like me, who were not on the ground for one of these horrific events, I hope we don’t return to life as usual, but rather life anew. My prayer is that we would be spurred on in a new direction: loving more passionately than ever and giving away our gifts and talents with greater generosity. Let us see all that we’ve been given as opportunities to grow something good in this world. And let us not take this life for granted, because we do not know if we will get tomorrow.

This fact could lead us to fear, or it could lead us to faith.

I pray we pour out our gifts with new tenderness and passion, knowing that there are so many that are hurting and need what we have been given. I pray this leads us to love the people right in front of us and afar with more conviction.

I don’t know what you are experiencing, but I do know the Light that pierces the darkness.

Lord, help us. Help us walk in the Light as You are in the Light. Help us give and love and grieve and give some more. Help us be more like You. Help us use the gift of this life to pour love into others who desperately need it. Help us to dig in right where we are and grow what lasts longer than us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

More than ever, I want to cultivate what matters–even as just one little person in this great big world. (And I sincerely feel so small!) But, I know that it only takes a tiny seed to grow into a towering tree that lasts for generations–providing shade and cleaner air and fruit for many. What we do here on this earth, no matter how small we think it is, matters.

In this new month, I’m keeping my eyes wide open for miracles that remind me of God’s power to do the impossible–taking imperfect people like me and Ari and giving us new life so that we could reflect His light right back to others.

I know I won’t be perfect in using my gifts to grow love in this world, but I think the pursuit of growing good things is worth the risk of not doing it perfectly. Here’s a little recap of September and what I hope to sow and grow in October.

September was a month full of change for us. I started homeschooling Grace (more on that below) and there were some enormous answered prayers.

Friends, thank you. I shared about the challenges we have experienced with Sarah in my last post, and so many of you offered prayers and helpful encouragement. It was incredibly helpful for both Ari and me to not feel alone in having a little one with some special needs. I want you to know that your prayers mattered. They were heard. I didn’t expect to be giving you this update, especially this quickly, but we had one of the best months with her. We have seen some surprising changes in her in the last two weeks, and our ability to help her has grown as well. This is so healing for all of us. I cannot express my gratitude enough for the gift of your prayers. I love her so much.

My girls. Photo by Gina.

My September Goals Progress:

– Start homeschool with joy. – Wow, what a transition! Yes, there have been meltdowns and a few moments of Grace literally standing on her head in protest during handwriting lessons, but overall this has been so good. I am so grateful to get to spend this time with her and grateful for these reminders that are on repeat in this new season.

If there was a photo that captured Grace’s personality, this is it.

– Give and teach the Cultivate book. – Yes, I was grateful to share lessons from the book several times, and I’m especially grateful to continue learning and living them out myself.
– Read + DO What’s Best Next – I don’t often have alone time in a car, but there were a couple evenings this month where I had to run errands after the kids were asleep. I used that time to listen to the audio version of this book.
– Love on Josh in his preschool transition. – Yes, he has loved preschool, specifically playing with playdough and snack time 🙂

This kid. I just love him.

– Wisely and diligently prepare for our 2018 PowerSheets launch. – Yes, I shared a behind-the-scenes look at our shop and how the PowerSheets were first created, and there have been several changes in our business that have helped me immensely in making progress on this goal–and on the future in general.

My PowerSheets progress from September.

– Model our new Incentive-Based Bonus System to see how it works and implement it. – Yes, Emily and I completed this.
– Decide on and plan Ari’s 40th birthday celebration for December. – I wrote out what I think will make him feel most loved, but I moved the tactical planning to October.
– Write and prep the “Cultivated Calendar” webinar with Emily Ley. – I so enjoyed teaching this with Emily and loved reading everyone’s favorite takeaways. Catch the free replay here.
– Pray for and determine our 2018 vision plan. – Yes, praise to God, we have done this.
– Write the Gracie’s Garden book. – I made a little progress here, but I didn’t complete this. Moved to October.

Breakfast before the sun comes up at our house–these three are my early alarm clock!

September weekly goals:
– Continue to practice leaning out our grocery budget. – With lots of sickness in our house and transitions happening in September, this was not a strong focus. We did use what we learned in August during our $100/week challenge though and we were much more mindful of our spending than in previous months.
– Love on my buddy for the month, Nicole. – Every month we have a different office “buddy” to encourage. I loved having Nicole as my buddy for September.
– Laugh and pray in our date nights. – Sickness strikes again. The kids got viruses, then I got a mean one, then Ari, but we did enjoy one date night in September.

September daily goals:
– Continue reading my chronological Bible reading plan for my Number 1 goal. – Yes, I made it to the New Testament and am so grateful for all I’ve learned so far.
– #RunLiftPraise – I continued walking in the mornings (with the exception of a couple morning when I couldn’t get out of bed thanks to the aforementioned mean virus), but I only did weights once in September. Writing this update is so helpful to keep me accountable and choose progress, not perfection. Back in the saddle I go this week…
– Delight our children – I truly had a wonderful month with the kids–sickness, transitions, meltdowns and all. Is may sound cheesy to say, but I love being their mom. It’s one of my greatest joys. We had a lot of fun together this month and I focused on being intentional with them more than ever.

We harvested carrots from the garden in September and hung our new bee house.

– Eat more green. – I made a strong effort here and feel much better thanks to a little spinach at most meals plus lots of veggie soup.
– SLEEP + REST (i.e. Read a good book before bed instead of looking at my phone which keeps me from falling asleep well) – Yes. I made progress here.

Here are my PowerSheets goals for October:

My October PowerSheets goals. The PostIt is the list of blog and newsletters I have to write this month for our PowerSheets launch.

October Monthly Goals:

– Read + DO What’s Best Next .
– Cultivate our 2018 release with prayer (no better fertilizer and soil nutrient!). The 2018 PowerSheets go on sale on October 25th.
– Write Gracie’s Garden.
– Uncover God’s wisdom for our family with Ari. We came to a point with three very different children at different developmental stages, where we needed to get on the same page to help them flourish. From resetting our approach to discipline in these new stages to making progress on our family goals, this has been so helpful already. We started talking through it this week, hitting on the “pain points” first: What situations arise where we don’t feel unified in our approach to family conflict and issues with the kids? What can we do better together to show them God’s love? Even in one brief conversation so far, we’ve seen a difference in how the kids react to us being together on how we love and guide them. Much more to come here.
– Nurture the hearts in this home in new ways. This goes hand-in-hand with the goal above. Once we uncover God’s wisdom, putting it into practice together.
– Create my Cultivate Calendar for Q4 (the last three months of this year) and 2018. I am so excited to go through all 10 of the steps I shared here for the weeks and months ahead.
– Set joyful plans for Ari’s 40th birthday.
– Set our new budget. It has been on our prayer list for many months to be more sacrificial in giving. Resetting our budget is a focus in October.
– Start reading Traction.

October Weekly Goals:

– Meal prep. I am so grateful for a tip I learned from this book about flipping the script on “meal planning.” I am not a meal planner. With Ari’s unpredictable work schedule and kids who eat dinner at 4 pm, I need the flexibility to make meals that fit our families needs that day. I loved the idea of focusing on meal prep – preparing ingredients to be made into quick and easy meals – instead of meal planning, and doing it right when you bring groceries into the house. I gave it a try this weekend and it has been so helpful.
– Homeschool with joy. This may seem small, but this is one of the goals that I feel so deeply passionate about in the wake of all of these tragedies. I pray I can sow as much love into Grace’s heart as I can in my lifetime.

October Daily Goals:

– Continue reading my chronological Bible reading plan for my Number 1 goal.
– #RunLiftPraise – Start weights back up again so I can have strength to love my family well.
– Eat green + clean for the same reason as above.
– Rest in the Spirit. This points to my verse this month: He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty (Psalm 91:1).
– Raw prayer (I am grateful for my prayer journal). So much prayer continues to pour out for so many needs in the world, in our community, and in this home. I am grateful for a God who hears us.
– My words for the quarter and for the month: Rely (on God, not myself) + Cultivate (do what He says — dig in, little by little).

Your turn! Do you have goals for October? What are you cultivating in this new month?

I’ll pick one of you to send a special surprise box of goodies to from the Cultivate What Matters shop. I love sending real mail, and I love hearing your thoughts! Congrats to September’s winner, Jaclyn!

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In this new season, these 5 reminders are keeping me moving in the right direction. Maybe you need one of them—or all five today, too!

1. Peonies grow through the dirt, and so do we. If there’s something you’ve been wanting to do or start, but you haven’t made progress yet, consider this: are you afraid to get your hands dirty? If we can’t do something perfectly from the start, many times we don’t even give it a try, am I right? Here’s the truth: to grow flowers, you have to get your hands dirty. Making a mess doesn’t mean you become one. Read more in these free downloadable chapters from my latest book, Cultivate.

2. Little steps add up. They really do. I haven’t made perfect progress on my number one goal this year, but I have made little by little progress. I am on track to finish my goal by the end of this year! Embracing imperfect progress helps us not completely give up when things don’t go as planned. My little-by-little steps forward (even with a few steps back) are adding up.

3. It’s okay to grow slow. In fact, it’s good to grow slow. Think about it: do you plant a seed and expect to get a full-grown tree the next morning? We do that, don’t we? 🙂 We want overnight results but that often leaves us with shallow–or non-existent–roots. Good things grow slow: babies, trees, meaningful relationships, and big dreams.

4. Change can be hard, but consider something crazy: it might be good!

5. Finally, the words I wrote late one night in my kitchen about wanting to finally read the Bible from start to finish:

You know all those things you’ve always wanted to do?

You should go do them.

P.S. Tomorrow, tomorrow! See you at 3.

Photos in the garden by my best friend Gina 🙂

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Six years ago, feeling totally overwhelmed by the large list of things I wasn’t taking good care of (but really wanted to!), I decided to do something different. I was tired of living in regret: forgetting my priorities, neglecting things and people that needed nurturing, and feeling like my time was totally out of my control.

So, I made a list.

I wrote out all the areas of my life, projects, and people that needed my care. I wrote out the things I wanted to tend to. If I could just remember to care for them little by little over time, I believed that tending would add up. Much like when you tend to a plant, watering it over time, it grows and flourishes.

I called this list of priorities my “Tending List.”

Tending:
– to give one’s attention to
– to lead or be directed in a particular direction

Yes. I needed to do those things.

I was living by accident instead of on purpose. I wasn’t giving my attention to the things that mattered most to me, but rather just trying to keep up. Have you felt that before?

I took the principles and prompts from my goal-setting series and the Making Things Happen Conference, and turned them into interactive worksheets that included the Tending List. I created these powerful (as opposed to lacking purpose and energy–which is what I didn’t want to feel anymore) worksheets to help me and my team set meaningful goals.

I named them exactly what they were: PowerSheets.

And then I started thinking crazy thoughts: What if I shared these with other people? Would they like them? Would this process work for them? And how in the world do I make my own product?? (Zero people were doing this at the time except for larger companies and retailers and my friend Emily, who was a huge help to us as we got started).

We found a local printer, printed the first sets of PowerSheets that we hand-collated ourselves, and started the Lara Casey Shop in 2013. I was so nervous! I wrote a hand-written note to our first customer, telling her how grateful I was and hoping she loved everything.

And you guys.

The stuff we experienced as we tried to figure out how to run an online shop back then (things are so much more turn-key for new shop owners now!):

Days of our lives (literally) spent trying to figure out the Dymo printer to make shipping labels.

Countless phone calls with USPS to figure out box sizes and shipping rates and weights.

Lots of trial and error (a lot of error) learning how to do customer service (which we now call customer delight!).

Lots of laughs as Gracie stickered several dozen orders with farm animal stickers one year.

Many trips to the post office to hand-deliver orders.

The happiest day ever when we realized we could have USPS pick up boxes at my house!

And shipping orders from our little home office here in North Carolina. We were grateful!

The first PowerSheets above, and our first shop manager and dear friend, Emily.

People indeed loved the PowerSheets. Moms, business owners, students, women in corporate roles, teachers, and women in varied seasons of life loved them, and there was a unifying factor that holds true today: a desire to live intentionally. To not forget our priorities. To uncover good goals and do something about them.

That makes me especially grateful.

I have close friends at church who are several decades older than me who tell me about their PowerSheets journeys, as well as high school students that write me letters to tell me of their adventures too. I am grateful to walk this journey alongside so many different women in so many walks of life and seasons!

Our 2014 PowerSheets above with lots of vintage products above. I still have a “Let’s Do This” card on my desk.

The 2015 PowerSheets were changed dramatically in process and I released my first book that year.

And then I got a little messy with paint ; ) And we took a big leap of faith and made a spiral-bound one-year workbook in 2016.

We did all the shipping ourselves. Are you ready for these next photos??

Here’s how it went: a semi would pull up into our quiet residential neighborhood. Nope, no one was moving in, friends. But, LOTS OF BOXES were!

Most businesses have loading docks with several trained loading/unloading professionals (who have forklifts!); we had strength and determination!

We pushed several tons of product into my garage and hoped the neighbors didn’t think we were nuts.

Move over, Charlie’s Angels — meet the Pallet Posse! Ha!

And then, the shipping parties began and we called all of our friends to help (we love you so much, friends!).

One of those friends on the far left below had no idea she would one day work for us. We love you, Jess!

It has been an unexpected and wonderful journey of change:

We did this shipping-out-of-my-house madness until one Thanksgiving when my family sat on shipping boxes for dinner because our dining room was full of PowerSheets orders. That was it.

We moved all the boxes out of my house and garage (we can park a car in there now which is rather miraculous!) and we found a local fulfillment warehouse close to us here in Chapel Hill.

Gracie helping to load our sweet mail carrier, Walter’s, truck.

We changed our name last year from the Lara Casey Shop to our heartbeat: Cultivate What Matters. Read that story here,

But what has changed the most over the years is the PowerSheets process. The PowerSheets have changed and grown aesthetically (from loose binder sheets to bound workbooks, the addition of stickers and color, new features, etc.)…

… but most of all the process has been deeply refined every time we release a new edition.

My September 2017 Goals above.

As women all over the world use them, including us, we listen. And we change and innovate. Our office mottos are:

If you’re not excited about it, no one will be. Which means we make products we love and use ourselves.

and

Make it better. Which means we are always taking things to the next level to help people cultivate what matters.

SAVE THE DATE: The 2018 PowerSheets release on October 25th! If you are on my email list, you’ll get to see our new collection before we release them to the public. I have the first sneak peek email going out on Monday, so be sure to add your name to the list.

I hope you enjoyed this look back at how PowerSheets and our shop have changed over the years. THANK YOU SO MUCH to so many who have supported us and cheered us on over the years. I’d love to know: when did you first begin using PowerSheets for your goals? We are so thankful for our long-time family and new friends too!

P.S. There is one more date to save. Join Emily Ley and me next week to learn How to Create a Cultivated Calendar. Register here for free.

Cultivated Calendar Webinar Lara Casey Emily Ley

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