*We are so grateful that ALL of our 2018 PowerSheets are headed to happy homes! Sign up to know when we restock our Six-Month Undated PowerSheets later this Spring!

Want to listen to this post instead of read? Here you go!

Welcome to the final post in my seventh-annual Goal Setting Series! Each year, I am left in awe of the leaps of faith you take as we go through this process together, and this year tops them all. We are all so excited for you we couldn’t help but dance!!!

If you are just joining us for this series, welcome! Here’s Part 1, Part 2Part 3, and Part 4.

The Cultivate Team Just Wants to Dance from Lara Casey on Vimeo.

Here we come 2018! You are doing the hard work, making a mess, and making meaningful progress! I’m so grateful for how this process has been refined over the last seven years. What a joy to do this work alongside you, friends. If you are just joining, it’s never too late to begin and you aren’t “behind” one bit. Now is the best time to get started!

Part 1: What Worked and Where to Start!
Part 2: What Didn’t Work + What I Learned
Part 3: Say Yes, Say No, Choose a Word
Part 4: Uncover Intentional Goals

Okay, now let’s do some dreaming together! Imagine the end of 2018. The weather gets colder, December 2018 rolls around, and you start looking back at the year you’ve just lived. What would it take for you to look back and know that you cultivated what mattered? What will you wish you had started today? Fill in the blanks below (get your free printable here!):

Knowing where you want to be at the end of 2018, what do you need to cultivate today? Literally today. Every decision we make has an arrow attached to it, pointing us in one direction or another. Your decision arrows have the power to fly through all the distractions and fear and hit the target, OR they can float around and miss it completely. However many hours or minutes are left as you read this (even if you are reading this in bed), how can you shoot one of your decision arrows in the right direction?

I want my decision arrows aimed right at the target. That’s what being intentional is all about.

As I finished my 2018 PowerSheets and this goal uncovering process today, I made some decisions, aiming my arrows at the target. The goals I’m about to share with you may seem simple, but these are my favorite goals I’ve ever written. I have great hope in these goals, knowing that God can change everything on my path. And you know what? His plans have always been better than mine. I’m up for it.

I’m all in.

Grow Fruitful Friendships

Maybe you are feeling the same hesitant-scared+excited-I’mALLin(I think!) feeling with me right this second! Maybe it makes you feel a little uneasy like you’re stepping into the unknown. Let’s step forward together, believing in what we can’t yet see. I’m choosing faith over my fear and I invite you to take the leap with me. Let’s take some steps forward and, little by little, the fear part will dry up. We’re not going to fertilize the fear this year, friend! Are you with me?

Let’s decide to take action on goals that cut through all the things to get to the things that matter.

If you feel hesitant to set goals, remember this my dear, passionate, capable, inspiring friends: you were created to grow and change. We are always “in progress.” Your goals may do the same! As you grow, your goals may shift. As you go through different seasons, your priorities may change. As you learn new lessons and take on new life responsibilities, your capacity to do different things may change. So, as you write out your goals, remember that you don’t have to set them for the calendar year. Set them for just this season ahead, and refresh your goals every few months. This is why I put a Goal Refresh in the PowerSheets for every season. We were created for seasons. This gives me so much freedom in knowing that these don’t have to be forever, and I hope it encourages you too!

Ahhhh!!! I’m so ready!

Write out your goals using these helpful prompts. I call this the Cultivate What Matters Method. Here are some tips for each prompt help you:

Goal: Your words don’t have to be perfect. Just write the goal in whatever words you have! We’re just WRITING here, not doing anything about it yet. So, be brave and get the words out!
Why? Remember by training clients who came to me with arbitrary goals? We aren’t doing that. Write out why you want to cultivate your goal, and connect it to something that really means something to you.
The positive effect taking action on this goal may have on my life and others: How will this goal change you and others? Think of the biggest possibilities here—the most profound positive impact this goal could have. Even if your goal feels “small,” write out the big possibilities! This can be a huge motivating factor when you define the possibilities.
– How I will feel at the end of this year having made progress on this goal: Imagine it. You made progress, finished your goal, or made it to a milestone. How will that feel? Remember: focus on progress, not perfection!
– Starting steps: I used to write out “action steps,” but after listening to thousands of women tell me how stuck they felt in starting things that mattered to them, I realized that the most important steps were the first ones. So, write out some very small starting steps. You’ll see my examples below!
– How I will know I accomplished or made progress on this goal: Most of my goals don’t have an “end” date, but it’s important to be able to measure your progress somehow. How will you know you made progress on this goal? Write out some ideas.
– Encouraging words: Give yourself a strong pep talk, encouraging words, or a Bible verse to go with each goal.
– How I will celebrate at the end of 2018: Writing this out helped me so much this year! One of my 2016 goals was to pray. A lot. Without ceasing. And the way I envisioned celebrating at the end of 2016 was to, “paint my answered prayers on Christmas Day on a big canvas for our living room with Grace.” Well, at Grace’s request, we started early in the fall. And we didn’t use paints, we used pressed flowers. Here’s what we created!

unspecifiedPhoto by my dear friend Gina Zeidler

We pressed flowers from our garden and special milestones all year—in cookbooks, Bibles, and anything that had pages! Then, we used some Mod Podge and sealed these onto the canvas. It is so special! Better than we could have imagined. This reminds us of God’s faithfulness and so many answered prayers through each season of this year. I love it so much.

Okay, let’s write out some 2018 goals! Are you ready?

Here are my 2018 Goals for this year of LIGHT SPACE (and I can’t wait to hear yours too!). You’ll see here that some of my prompts are still undone and in-progress. If you don’t have an answer yet, that’s okay! But, don’t get stuck because of fear of your plans or answers not being perfect. For me, some of these things I genuinely don’t know yet, and I’ll wait on God to tell me!

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Goal 1: Read and pray through the Bible. Pray the Word of God while reading through the Chronological reading plan again. Memorize Psalm 119. Use my prayer journal, say my prayers out loud, or record my prayers to my phone notes.

Why? To directly connect with God and to align my life, expectations, and value with the truth of the Word of God, not the ways of the world. To grow my faith, the faith of my family, and to build up the faith of others.

The positive effect taking action on this goal may have on my life and others: This will help me to be rooted in faith, to trust, and to love others abundantly.

How I will feel at the end of this year having made progress on this goal: Solid. Matured. Rooted. At peace.

Starting steps: 1. Sign up for the Chronological reading plan again. 2. Print Psalm 119 and put it on flashcards and on digital flashcards for my phone. 3. Set up my 2018 prayer journal.

How I will know I accomplished or made progress on this goal: I will make progress in reading through my Bible plan each day + documenting or saying prayers out loud.

Encouraging words: “Your Word is a lamp to my feet, a light on my path…” (Psalm 119:105). “For the Word of God is alive and active…” (Hebrews 4:12).

How I will celebrate at the end of 2018: I am not sure yet. Any ideas?

goal-2-lara-casey

Goal 2: Love the things above, not the things of the world. This includes minimalism as a spiritual joy, cultivating contentment in our children, clearing out the stuff and information overload, and generous and wise stewardship of what we’ve been entrusted with.

Why? We can’t take our stuff to Heaven with us! To gain a deeper love for God and joyful contentment as we GIVE and let go.

The positive effect taking action on this goal may have on my life and others: I believe it will bring all of us joy in the Lord, closeness with each other, and the ability to see and meet the needs of others so much more.

How I will feel at the end of this year having made progress on this goal: So refreshed and grateful, like we are on the right path!

Starting steps: 1. Make a “Heaven is Our Home” date with Ari (January 6th!) to pray over our home, giving, and financial stewardship goals—and to set action steps together as a family. 2. Talk to our financial advisor + bookkeeper to get their guidance. 3. Ruthlessly clear out the house, my office, and our cars by January 15th.

How I will know I accomplished or made progress on this goal: We will make major progress on our budget goals, give more, and spend less time cleaning the house so we can spend more time loving the people in it—and hosting others.

Encouraging words: “For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride of life—is not from the Father, but is from the world” (1 John 2:15-17).

How I will celebrate at the end of 2018: Giving! By giving even more as a family!

goal-3-lara-casey

Goal 3: Make 2018 The Year of Kissing! 

Why? To cultivate closeness and our daily bond as a family so we can love each other well and serve God together. To grow our family narrative—one of faithfulness and affection. To build Ari up and encourage him daily.

The positive effect taking action on this goal may have on my life and others: We will be closer and more joyful as a family and close to the Lord. Planting kisses is planting seeds of legacy!

How I will feel at the end of this year having made progress on this goal: Light. Grateful. Bonded together.

Starting steps: 1. Kiss Ari! (today!) 2. Pray about this goal to seek God’s guidance and to always do this from a heart of gratitude and loving because I have been loved, not to check this off my list each day. 3. Set date nights for January.

How I will know I accomplished or made progress on this goal: I will kiss Ari each day! 🙂 And we will all feel closer.

Encouraging words: (Anyone have suggestions??)

How I will celebrate at the end of 2018: A celebratory date night at the end of the year to reflect on God’s faithfulness.

goal-4-lara-casey

Goal 4: Cultivate the Fruit of the Spirit in motherhood.

Why? To cultivate the same in our children. To grow their hearts for the Lord. This is cultivating—growing little hearts, one seed at a time.

The positive effect taking action on this goal may have on my life and others: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control.

How I will feel at the end of this year having made progress on this goal: We will all, Lord willing, feel rooted, joyful, at peace, and grateful. Our roots will grow deeper in rich soil, and we will bear fruit to share!

Starting steps: 1. Write or print Galatians 5:22-23 and put it throughout the house where we will see it often. 2. Pray for the Lord to grow these gifts in each of our children. 3. Set a starting plan for Grace’s spring homeschool in 2018.

How I will know I accomplished or made progress on this goal: We will see and feel change in our own hearts and our children.

Encouraging words: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…” (Galatians 5:22-23).

How I will celebrate at the end of 2018: I will serve a yummy feast of fruit for Ari and the kids for New Year’s!

Goal 5: Re-creation! Space for stepping away, play, being outdoors, moving our bodies, creativity, silliness with the kids, and strength—space for worship!

Why? To be made new, more like Him, day by day. And to rejoice in His faithfulness! This is a space of worship and joy and surrender.

The positive effect taking action on this goal may have on my life and others: We will feel ALIVE—living in the Spirit!

How I will feel at the end of this year having made progress on this goal: Alive! Light. Grateful. Strong and at peace.

Starting steps: 1. Make my 2018 “Re-Creation” playlist on Spotify for my workouts and another for dance parties with the kids. 2. Set times of intentional sabbatical on the calendar. Times of stepping away. 3. Make room in my workload little by little. (I will break this down more in January!)

How I will know I accomplished or made progress on this goal: We will feel less overwhelmed as we trust in His strength and power over our own. We will do more playing, spending time in the garden with undistracted hands and hearts, having praise dance parties, painting, nature study, praying together, and I will have more times of intentional sabattical—times of stepping away to be in this re-creation space. This goal also includes me working out like an athlete, refreshing and strengthening the body God gave me!

Encouraging words: “If anyone is in Christ, He is a new creation; the old has passed away—behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17)!

How I will celebrate at the end of 2018: We will have an all-out praise dance party with the kids (and maybe a few friends and glowsticks too!).

Goal 6: Serve my team and help women (you included!) cultivate what matters, right where they are. 

Why? Because God has entrusted me with the care of the women I work alongside, and He has given us a shared vision that is changing a culture.

The positive effect taking action on this goal may have on my life and others: Changed hearts and strengthened families. Blooming faith. Eternal impact.

How I will feel at the end of this year having made progress on this goal: Completely in awe of the Lord’s power.

Starting steps: 1. Pray over our company’s 2018 PowerSheets goals before our 2018 kick-off meeting on January 3rd (read our word of the year here!). 2. Pray over each individual team member (and our new hires!). 3. Pray over all of our PowerSheets and Write the Word family, for your clarity in the year ahead, and for God to give you wisdom in planting your goals and tending to them little by little.

How I will know I accomplished or made progress on this goal: Our team will grow in leadership and our impact will strengthen. Our company culture will thrive. Our ability to give will increase.

Encouraging words: “Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness” (Psalm 37:3).

Trust in the Lord. In His plans, not necessarily in what a great business book says or what another person says.

Do good. Bless others. Bless our team. Give people words and products and interactions that add value to their lives.

Dwell in the land. Look around–this is good! Celebrate what’s here right now. Cultivate what matters right where we are.

Befriend faithfulness. Always giving it to God. Faithful in small things and in big. Faithful in prayer. Faithful in hope. Faith-full. Believing in what we can’t yet see.

How I will celebrate at the end of 2018: We will celebrate God’s faithfulness at our team end of the year dinner, but I want to keep a few things a surprise. I have some fun ideas here!

Love this series? Please share it with friends!

Whether you came up with two goals or twenty, I hope you feel more focused on what matters most having done each step alongside me! I am excited to check in with you here on the blog throughout the year to see how you are doing and encourage you. Tell me in the comments: what are your 2018 goals? (And remember, there’s no rush here! Take your time growing your goals if you need more time.)

What a year! I’m so grateful!

Lastly, thank you! Thank you for joining me on this journey. I am going to be reading every blog comment here and cheering you on. Taking this little by little has been worth it and I am praying you find the same is true for you. Choose to focus on progress—little by little progress—not perfection. Your seemingly small steps forward today will add up, and a year from now, you will be so grateful you started today! Get messy and make it happen, friend! (And if you need help, just ask!)

⭐️  What’s next? I’ll be back to share my top 10 tips for getting started on your goals! : )

Need some extra motivation? Welcome to the Ultimate New Year’s Giveaway! There are lots of prizes and fun ways to enter. Most of all, though, I hope you comment with your answers from each step in this series—I can’t wait to hear your answers! One person who comments with answers to every step in this series will win a bonus prize: one of everything from the Cultivate Shop! Yes!!! This includes 2018 PowerSheets, the Cultivate What Matters sticker book, books, journals, art prints and so much more!

A big thank you to everyone who entered! What a joy it was to hear your responses and get to chat with you in the comments! Congratulations to our winners below! If you’re a winner, fill out this form to collect your prize!

1. 10 sets of 2018 PowerSheets! — Gail boos, Sara Baker, Carrie Condra, Cydney Levin, Melissa Kelly, Cierra LaShay, Kara Wallitsch Tydlacka, Charis K, Staci Good Bedenbaugh, and Cara Gordon
2. A Fitbit Flex Amber Cavasoz
3. A gift card for a massage — Chris Koiro
4. The 2018 Floret wall calendar — Jen Harris
5. A 2018 Yearly prayer journal from Val Marie PaperHeather Chollar
6. Keepsake Kitchen Diary from Lily and Val — Zulema Uscanga
7. Farmgirl Flowers bouquet — Bianca Norman
8. Our popular PowerSheets Companion Bundle — Christy S
9. 1-year membership to Thrive MarketVanessa Wright
10. 2018 Simplified Planner — Sarah Gonzales
11. ARE YOU READY FOR THIS?! A free house cleaning! — Kara Earhart
12. 5 signed copies of Cultivate — Madelyn Smith, Emily Soroka, Julie Davis, Cortney P, and Shannon Hunsley
13. A seat at Financial Peace UniversityKady Curtis
14. 5 signed copies Make It Happen — Keatyn Bergsten, Emily Montgomery, Jenna King,  Samantha Hawthrone, and Kaitlyn Payne
15. Write the Word All Seasons Collection — Lacey Cabalas
16. A Meyer lemon tree – a family favorite around here! — Lindsey Abrego
17. A 6-month membership to Skillshare — Veronica Ilioi
18. A LegacyBox! (Amazing!) — Kerry Batty
19. One of everything from the Cultivate Shop! — Sarah Kemer 

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P.S. After starting this series, need more direction? 4 great places to start:

 

1. Grab a copy of my first book, Make it Happen, and my new book, CultivateI was so grateful to get to record the audiobooks for both too!

2. Order your PowerSheets for much more goal uncovering goodness! And get tons of Action Ideas and tips for making your goals happen here!

3. Get on my email list here for more inspiration and encouragement, and to know when our new products release.

4. Join me in person for the Making Things Happen Conference in March. The early-bird rate ends December 31st, and there are only a few seats left. See you there!

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*We are so grateful that ALL of our 2018 PowerSheets are headed to happy homes! Sign up to know when we restock our Six-Month Undated PowerSheets later this Spring!

If you are just joining us for this series, welcome! Here’s Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Want to listen to this post instead of read? Here you go!

First, thank you all for the birthday wishes! I’m so grateful for another year of life, and that I get to spend my birthday each year here with you, preparing well for the year ahead.

I wanted to give something to YOU today to thank you for this amazing year, and my publishers made it happen. I’m giving away 50 copies of Cultivate to the first 50 people who fill out this form! 🎉  Today is a good day!

 Planting out winter garden—pansies!

Welcome to Part 4! We’re getting ready to plant some good goals. Are you ready?! YAY! Me too!

Before we dig in, I want to remind you of this truth: just like planting seeds in my garden, making cultivated goals come to life requires physical action. And another action. And another. Over time, goals that were once leaps of faith you took on a blog post here, turn into new lives! The process of cultivating—breaking the soil, planting, tending, and waiting for the harvest—is where life happens. It’s where change and growth happen. The journey to making it happen is where the good stuff lives.

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I know you overachievers want to have done everything yesterday (me too!), but I have also been reading every single comment on this series. Taking this step-by-step is helping many of you make remarkable discoveries! I’m so pumped by all the light bulbs I see going off!

You are starting to see clearly, and it’s happening little by little.

Little by little progress adds up. This realization has changed my life! 

It’s okay to grow slow. In fact, it’s really GOOD to grow slow.

Little by little these zinnias in my garden grew this year from the tiniest seeds. Little by little babies grow. Can you imagine if you got pregnant and then the next day gave birth?? Oh, my stars! You wouldn’t be ready. No time to prepare. No time to buy diapers or mull over a name. or assemble the crib, or celebrate. You would have missed the time of preparation and ripening that happens over nine-ish months.

It is the same with our goals. Friend, trust that your goals matter enough to make them happen well. They matter enough to take little steps forward every single day, and some big leaps along the way too. Your goals matter enough to tend to them like a garden.

And, yes, there have been a few watermelons and tomatoes in my garden that seemed to appear overnight. (And the mint! SO MUCH MINT.) You may make your goals happen faster than you think if you take it day by day by day instead of jumping ship when you mess up (which we are all bound to do!).

But just because you make a mess doesn’t mean you become one.

Let’s pick out some good seeds to plant this year! You ready for this? It might feel scary the moment before you pick them, but it will feel SO GOOD when you take that leap of faith and finally do the things you’ve always wanted to do!

Welcome to the final four—Four Goal Uncovering Tips: (I just got bonus points from my husband for making a basketball reference-ha!)

1. First, review everything again! Do not skip this step. Remember, this is goal uncovering. Uncover one more layer and get to the good stuff! Read through everything you’ve written again. Read every word. Re-write or add to things once more if you need to. Cross stuff out, revise things, 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 2018 Pinterest board. Take pins out that don’t fit well. Use extra paper if you need to. Uncovering good goals is like a treasure hunt. Get messy and dig a little deeper.

I did and I can’t believe what I almost missed had I not done this step! I went back through my 2017 PowerSheets and WOW! I uncovered a huge list of good things that happened. If you are a PowerSheets user, I can’t recommend this enough! Here’s what I found…

This was like harvesting sweet potatoes. If you’ve never done it, you must try it one day! You start digging and you find the first potato which is so fun. But, then you find 20 more… and another dozen… and more and more! Sweet potatoes multiply under the surface. Apparently good things do too. It’s so easy to forget them! Once I started digging, I kept finding more and it left me with such gratitude for the Lord’s faithfulness!

With my little gardener after our sweet potato treasure hunt a couple years ago. So fun!

2. Write out some goal ideas. Next, make a list of the first “goal ideas” that come to mind for this year. This is just a list of ideas! If you want to, take a big deep breath and put on a favorite inspirational song as you start writing these ideas. I’m also going to stop and pray before I write mine, and ask Ari to pray for me too. Your goal ideas don’t have to be perfectly written—just write what comes to mind first when you think about the big picture. Feel free to share some of your goal ideas in the comments, too!

3. Check your goal ideas to make sure they are rooted in what matters. Now, let’s sift through the goal ideas and see if we can find any weeds. It’s easy to make goals that sound good or goals that other people have that you think you should have, too, just to keep up. Let’s notice when we are tempted to do that and dig in deeper to our own unique soil. The idea here is to SIMPLIFY your life, not to give yourself a new to-do list of random things that sound good. Be intentional about what you decide to spend your time on this year, with your own unique gifts and talents. How you spend your time is how you spend your life. Check each of your goal ideas to see if they are leading you in the right direction.

Do a GOAL CHECK and ask these essential questions:

– Will this goal help me to cultivate what matters?
– Will this goal help me get to where I want to be when I’m eighty years old?
– Does this goal help other people?
– WHY do I want to make this goal happen? Am I desiring this goal for the right reasons, or am I striving for “perfect”—or whatever I’ve been chasing?

If the answer is NO to any of these questions, 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. Focus on what really matters to you in the big picture. Cross goals out that don’t 100% fit. Be bold and take leaps of faith as you write.

If you are a believer like me, here are some questions I’m asking myself:

– Does this goal help draw me and others closer to God?
– Is this goal rooted in God’s truth? (Find scriptures to match!)
– Does this goal rely on my strength or God’s?
– Does this goal help me steward what I’ve been given well?

4. Write down your WHY with every goal idea. When I was a personal trainer in New York for many years, clients often 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.”

True story.

That goal worked.

That was motivating.

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 tossing them aside.

You never know how long you have left here on this earth to love others and use what you’ve been given to grow good things. Life is too short and too meaningful to coast through. The good you do today has the potential to change generations. That’s why uncovering good goals and having a clear focus is so important.

We can’t do it all and do it well, but we can choose to cultivate what matters.

The alternative is spending your time lost in distractions. Lost in Instagram. Lost in the chase for perfect, or significance, or approval, or whatever it is that has been holding you back from really living. You may find yourself restless, knowing deep down that there’s more to this life. If that’s you right now, you are in the right place! I know that feeling well, and this is your chance to choose change.

To get uncomfortable.

To think bigger than you.

To press into the fear and give it the boot!

Take a big breath in (really do it) and a big breath out. Think of where you want to be when you’re 80. What will be important to you then? Plant those seeds with your 2018 goals. Take some leaps of faith and write out goal ideas that are potentially outside of your comfort zone. Good goals are worth the hard work it takes to plant them. Soak them in the sunshine, water them little by little, and get ready for a flourishing garden full of blooms–and a harvest to share!

There is so much goodness to come when we actually write out our 2018 goals tomorrow (using a special method I’ll tell you about then!). For now, keep making a mess and digging into that rich growing ground of yours!

Your turn! Todays Goal Uncovering Steps:

1. Dig under the surface and peel back more layers. Review everything you’ve written again, add to it, and look for the threads.

2. Write out your goal ideas.

3. Check your goals.

4. Write down your WHY with every goal idea.

Need some extra motivation? You’ve got it! Comment with your answers from each step as we go through this series to be entered to win one of these inspiring prizes below. One person who comments with answers to every step in this series will win a bonus prize: one of everything from the Cultivate Shop! Yes!!! This includes 2018 PowerSheets, the Cultivate What Matters sticker book, books, journals, art prints and so much more!

A big thank you to everyone who entered! What a joy it was to hear your responses and get to chat with you in the comments! Congratulations to our winners below! If you’re a winner, fill out this form to collect your prize!

1. 10 sets of 2018 PowerSheets! — Gail boos, Sara Baker, Carrie Condra, Cydney Levin, Melissa Kelly, Cierra LaShay, Kara Wallitsch Tydlacka, Charis K, Staci Good Bedenbaugh, and Cara Gordon
2. A Fitbit Flex Amber Cavasoz
3. A gift card for a massage — Chris Koiro
4. The 2018 Floret wall calendar — Jen Harris
5. A 2018 Yearly prayer journal from Val Marie PaperHeather Chollar
6. Keepsake Kitchen Diary from Lily and Val — Zulema Uscanga
7. Farmgirl Flowers bouquet — Bianca Norman
8. Our popular PowerSheets Companion Bundle — Christy S
9. 1-year membership to Thrive MarketVanessa Wright
10. 2018 Simplified Planner — Sarah Gonzales
11. ARE YOU READY FOR THIS?! A free house cleaning! — Kara Earhart
12. 5 signed copies of Cultivate — Madelyn Smith, Emily Soroka, Julie Davis, Cortney P, and Shannon Hunsley
13. A seat at Financial Peace UniversityKady Curtis
14. 5 signed copies Make It Happen — Keatyn Bergsten, Emily Montgomery, Jenna King,  Samantha Hawthrone, and Kaitlyn Payne
15. Write the Word All Seasons Collection — Lacey Cabalas
16. A Meyer lemon tree – a family favorite around here! — Lindsey Abrego
17. A 6-month membership to Skillshare — Veronica Ilioi
18. A LegacyBox! (Amazing!) — Kerry Batty
19. One of everything from the Cultivate Shop! — Sarah Kemer

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends January 30th. Winners will be announced on January 31st here on the blog. Hard goods are for US entrants only. If you don’t claim your prize within 48 hours, another winner will be selected, so mark your planners and stay posted! : ) Also, this post contains some Amazon affiliates links. No extra cost to you and all proceeds are donated!

Read Part Five of my 2018 Goal-Setting Series!

P.S. We’re HIRING for three new positions in 2018!

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*We are so grateful that ALL of our 2018 PowerSheets are headed to happy homes! Sign up to know when we restock our Six-Month Undated PowerSheets later this Spring!

Welcome to 2018 Goal Setting, Part 3! Oooooh, this is getting good! We have some fun things to do together today. Ready?

If you are just joining us for this series, welcome! Here’s Part 1 and Part 2.

Prefer listening instead of reading? I recorded this post just for you!

As we talked about in Part 1, we’re doing this differently. We’re not choosing goals out of thin air, or because of comparison. We’re not doing fleeting resolutions or quick-fixes that don’t fix anything at all.

Right, friends?! I’m so glad you’re with me on this!

You see, what most of the world misses is that our goals are already there.

Deep below the surface, where the fiery good stuff lives.

It’s just a matter of peeling back the layers of fear and all the things to get to them.

We’re sifting through all the noise and distractions to uncover our cultivated goals.

I’m so excited for today!

If you are just joining us, you aren’t late to this party—there is nothing magical about January 1! Here is Part 1 and Part 2, for your reading (or listening!) pleasure.

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STEP 7: What are you going to need to say YES to more often in order to cultivate what matters in 2018, and what are you saying NO to?

Saying no to one thing means you are saying yes to something better!

Write your list of what you are saying YES to in 2018 and what you are saying NO to. There are no wrong answers here, friends. My answers are pictured below, and my lists are a mix of big-picture things (saying no to “comparison”) and specific things (saying yes to “less of me on social media”). Post your lists here in the comments to inspire others, and keep yourself accountable!

These lists are so important! When we say yes and no, we are making decisions. You may find some of your 2018 goals coming to the surface in these lists! These lists serve to summarize where you are going and where you DON’T want to go.

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STEP 8: Here’s where the magic starts to happen! Read over all you’ve written so far and circle, mark, or sticker things that stand out to you. Look for common threads or themes in what you’ve written. Add to what you’ve written, if needed. Get out a highlighter or a big bold pen and get messy here! Dig through what you’ve written so far, and notice the threads.

(Side note: lots of you have asked what pens and highlighters we love. I use these, these, and these. I also use our Goal Setting Stickerbook—my favorite!)

This step took me a good 25 minutes, FYI. I went back and read every word I wrote in my PowerSheets prep and highlighted, circled, and stickered things that stood out—things that really mattered to me and things that kept coming up.

The threads point to places that are craving cultivation—patches of your life that are waiting to be transformed.

The threads are little golden strings that tie your goals together.

The threads are your goals in the making.

Let’s do some treasure hunting and find them!

What themes are you seeing in what you’ve written so far? Maybe you’re looking at the threads and wondering if you’re missing something. Maybe the themes you are seeing don’t feel “groundbreaking.” If that’s you, I hope what I’m about to say sinks in deep: goals don’t have to be shiny and “big” to be powerful. What they need to be, though, is real. Connected to the big picture. Authentic to you and your unique path, right where you are.

Maybe you keep thinking that you want to get better at putting your laundry away.
Maybe you want to develop a habit of washing all the dishes before you go to bed.
Maybe you want to reply to your friends’ text messages each day instead of letting them pile up.
Or perhaps you want to get outside for fresh air and a quick walk with the dog twice a day.
Is reading more on your list of things you are saying yes to in 2018?
How about being present and turning the phone off at 9 pm?

These things are important—just as important as starting a new business or running a marathon. Why? Let’s look a level deeper and start to uncover some big picture cultivated goals that are right below the surface…

Little seeds grow into big blooms. Zinnias from the garden this year—my favorite!

Putting your laundry away and washing all the dishes before you go to bed may help you feel more prepared each day, ready to live out your purpose.

Replying to your friends’ text messages each day may help you to serve and love them well.

Getting outside for fresh air and a quick walk may help give you space and perspective to tackle challenges and make meaningful decisions.

Reading more may open your understanding of people’s stories, helping you to grow in compassion.

And being present and turning the phone off at 9 pm will most likely give you a greater connection with your loved ones and better sleep, which makes everything better!

Cultivated goals are about growing what you’ve been given well—what you already have.

Those themes that keep popping up? The things on your yes/no list that you can’t get out of your mind?

These little threads are illuminating your path forward. Notice them. Mark them. And take a shovel and dig into them.

This is cultivating.

Tilling your growing ground, digging in deep, and preparing for new growth.

9

STEP 9: Pick a word for 2018. When you look at all you’ve written so far, what word keeps popping up in your mind? What one word most resonates with you for the year ahead, pulling together all that you want to grow?

Here are some tips to help you uncover your word:

First, I like to make a list of a few possible words that resonate with me, even if I think they aren’t exactly right. My list for 2018 included:

Humility

Surrender

Gentleness

and a word I made up, Lightspace.

Then, get old school and get out the dictionary (well, Dictionary.com). Look at the definition of each word, it’s origin, and also look at synonyms and antonyms. I love using BlueLetterBible.org to look up the Greek, Hebrew, and related verses, too. You may be amazed at what you discover!

And a note of freedom here: think about this as a word for the season ahead, not for all of time. It doesn’t have to be perfect, and you have permission to change your mind later on! Rather than thinking of the whole year, I find so much freedom thinking of just the season ahead.

Repeat after me: it doesn’t have to be perfect. DONE is better than perfect!

Once you have your word, you are welcome to share it here in the comments. Give a virtual high five to those who might have the same word as you—we are bound to have some shared words!

Feel free to use this graphic above to share your word—you never know how you might encourage others!

Now, do something with your word. Write your 2018 word in prominent places in your life. On days you feel overwhelmed or need some direction, your word will help remind you of where you are going. This will help keep you from getting distracted and off track. Put your word on a Post-It in your car. Put it on a note 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 yourself of where you are going!

My word for 2017 was LIGHT. I didn’t expect this to be my word when I started my PowerSheets, but that’s the beauty of the process. As I uncovered more and more of what mattered (and what didn’t) with every page, the word light kept popping up. Light is what makes things grow well, illuminates the darkness, and leads us on the pathway home. I love this word, and there are so many beautiful scriptures about God’s light.

My 2018 word is the word that I made up! 🙂 Because there are no rules here, right? As I went back through all I wrote in my PowerSheets, looking through all the threads I found and praying on this, “light” remained a theme and “margin” and “space” kept coming up. I hadn’t written it in my PowerSheets before this photo of my Word of the Year page was taken because I wanted to pray more on it, but my 2018 word is…

l i g h t s p a c e

To me this means living in the fullness of His presence, in His Spirit, in surrendered, gentle, humble space. It means space to listen. Space to give. Space to love. Space to live with purpose. It’s a space of peace and trust and clarity.

Your turn! Today’s Goal Uncovering Steps:

1. What are you saying yes and no to in 2018?

2. What threads are you seeing? What themes are you discovering under the surface?

3. What is your word for 2018? I can’t wait to hear!

Whew, this is fun! I love doing this work with you, and I’ll be back tomorrow for Part 4!

Need some extra motivation to dig in? Comment with your answers from each step as we go through this series to enter to win one of the amazing prizes below. I can’t wait to read your answers, and share mine with you too! One person who comments with answers to every step in this series will win a bonus prize: one of everything from the Cultivate Shop! Yes!!! This includes 2018 PowerSheets, the Cultivate What Matters sticker book, books, journals, art prints and so much more!

A big thank you to everyone who entered! What a joy it was to hear your responses and get to chat with you in the comments! Congratulations to our winners below! If you’re a winner, fill out this form to collect your prize!

1. 10 sets of 2018 PowerSheets! — Gail boos, Sara Baker, Carrie Condra, Cydney Levin, Melissa Kelly, Cierra LaShay, Kara Wallitsch Tydlacka, Charis K, Staci Good Bedenbaugh, and Cara Gordon
2. A Fitbit Flex Amber Cavasoz
3. A gift card for a massage — Chris Koiro
4. The 2018 Floret wall calendar — Jen Harris
5. A 2018 Yearly prayer journal from Val Marie PaperHeather Chollar
6. Keepsake Kitchen Diary from Lily and Val — Zulema Uscanga
7. Farmgirl Flowers bouquet — Bianca Norman
8. Our popular PowerSheets Companion Bundle — Christy S
9. 1-year membership to Thrive MarketVanessa Wright
10. 2018 Simplified Planner — Sarah Gonzales
11. ARE YOU READY FOR THIS?! A free house cleaning! — Kara Earhart
12. 5 signed copies of Cultivate — Madelyn Smith, Emily Soroka, Julie Davis, Cortney P, and Shannon Hunsley
13. A seat at Financial Peace UniversityKady Curtis
14. 5 signed copies Make It Happen — Keatyn Bergsten, Emily Montgomery, Jenna King,  Samantha Hawthrone, and Kaitlyn Payne
15. Write the Word All Seasons Collection — Lacey Cabalas
16. A Meyer lemon tree – a family favorite around here! — Lindsey Abrego
17. A 6-month membership to Skillshare — Veronica Ilioi
18. A LegacyBox! (Amazing!) — Kerry Batty
19. One of everything from the Cultivate Shop! — Sarah Kemer

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Read Part Four of my 2018 Goal-Setting Series!

Giveaway ends January 30th. Winners will be announced on January 31st here on the blog. Hard goods are for US entrants only. If you don’t claim your prize within 48 hours, another winner will be selected, so mark your planners and stay posted! : ) Also, this post contains some Amazon affiliates links. No extra cost to you and all proceeds are donated!

276 Show Comments

*We are so grateful that ALL of our 2018 PowerSheets are headed to happy homes! Sign up to know when we restock our Six-Month Undated PowerSheets later this Spring!

If you are just joining us for this series, welcome! Here’s Part 1!

Want to listen to this post? I’ll happily read it to you!

She thought that being popular would bring contentment. She never felt like she was enough. She believed the success equation was: work 24/7 + more work. She chased bigger and faster and more more more. Her marriage began to crumble. Yet, she believed she couldn’t slow down. If she missed a minute on social media, she might miss something. She didn’t think she was doing anything wrong, just what she had to do to keep up. She chased an elusive standard of perfection and she MISSED HER LIFE.

She was me several years ago. I chased my tail until it all began to crash and burn.

I wrote my story in just a few words in my 2018 PowerSheets, right there in the middle…

If you have been feeling restless lately, wanting things to change, but believing that change is impossible, I know this for sure: change is possible. There is a way to move forward. Going from constantly chasing something I would never catch to living in grace didn’t happen overnight for me, but it did happen.

It happened little by little, step by intentional step. 

And the little-by-little and big leaps of faith along the way were worth it!

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Hi, friends! Welcome back to Part 2 of 2018 Goal Setting. If you are new, I’m so glad you landed here. Hop on over to read Part 1 here to get started.

Let’s dig in!

I wrote the handwriting piece above (which has since been shared on the interwebs tens of millions of times—so crazy) not about skydiving, traveling to a foreign country, or anything you might typically see on a bucket list. I wrote this late one night in my kitchen, just after putting Grace to sleep when she was a baby, about wanting to finally read the Bible from start to finish. It felt like a daunting task, but I wanted to grow my faith. I was determined. This really mattered to me.

And when something really matters to you in the big picture, how you do it doesn’t matter as much as why you do it. 

My why drove me forward, especially during the many times I fell behind or wanted to jump ship (have you ever felt that way?). Little by little, over the course of a year and a half, I did end up reading the Bible—and it changed everything. The little-by-little added up!

This is how we celebrate little-by-little progress in our garden. When we see a new seed sprouting or for any occasion whatsoever, we throw petals in the air and say, “Celebration!!!”

Maybe you want to cultivate a stronger marriage, find confidence in your career path, or grow in community with others. Maybe you want to learn to use your finances well, live with less, or finally do that thing that’s been on your list forever. Whatever it is, let’s talk about it!

Let’s plant the first seed right here together!

lara-casey-goal-setting-step-4

STEP FOUR: As we start this journey together, what’s one thing you want to cultivate in the year ahead? No perfect or polished answers needed here! This is just to get you thinking as we start uncovering the good stuff. What’s the first thing that comes to mind? Write it down, and I encourage you to share your thoughts in the comments for accountability and to encourage others too. I’m going to leave my answer in the comments alongside you!

What I want to cultivate came to light when I did this page above in my PowerSheets: I want to cultivate space for new things to grow. More in the comments! 🙂

lara-casey-goal-setting-step-5

STEP FIVE: We talked about the good things from the year in Part 1. Now, let’s look at the hard things. What were the challenges you experienced in 2017? What areas of your life need to be tended, watered, or soaked in sunshine? Don’t just write or say, “Everything.” Get specific and list your greatest challenges—the places that feel overgrown with impossible weeds right now.

A few of my 2017 challenges:

And, yes, I grew too much in the garden this year! I thought I’d have time for it all, but the summer ended up being a busy one with releasing a book. Thankfully, gardens are forgiving and it was still magical despite a few overgrown things.

As you think back to the challenges of this year, love your future self well! Don’t let negative thoughts or memories hold you back from breaking through and making your challenges list.

If you are a believer like me, ask God to help you surrender the hard things, learn from them, and move forward in His timing. ‘I do not consider myself yet to have laid hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize of God’s heavenly calling in Christ Jesus’ Philippians 313-14.

Write the facts and know that each thing you write down is an area of your life that could be made completely new.

Once you have your list of the challenges from 2017, name some of the lessons you learned from those challenges. Here are some my lessons from 2017 (Forgive my chicken scratch—I wrote this for myself, not thinking about sharing it and these are my honest messy thoughts!):

A note of encouragement: Perhaps you are still in the thick of a challenge right now and have no idea yet what it’s supposed to teach you. That’s okay! Wherever you are, let’s share the challenges and encourage each other.

lara-casey-goal-setting-step-6

STEP SIX: Who helped you cultivate what matters in 2017? Looking back at your list of good things from Part 1, and all that you’ve written so far in this series, who helped you to live on purpose this year? Who encouraged you or helped you grow? Download a free printable worksheet here and write the names of those you are grateful for and why. And then… do something about it! Thank them for the specific things they helped you with or inspired in you.

You may think they don’t need encouragement, or it won’t matter, but words have power.

Gift your people with those words!

You never know what good it might spark.

You can keep this simple and still make a huge impact: a text or an email can go a long way to change someone’s day—and change their life. I spent the morning sending emails to friends and colleagues who have meant a lot to me this year. Fly little emails, fly!

My dear friends and sisters from church, on the day that Cultivate launched, who have been huge blessings to me this year! I love you, Kristy and Ruth!

I am grateful to many. A few highlights from my PowerSheets:

There are so many more! Our church family, Walter our sweet cow-farmer mail carrier, my editor at Thomas Nelson who prayed me through finishing Cultivate, our neighbors, Heidi and Kayla at the Carolina Inn, my Faith Retreat sisters, our fellow carpool mamas, Lara from Everyday Graces and my friend Sunee for generously preparing me for the adventure of homeschool (I love you both so much!), all of the people I listed here, and if you’ve sent me an encouraging email this year, prayed, chatted with me here on the blog, or given me a hug—thank you. Your encouragement has genuinely made a difference!

Who are you grateful for this year?

Leave your answers in the comments, but most of all, send some love to the people on your list!

I am especially grateful for this guy! His prayerful support and love have grown my faith this year.

OPTIONAL* BONUS STEP: Get visual! Make a Pinterest board of images that will inspire a purposeful year. What do you want to grow? Leave a link to your board in the comments so we can follow each other’s boards.

Now, one word of caution. I rarely use Pinterest (like twice a year) because it can be the black hole of distraction and discontent. The goal isn’t to have a Pinterest-worthy year or life, so pick images that point you to what matters. To help you do this, we’re having a Pinterest Contest with an amazing prize: a seat to the Making Things Happen Conference! Get started here.

Here’s my board from last 2013 and from 2014, 2015, and 2016, 2017, and here’s where I’m pinning for 2018*If Pinterest distracts you, skip this step! Do whatever will keep you focused on your best year yet.

Your turn! Today’s Goal Uncovering Steps:

1. What’s the one thing you most want to cultivate in 2018?

2. What challenges did you experience in 2017? What lessons did you learn?

3. Who helped you cultivate what matters in 2017?

4. And our optional bonus step: get visual and make your 2018 vision board!

Okay, I’ll be back on Monday for Part 3! Monday’s post includes a powerful step that will help you simplify your year ahead, and I can’t wait.

Till then, Merry Christmas, my friends! My parents are coming tonight and I’m excited for some family time and having my mama in our kitchen.

Read some of my mom’s food columns here. 🙂

Need some extra motivation to dig in? Comment with your answers from each step as we go through this series to be entered to win the prizes below. I can’t wait to read your answers, and share mine with you too!

One person who comments with answers to every step in this series will win a bonus prize: one of everything from the Cultivate Shop! Yes!!! This includes 2018 PowerSheets, the Cultivate What Matters sticker book, books, journals, art prints and so much more!

A big thank you to everyone who entered! What a joy it was to hear your responses and get to chat with you in the comments! Congratulations to our winners below! If you’re a winner, fill out this form to collect your prize!

1. 10 sets of 2018 PowerSheets! — Gail boos, Sara Baker, Carrie Condra, Cydney Levin, Melissa Kelly, Cierra LaShay, Kara Wallitsch Tydlacka, Charis K, Staci Good Bedenbaugh, and Cara Gordon
2. A Fitbit Flex Amber Cavasoz
3. A gift card for a massage — Chris Koiro
4. The 2018 Floret wall calendar — Jen Harris
5. A 2018 Yearly prayer journal from Val Marie PaperHeather Chollar
6. Keepsake Kitchen Diary from Lily and Val — Zulema Uscanga
7. Farmgirl Flowers bouquet — Bianca Norman
8. Our popular PowerSheets Companion Bundle — Christy S
9. 1-year membership to Thrive MarketVanessa Wright
10. 2018 Simplified Planner — Sarah Gonzales
11. ARE YOU READY FOR THIS?! A free house cleaning! — Kara Earhart
12. 5 signed copies of Cultivate — Madelyn Smith, Emily Soroka, Julie Davis, Cortney P, and Shannon Hunsley
13. A seat at Financial Peace UniversityKady Curtis
14. 5 signed copies Make It Happen — Keatyn Bergsten, Emily Montgomery, Jenna King,  Samantha Hawthrone, and Kaitlyn Payne
15. Write the Word All Seasons Collection — Lacey Cabalas
16. A Meyer lemon tree – a family favorite around here! — Lindsey Abrego
17. A 6-month membership to Skillshare — Veronica Ilioi
18. A LegacyBox! (Amazing!) — Kerry Batty
19. One of everything from the Cultivate Shop! — Sarah Kemer

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends January 30th. Winners will be announced on January 31st here on the blog. Hard goods are for US entrants only. If you don’t claim your prize within 48 hours, another winner will be selected, so mark your planners and stay posted! : ) Also, this post contains some Amazon affiliates links. No extra cost to you and all proceeds are donated!

Read Part Three of my 2018 Goal-Setting Series!

277 Show Comments

*We are so grateful that ALL of our 2018 PowerSheets are headed to happy homes! Sign up to know when we restock our Six-Month Undated PowerSheets later this Spring!

Welcome to my Seventh-Annual Make It Happen Goal Setting Series! I’m so grateful for this series, and for all of you who join each year. How has it been seven years, friends? I’m so pumped for this year!!!

Want to listen to this post instead of reading? Here you go!

Let’s get right to it: what brought you here?

Maybe you feel frustrated as you look back at 2017.

Perhaps you didn’t make progress on some goals, or forgot about them completely (You are not alone! I have done that in years past!).

Maybe traditional goal setting has failed you before and you feel defeated already thinking about 2018.

Maybe you stumbled on this post because you want change to have happened yesterday.

Well, I have good news.

Really good news!

After almost a decade of studying goal setting and what motivates people to change and follow-through on their goals, here’s what I know for sure:

What causes people to change is one pivotal moment. It’s the moment where you decide that the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.

This moment might just be that moment for you.

Maybe your thoughts have been something like mine lately: I want my life (or an area of my life) to change/grow/be simplified. I don’t know how it will happen and the unknown is scary, but I KNOW I don’t want to stay the same any longer!

Friends, your restlessness is welcome here.

In fact, it’s a really good thing.

We’re gonna use our restlessness and frustration to propel us forward to CHANGE. Really good life-giving change!

If you’ve been craving something new, you are in the right place. And if you aren’t convinced yet that goals can be life-giving, you’re in the right place, too!

If you are new to this series, welcome—you’re in for a treat this year! Let me back up a bit and introduce myself, because we’re going to have some fun together over the next few days as we go through this 5-part series. I’m Lara. I’m a mom to three, a grateful wife, CEO of a growing company, and I love getting my hands dirty in my garden here in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

I’ve written two books about goal setting and intentional living. (My book deal came from an editor at Thomas Nelson reading this annual series!) I’ve led a conference called Making Things Happen for 9 years. My nickname when I was a personal trainer in New York City was “Ms. Motivator.” But! This all makes me giggle a little bit because I haven’t always loved goal setting. In fact, the words “goal setting” used to give me the heebie-jeebies!

I have a lot of things to take care of in my life (like you), and I don’t have room for a whole lot more (I’m guessing that’s like you, too), and I get tense even thinking about the pressure to accomplish something beyond my current capacity (areyouwithme?).

I started seeing real results in my goals when I flipped the usual process on its head. And that’s exactly what we’re going to do together here.

This is goal setting for people who hate goal setting!

We don’t do traditional pressure-filled, do-it-all goal setting around here. We uncover intentional, less-is-more goals. I call these “cultivated goals.”

Cultivated goals are about growing what you’ve been given–what you already have: your relationships, your money, your possessions, your work, your children, your home, your health, and your time. A little intentional forethought goes a long way!

Over the last seven years that I’ve been writing this series, as my life has dramatically changed, so has this goal uncovering process. I’ve studied what makes people feel unmotivated, and I have listened to you. I’ve followed your stories and challenges and incredible successes over these years as we’ve done this together. Through it all, I’ve discovered some pretty amazing not-so-secret secrets to getting unstuck.

Uncovering cultivated goals is not about doing it all; it’s about doing what matters. Whether you’re a mom, a student, a business owner, in transition, in the wait—in any place where you are in life, we’re going to let go of guilt-filled, fleeting resolutions, and embrace a whole new way of doing this goal setting thing. For those of you like me who do not like traditional goal setting, you are in the right place.

Listen in as I tell you my story…

Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life from Lara Casey on Vimeo.

Consider the script officially flipped!

From here on out, when I mention “goals” or “goal setting,” know that I’m talking about cultivated goals.

Here’s what cultivated GOALS are all about:

Grow what matters
One step
At a time
Little by little your
Seeds will grow

The alternative to uncovering cultivated goals is going through the motions, not feeling confident that you’re on the right path, lacking motivation, and not taking care of what you’ve been given well. (Speaking from experience here.)

Cultivated goals–the kind we are going to uncover together–give you direction and motivation. You can’t simultaneously do it all and do life wellBut you can choose to cultivate what matters, right where you are.

Here’s what you can expect in this five-part series: Each day of the series, I’m going to walk through a mix of goal uncovering steps from my first book, Make it Happen (which you can sample here), insight from my new book, Cultivate, prompts from the 2018 PowerSheets, and I have some new ones that we’ve never done before!

The PowerSheets and my books have many more goal uncovering prompts than I’ve listed in this series. This is just a sampling.

A peek above at one of the new pages this year: the Break Your Identity Box page. And, yes, I love PostIts! 

A word of freedom here! Do you need the PowerSheets and books to have an intentional year? No. You don’t need them to live this life well. They are powerful tools if you choose to use them, but if you only do this blog series, and use scrap paper to write your answers, that’s great, too. 🙂 Use what you have! If you are someone who has been stuck in indecision lately or feeling fear about diving into new things, practice what I call “making a mess!” Use whatever you have available to write with, and on. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Just dig in.

As we go through each step together, use the comment area here to leave your answers, or write them in your PowerSheets, a journal, or on scrap paper. Don’t just think your answers. Thinking them doesn’t count. Write them out and, if you want accountability, leave them boldly here in the comments. I want to cheer you on, and this year I’m going to leave some of my answers in the comments, too. Friends, help me out here and cheer each other on, too. You never know who how your words might change someone. If you need an extra kick in the pants to make it happen, I have a giveaway at the end that might encourage you!

Ready to dig in? Step 1, here we go!

lara-casey-goal-setting-step-1

STEP ONE: In order to leap into the new, we first must know where we are leaping from. I’m going to ask you the golden question: How are you? Really. How are you? Let’s look at each area of our lives and do a little check-in. Look at the categories below and write out how you are doing in each one:

– Health
– Friends
– Family (including your significant other, if applicable)
– Finances
– Spiritual + Personal Growth
– Work
– Recreation

Feel free to write in your own categories, too! Give each area of your life a rating between 1 and 10, along with a few thoughts on why you chose that number. 1 means you are not satisfied in this area and want to see radical change. 10 means you are happy as a bee on honeysuckle!

One of the new 2018 PowerSheets features: The Cultivated Life Evaluation. This is a simple check-in that helps you to know where you are and where you want to go in each key area of your life!

This is step one for a reason. “How are you?” seems like a simple question, but when answered from our heart of hearts, it can help set you on an entirely new path.

Knowing where you are now, mess and all, helps you to leap to where you’re going.

The soil you’re standing on right now is your growing ground.

How are you? What’s in that soil of yours right now?

Reply in the comments, or on paper right now. I’ll leave my answers in the comments too! And don’t get stuck in the negative soil. Include thoughts about what is good in each area! For instance, as for my feelings about finances: I’ve been challenged by contentment and emotional spending at times, but I have become skilled at managing money. It took ten years, but I now feel comfortable navigating Quickbooks, doing our business finances, and analyzing where we are. (A couple years ago I wouldn’t have been able to type that!) Allow yourself to write the things that may feel undone, imperfect, or hard, and write in some positive thoughts too—even if the positive feels tiny!

Now, a bonus challenge: let the dirt be dirt. Once you’ve written everything out, be still with your feelings for a moment—whatever they may be—without trying to change them or push them away immediately. Let the challenges and places you’d like to grow sink in a little. If you’re like me, I often want to fix my circumstances right away instead of letting myself feel anything at all. My instinct is to reach for a distraction when faced with something that feels hard. (Anyone tempted to go scroll Instagram right now?) But, that never brings me peace or clarity. So, let’s not do that. Maybe the soil of your life needs some fresh nutrients, or maybe there are some big rocks in the way of you planting new things. The only way you’ll know though, is to see what’s there first.

Besides…

All those rocks and weeds?

They are pockets of purpose waiting to be transformed!

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STEP TWO: Watch this video (or at least the first 30-ish seconds) that some of my closest friends and I made for you…

What have you been chasing recently, or in the last year? Do you feel like you are “chasing perfect” in some ways—attempting to measure up to an impossible standard? Write or type here what you have been chasing, and how that has been making you feel. Maybe you’ve been chasing success, significance, or approval. Maybe you’ve been trying to keep up, survive, or just get through. Whatever you’ve been chasing, name it boldly and know that you are not alone. To name your chase is to destroy it.

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STEP THREE: In traditional goal setting, you focus on the future, and on achieving your goals as fast as humanly possible. That is a recipe for b.u.r.n.o.u.t. I’ve done it many times in the past, and it’s no bueno. But! Uncovering really good goals means learning from the past in order to cultivate what’s next. The past has a lot to teach us! Let’s take a look back at the last year.

What good things happened in 2017? What grew well? What are you grateful for from the last twelve months?

I know this can be a challenging step. We often don’t like counting our blessings because it may feel self-indulgent or like it won’t get us anywhere fast, or perhaps you are thinking that there were no good things that happened in 2017! It’s easy to look back at an entire year and see only the hard parts, like when something happens to you at the end of the day and you automatically call it a bad day, regardless of what happened the other twenty-three hours.

Let’s do a little digging! A few tips to unearth the good stuff:

– Talk to your significant other or a close friend about your year and ask him or her to reflect some of the highlights back to you. He or she may remember some that you have forgotten! This is also a great way to celebrate the good things of the past year with others. Make it your dinner conversation tonight.

– Take a look back at your calendar, blog posts, social media updates, or photos. Those might give you a clue into some of the good things you’ve forgotten.

– If you are a PowerSheets user, read through your 2017 PowerSheets!

–  Review your finances from the year. This is like reading a journal of places you went, and what some of your priorities were.

My Good Things: My word for 2017 was LIGHT, and even in the challenges, it was a year of God’s light changing me and, even in the hard things, a feeling of lightness after a heavy and hard 2016.

A little recap from the last seven years:

2011 – Our marriage is falling apart and then the impossible happens. My husband, Ari, becomes a believer and Grace is born.

2012 – We are parents and life is crazy. I go through post-partum depression and try to figure out how to be a mom and run a growing small business.

2013 – The Lara Casey Shop opens and we release the first version of the PowerSheets. Out little shop takes off faster than we expected. After reading this goal-setting series, a publisher offers me a book contract. I begin writing Make It Happen.

2014 – We try to have another baby and miscarry. Through the grief, I write and release Make it Happen. We start thinking and praying about adoption. The same night I finish our adoption paperwork, I feel a little off. I am pregnant with Josh!

2015 – I start writing Cultivate and Josh is born in August. We match with our birth mom and, with much prayer and open hearts, we say yes to two babies in the span of six months.

nancyray-sarahnewborn-1076Photo by Nancy Ray

2016 – We adopt Sarah and I finally finish writing Cultivate in the middle of the mess. 2016 was a challenging year (I wanted to quit my business), but, I learn that good things grow out of hard things. I let my hair down, we change the name of our company and I pass the torch for my role as Editor-in-Chief of Southern Weddings.

2017 – I finally release Cultivate after two years of writing and re-writing and I begin homeschooling Grace. Our company grows like wisteria in March (a lot!) and I spend the year living what I wrote in Cultivate: ‘Getting our hands dirty in the soil–hands and heart undistracted. Celebrating sprouting seeds, golden yellow weeds, and everything in between. Rejoicing in our weakness. And receiving God’s limitless grace during the many, many, many times we mess up.’

This year, I was so grateful to see all that we teach in action in my own life and goals! I set four goals for the year and made more progress in each than I ever thought possible. A year ago, I knew I’d be so grateful I started these goals, and little by little, they happened! Did I mess up every along the way? Yes! Did I have some challenges? Definitely. But, imperfect progress is still progress and when you embrace that fact, you are far less likely to completely jump ship. 🙂

My four 2017 goals:

Goal 1: Read the whole Bible again. Yes! Read all about this goal here. I am on track to finish the Chronological reading plan on December 31 and I’m probably gonna cry when I finish I’m so grateful for this! I’ve decided to celebrate by going back through all the highlights I’ve collected in my YouVersion Bible app all year and marking them in Grace’s journaling Bible with love notes to her. I’m so excited to do this!

Goal 2: Run, and finally get back into weight training. The former personal trainer in me was a little ashamed of this at first, but you guys, I have made progress! I haven’t had a gym membership since Grace was born, and I haven’t done real weight training in just as long. I used to love being in the gym and feeling strong. But, the logistics with kids and the gym just haven’t worked out. So, I made it work! Read more here.

Goal 3: Live a year of radical gratitude and praise. After a challenging 2016, this was something I needed to cultivate. As I wrote about in Cultivate, complaints are clues. They reveal to us places in our hearts where we don’t trust in God’s goodness or His power. While cultivating gratitude is a life-long pursuit, I am so grateful for how I dug into this goal this year! From praise dance parties to practicing praising God through really hard challenges, this was really good. You can read more about how I made progress in the monthly posts I’ll share in a minute…

Goal 4: Cultivate our life-giving home. This included starting homeschool with Grace this fall, living with less, living in a life-giving space, implementing a plan for the office to semi-transition out of our house, growing our marriage, and planting a family legacy within the seemingly-mundane everyday routines of life, and the bigger celebrations of life (holidays, traditions, milestones) too. Wow, I am in awe that so much of this happened! We started homeschool and we have been loving it. It was a big transition for my work schedule and it has caused me to have to say no a lot more, but it has been worth it. We also made some much-needed home repairs this year, and I created our Cultivated Calendar for 2018. The one thing that changed here was moving the office out of the house. Instead, we made the office better (reveal coming in a few weeks) and I’m so glad we made it work! P.S. My friend Sally wrote a beautiful book about cultivating a life-giving home that I highly recommend! Also, you can catch our live broadcast together here.

You can read all the details of my 2017 goal progress in my monthly updates:

February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December (this month isn’t over yet–I’m still making little-by-little progress!)

My list of good things from 2017 in my PowerSheets is above. *You’ll notice I have some things covered in my PowerSheets throughout this series. If I wrote about something that had to do with another person, for their privacy, I covered those names and items. Some highlights:

  • The progress I made on my four goals this year! 🙌
  • Through many challenges we’ve experienced together this year, our marriage grew! We are stronger and more joy-filled because of all we have been through.
  • I started homeschool with Grace.
  • Our business grew in a new life-giving direction. I was invited to join C12, we added several new team members, and we are excited about the future.
  • I finished writing my second book! This was a HUGE praise after two years of writing (and re-writing!).
  • There’s more, but I don’t want to do all the talking! I’m sharing just a few things on my list to get your mind turning. I would love to hear from you.

Name three lessons you learned from the good things. For example, in my life there were many times last year that good things happened when I let go of control—whether getting on my knees (literally) in prayer or in looking at how I could change instead of hoping others would change. The lesson for me was a big one: let go. Surrender. Humble yourself. That’s where change begins. I continued to learn that it’s okay to grow slow, and embracing change can be good.

Your turn! Today’s Goal Uncovering Steps:

1. How are you? How are you doing in each area of your life and which areas do you most want to improve?

2. What have you been chasing lately? How is that making you feel?

3. Write your list of good things and lessons you learned.

Then, share your answers here in the comments to encourage others. I can’t wait to personally cheer you on!

And remember this: There is no room for comparison in cultivating what matters. A page from my 2016 PowerSheets:

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Whether you had one good thing happen or twenty, celebrate the good stuff and let’s help each other do the same. Let’s turn comparison into compassion and cheering on.

Okay, that’s it for today and that’s plenty to work on. I’ll be back Friday with more goal uncovering goodness!

Take your time with this and remember, cultivating what matters is about progress, not perfection. This is not about writing the perfect list of perfect goals with a perfect pen. It’s about digging into the dirt, right where you are, to grow, tend, and harvest what you’ve been given. This process will have a big payoff, but you have to commit to working through it. Let your 2018 goals bake, like a pan of homemade hot cinnamon rolls fresh out of the oven. They wouldn’t be flaky and yummy zapped quickly in the microwave, would they? They’d end up as a big pile of mushy dough. I’m not going to hand you your 2018 goals; we’re going to do this right and bake them well together, little-by-little, with some bold leaps of faith along the way. Sound good? Awesome!

Need an extra kick in the pants? How about this for motivation? Welcome to the Ultimate New Year’s Giveaway. There are lots of prizes and fun ways to enter. Most of all, though, I hope you comment with your answers from each step as we go through this series. I can’t wait to read your answers, and share mine with you too! One person who comments with answers to every step in this series will win a bonus prize: one of everything from the Cultivate Shop! Yes!!! This includes 2018 PowerSheets, the Cultivate What Matters sticker book, books, journals, art prints and so much more!

A big thank you to everyone who entered! What a joy it was to hear your responses and get to chat with you in the comments! Congratulations to our winners below! If you’re a winner, fill out this form to collect your prize!

1. 10 sets of 2018 PowerSheets! — Gail boos, Sara Baker, Carrie Condra, Cydney Levin, Melissa Kelly, Cierra LaShay, Kara Wallitsch Tydlacka, Charis K, Staci Good Bedenbaugh, and Cara Gordon
2. A Fitbit Flex Amber Cavasoz
3. A gift card for a massage — Chris Koiro
4. The 2018 Floret wall calendar — Jen Harris
5. A 2018 Yearly prayer journal from Val Marie PaperHeather Chollar
6. Keepsake Kitchen Diary from Lily and Val — Zulema Uscanga
7. Farmgirl Flowers bouquet — Bianca Norman
8. Our popular PowerSheets Companion Bundle — Christy S
9. 1-year membership to Thrive MarketVanessa Wright
10. 2018 Simplified Planner — Sarah Gonzales
11. ARE YOU READY FOR THIS?! A free house cleaning! — Kara Earhart
12. 5 signed copies of Cultivate — Madelyn Smith, Emily Soroka, Julie Davis, Cortney P, and Shannon Hunsley
13. A seat at Financial Peace UniversityKady Curtis
14. 5 signed copies Make It Happen — Keatyn Bergsten, Emily Montgomery, Jenna King,  Samantha Hawthrone, and Kaitlyn Payne
15. Write the Word All Seasons Collection — Lacey Cabalas
16. A Meyer lemon tree – a family favorite around here! — Lindsey Abrego
17. A 6-month membership to Skillshare — Veronica Ilioi
18. A LegacyBox! (Amazing!) — Kerry Batty
19. One of everything from the Cultivate Shop! — Sarah Kemer

Why am I doing this? I want you—yes YOU—to get renewed, and to uncover a solid direction for the year ahead. Help me spread the word, and let’s get all our friends in on this! Here’s to a meaningful, intentional 2018—I am cheering you on friends.

Read Part Two of my 2018 Goal-Setting Series!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends January 30th. Winners will be announced on January 31st here on the blog. Hard goods are for US entrants only. If you don’t claim your prize within 48 hours, another winner will be selected, so mark your planners and stay posted! : ) Also, this post contains some Amazon affiliates links. No extra cost to you and all proceeds are donated!

Photos by Gina Zeidler

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