Welcome back, friends! In Part 1, I asked you to dig deep and get real about how you are, define what worked in 2013, what didn’t work and make your 2014 Pinterest Board. By the way I apparently have no idea how to use Pinterest! My #2014GoalSetting hashtag for boards doesn’t work, so re-title your boards “Making Things Happen in 2014″ so we can find each other! : ) If you are just joining us, it’s never too late to start. Even if you read this in February or October. Now is the very best time to begin.
Here’s the ironic thing about the titles of these posts: I don’t believe in traditional “goal setting.” It doesn’t work for me. I look back at old “goal lists” and most of those things didn’t happen. I honestly forgot about those goals because I microwaved a goal list that sounded good, but wasn’t really connected to what matters. That’s why we aren’t setting goals until the very last step of this series. Powerful goals take some slow cooking and carefully chosen ingredients and a lot of fire!
I also look back at things I worried about and 99% of those things never happened, either! Coincidence? No. It’s a giant reminder that I am not in control. God’s plans are always better and much bigger than mine, including — and many times, especially — the challenges. We can make all the plans we want, but we never know what will happen tomorrow. Like I said in my last post, you never know how much time you have. Don’t wait. You can choose to see that fact as terrifying or downright exciting. I choose the latter. Let’s continue…
First, here are my answers from Part 1. Remember to leave yours here in the comments, too, so we can cheer each other on. I’m giving away a $20 gift code to my shop and lots of other goodies on every post if you need more motivation to dive in. All winners will be announced January 31! Trust me, you don’t want to miss these surprise prizes : ) I will keep you in suspense for a little while longer…
And before you read my list, make yours. Don’t fall into the trap of comparing lists with others. Let’s celebrate each other’s good things instead. If I read my list here as the me of five years ago, I think I might feel a little lost and fall into comparison. When I talk about good things that happened in business in 2013, know I walked in the shoes of someone who didn’t have a business at one point — and the shoes of someone who failed at a whole lot of things (and still fails constantly!) — not that many years ago. You can read my whole journey by clicking, “nice to meet you” above : ) OK, a few of the great things that happened in 2013:
- I read a lot of the Bible. My goal has been to finish the entire thing, from start to finish, by December 31. I’m currently in John. The year isn’t over yet, though! (I will report back January 1.) I have a ways to go, but this has definitely been the biggest blessing and source of goodness in my life this year.
- I started the Contentment Challenge in October and am still going. Aside from a couple boxes of Christmas lights, a new vegetable planter, eye liner (I’ve had the same one for likely a few too many years past its expiration), a can opener (because ours broke), and new non-nursing bras after mine literally disintegrated because I’ve had them for so long, I haven’t purchased anything outside of the Contentment Challenge for myself in four months. However, I have definitely purchased too much for Grace. Mostly clothing and books. And stickers.
- The Southern Weddings ladies WORKED. They worked hard for what matters – to help couples plan meaningful beginnings to married life, to make our company sow good seeds in the hearts on many daily, and they all fought for love and what matters most in their own lives too. They truly walk the walk. I am so grateful to learn and grow with them daily!
- Ari interviewed for his job at UNC in November 2012. We waited to hear a yes or no for months and things started to look pretty discouraging. This was perhaps the thing I prayed about the most this year, besides my dad’s health and for God to guide my steps every day. I begged God to let us stay in Chapel Hill. The alternative was to move somewhere really far away from our families, away from my staff, away from our church, and possibly out of the South completely. I eventually resigned to the fact that maybe that was His plan and maybe we would have to do that. This entire experience taught me to trust Him. Not to trust I will always get my way, but to trust that His plans are good no matter what. Miraculously, just when we thought for sure they had given the job to someone else, Ari was told he had it! THANK YOU LORD for this answered prayer. Ari accepted a position at UNC as Associate Professor of Interventional Radiology in April! : )
- I launched this new site and brand on February 13th, and I still love it more than all the Luna Bars and chickens in the world!
- We also launched two shops, the Lara Casey Shop and Southern Weddings Shop, and I debuted my first line of PowerSheets. The PowerSheets have gone through three redesigns and I finally feel like we have them right. I am so excited to use my own 2014 set soon. Using the PowerSheets this last year has been a significant source of focus for me.
- I met a lot of lovely silver-haired friends this year on our morning walks through the retirement community across the street. This gave Grace and me so much joy. We looked forward to seeing “Mr. Bill” and “Mrs. Rhetta” every morning. The weather has been cold, so we have sadly had to stop our morning path, but Gracie made ornaments for them and Mr. Bill even came over to our house to say hello last week and bring us a thank you note! It was so great. As Gracie says, “Mr. Bill is sooooooo sweet.”
- Emily and I led a lot of webinars with the goal of making MBH more accessible to a wider audience, specifically people who are just starting businesses and not in the place to do full branding. This has been on my heart: give all of the knowledge God gives you away to as many people as possible.
- Emily and I also worked with 22 wonderful branding clients. After lots of prayer, we have decided to hold off on taking 2014 projects during this season of growth for our businesses and toddlers!
- I did 103 consulting sessions. These were some of my favorite conversations of my life. I love being one-on-one with people and helping them see life and business in new ways and I have made some lovely new friendships from these conversations.
- One of my 2013 goals was to stop breastfeeding. This was a really hard decision and a total lifestyle change for me that was coupled with a lot of fear. But, after 16 months, I stopped and Grace is still a happy healthy camper… and I have THREE HOURS back in my life every day.
- Ari and I celebrated our 7 year anniversary in style – at the Whole Foods buffet with Grace : )
- I wrote a 46-page book proposal and it was accepted. Totally crazy. You can read the whole story here. I signed my book contract with Thomas Nelson in October. I’m currently deep in the thick of writing, with my final manuscript due in about 30 days. Pray for me!!! And forgive me if I don’t answer your emails for the next month!
- I read two books that completely changed my life: Seven and Interrupted. As a result, well… a lot of things happened as a result. I stopped shopping in October with the Contentment Challenge. We stopped using paper towels. I stopped buying bottled water. I bought 50lbs of oatmeal in bulk. I started to understand how taking care of our world is directly connected to loving God. I started to understand God’s heart more. I started to see just how much I need Him. We started praying about adoption. Needless to say, God used these books to change me. I have SO far to go still, but I am grateful for the heart change so far.
- In June, after finally knowing we were staying in Chapel Hill, we bought our house — praise the Lord! Well, the bank technically bought it, but we are paying the mortgage : )
- As a result, we planted a vegetable garden! This was one of my greatest joys this year.
- We hosted the Making Things Happen Conferences in March and October. They were both so heart-changing for me personally and I met many new friends. The 2014 MTH is a handful of seats away from sold out already.
- We said farewell to Susan and welcomed Meredith into our family. Meredith has been a dream come true and moved all the way from Norman, Oklahoma to be with us! Read her inspiring blog.
- We interviewed and hired Lisa, who has been a huge blessing in all of our lives.
- Nicole celebrated 3+ years with us and renewed her contract (with some bribing – see here), Emily celebrated 4 years, Marissa celebrated 3+ years and Kristin celebrated her first wonderful year with us.
- Ari and I took a week of “stay-cation.” Our stay-cation included a trip to the Piggly Wiggly — definitely a highlight ; )
- I took 2 weeks completely off of social media. I learned so much. I didn’t miss it.
- Ari and I started teaching Sunday School. This was a huge highlight this year and something I have always wanted to do!
- We also shared the story of our marriage – the good and the challenging – live on camera.
- We celebrated the one year anniversary of my dad’s baptism. God is amazing!
- We launched the Southern Weddings and Lara Casey monthly newsletters. These helped me connect with many new friends.
- We celebrated five years of Southern Weddings with lots of favorites from the last wonderful years: favorite editorials, real weddings, SW ladies, behind-the-scenes goodness, amazing photographs and our growth. God is good!
- My Grandma Bunny was diagnosed with mouth cancer and, at the age of 96, started radiation treatments. She is not cured, but has responded well to them. Her cancer has shrunk significantly, which is more than we could have asked for! Amen, hallelujah, thank you Lord!
- I cooked a lot this year and really enjoyed it. Having a vegetable garden made this even more fun this year. Over Christmas, I made my mom’s famed Tunisian Couscous and a Christmas Quiche that were wonderful!
- I spoke at 8 conferences including Engage!13, Americasmart, Pursuit 31, the Influence Conference, Atlanta VOWS, Making Things Happen, and the MAGS Gala. I loved every single one of them. I would do this year all over again with speaking. It was so gratifying.
- We finally, after years of trying to get it, got SouthernWeddings.com! Oh my stars, this feels so good. Read the whole story here.
- We took a family vacation to Beaches. More on that trip soon. It was so good and so needed. Grace met Elmo. Highlight of her little life ; )
- We completed our 6th print edition (“V6″) of Southern Weddings!
- I got to spend lots of face-to-face time with my friends, Emily Ley and Gina Zeidler as we travelled to speak at the Pursuit 31 Conference together and did the Making Things Happen Conference here together. I am so blessed by them.
- Our friendships grew and Gina is pregnant! That is such a highlight of the year!!!
- Completely out of the blue, I got an email from Southern Living and, after many meetings and much prayer, we’ve now joined in a really wonderful partnership with them. Read the whole story here.
- We launched a brand new Southern Weddings site and brand in November.
- I became a minivan mom! YES!
- We created a personal budget and I feel great about our Life List progress! Download a free Life List printable here.
- Perhaps the thing I am most grateful for this year, though, is my dad’s health and happiness being restored twice over. Dad, you just told me on the phone that you have been reading my blog, so this is for you: I love you so much and am so grateful for what God has done in your life this year! It is truly a testament of His goodness and care for us and how He can make the “impossible” possible : )
- I will keep adding to this list as I think of things, and I encourage you to do the same with your list! In fact, I encourage you to print your list out and have it in front of you as an encouragement for the start of a new year. Frame this goodness!
Now, onto my list of things that were challenging or didn’t work well this year:
- As much as I have strong boundaries with social media (read more about how I set boundaries at makeyourdreamshappen.com), social media still continues to invade my heart at times in negative ways. It distracts me from life right in front of me too often.
- I travelled a lot for speaking in the fall. I purposely put them all back-to-back, but this was still challenging. By the time I got to Pursuit 31 in October, I was spent. I was physically and emotionally exhausted.
- Editing the magazine and doing layout for several late nights and long days didn’t work. I’ve already talked to the SW ladies about finding someone to do layout in my place this fall so I can focus on the big picture.
- Having a booming business in my house didn’t work at times. We verged on far too big for this space. My garage will likely never have a car in it. I’m not sure what to do about this yet, if anything.
- We were constantly having website server issues, which are thankfully now fixed with our new private server. This was costly and frustrating.
- There were lots of days I didn’t have time to call my mom, answer texts from friends or stop to smell the roses. There were certainly many more days than last year that I DID do those things, but I still need more of that.
- I fell off the exercise wagon many times. I still “exercised” almost daily this year, but many times it was a slow poke workout or a brief walk, especially when it got really hot and when it got really cold outside. I feel the effects of this. I have so much more energy when I am healthy and strong. I want more of that. I want the fire to do it.
- Although I have been doing the Contentment Challenge, we still have far too much stuff. I feel like I am CONSTANTLY getting rid of things. All I need is less. More on that later.
- Grace has been sleeping in our bed the last couple months, which is not great for Ari and me.
- On that note, parenting a toddler is hard. Really hard. We are blessed that she is healthy and I think of that blessing multiple times a day, but her constant resistance and tantrums can wear on a mama.
- On that note again, I really don’t like angry me. My controlling nature in parenting has gotten the best of me several times lately as Grace’s “no’s” have increased. I don’t like it. I am praying for wisdom and God’s peace.
- I had far too much to do in this last quarter of the year in general. I was supposed to be writing my book the whole time, but there were endless tasks that needed tending to. My goal for the coming year is to completely flip that on it’s head.
- Having a full plate and a toddler has left little time for friends outside of church activities and occasional dinners. I need a close friend locally who I can really connect with and grow spiritually with.
- Ari works a lot. He loves his job and we are so grateful he has it, but sometimes his call schedule makes me sad. I miss him a lot and so does Grace. We are grateful he helps so many people daily, though.
- I worried too much and I wasn’t always the best mom, wife, boss, friend or daughter. I tried, but my failures always had a good ending — they always pointed me right back to Jesus. God’s grace makes all things new.
- There were more but I have those on my own private list. It’s always good to remember that, while many people (including me) blog very personal things, there are still many things that aren’t shared for good reasons. I always try to remember that when reading other’s blogs. You never know what kind of battles people are facing. Overall though, I have nothing but praise for this year. God answered many prayers.
STEP FOUR: OK, next up! What are the three biggest lessons you learned from what DID work? Write them out here in the comments or somewhere. I will share my list tomorrow.
STEP FIVE: What are the three biggest things you learned from what DIDN’T work? Again, write them out. I’ll share tomorrow here, too.
STEP SIX: What fires you up? What are the things that light your soul on fire? Pretty simple, yet very profound: name them (you can download a printable list here if you want!) and then DO them. Do more of what fires you up. If dance parties, hugging your kids, laughing with your husband and doing good things for others fires you up, DO those things today (and always, but start with just today).
Download a free printable of the list above here.
Physically do some of the things you want to see more of in your life and take action on them. Not all of them, just some of them. Do what you can. We all have at least five minutes every day, even if we don’t think we do, to make what matters happen. How much time have you already spent on social media today? How much time will you spend on it the rest of the day? Trade that time for doing something that fires you up. I don’t think many of us can say that lurking on Facebook fires us up, can we?
See what happens when you physically start living the life you know you were called to. Little by little, get connected to what matters most to you. Love on people. Write out your list and then DO something on that list. If you love the ocean, but don’t live near it, click here. Does the sound of rain make you feel alive? Here you go! If you love dance parties, pump up the jam! If you love hugs, give one. If you are fired up by great art, start here with my friend Otto who is moving to Nepal and leaving wedding photography. If you are fired up by words, read these amazing quotes that were penned by my friend Kelly, who lettered something every single day of 2013! Go, Kelly, go! If you are fired up by creating, make something right now. Just for the love of making it. If you are fired up by the outdoors, close your computer or put down this iPhone and step outside. Just do it. Right now.
See how making the things on your list happen starts to shape your life — and most importantly — the lives of everyone around you. God gave us talents and gifts that are meant to be used to shine His glory brightly to the world — and He gave us sunsets and the roaring ocean likely to leave us in awe of His goodness. Note to self and everyone: It’s hard to do and see those things hiding behind a computer screen : )
The Bible doesn’t tell us to “follow our passions” so we can be happy, but it definitely tell us to use our unique gifts to serve others. And there is a deeper happiness found in that. A peace that passes all understanding. You were created for great things, my friend. You were created to shine brightly for Him. That is definitely something to have a dance party for! Share your list here. I will share mine soon too. Making life happen in 2014, here we come!
More tomorrow. Get to writing and DOing, friends!
PRIZES FOR THIS POST: Read Part 1 for all the ways you can win! Randomly chosen commenters on this post will get either a $20 gift card to my shop or a Simplified Life Binder set!
Winners will ba announced January 31 so you have lots of time to spread the word about this series and make these posts happen!