Friends, it is with great joy (and butterflies) that I write this post. I don’t even know what to say here. I’ve re-written these first sentences about twenty times. Announcingrevealing… drumrollcue the confetti cannons… Nothing fits sharing the book title and cover with you quite right, so I will simply say, here it is.

Blank white book w/path I honestly can’t believe I am writing this post. I almost quit writing this book about a hundred times — no exaggeration. If you’ve been following my book-writing journey on Instagram, you know this has not been an easy one. I shared back in October about how this book came to be and about my struggle with oceans of negative self-talk. Many people think that writing a book is glamorous. This journey held a far better reward than glamour, though.

When you take a big scary leap and do that thing God wants you to do — pouring out the kind of love that leaves you spent and somehow full at the same time — you get cracked wide open. As I wrote these 224 pages, pouring my everything into pixels that formed letters that formed thoughts that formed a much bigger picture, I gave and gave and looked fear right in the eyes and battled comparison and so much junk and I let go and cried barrels of tears and though all of this, God changed me. He refined me through the writing process, and I am so grateful. I know that sounds odd — I was just writing, right? That would have sounded completely strange to me six months ago, too. It’s cliche to say that writing a book is much like giving birth, but perhaps it’s cliche because it’s true.

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Is it exciting to be done? Yes. But, it’s not done. The writing is done, but there’s so much ahead including getting these words into people’s hands. I don’t feel shy in spreading the word about this book because it’s not about me. It’s the story of how I said YES to a new life and how you can too. It’s the story of how I said NO to what doesn’t matter, and how I’m still on the journey. It’s the story of how God took my broken pieces and made them into something. It’s your invitation to be still and let your pieces shatter so He can do the same with you. It’s the story of how the Good News became really great news to me and how you can make it — an imperfect life of purpose — happen too. This book, while it may have parts of my story woven throughout to illustrate each point, is not about me at the core. I wrote this book for you. The you who has a beating heart and a longing for so much more. The you who is wanting to make something meaningful happen. The you who is struggling with comparison or in marriage or feeling like you’re never enough or trying to find purpose amidst a lot of noise and heartache. The you who wants to let go of all your fear and take a giant leap of faith. The you who feels like the word “impossible” is crushing your everything. I wrote this book for you, friend. The impossible is possible. The best is yet to come.

I wrote this book because my life was going nowhere fast and it was not by my might but by my surrender that everything changed.

Parts 1-3 of the book will walk you through a journey of surrendering fear and taking big leaps. Part 4 is a workbook-style guide that will propel you into a life of purpose, one action step at a time. Get ready. It’s going to be a challenging and yet deeply joyful journey!

I’m excited to share that Make it Happen: Surrender Your Fear, Take the Leap, Live On Purpose is available for pre-order. The official release date is December 30th (my Grandma Bunny’s birthday). Why am I telling you this in June? Because I want to be sure that whoever wants a copy gets one. The more copies that are pre-ordered now, the more Amazon and stores will stock ahead of time for others. So, I would LOVE your help spreading the word about pre-orders. Thank you in advance, friends! It’s exciting when something sells out because of demand, but it’s no fun when you want that something : )

Pre-order:

For single copies: In paperback on Amazon

If you pre-order 2+ copies or 10+ copies, please order through Barnes and Noble or ChristianBook.com. Amazon counts all orders, no matter the quantity, as one order. So, this will help us get these copies stocked correctly so they don’t sell out on launch day! : )

Kindle edition

iBooks edition

And there will be an audiobook to come. You can pre-order that through major retailers too.

This book is best devoured with friends. If you pre-order 2+ copies, I’m excited to be doing a live online class on January 15, 2015, just for you as a thank you and to help you start 2015 well. Simply pre-order your copies and register you and your friend(s) for the 2015 Make It Happen class here. (Honor system — no need to send me your receipt!) If you are doing this as a surprise gift (birthday or Christmas maybe), you can add those names later on, if you wish. I’ll be emailing class info and some fun encouragement as January gets closer. If you pre-order 2+ copies, please order through Barnes and Noble or ChristianBook.com.

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For those who pre-order 10+ copies, simply forward your receipt to me (lara at laracasey.com). I’ve had many people ask about getting larger quantities. As a thank you for helping to get these words into the hands of people who need them, you and whoever you gift these books to (or maybe your small group is getting them together) will get:

- The 2015 Make It Happen class.

- Personalized encouragement bookmarks. The bookmarks will have a personal pep-talk note on the back, so let me know in your email what you (and your friends) need a pep talk for. I’m excited to make these! The bookmarks will come to you in early December in time for the holidays, so you can wait till November to let me know each friend’s name, if you like.

-  I’m most excited about this. You and your friends will be added to the Core Coaching Group. This intimate online goal coaching group will start in January and will be a place for encouragement, accountability, and I’ll be doing a few live online coaching sessions for y’all throughout the year. I’m excited about building relationships through this coaching group and can’t wait to get to know everyone!

If you pre-order 10+ copies, please order through Barnes and Noble or ChristianBook.com and then simply forward your receipt to me (lara at laracasey.com).

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In other news, I love the book cover! Choosing the right cover was a challenging process. But, the moment this one came together, I knew it was the one! It’s a perfect mirror to how I felt in writing the last page of the book: joyful, clear, and so ready for what’s next. I have the background as a painting in my house now. I was grateful to have designed this cover with the amazing  team at Thomas Nelson. It makes this book feel all the more a part of my heart. You’ll also find over thirty handwriting pieces in these pages, which makes me giggle because I got a C in handwriting in second grade! I’ll be sharing a little more behind-the-scenes about the process of writing this book, choosing a cover, and what’s next in my newsletter soon. Sign up here.

There you have it, friends! Ahhh!!! How did the butterflies in my tummy just multiply!? Deep breaths. Surrendering my fear, taking the leap… and hitting publish on this post now! God is good. Let’s do this!

photographs by Faith Teasley

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  • Hi, friends! I’m a little late in getting my speaking schedule posted, because honestly I didn’t think I’d be doing much speaking this year. I had cleared my calendar to make room for other things. But, God’s plans are better than mine and He continues to pull me to equip others for what matters. My number one aim this year is to have meaningful relationships. The internet is great, but I really love meeting people in person! I hope to see you at one of these events this year:

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    I’ll be speaking on branding and the heart of Southern Weddings at Stone River in Columbia, South Carolina next week! Register here.

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    Photo by Amy Arrington Photographers from the Atlanta Apparel VOWS event.

    I’m grateful to join the Bliss and Bokeh ladies again this year in Charleston on September 22 and 23. I love this intimate retreat and can’t wait to meet new friends!

    View More: http://annakphotography.pass.us/laracasey

    Photo by Anna K Photography from the AmericasMart Gift Market.

    Later that week (September 25-27), I’ll be flying to Indianapolis (with Ari and Gracie!) to do a members-only event for The Influence Conference. I love this conference and the women who created it. I. Can’t. Wait. It was life-changing for me last year!

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    Photo by Robyn Van Dyke (who I had a lovely dinner with last night!) from the Making Things Happen Conference this past March.

    And, finally, I’ll be doing the Making Things Happen Conference for the sixth year, on October 27th and 28th, here in my home city of Chapel Hill, NC. I am very excited about the surprises we have in store for MTH this fall. We’ve learned so much in these last six years and we’re about to shake things up, combining the core principles of how to make what matters happen with key business strategy. But, most of all, MTH is about building lasting relationships. More on what I’ve learned in the last six years of leading the MTH workshop — and how I’ve changed in those years — in a post soon. For now, follow MTH on Instagram here and the #mthconference hashtag for some fun upcoming interviews with our speakers and lots of inspiring alum!

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    Photo by Robyn Van Dyke from the Making Things Happen Conference.

    I have been praying and planning and dreaming and working hard the last months between book edits to make these two days our most powerful conference yet. Seats are already flying and early-bird registration (save $1000 with the early-bird rate!) is open until July 1 or until we sell out. We’ve sold out six years in a row and the wait list averages 30+ people each year, so make it happen. I do this workshop to ignite change and purposeful passion in others, so I feel no hesitation in giving you a push to come! : )

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    The wonderful MTH speakers who are all past MTH alum: (from left to right) Amber Housley, Emily Ley, Karen Stott, Nancy Ray, moi, Rhiannon Bosse and Gina Zeidler (who will be bringing baby Z with her to MTH, Lord willing!)

    I also may be doing a webinar with Emily Ley in the summer (details TBA!) as well as a PowerSheets/business webinar later in the year. First, we need to get through magazine shoot season! A peek into our office below from Faith Teasley. You can take the full tour here.

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    Having shared about all of these truly wonderful life-changing events, though, I feel compelled to offer a word of advice about conferences in general — advice I would have loved to have heard when I was just starting in business. You don’t need to go to conferences to be successful. Conferences have great value for education and building relationships, but you won’t be “left behind” or fail if you don’t or can’t go. Perhaps your resources need to be focused on another purpose right now, growing your business slowly and steadily. I talk to a lot of young business owners who are trying to figure out where to invest their money so I hope this advice is helpful. Don’t feel pressured. Grow slowly and wisely. If you can go to a great conference, go! And get the very most out of your experience by asking questions and building relationships. If you don’t go though, you are still on a great path forward. I am cheering for you, friends!

    You can keep up with future speaking dates and get booking info here.

    So, who am I going to see this summer and fall? : )

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    Raaaaaaarrrr!!!

    What’s that sound? That’s this bear cub coming out of hibernation after a long winter. I can’t say, “where did the time go?” because I know where it went. It went into the 74,000 words I poured my whole self into these last months.

    View More: http://ginazeidler.pass.us/grace2014

    My book manuscript is finally turned in. It’s in second draft format, currently in the hands of an editor, and I am waiting for my next round of suggested edits to come in. This whole book process has been a new adventure for me — new in every sense. I’m going to share a behind-the-scenes look at the process of writing this book and what I learned in my next newsletter. Sign up using the little box at the end of this post.

    In my mind, May is the new January. I’m starting fresh this month. Starting new. Starting with a new heart after all I learned in writing. Spend 100+ days writing about what matters most and you’ll find yourself changed. But, I am taking my time in acting on that change. Well… some of it anyway.

    View More: http://ginazeidler.pass.us/grace2014

    May is my month to dig into new soil around here, literally and figuratively. I’m planting my vegetable garden and starting fresh with my PowerSheets. Purposeful goals take time and I hope to have a NEW, very purposeful, prayer-over, list in my PowerSheets by the end of this month. If you don’t have a set of PowerSheets, get one. We only have about 600 sets left and they have been going fast lately. Looks like y’all are feeling the need for a fresh start lately too! If you are reading this post, use the code STARTFRESHMAY for 25% off your entire order.

    If anyone wants to join me in starting fresh (in any way — not just in goal setting), use the hashtag #StartFreshMay.

    And, I’m trying something new…

    Join me in a couple weeks, on May 14th, from 12 to 1pm EST, for a #StartFreshMay Google Hangout. This will be really casual — a time of encouragement and getting to know each other. I hope new friendships are formed from this and I can’t wait to hear how you are starting fresh! Join here (I think you have to add me to a circle or something).

    View More: http://ginazeidler.pass.us/grace2014

    Let’s get intentional about how we are using our time in this busy season. Even if it feels impossible to put the brakes on, if you are reading this post, you have enough time in your day to make what matters happen. Starting fresh — in whatever needs a new start for you — will be worth it. I’m going to take time to pray (by myself and with friends on the phone — another new thing I’m trying to do more), read the Bible, and work through each of the PowerSheets steps one by one with fresh eyes. This is my month to look at how I’m doing just about everything and ask how I could do it more intentionally. I am excited and, more than that, just plain grateful.

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    Whatever that thing is that is calling your heart to start new, take the leap. Whether it’s a relationship that needs your all or a creative pursuit or loving someone well or writing your soul or gutting your closet or planting your garden — do it. Dig deep into fresh soil with me, friend. I can’t wait to be inspired by your #StartFreshMay journey too.

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    Join me!

    - Start fresh in whatever area of life needs it most. Start today. You can do this.
    - Hang out with me in a couple weeks.
    - Sign up for the newsletter (below) for a behind-the-scenes on my book soon.
    - I’d love to hear from you here or on social media about what you are starting fresh with. Let’s encourage others too who might be feeling the need for this.

    May is the new January. Let’s do this!

    P.S. I’m going to release my book cover very soon, as well as some exciting pre-order news. God is good. I am so grateful. More to come. Sign up for my newsletter below to be the first to know.

    Photos by my dear friend Gina



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    Hi. I’m still alive. Very alive, in fact. More than when I last wrote you here. For the last two months, all day every day, I have been writing a book. That doesn’t mean I’ve been just typing words, though. It has been soul-changing. I’ve been battling with my fear — so much fear — and my past failures and, stroke by stroke on this keyboard, I have been battling to say no to the lies that tell me I can’t do this and YES to what God wants me to write.

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    Photo by Faith Teasley

    I presented my book yesterday in Nashville, but there is so much more to write — many chapters and edits to go. But, I am stopping in quickly to say:

    Thank you. I am so grateful for many prayers and encouraging words that have kept me going as I write.

    Keep going. If you are feeling afraid or stuck or lost, keep focusing on what matters. Keep going.

    Lastly, I’m so behind on many things, but all for a good reason. One of those things is announcing the winners of the Goal Setting Series Giveaways from January! Winners are below and were chosen by random. Congrats to everyone who entered and high fives to everyone who participated. The real prize is making what matters happen with your goals!

    LARA-CASEY-GOAL-SETTING-PRIZES

    Walk in Love T-Shirt- Gina of My Pretty Pennies

    8 x 10 print of their choice from Naptime Diaries- Lydia of Lydia Photography

    Simplified Planner – Alyssa Kjondal

    A set of prayer journals from Val Marie Paper- Sarah Tate

    Headband of your choice from She Does Justice- Megan of Megan Elizabeth Photos

    Make It Happen coffee spoon- Elizabeth G. of Glessner Photography

    $20 Lara Casey Shop gift card- Rhiannon at Mom to Two Lovelies

    $20 Lara Casey Shop gift card – Karen at Your Stylist Karen

    $20 Lara Casey Shop gift card- Stephanie Richards

    $20 Lara Casey Shop gift card- Rylee Field

    Ladies, please email lisa@southernweddings.com and she will get your prizes to you! If they aren’t claimed within 30 days, we will give them to another entrant.

    lara casey shop

    OK, off to write more. And until I finish this book, I’m having a “Finish Your Book Already” sale. Click here to see all of our new products.  EVERYTHING in the shop is 25% OFF with code MAKEITHAPPEN : )

    And whatever good is on your heart…

    Make it happen.

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    First of all, if you are just joining us, welcome!  While we might be ten days into the new year, it’s never ever too late to begin something new, let something go, or get focused on what matters. #2014GoalSetting can happen anytime. We’re not setting fleeting resolutions for the year, we’re setting good life goals here. Good goals give you freedom and focus.

    The 2014 Goal Setting steps so far so you can get started:

    Part 1: Let’s Do This!
    Part 2: Get Fired Up.
    Part 3: Your 2014 Vision
    Part 4: Get Radical
    Part 5: Set Good Goals

    Lara Casey 2014 Goal Setting

    In my reading this morning, my 2014 goals — or goal — hit me.  Here is what I read:

    Peter speaking to a large crowd: “God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. …  Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”  When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

    Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

    With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

    And this is what lights my heart on fire…

    They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:32-47 NIV)

    If you’ve been reading my blog the last couple years, you know that this section of scripture has always been like fire in my heart.  That life of giving and in community and living with just what they needed (and many times less than that) was their response to knowing Him.  They heard.  They believed.  Without hesitation, they acted.  Their lifestyle drastically changed because of knowing Him.

    You see, we (me included) like to change external things in order to change the internal things.  External changes can definitely ignite the internal at times.  A new hair cut or clean house can make us feel fresh and new.  Moving furniture around and getting new office supplies can give us a boost. But, there are deeper layers.  He can peel back all of your layers and make them new.  Belief changes our hearts and causes us to ACT on what matters.  It causes a bigger shift than new office supplies can ever ignite.

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    For me, I feel that God has put it on my heart to make this the “Year of Clear.”  To see God’s heart clearly and my heart clearly — no matter how messy sometimes — and to keep aligning my heart with His.  My 2014 Vision is to love my neighbor as myself by sharing the clear truth that has changed and continues to change me. My 2014 Vision is to couple boldness with tenderness, knowing I am weak and that I can’t do anything good without Him, and to speak the truth in love to others. I want to use all of the gifts He has given me and give them all away.  To borrow a powerful phrase from my friends Jessi and Hayley, my 2014 Vision is to be “wild and free” for Him in spreading the Gospel and living in His joy.  My 2014 Vision is to see through His lenses and do something — everything — about it.  I am praying for heart change and the fruit of that heart change to multiply love and point directly to Him.

    I am so grateful that I intentionally set goals last year.  My 2014 goals are not new, per se, but they are further refined and CLEAR.  This process has been so powerful for me!  Before you dive into setting your own goals, be sure to go through all of the previous posts and steps. Make sure your goals are centered on what matters and that you has a strong WHY with each goal. For the sake of space, I didn’t wrote my WHY for you in every box below, but I wrote them for myself. My 2014 Goals:

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    This is just a start for me and I will refine these as I pray on them.  Remember that this is a process and you should be changing and updating your goals along the way. Just to keep you (and me!) accountable, do this… put these dates as reminders on your calendars as check-in points: April 10, July 10, and October 10.  I put them on my calendar too and I will check back in here to let you know how my goals are progressing and I will want to hear about yours. All of your comments in this series have been so inspiring! There is SO much greatness waiting for you in this new year! Be sure to comment here with your 2014 Goals, too! Share them and you will be more accountable and likely inspire someone else. Don’t be a lurker anymore, friends. Jump in : )

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    If you need an extra kick in the pants to make this happen, I’m going to be giving away a $20 gift code to my shop and goodies from other shops I love on EVERY POST in this series to one lucky commenter per post.  You can win multiple times and you can increase your chances of winning by:

    - Pinning this post or any in the series
    - Instagramming
    - Facebooking
    - Tweeting
    - Blogging or in any way sharing this post/series
    - For all entires, link back here to www.LaraCasey.com/blog and use the #2014GoalSettinghashtag. You are welcome to use graphics from my posts!
    - Lastly, leave a comment saying you did any of the above.  You can enter as many times as you like on all posts!  I’m going to choose some extra winners along the way, too, for some special surprises : )

    A peek at some of the prizes in this series….

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    Winners for all posts will be selected on January 31, so you have plenty of time to spread the word and make it happen! I want you — yes YOU — to make what matters happen in your life.  So, help me spread the word and let’s get all our friends in on this for accountability!  Making things happen is always better when shared : )  YAHOO!!!

    So, tell me!  What are your 2014 Goals?

    P.S. So, you have your goals and you are asking, NOW WHAT? How do you tackle them? Where do you start? That post is up next, but you are far more capable than you think. My next post in a nutshell: begin anywhere. Tiny bold steps forward build momentum to make things happen! Get to it!

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    I don’t write about and study goal setting because I’m naturally good at it. I need accountability and some serious pants-kicking to make things happen. I remember so clearly standing on a beach in Maui with Natalie Norton years ago, telling her I just “don’t set goals.” She challenged me, waves crashing at our feet, to set some goals that mattered. “Just try it,” she urged. “God wants us to set goals that help Him shine!” Ever since, that has been on my heart. I lived for so long thinking that we should just sit back and let God make our lives happen. While there is truth to that, God calls us clearly in His word to take action for Him and for the gospel. The Bible is an action book, not a casual read. Jesus had goals. He had a single goal and a core purpose and all of his actions centered on fulfilling that purpose. While we are not Him, we are made in His image and called to walk with Him. So, that’s what I want to try to do. I want to model after the man who laid His life down for others and gave it all and didn’t care about material things and loved people so passionately. I will never come close to having a heart like His here on this earth, but I thing the pursuit of that will be worth all of my failures and shortcomings. Setting goals is good. We need direction and a path to what matters. It’s when we start setting goals that don’t include Him that things get a little (here comes my favorite Southern word!) cattywampus.

    Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails. (Proverbs 19:21)

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    So, last year, I decided things were going to be different. I started my first Goal Setting series to lay out a process that was more thoughtful than what I had done in the past. From there, I developed the PowerSheets and this whole process changed my life. With my PowerSheets, I started to be more mindful of taking action on my core purpose. I realized that I had to give myself a structure or I’d fall into my old habits and forget my goals. So, I pasted my PowerSheets Tending List to the front of my binder each month and kept it out on my desk so I saw it every single day. I prayed on my goals. I even posted my 2013 goals on my new about page for accountability. As I expected, my goals changed through the year. They got clearer. This is why the PowerSheets were only created for a 6 month timeframe. There’s no magic to 356 days. We should always be re-evaluating our goals, not just at the start of a new calendar year. I posted my progress every three months (or when I could!) here: AprilAugustOctober. I am so exceedingly grateful that I wrote things down throughout the year. This was new for me and completely changed things.  It gave me so much more to celebrate because I didn’t forget good things or let negative things overshadow them. This helped me to have the energy and confidence to keep going when things got hard. It helped me see so much more of God’s goodness that was there all along. 2013, by the grace of God, was a really incredible year. And not because everything went well. It was a great year because I learned more about God’s heart through challenges and mistakes and triumphs and failures. I learned more about where He wants my attention and energy.  Here are what my 2013 Goals were:

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    My update for these 2013 goals is simple: God made it happen.  I made significant strides on all of these goals because of His guidance and grace. I still have a long way to go in many of these areas, but I am in awe of how He worked in my life this year.  While I didn’t finish reading the Bible completely by December 31, reading it daily this year is honestly where I found the most clear direction to make these things happen.  What I learned from all of this:  His plans never fail.  Ever.  They just don’t.  Times I pursued things for my ego or lost sight of His purpose for my life, I failed.  When I did things for the bigger picture — to build others up in love for Him — He blessed those things.  Now, when I say “blessed them” I mean He gave me clear guidance and sometimes that guidance was hard.  Sometimes it meant I had to fail at something in order to move forward on His path. But, it was all for a great reason. I also learned that tending to goals little by little is where real lasting and continual progress comes from.   I think “little by little” was my key phrase for 2013 and it still is.  My Tending List in the PowerSheets was instrumental in keeping me on track.  Little by little seeds turn into trees.  Little by little babies grow.  Little by little — and sometimes in an instant — He makes all things new.

    OK, I have 20-something days to finish my book manuscript, so I would definitely appreciate your prayers.  My 2014 Goals are up next, but I need a few more days to think on them and get into this manuscript.  Till then, post your own 2014 Goals on my last post or feel free to wait till I post mine later this week! I am praying that you all have a remarkable start to 2014 and that you keep your eye on the goal!  We can do this, friends!

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    So, how many of you have ideas about your goals and you are already overwhelmed or anxious about HOW to make them happen? You want all of your goals to have been tackled yesterday. This series is an exercise in patience and doing things little by little to produce real lasting results. If you are feeling overwhelmed, we’re about to dive into some clear waters as we set goals that have meaning. Goals that are rooted in what matters. Goals you WANT to conquer, even if it takes time. Because, you know what? The journey to making those things happen is where the good stuff lives. Your goals may change half-way through the year or you may make them happen faster than you think if you take it day by day by day. This is about progress, not perfection. As my friend Emily says, “The joy is in the journey.” I know you overachievers want to have done everything yesterday, but I have also been reading every single comment on this series. Those of you who are taking this step by step are making remarkable discoveries! I’m so pumped by all the lightbulbs I see going off! Little by little, babies grow. Can you imagine if we got pregnant and the next day have birth to toddlers?? We wouldn’t be ready and we would have missed so much sweetness. It is the same with our goals. They matter enough to make them happen well.

    If you are just stumbling on this blog, welcome!  It’s never too late to begin! Previous posts:

    Part 1: Let’s Do This!
    Part 2: Get Fired Up.
    Part 3: Your 2014 Vision
    Part 4: Get Radical

    First up, my answers from Part 4:

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    My LEGACY: The idea of legacy, setting Grace up on a solid path, and using all the gifts God has given me to be a light for Him to others has been on my heart for many months. I wrote this post about creating a “Life List” and encourage you to make one for yourself. You can download a free Life List printable here.

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    I am breaking my legacy seeds up into two categories:

    For Grace (and our future children, Lord willing):

    - Inspired by my friend Jeremy Cowart, I started an email account for Grace when she was born that I send happy mail to every so often.  When she is older, I will give her the password so she can read years of love letters and good things : )
    - I have been working hard on our family photo albums and finally ordered her first year album from Artifact Uprising.  Investing in having photographs taken of our family and having them printed is priceless to me.  I’m so grateful for the gift of photographs!
    - I created the Life Handbook and can’t wait to fill this out for Grace with Ari.  I also plan to give one to my parents to fill out for Grace, too : )
    - I want what I write on this blog to be a legacy for Grace, knowing that some day she may read all of this.  Hi beautiful girl : )
    - The things in our home. I want her to know we had a love for life and people, not things.  I have been working on this constantly, but this is the year of CLEAR so I’ll be getting rid of much more stuff in our home when I get back from traveling.  A story that hasn’t left my heart is this story of Meredith’s mom giving away the chairs in her living room.  I want to live knowing my things aren’t mine.  We are blessed to be a blessing to others.
    - My book.
    - The way I interact with strangers, the way I love Ari, how we use our money (working with Will Ray has been a life-changer this year!),  cultivating joy away from screens – gardening, playing, reading; how we pray together daily as a family, singing to her, teaching her — all of these things are seeds I am planting daily to show her His love. “Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do but someone you raise.” – Andy Stanley

    Others:

    What I write, say, do; my book; the way I interact with others in person and one-on-one; the products I create for people to have in their homes; how I share my story and faith;  Southern Weddings; the way we deal with conflict; leading my staff well with integrity; serving; giving; teaching students and our interns; teaching through my blog and webinars and speaking; and sending encouragement to others.  I can’t wait to hear all of your ideas, too!

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    My RADICAL: writing my book is the only thing on my mind right now. I have a long way to go in a very short time. But, God is able. Truly.  My radical is making this book happen without fear of what others think or how I might be criticized.

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    My 2014 song: Oceans by Hillsong United.  These lyrics!

    Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
    Let me walk upon the waters
    Wherever You would call me
    Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
    And my faith will be made stronger
    In the presence of my Savior

    Alright! Welcome to the final steps in this series!

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    STEP 13: Review. This is important. Get the big picture of everything you’ve written so far in your mind and heart before you write your goals. Read through everything you’ve done so far. Read every word. Look at your 2014 vision statement again and re-write it if you need to. I added to my lists and re-wrote things after going through this process because I got more clarity. Cross stuff out, revise things or add to them. Add to your lists of what did and didn’t work (I added a ton to mine!). Add more to your YES and NO lists. Refine your 2014 Pinterest board. Take pins out that don’t fit with your Vision. You know you can take photos yourself and put them in your boards, right? Take pics of things that mean something to you and put them in your board. Refine everything and get CLEAR before moving to the final exciting step…

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    STEP 14:  Yeah, yeah, yeah! You’ve made it! Like I told you from the start of this process, traditional goal setting does not work for me. Goals get forgotten and then they linger and make you feel guilty for forgetting them. Anyone else ever experience this? Well, hopefully at this point you are chomping at the bit to write some real goals down! Goals that mean something. Goals that you can’t wait to conquer. Goals that are very clear and will help you live a better life. So, let’s do it!

    There are four rules to this:

    1. Review! Read through all of your progress again so you have all of it fresh in your mind.  Don’t set goals before you do that step above!

    2. Make a list of the first goals that come to your mind for this year when right after you review everything you’ve written.  I suggest taking a big deep breath, putting on your 2014 song and seeing that 2014 Vision as clearly as you can before writing.

    3. Then, check your goals to make sure they are really good goals. It’s so easy to make goals that sound good or goals that other people have that you think you should have, too, just to keep up. Don’t do that. The idea here is for you to SIMPLIFY your life, not to give yourself a new to-do list of random things that sound good. Be very specific and careful about what you decide to spend your time on this year.

    Do a GOAL CHECK and ask these questions:

    - Will this goal help my 2014 Vision?

    - Does this goal also help other people?

    - WHY would I spend my time on this goal?

    If the answer is NO to that first question, then it’s possible it’s not the best use of your precious time. Don’t run in circles with goals that don’t DIRECTLY connect to what matters most. Get specific. Focus on what really matters to you in the big picture. See your 2014 vision and write down goals that strategically help you build that vision.  Cross goals out that don’t 100% fit.  Revise goals that are not clear.  Be BOLD.

    4. This is the most important key to goal setting. Write down your WHY with every goal. When I was a personal trainer in New York for many years, most clients would come to me with a number and say, “I want to lose 10 pounds.” I would ask them, “WHY 10 pounds?” Usually, when we got down to it, it was just an arbitrary number, or a weight they were in college. There was no real heart connection to the goal of losing 10 pounds. But, when we dug deeper into WHY they became out of shape in the first place and what they wanted most in life, a picture of true fitness started to emerge. Instead of, “I want to lose 10 pounds because that’s what I weighed in college” (not very motivating and more self-defeating), we worked on goals like, “I want to be healthy and strong so that I can live long enough to walk my daughter down the aisle. I want to live a long, happy life so I can be a better husband and show my kids how to be joyful and healthy, too.” That works. That is motivating. SO, get real with WHY you want these things to happen and connect them to something that really matters to you. It will help you ACT on your goals instead of toss them aside.

    I’m going to share my final 2013 goal update Monday and my 2014 goals on Tuesday, so take the weekend, if needed, to really get clear and dig deep about your own 2014 goals.  When you are ready, leave them here in the comments on this post or the final post on Tuesday!

    Dream big, friends! Your playing small does not serve the world.

    lara casey goal setting marianne williamson quote

    Let your light shine, friends. Don’t wait. You never know how long you have left here on this earth to love others and change them for the better in that love.  It’s a powerful domino effect.  The good you do today changes generations.  That’s why setting good goals and having a clear focus is so important.  Life is to short and too powerful to coast through.  Take your time writing down your goals. Pray on them, talk them out with people you trust.  I cannot wait to hear yours!  HOORAY!!!  Happy weekend, friends!

    PRIZES FOR THIS POST: See Post 1 for details on how to enter. Winners will be announced January 31, so you have lots of time to spread the word and make these posts happen. OK, these are some of my favorite prizes from shops I love!  Randomly-chosen commenters on this post will get either a $20 gift code to my shop, a Walk in Love T-Shirt, a print of your choice from Naptime Diaries, a set of prayer journals from Val Marie Paper, the headband of your choice from She Does Justice, or a Make It Happen coffee spoon from my friend Jessica!  Yeah!!!

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    HAPPY 2014!!!  Welcome to a brand new year, friends.  If you are just joining us, you are in the right place : )  It’s never too late to start this process and spread the word to your friends to have them join you, too.  Here are the previous posts:

    Part 1: Let’s Do This!
    Part 2: Get Fired Up.
    Part 3: Your 2014 Vision

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    Photo of my Make It Happen desk card by my friend Mary Boyden.

    My answers from Part 3, starting with my 2014 Vision:

    Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses? Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:36-40 NIV)

    My 2014 vision. OK. I’m going to walk you through my honest thoughts today as I uncover this. Honestly, my brain feels so full lately with traveling and giving my whole attention and love to family and trying to write my book and being a mama and a wife and a business owner. Those things don’t go on Christmas vacation. So, I am taking it day by day to love The Lord with all of me and through all of this.  Your instinct as you read this night be to say, “Well, Lara, take a break! Relax!”  You see, though, God doesn’t tell us to seek pleasure or a life where we just coast.  He sometimes calls us in seasons of our lives to rise up and let Him work profoundly in us to accomplish far more than we can on our own.  I’m in one of those seasons and I am praying for Him to use me. In these seasons, and always, He tells us to work hard and let Him fill us with a kind of rest that a vacation just can’t accomplish. It’s 20 levels deeper. If you read Proverbs 31, you see a woman who works hard for what matters, rising at dawn and using all she has for her family and others. And then she rests in Him. But, lately I’ve been falling into the trap of self-doubt during some of that rest time. My brain has been spinning a bit, thinking that I cannot write a great book or be a great mom or have as good of a year in business as last year. But. But! Then I remember the greatest lesson I learned from 2013: His plans are far bigger than mine.  He is bigger than me and what I can do on my own. He is in control. My job is to simply trust and obey.

    (and I just took a deep breath)

    Trust and obey. (Anyone love that old hymn as much as I do?) I typed this out because I don’t want you to think any of this just naturally happens. I struggle and, when I stop to have a literal “come to Jesus” moment with myself, all becomes well.  It is well with my soul. That’s what God’s peace does. My physical circumstances haven’t magically changed. But He changes my heart and that, in turn, helps me change my vision from cloudy to clear in an instant.  This is why I have to stay in the Word and focused on Him, because it is so easy to forget the truth.

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    So, my 2014 Vision is to be clear. To see God’s heart clearly and my heart clearly — no matter how messy sometimes — and to keep aligning my heart with His. My 2014 Vision is to love my neighbor as myself by sharing the clear truth that has changed and continues to change me. My 2014 Vision is to couple boldness with tenderness, knowing I am weak and that I can’t do anything good without Him, and to speak the truth in love to others. I want to use all of the gifts He has given me and give them all away.

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    To borrow a powerful phrase from my friends Jessi and Hayley, my 2014 Vision is to be “wild and free” for Him in spreading the Gospel and living in His joy.  My 2014 Vision is to see through His lenses and do something — everything — about it.

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    Having defined that, now here is what is NOT in my 2014 Vision and what I’m saying NO to in 2014:

    • Self-doubt.  I’m redefining that today after what God just taught me.  I should doubt my own abilities on my own, but I can have FULL confidence in His power and plan, whatever that may be.
    • Eating junk.  With the last part of 2014 being so busy, I went to sugary foods — ice cream, candy, too many Luna bars when I was on the go — to fill what needed to be filled with good fuel.  Ari and I started a modified Daniel fast today for January.  For Him it’s “no meats, sweets or alcoholic treats (which are rare for him anyway).”  For me, it’s no simple sugars (ice cream, candy), bread or large portions when I am stressed.  We are doing this fast so that, each time we crave one of those things, we look to God instead for nourishment.  It’s a way of being more spiritually mindful in taking care of the lives God has given us.
    • Comparison.  I will be writing a lot about this in my book, but comparison isn’t just the thief of joy, it’s the thief of everything.  When I compare other wedding magazines or blogs to ours, I get so far off track thinking about their numbers compared to ours and I completely forget the enormous fundamental difference that sets us apart – championing strong marriages above all else.  You can read our whole mission statement here.  I fall into comparison in so many areas, but I will work hard in 2014 to say NO to that and see what He sees.
    • Email.  I get too much of it.  Not junk, but legitimate email.  It’s hard because, every time I write a blog post or put something out into the world, I get emails.  Really lovely wonderful emails that I am so grateful for from really lovely people.  But, sometimes, they add up when I have a lot to reply to and that takes away from my time with my family.  This is such a challenge for me because I want to reply to everything and I do. So, perhaps I can say NO to feeling compelled to always give long replies.  But, friends…. just for the next month… I am kindly asking you to not email me.   I cringe even typing that because I don’t like saying no, but I have to finish writing this book! : )
    • STUFF.  This is a huge one.  I’m still going on the Contentment Challenge, but I have a long way to go.  This quote from the book Margin that Nancy Ray posted sums it up perfectly:

    richard swenson

    • More: days that are filled with too many projects, getting angry instead of praying first, days where I don’t take time to study the Bible well, worrying about things I can’t control.  I will keep adding to this list as I think of things and I encourage you to do the same with your lists.

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    Number one: knowing that I am made new in Him.

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    Finishing reading the Bible (I didn’t end up completing my goal to finish by today, but I am still pressing on!), working out hard so I can be a healthy mom for Grace, more music in our lives this year, intentionally teaching Grace good things, cooking more (more on that in a bit below), and opening my heart to the possibility of having another child.  There is more, but I will keep adding to this as we go!  Done is better than perfect right now.  I want to spent time with my parents this afternoon and pick lemons from my mamas trees with Grace : )

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    My word for 2014 is CLEAR.  I keep saying that to myself as I have gone through this process.  Clear about my purpose, clearly using my gifts to serve others, clearly giving love to others… and free from distraction and the stuff that doesn’t align with His purpose for me.

    Alright, welcome to Part 4! Cue the dance party — you’ve made it to the final steps of Goal Setting for 2014 before we actually set some solid goals!

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    STEP 10: Plant Seeds. Create Legacy.

    My mom gave me the most special gift last night. She gave me decades of family memories, holidays and celebrations, her heart — her greatest passions and the unique gifts God gave her to share — in cook book form.  My mom is a trained French chef and most of her happiest times have been in the kitchen and around the dinner table with us.  She spent days and days putting together two giant binders of her recipes, kitchen tips and favorite family memories for me. Now, I can relive these memories with her in my own kitchen and pass them on to Grace.  I’m crying typing this.  That’s how big this gift is to my heart.  This is her living legacy.

    One of the greatest motivators I have is currently doing her farm puzzle at my feet : )  I told her I am writing things that I hope will help people.  She smiled and went back to her puzzle, happy that I am writing to you.  When Ari leaves for work in the morning, we tell her where he is going: to help people feel better.  She loves knowing that is what he does.  We know Grace understands. And telling her this makes us accountable.  It makes both of us want to use all of our time wisely and to the full to genuinely help others.  I know that she watches my every move and hears more than my words – she hears the heart behind them.  She mirrors me all day long, showing me in human form how important it is for me to plant good seeds and LIVE the way we want her to live.  Now, this is also the thing that can paralyze me and make me completely lose confidence the most.  Creating a living legacy for Grace in all I do is a lot of pressure, but it’s a good pressure. Writing to you here on this blog, I am aware that she may read it some day, too.  That makes me want to write boldly and clearly, with tenderness.  It makes me want to leave a legacy that leads her to the heart of what matters.  It makes me want to plant good seeds in really good soil.  It’s what made me create this book…

    Lara Casey Shop_Life Handbook

    A couple months ago, God put it firmly on my heart to leave Grace a legacy of love and wise guidance.  So, I created A Handbook for Life for her and for all mamas and anyone who wants to leave your best advice, wisdom, family memories, reasons you love them and so much more.  Ari and I can’t wait to fill this book out for Grace.  This was one of my favorite things to create ever.  Read all the details here and pre-order now for delivery before Valentine’s Day.

    What little seeds can you plant in others?  What legacy can you pass on to those you love now?  What can you teach to others?  What traditions can you pass to them? What gifts of love can you sow?  Sometimes, the tiniest seeds produce the most amazing things.  The mustard seed is one of the smallest of seeds, but grows into one of the largest of trees.   For example, your seed might be starting a small savings account for a child or grandchild.  It might be teaching someone something that will help them — like volunteering for the Boys and Girls Club or teaching at your church or just writing a blog post to share your knowledge about something.  It might be writing a love letter to plant a seed of encouragement in someone else’s life.  It might be creating something — using your art and creative talents — to multiply love in the heart of another or to inspire many.  It might be starting an email account for your little one that you send love letters to daily and, when they are older, you will give them the password to let them read years of love.  I have done that for the last two years and love sending Grace special emails!  Make a list of “seeds” you can plant now — perhaps in the next few weeks — or the living legacy you want to pass to others. Leave your ideas here in the comments.  I’ll share more of my list tomorrow.

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    STEP 11:  Do something radical this year.  For those of you in my generation, this doesn’t mean Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure kind of radical.  I mean the kind of radical that changes everything for the better.  That thing that has been set deep in your heart.  That thing that scares you.  That thing that feels impossible right now.  That thing that you know would help you and everyone around you.

    Radical literally means very new and different from what is traditional or ordinary.   ‘If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten. ‘ - Tony Robbins   Do something different this year, something that feels bigger than you. Imagine the possibilities if you do! You get to define what your radical means to you.  Maybe it’s big like finally getting out of debt or starting a personal budget or getting healthy.  Maybe it’s finally going on that mission trip or writing that email or starting that business.  Maybe it’s saying “no” to something or simply and profoundly choosing to be more still this year.  Before you get completely overwhelmed (I know I just dove into deep waters here with you!), here this: start small.  The core principle behind what I’ve taught at the Making Things Happen workshop for the last 5+ years is this: begin anywhere.  Little by little, make it happen.  Your task here for Step 11 is to define your very first tiny small little itty bitty action step towards making that thing happen.

    If your “radical” is getting out of debt, your very first step might be as small as going to the local library and checking out a copy of Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover.  Yes, most libraries have new awesome books like that.  Or get a copy from a friend.  Or read Emily’s personal finance posts!  Or sign up for a free Mint.com account to start an online budget.

    If your “radical” is strengthening your marriage, maybe your first tiny action step might be leaving your husband a simple love note in his car tonight so he gets it tomorrow on the way to work.  Just an “I love you. I appreciate you.”  Maybe your first step is to give him or her a hug just because, even if he or she left the dirty dishes in the sink again or said that thing that made you upset.  Maybe your first step is to simply listen and genuinely ask, “How are you?” even if they don’t ask the same in return.  Maybe your first step is to pray for them.  Prayer is an action step.  Perhaps one of the very best ones.

    If your “radical” is learning to be content, maybe your first tiny step is to read this post.

    If your “radical” is getting healthy, your very first tiny action step might be to open a trash bag and step into your kitchen.  If there is stuff in there that isn’t on your Making Things Happen Train with you (imagine all the good stuff cheering you on!), donate it to the food pantry, recycle its container and/or toss it.  I’m giving you these steps as examples — debt and finances, marriage, health — because I once took these exact same steps myself.  After college, in the thick of depression, I gained 50lbs in 6 months.  It was a long road to learn to fill my soul and body with what it really needed.  And it didn’t happen overnight or without struggle or failure or buckets of tears.  But, little by little by little, it did happen.  I eventually became a personal trainer to try to help others learn to do the same.  I trained hundreds of men and women and learned more about fear and self-doubt than I ever anticipated.   I am so grateful for my journey and how it has translated into the work I do now.

    So, what is your “radical”?  Define it.  Write it in black and white and let it marinate in your big beautiful heart.  And then DO something about it.  Something very small.  Sometimes — most of the time — the hardest part is starting.  The rest of the pieces can come later.  Define your radical now.  Share it here and let’s support and pray for each other.  I will share mine tomorrow, too.

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    Step 12: OK, 10 and 11 were admittedly challenging, though likely the most fruitful.  So, here’s an easy one.  Choose a song for this year! A song that lights your heart on fire and makes you feel alive and connected to what you want most.   Music has the ability to connect us to what matters most in an instant.   Music can lift us out of a slump fast.  Music can fill our should with goodness on days that nothing else seems to get to our hearts. This is most definitely my song for this year.  Share your song for 2014 here in the comments, too!

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    Remember, if you need an extra kick in the pants to make this happen, I’m going to be giving away a $20 gift code to my shop (there are some crazy amazing new Making Things Happen and inspiring goodies coming to the shop soon!) and goodies from other shops I love on EVERY POST in this series to one lucky commenter per post.

    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 one of these new Life Handbooks.  YAY!

    Yeah!!!  Happy NEW Year!!!

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    Happy New Year’s Eve, friends!  Ari, Gracie and I are flying from Miami (after a wonderful visit with his family — his dad’s first time meeting Grace!) to Pensacola shortly to see my parents, brother and Grandma Bunny (who turned 97 yesterday — wow!).  I’m so grateful and excited to ring in a new year with them!  I hope your plans tonight include celebrating the great things in 2013 and that the past is behind us, giving way to a fresh new start.  Thank you, Lord!  Anyone else ready for a fresh start?

    If you just stumbled on my blog today, welcome.  This may say “Part 3” above, but you are not too late to join us.  It’s never too late to begin and there are lots of folks just getting started today, too : )  Here are the links to the previous posts below:

    Part 1: Let’s Do This!
    Part 2: Get Fired Up.  Here are my answers from Part 2 below.

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    What I learned from what worked:

    1. God is fully in control and He loves us all deeply.  His purposes prevailed this last year.  My selfish pursuits did not.

    2. God has a very good plan, even when I can’t see the final outcome.  I need to trust His plans ALWAYS and not try to control everything.  He has this.

    3. The Bible is truly the only source of wisdom for all aspects of life.  Nothing else compares.  I was changed more in reading the Bible and being still (so hard sometimes) and praying this year than anything else.

    What I learned from what didn’t work:

    1. All of the above  : )  And that our days on they earth are very short.  They feel shorter and shorter lately.  I learned — and am learning — that I have to keep my heart focused on Him or I get way off track.

    2. I am weak.  I am so weak sometimes.  I need Him to fill up all those places I can’t make whole on my own.  When I stay focused on His glory and not mine, He leads me so clearly.

    3. Lastly, I learned that I can’t do it all and that’s OK.  Sometimes it’s better to pass the torch so more leaders can be born and grow.  Dear self: pass the torch more!

    What fires me up:

    (just a few of the many things)

    • Writing the things above and just being real about where I need to grow — being humbled — fires me up.  I feel closest to God when I am humbled.
    • Our mission at Southern Weddings — and in all we do — fires me up beyond words.
    • Music fires me up.  I am typing this listening to Oceans on repeat again.
    • A crazy good workout where I feel my lungs burning and my muscles hot.
    • Clean air.  Clean water.  These are gifts I’m trying to learn to not take for granted.
    • A shared moment or conversation with Ari where I remember and feel our shared heart.  We’ve had a lot of those lately.  That shared heart was born of a man who died on a cross so we could be free.  So we could forgive each other.  So we could be forgiven.  So we could be completely washed in grace and made new and whole again.  That heart is the greatest gift we’ve been given. It saved our marriage and changed who we are as people.
    • Watching Grace sing any song ever, Grace looking at me right in the eyes to tell me something, Grace laughing, Grace saying new sentences or asking me silly questions…  she fires me up.
    • Doing pirouettes in my living room.  That was for you, Katie : )  The best part is that, lately, Grace asks to do them too.  She can’t quite get the mechanics, but I hold her and twirl her around.  Melt my soul.
    • Grace praying spontaneously.  Truly amazing.  This is one of my favorite images from the entire year and from, well, ever.
    • My friends who love the Lord and do things about it.  There are too many of you to name.  The fact that I know so many truly amazing women fires me up in itself.  Thank you all for loving Him and being a light in my life.
    • Getting things done, stepping into fear, saying no — that all fires me up!
    • The ocean (so I took Grace yesterday!), seeing people change, baptisms (I cry every single time), singing in church with my family, solitude, writing, creating, the ladies I work with, Meredith, my family, hugs, the smell of pine, snow, farm animals (namely chickens!), flowers, white lilies, gardening, cooking, singing to God, slow dancing with Ari in the kitchen… I could go on but I will stop there for now : )

    Speaking of what fires me up, I love surprises!  So, I made you a little something fun for your New Year’s Eve : ) The 2014 Letter to Your Amazing Self!  And haha – anyone see the typo in this letter?  That’s what I get for not having Emily Thomas around all week to proofread for me!

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    Print this out, share it, pin it — download it full size HERE — and maybe even give a copy or email one to your BFF’s to fill out, too!   Have fun.  I’ll share mine tomorrow too : )

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    OK! Onto the next steps!

    STEP 7: What is your 2013 VISION?  To quote my friend Mitch, “You need to have a vision for where you are as a person. Everyone ends up somewhere, but few end up somewhere on purpose. You have to have a focus. Focus helps you know what NOT to focus on. If you have a vision, when times are tough (and they will be), it gives you peace and hope and passion to move forward.”

    Where there is no vision, the people perish. (Proverbs 29:18)

    Traditional goals get forgotten and they can be overwhelming if they aren’t connected to what matters. They can make life busier. I don’t want a new to-do list for 2014, I want a PATH. Goals with a solid, well thought-out vision behind them HAPPEN. They simplify life. And, as I found out this year, the clearer my vision gets, the more good I see in life and the more good happens for other people, too.

    lara casey goal setting 2014 is the year i

    Write out your 2014 Vision.  You can do this in whatever way you feel most connected to.  A few questions you can choose from to get you writing:

    • What kind of life do you want to live this year?
    • Where do you want to be when you’re 80?
    • WHY do you do what you do?
    • What is your mission?
    • What is your CORE?
    • If you could envision your best year yet, what does that look like?
    • 2014 is the year I (fill in your blank): _______

    I will share mine tomorrow! Post your 2014 Vision here in the comments so we can inspire and cheer each other on!

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    STEP 8: Here’s where things get fun. You now know what did work over the last twelve months, what didn’t work and what fires you up. You learned some very valuable lessons in all of this. You are starting to see the bigger picture and have a VISION for your year ahead. So, what is NOT in that vision?  Make a list of all of the things that are holding you back (or could potentially hold you back) from making this vision come to life this year. Write your list of what you are saying NO to in 2014.

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    STEP 9: With everything you have written down thus far in mind (I suggest reading over all of your progress again), what are you going to need to say YES to more often in order to make your vision come to life? Write your list of what you are saying YES to in 2014. Dream big, here, and write down the things you are afraid to dive into, too. There is great potential hiding in your fear. I encourage you to post your YES List publicly here and/or share it with friends to help inspire others and to keep yourself accountable. I think you will all likely NOT be writing Facebook or more social media on this list. Just a guess.

    –> PowerSheets owners, the step numbers in the rest of this series won’t match what you have in your sheets, as you have more steps! : ) Exclusive new printables just for PowerSheets friends will come in the PowerSheets webinar on January 15th, too!

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    BONUS STEP! Pick a core word for 2014. What one word really resonates with you for the coming year?  What word pulls together all that you want to make happen?  Think hard about this. I’ll share mine tomorrow too.  Research words that resonate with you.  Pray on it.  Then, write your word here in the comments (and give a virtual high five to those who might have the same word as you — we are bound to have some shared words!). Then, write that word in prominent places so you are reminded of your focus this year.  Put it on a post it in your car.  Put it on a post it literally inside of your fridge (I have a post it in my fridge!). Make it your computer desktop.  Write it anywhere and everywhere to remind you of where you are going!

    Speaking of going, we’re off to Pensacola!  Happy New Year’s Eve, dear friends!  While this is the last day of a calendar year, it has the potential to also be the START of your best year yet.  Start well.  Let’s do this!

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    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, a Simplified Planner

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    …or a set of the NEW Encouragement Postcards from my shop!

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    Winners will be announced January 31, so you have lots of time to make this happen and spread the word about this series : )

    Show Comments (243)

    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.

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    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…

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    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 ladiesbehind-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!

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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).

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    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!

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    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!

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    Winners will ba announced January 31 so you have lots of time to spread the word about this series and make these posts happen!

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