Welcome to 2019 Goal Setting, Part 3 (go visit Part 1 and Part 2 before you dig in here or move on to Part 4 and Part 5)! 

Note: We are so grateful that ALL of our 2019 One-year PowerSheets are SOLD OUT. But, good news! You can get started at any time with Six-Month Undated PowerSheets (available NOW), which include the same Prep Work as the One-Year Goal Planners! New to the party? Head to the Cultivate Shop or say hello – we’re so glad you’re here!

Oooooh, this is getting good! We have some fun things to do together today. Ready?

As we talked about in Part 1, we’re doing this goal-setting thing 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.

I’m so excited for you today!

At our shoot for the 2019 collection! Treasured Cultivate friends and REAL LIFE PowerSheets® users.

If you are just joining us, you aren’t late for this party! Here’s Part 1 and Part 2, for your reading (or listening!) pleasure.

STEP 7: What are you going to need to say YES to more often in order to cultivate what matters in 2019, 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 2019 and what you are saying NO to. There are no wrong answers here, friends. Look back through everything you’ve written through this series so far, and making your lists will be easy!

Here’s a peek at what I’m saying yes and no to from my PowerSheets

These lists are so important! When we say yes and no, we are making decisions. Download my free Intentional Year List printable below (instant download)!

You may find some of your 2019 goals coming to the surface in these lists—they serve to summarize where you’re going and where you DON’T want to go in the year ahead.

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 about wanting a better system for the paperwork that piles up in your house.

Maybe thoughts of sitting down together at the dinner table as a family a few nights a week keep coming to mind.

Maybe you want to get to know your neighbors.

Or maybe you want to spend more time outside.

Is reading more on your list of things you are saying yes to in 2019?

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…

Our 7-year peach saga was the sweetest reminder of His faithfulness! I have learned many lessons in the garden, but the greatest is trust. Keep going. Keep tending. Keep trusting.

Taking care of paperwork frees your brain up to focus on more important things, and clutter-free surfaces leave you ready for dinner prep or craft projects.

Dinner together strengthens your family’s bond and gives you a conversation opportunity with your kiddos.

Knowing your neighbors could be a great local support system (and of course, they’re good for the odd cup of sugar, too!).

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!

Now is the time to get your 2019 PowerSheets Intentional Goal Planner! You’ll get 15% off with the code BESTYEAR2019!

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.

STEP 9: Pick a word for 2019. 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, summarizing what you want to focus on?

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 2019 included:

  • Slow
  • Discern – a suggestion from Ari – ask close friends and loved ones, if that helps you!
  • Selective
  • Cultivate – big surprise, no? 😉
  • and Heart

My 2019 Word of the Year?

Heart.

I didn’t think I would ever choose this as a Word of the Year, but that’s the beauty of this process! Taking time to go through the PowerSheets process and write to you here, search scripture, and pray about where the Lord wants me to go in 2019, helped me see it clearly. Taking time to cultivate my goals slowly and intentionally, I peeled back the layers and found the unexpected.

You’re about to, too!

How did I confidently decide on Heart? I looked through all I had written in my PowerSheets, I marked the threads – or themes, and then I got out the dictionary! Make your list of possibilities and then look at the definition of each word, its origin, and any 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!

Heart kept coming up for me, resonating with me, and summarizing all I need to focus on in 2019.

Have some ideas about your word, but worried you’ll choose the wrong one?? Take the pressure off! 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! (In the PowerSheets, you’ll do a goal refresh every three months because, as we grow and change, our goals do too—no pressure needed!)

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

Once you have your word, I’d love for you 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!

Now, do something with your word.

Write your 2019 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 sticky note in your car. Put it on a note literally inside of your fridge (I’ve done that!). Make it your computer desktop or phone lock screen. Write it anywhere and everywhere to remind yourself of where you are going!

You can even download one of our hand-lettered iPhone wallpapers! (Casey, our Art Director, is so talented, isn’t she!?)

How fun, right?! (Share this with your friends so they can be reminded of their words, too!)

A fun bonus step that has consistently helped me stay focused on my word of the year and my goals: make a 2019 playlist or choose a 2019 song to kick off the year! Listen in to my 2019 playlist here. I’d love to hear what your 2019 song is, if you have one!

Your turn! Today’s Goal Uncovering Steps:

7. What are you saying yes and no to in 2019?

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

9. What is your word for 2019? I can’t wait to hear!

And your optional bonus step: choose a song for 2019!

Whew, this was fun! I love doing this work with you, and I’ll be back on Friday for Part 4. Till then, I’m launching a podcast tomorrow on my 39th birthday. Ahhhhh!!!!

Need some extra motivation? The Ultimate New Year’s Giveaway is on! I hope this gives you a little extra encouragement to share your answers as we go through this series. One person who comments with answers to every step in this series will win a bonus prize: one of everything from the Cultivate What Matters® Shop! Yes!!! This includes 2019 PowerSheets, the new Celebrations Binder, a Goal-Setting Sticker Book, your choice of Make it Happen zipper pouch, my books, and so much more! There are 35 prizes, so that means 35 of you are going to win one of these prizes—it could be YOU. (Including international friends!)

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 within 48 hours or a new winner will be selected!

— 10 sets of 2019 PowerSheets to help 10 of you cultivate your BEST year yet! —Mary Conti, Emily Yost, Amy Wing, Jen Martinez, Brittany Garrett, Chelsea Pirtle, Mariah Meade, Kimberly Boyd, Tonya Kappes, Amber Corey
— A Goal Guide Bundle to help you dig deeper on your specific goals. — Jaimie Tollers
— Five signed copies of Cultivate. —Lisa McMahon, Patrice Pierce Thornton, Steph Conklin, Bonnie Johnson, Kristin Vlasak,
— Five signed copies of Make It Happen. —Michele Lanning, Mariela Capellan, Amy Bain, Stephanie Canete, Amanda Applegate, 
— One Write the Word All Seasons Collection to help you cultivate fresh faith all year long. —Becki Sue
— A gift card (YES!) for a massage to kick off your year refreshed! —Ashley Bossong
— A Balanced Life membership – get moving and motivated with a year of at-home pilates! —Heather Renee
— A Floret Flowers puzzle (it’s double-sided and so much fun!) —Leah Meadows
—A Revelation Wellness membership with a ‘Wellness Kickoff Package” to cultivate your health in the New Year. —Elizabeth Hiney
— One Artifact Uprising album to document the people and experiences that matters most to you. —Natalie Gessell
— An Emily Ley Simplified Planner to keep your schedule organized in the new year. —Amanda Burley
— Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University course—a life-changing experience to help you pursue financial freedom. —Cindy Booth Carlson
— One Val Marie Paper Yearly Prayer Journal. I’ll be using one this year, too! —Michelle McQueen
— A Hello Fresh boxto keep you fueled with good food. —Kate Mariani
— One Art Bar canvas (up to $150 value) to brighten your walls. —Gina Abatiello
— A Fitbit to help you celebrate your literal steps forward. —Evangelina Cantu
— An Amazon Alexa to keep you dancing. —Rachel Whorley

And the bonus prize for one of you who comments on all 5 posts in this series: a ONE OF EVERYTHING Bundle from the Cultivate Shop! —Katie Ledvina

SHARE THIS SERIES WITH YOUR PEOPLE. Don’t keep all this goodness to yourself! I’d be so grateful if you spread the word about this free series. Email this kick-off post to your friends, tweet it, ‘gram it (here are lots of shareable graphics for you to make it easy!), text it—sing it to the rooftops! Let’s get all our friends in on this so they can feel as refreshed and clear about 2019 as we will. Here’s to our best year yet togetherstarting now!

Giveaway ends January 30th. Winners will be announced on February 1st here on the blog. Hard goods are for US entrants only. If you don’t claim your prize within 48 hours, another winner will be selected, so mark your planners and stay posted! 🙂 This post contains affiliate links.

P.S. There is nothing magical about January 1st, so pick up your PowerSheets and get started now! P.P.S. If you’re not sure which cover fits your personality most, take the goal-setting personality quiz!

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Hi, friends! Welcome back to Part 2 of the 2019 Goal Setting Series! If you’re new, I’m so glad you landed here. Hop over to read Part 1 before digging in here or into Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5 !

Note: We are so grateful that ALL of our 2019 One-year PowerSheets are SOLD OUT. But, good news! You can get started at any time with Six-Month Undated PowerSheets (available NOW), which include the same Prep Work as the One-Year Goal Planners! New to the party? Head to the Cultivate Shop or say hello – we’re so glad you’re here!

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

You know the feeling you get when your to-do list starts running your life into the ground?

There’s so much to get done and it sometimes feels like there’s never enough time for the rest of life—the joy-filled living part. You can’t slow down, though—not possible. Something might fall through the cracks if you do. So you keep going. Striving to get one more thing done and feeling like the only thing that’s done is you.

Maybe that’s you today.

And you’re here reading this post, searching for something that will make life easier, because you feel like you’re MISSING IT. You think, “When will I start really living?”

Let me go ahead and tell you that conquering your to-do list once and for all won’t actually solve the root of the problem.

It starts with what goes on that list in the first place. Maybe, just maybe, you could start doing less and making it mean a whole lot more. It all starts with answering the one question that will change your life forever.

But, before we get to that question, let me help you with something you may be experiencing. Have you caught yourself feeling like your answers to Part 1 weren’t enough? Maybe you’re wondering if you did it “right?” Yes, my friend, you aren’t just doing this “right”—you’re rocking it! I’ve never been so blown away by such clarity and heart. You are here for a reason and your answers to Part 1 were exactly what they were supposed to be. I’m so proud of you! 🙂 So, have you done this right? Yes! You’re on your way to your best year yet!

Get your 2019 PowerSheets before we sell out for the year! Just for you: use code BESTYEAR2019 for 15% off your purchase.

Today’s action steps are simple and powerful. Are you ready?

Let’s do it!

If you’ve been feeling restless lately, wanting things to change, but believing that change is impossible, I know this for sure: change is possible. There is a way to move forward. I’m going to guide you there, step by intentional step. 

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

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

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

Maybe you want to cultivate stronger friendships, grow your business, or learn to cook dinner for your family. Maybe you want to pay down debt, run a 10k, or finally do that thing that’s been on your list forever. Whatever it is, let’s talk about it!

Let’s plant the first seed right here, together!

STEP 4: Ready for the one question you need to ask yourself to uncover your best goals? Here it is.

Where you want to be when you’re 80—or 90 or 100? What will be important to you then, and what won’t?

The answer to this question is the secret to setting goals that matter—goals you can’t wait to get started on.

Have you heard of S.M.A.R.T. goals?

SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals.

But, time and time again, despite their reputation of being foolproof, SMART goals fail.

SMART goals are missing one key component (the secret sauce of our community’s success!): heart.

When the goal you want to achieve matters to you in the big picture, you will follow through. No matter how many times you mess up along the way, you’ll get back up—because you care! How perfectly you get there doesn’t matter as much as why. And the why behind your goals is what keeps you from jumping ship at the first sign of imperfection.

Uncovering heart-filled goals is what you’re doing right now as you answer this question— and I’m so excited for you!

So, what will matter to you in the big picture and what won’t?

I’ve asked this question of thousands of women and the answers to where we want to be when we’re 80 tend to be about relationships and growing what lasts longer than us.

What won’t matter to you then? How many likes you had on an Instagram post, how much other people approved of you, or having a perfectly clean house or organized pantry, perhaps? (There’s nothing wrong with any of those things, by the way—if having an organized pantry helps you love your people in the big picture, organize your heart out! And social media can be a wonderful tool to help others when used well. It tends to be more of a distraction for most of us, though.)

Your answers here matter.

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

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

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

To get uncomfortable.  

To think bigger than you.

To press into the fear and give it the boot!

Write out your thoughts—and remember, make a mess. No perfect answers or handwriting needed. Write what’s true for you.

Knowing where you want to be in the big picture helps you simplify your life—and your to-do list—today. If there are things on your list that aren’t getting you to where you want to be when you’re 80, maybe they don’t need to be there! (Take that, to-do list!)

STEP FIVE: With the big picture in mind, what’s one thing you want to cultivate in the year ahead? No perfect or polished answers needed here either! There may be many things you want to change and do, but just focus on one for now. What’s one thing you want to grow or change or simplify in your life—the first thing that comes to mind? Write it down, and I encourage you to share your thoughts in the comments for accountability and to encourage others, too. I’m going to leave my answer in the comments alongside you!

STEP SIX: We talked about the good things from the year in Part 1. Now, let’s name a few of the challenges from 2018. What didn’t help you cultivate what matters this year?

This may be the most valuable step you take—this will help you know where you’re NOT going in 2019! Write the facts and know that each thing you write down is an area of your life that could be made completely new.

A few of my 2018 challenges:

— Any time I worried, feared, or gave in to stress, it was because I forgot that God is God and He has done countless miraculous things in my life.

— I’ve had a literal pain in my neck. I’m grateful for physical therapy and doctors but injuring my neck (gardening, of all things—granted it was heavy work… uprooting hedges) has been a challenge for me. I have an angry disk that I pray will return to its home one day soon. On the same note with my health, I’m turning 40 next year and the hot flashes and sleeplessness have crept up on me. I’m feeling it!

— Imbalance in my work schedule. I’ve worked past my work hours about a dozen times this year, which may not seem like much, but to me it’s significant. This year brought a lot of work transitions and, for me, a deeper focus on homeschool. So, I had to juggle my time in heavy seasons. I don’t want working nights to continue, though. That time is important to our marriage staying strong and to my health—sleep makes everything better!

— Letting go of Southern Weddings was bittersweet. We completed the work we were given to do, and we made room for new things. But, it was a challenge for us financially. We let go of a growing business and it was a sacrifice we had to make for the big picture, but it made for a lot of stress on my end as unexpected financial burdens hit us this year. As always though, good things come out of hard things (even when I didn’t think they would!). This is why I wrote “I learned to trust Him more than ever this year” on my Good Things list. My faith has grown and my longing for Heaven is stronger. That is a gift!

There were many more challenges—far greater than these—but I’ll say that in all of them, I grew. Pruning is a gift. And for that, I’m grateful.

If you are a believer, ask God to help you let go of the hard things, learn from them, and move forward in His timing. Some encouragement to get your mind refreshed:

‘I do not consider myself yet to have laid hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize of God’s heavenly calling in Christ Jesus.’ (Philippians 3:13-14)

‘See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland’ (Isaiah 43:19 NIV).

Where do you go from here with the challenges? Do you know how cow manure is one of the best fertilizers for flowers and gardens? It’s the same with our challenges! 🙂 Let’s grow some good things and get some fruitful lessons out of what felt like a big mess!

Use the 15% off code BESTYEAR2019 to do this all year long with the PowerSheets Goal Planner.

Once you have your list of challenges from 2018, name some of the lessons you learned from them. In all the hard stuff, there are gifts—valuable lessons that will help you grow what matters ahead. Let’s do some digging and find the golden nuggets of wisdom hiding in the dirt!

Here are a few of mine:

A note of encouragement if you’re in the thick of a challenge right now and have no idea yet what it’s supposed to teach you: That’s okay! Wherever you are, you’re right where you’re supposed to be. Write what’s true for you (“I’m not sure what I’m supposed to learn here,” is a perfectly good answer!) and move forward.

STEP SEVEN: Who helped you live intentionally and grow good things in 2018? Looking back at your list of good things from Part 1, and all that you’ve written so far in this series, who helped you to live on purpose this year? Who encouraged you or helped you? Download a free printable worksheet here and write the names of those you are grateful for and why. And then… do something about it! Thank them for the specific things they helped you with or inspired in you.

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

Gift your people with those words!

You never know what good it might spark.

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

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

Who are you grateful for this year?

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

OPTIONAL BONUS STEP: Get visual! Make a Pinterest board of images that will inspire your purposeful year. What do you want to grow? Leave a link to your board in the comments—I’d love to see! If Pinterest distracts you, skip this step! Do whatever will keep you focused on your best year yet.

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 are my boards from past years—it’s fun to look back! 2013, 2014201520162017, and 2018.)

Your turn! Today’s 4 Goal Uncovering Steps:

4. Where do you want to be when you’re 80? What will matter to you then and what won’t?

5. What’s one thing you most want to cultivate in 2019?

6. What challenges did you experience in 2018, and what lessons did you learn from them?

7. Who helped you in 2018? Who are you grateful for? (Go tell them!)

Optional bonus step: get visual and make your 2019 vision board!

I’ll be back next Wednesday, December 26th, for Part 3! Till then, Merry Christmas, my friends! My parents just got here and we’re going to bake, listen to Alabama Christmas, and snuggle up right here together! 🙂 I hope your weekend is filled joy!

Need some extra motivation? The Ultimate New Year’s Giveaway is on! (Amazing! Can I win??) I hope this gives you a little extra encouragement to share your answers as we go through this series. I can’t wait to read your thoughts and hear your aha! moments. One person who comments with answers to every step in this series will win a bonus prize: one of everything from the Cultivate What Matters® Shop! Yes!!! This includes 2019 PowerSheets, the new Celebrations Binder, a Goal-Setting Sticker Book, your choice of Make it Happen zipper pouch, my books, and so much more! There are 35 prizes, so that means 35 of you are going to win one of these prizes—it could be YOU. (Including international friends!)

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 within 48 hours or a new winner will be selected!

— 10 sets of 2019 PowerSheets to help 10 of you cultivate your BEST year yet! —Mary Conti, Emily Yost, Amy Wing, Jen Martinez, Brittany Garrett, Chelsea Pirtle, Mariah Meade, Kimberly Boyd, Tonya Kappes, Amber Corey
— A Goal Guide Bundle to help you dig deeper on your specific goals. — Jaimie Tollers
— Five signed copies of Cultivate. —Lisa McMahon, Patrice Pierce Thornton, Steph Conklin, Bonnie Johnson, Kristin Vlasak,
— Five signed copies of Make It Happen. —Michele Lanning, Mariela Capellan, Amy Bain, Stephanie Canete, Amanda Applegate
— One Write the Word All Seasons Collection to help you cultivate fresh faith all year long. —Becki Sue
— A gift card (YES!) for a massage to kick off your year refreshed! —Ashley Bossong
— A Balanced Life membership – get moving and motivated with a year of at-home pilates! —Heather Renee
— A Floret Flowers puzzle (it’s double-sided and so much fun!) —Leah Meadows
—A Revelation Wellness membership with a ‘Wellness Kickoff Package” to cultivate your health in the New Year. —Elizabeth Hiney
— One Artifact Uprising album to document the people and experiences that matters most to you. —Natalie Gessell
— An Emily Ley Simplified Planner to keep your schedule organized in the new year. —Amanda Burley
— Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University course—a life-changing experience to help you pursue financial freedom. —Cindy Booth Carlson
— One Val Marie Paper Yearly Prayer Journal. I’ll be using one this year, too! —Michelle McQueen
— A Hello Fresh boxto keep you fueled with good food. —Kate Mariani
— One Art Bar canvas (up to $150 value) to brighten your walls. —Gina Abatiello
— A Fitbit to help you celebrate your literal steps forward. —Evangelina Cantu
— An Amazon Alexa to keep you dancing. —Rachel Whorley

And the bonus prize for one of you who comments on all 5 posts in this series: a ONE OF EVERYTHING Bundle from the Cultivate Shop! —Katie Ledvina

SHARE THIS SERIES WITH YOUR PEOPLE. Don’t keep all this goodness to yourself! I’d be so grateful if you spread the word about this free series. Email this kick-off post to your friends, tweet it, ‘gram it (here are lots of sharable graphics for you to make it easy!), text it—sing it to the rooftops! Let’s get all our friends in on this so they can feel as refreshed and clear about 2019 as we will. Here’s to our best year yet togetherstarting now!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends January 30th. Winners will be announced on February 1st here on the blog. Hard goods are for US entrants only. If you don’t claim your prize within 48 hours, another winner will be selected, so mark your planners and stay posted! 🙂 This post contains affiliate links.

P.S. Need a last-minute gift? Buy her a gift card for PowerSheets! It comes with a printable card and the cutest downloadable gift wrap, too. Best gift ever!

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Hi, friends! Welcome to Part 1 of the 2019 Goal Setting Series! If you’re new, I’m so glad you landed here. Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5 are also live!

Note: We are so grateful that ALL of our 2019 One-year PowerSheets are SOLD OUT. But, good news! You can get started at any time with Six-Month Undated PowerSheets (available NOW), which include the same Prep Work as the One-Year Goal Planners! New to the party? Head to the Cultivate Shop or say hello – we’re so glad you’re here!

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

You came here for a reason. What is it that brought you here?

Maybe you’re feeling frustrated as you look back at 2018.

You didn’t make as much progress as you hoped on some of your goals—or you forgot about them completely.

Perhaps goal setting has failed you before and you feel defeated already thinking about the new year. You’re considering going “goal-less!”

Perhaps you stumbled on this post and it intrigued you because you want change in your life and it feels really far away. You need a way to get from where you are now to where you want to be.

Or maybe this year has been great—you made progress on the right goals and you want to keep it going for 2019!

No matter what led you here, you are in the right place.

Your imperfection, your past failures, your heartache, and your triumphs are all welcome here. In fact, they might be the very things that propel you forward on a fresh new path.

How?

Welcome to the Eighth-Annual Intentional Goal Setting Series. We’re eight years strong, friends! Many of you have been doing this process alongside me since year 1 (your goal updates each year blow me away) and I’m so pumped for this year!

If you’ve tried goal setting before and burned yourself out—or didn’t follow through—you’re right where you’re supposed to be.

If you aren’t convinced yet that setting goals could be life-giving for you this year—no perfection required—you’re in the right place, too.

Whatever it is for you, I just want to reassure you that you are here for a reason and you’re about to make it happen. If you are new to this series, a big welcome from all of us—you’re in for a treat this year!

Whether you’re a mom, a student, a business owner, an empty nester, in a season of transition, or a season of starting fresh—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.

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, I’ve led a conference called Making Things Happen for 9 years, and I was once a personal trainer, a wedding planner, and the Editor-in-Chief of a wedding magazine.

I am the creator of the best-selling PowerSheets® Goal Planner and I don’t love goal setting. No, that’s not a typo. I do not like traditional goal setting. The words “goal setting” give me the heebie-jeebies!

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

Goal setting. No thank you.

If you are feeling this right this second, we are going to be fast friends. You’ve found your people! 🙂

I set out to uncover a process that works for the rest of us. I flipped the usual process on its head and guess what: I started seeing real results with zero pressure. I discovered that I didn’t need to make perfect progress to see results, and it’s SO FREEING. I’m going to guide you through my exact process in this series.

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!

Consider the script officially flipped!

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

Over the last eight 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 us feel unmotivated, what causes us to follow-through, 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 “secrets” to doing this life with intention.

What causes people to change starts with one pivotal moment. It’s the moment when you decide that the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change. It’s the moment you decide you are tired of doing the same things you’ve always done and getting the same results you’ve always gotten.

This might just be that moment for you.

Now, you could just stop here and quit before even trying. You could do that and I won’t judge you! 🙂 I’ve given up on a whole lot of things in my life right at the starting line. But, here’s where that might leave you (like it did for me): going through the motions, not feeling confident that you’re on the right path, getting distracted, lacking motivation, not taking care of what you’ve been given, and generally wasting your time.

Or you could end 2019 knowing you lived your best year—no perfection required. Cultivated goals—the kind we are going to uncover together—give you direction and motivation. And it all starts with one small step. (I’ll tell you that one step shortly!)

My 2019 Goal Ideas page from my PowerSheets Goal Planner.

Here’s what you can expect in this five-part series: Each day, I’ll walk you through a mix of goal-uncovering steps from my first book, Make it Happen (which you can sample here); insight from my second book, Cultivate; key questions from a decade of leading the Making Things Happen Conference, prompts from the 2019 PowerSheets®; and a few surprises!

The PowerSheets and my books have many more goal-uncovering insights and guided worksheets than I’ll include in this series. They make it easy to take action on your goals throughout the year instead of just setting them once (and then forgetting about them!). NOW is the perfect time to get your 2019 PowerSheets if you haven’t already—the order deadline for domestic New Year’s delivery is TODAY. Use the code BESTYEAR2019 for 15% off your entire order! (Yes, it even works on our already-discounted Make It Happen Bundle!) Our fulfillment team ships quickly, and you should have yours in time to work through this series with us—hooray!

3 WAYS TO GET THE MOST OUT OF THIS SERIES:

1. Instead of just thinking your answers, write them down. This is so simple and impactful! As we go through each goal uncovering step together, use the comments section 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 I’m going to leave my answers in the comments, too!

2. Cheer her on! You know how it feels when someone encourages you? Yes—amazing! Let’s do that for each other throughout this series. You never know how your words might change someone’s life forever.

3. No matter what you use to set your goals, USE IT. If you tend to buy journals or planners and they sit on a shelf for all of time (been there!), let’s turn that habit around starting now. Practice what I call “making a mess.” You aren’t gonna let the need for perfect handwriting or perfect answers or perfect timing keep you from uncovering your best goals, are you? Didn’t think so. (I love you!!!) Use whatever you have to write with, and on. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Just dig in. If you need an extra kick in the pants to make it happen, I have a giveaway at the end that might encourage you to get to it!

Ready to dig in?

(Yesssss!!! I’m so pumped for you!)

Step 1, here we go!

Do you know the reason you burned out and gave up on some of your goals (or all of them) somewhere around mid-January or February? Let me guess. You added things to your already-full plate without subtracting a few things first. That’s like planting new seeds in a garden that’s already packed full.

To grow new things, you first have to take a look at what’s already there. Then, you can either keep growing those things, or clear them out and make room for new ones. Let’s do that together right now, taking a look at how we are doing today so we can avoid burnout—and finally follow-through on the things that matter to us. This will feel so good!

Old you: growing allthethings at once. The result: nothing grows well. You do a lot of things mediocrely.

Cultivated you: growing the right things, one step at a time. Doing a few things well and loving it!

STEP ONE: (Remember the one step I told you about earlier? This is it and it might surprise you!) How are you? Really. How are you? Look at the 7 categories below and write a few thoughts about 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 the area and want to see radical change. 10 means you are happy as a bee on honeysuckle!

This is step one for a reason. “How are you?” seems like a simple question, but when answered from your 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 growing well—or not so well—in your life? Reply in the comments, or on paper. I’ll leave my answers in the comments, too!

Maybe you’re thinking, ‘Oh, Lara, every category is terrible for me!’ Guess what? You might think I’ve lost my marbles, but I think that’s GREAT! It means you have more opportunity for great change ahead than others. That’s exciting! So, call each category what it is—I’m cheering you on as you get honest write it out—and let’s count those challenges as the crazy amazing opportunities they are.

Especially if you gave low ratings to some areas, include thoughts about what is good in each area, too. For instance, as for my feelings about finances: I’ve been challenged by contentment and emotional spending at times. I have felt especially frustrated this year by working hard to keep our finances in order and out-of-the-blue things have happened that knocked us off course. But! The positive it that over the last year, despite it being imperfect, I’ve become more skilled at managing money. (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!

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.

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 before, and it’s a dead end. 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 2018? 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 2018! 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. (A tip: try going quarter by quarter – it might help to jog some memories!)

— 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 2018 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 2018 was LIGHTSPACE (I made it up—it just fit!). What that looked like this year: making room for the things that mattered, even when it was hard. And a lot of it was hard. But out of hard things come good things, and pruning is what makes our lives more fruitful!

This was the year…

– We let go of Southern Weddings after a decade of making a magazine that changed the world.
– Grace learned how to read, climb trees and we did some knife skills training in the kitchen—she’s a pro!
– We grew a giant pumpkin.
– Josh learned to use the potty—praise the Lord, we’re so close to being out of diapers.
– Sarah grew leaps and bounds. Through therapy and God’s goodness this year, her sensory challenges have turned into beautiful opportunities.
– Our peach tree grew 100 peaches!
– We fell in love with the mountains and I discovered a new passion for hiking.
– We celebrated 12 years of marriage—a significant anniversary for us. We’ve now been married more years together than apart. Read Make it Happen or listen to episode 1 of my upcoming podcast and this fact will come to life for you!
– Speaking of the above, I felt the fear and started a podcast anyway. (Launching December 27th!)
– We marveled at the 55th Making Things Happen Conference experience. It was so good—this coming year will be our 10th year!
– I learned to trust God more than ever.
– I am on track to finish the Bible by December 31—my number 1 goal for this year!
– We got into a homeschool rhythm using the cultivated homeschool planner.
– I invested in 20 things that paid off.
– And most notably, my husband Ari started rapping.

I set six 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 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 imperfect progress added up big time, and yours will too!

A peek at the little by little progress I made each month: February / March
April / May / June / July / AugustSeptemberOctober / November  (and December isn’t over yet!)

Now, 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.

Your turn! Here are today’s 3 goal-uncovering steps for you:

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: we’re tossing comparison out the window and doing the most radical thing we can do: walking our own unique paths (and cheering other women on as they do the same)!

A page from my 2016 PowerSheets:

lara casey goal setting comparisson

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 2019 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 2019 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 some extra motivation? The Ultimate New Year’s Giveaway is on! (Amazing! Can I win??) I hope this gives you a little extra encouragement to share your answers as we go through this series. I can’t wait to read your thoughts and hear your aha! moments. One person who comments with answers to every step in this series will win a bonus prize: one of everything from the Cultivate What Matters® Shop! Yes!!! This includes 2019 PowerSheets, the new Celebrations Binder, a Goal-Setting Sticker Book, your choice of Make it Happen zipper pouch, my books, and so much more! There are 35 prizes, so that means 35 of you are going to win one of these prizes—it could be YOU. (Including international friends!)

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 within 48 hours or a new winner will be selected!

— 10 sets of 2019 PowerSheets to help 10 of you cultivate your BEST year yet! —Mary Conti, Emily Yost, Amy Wing, Jen Martinez, Brittany Garrett, Chelsea Pirtle, Mariah Meade, Kimberly Boyd, Tonya Kappes, Amber Corey
— A Goal Guide Bundle to help you dig deeper on your specific goals. — Jaimie Tollers
— Five signed copies of Cultivate. —Lisa McMahon, Patrice Pierce Thornton, Steph Conklin, Bonnie Johnson, Kristin Vlasak,
— Five signed copies of Make It Happen. —Michele Lanning, Mariela Capellan, Amy Bain, Stephanie Canete, Amanda Applegate,
— One Write the Word All Seasons Collection to help you cultivate fresh faith all year long. —Becki Sue
— A gift card (YES!) for a massage to kick off your year refreshed! —Ashley Bossong
— A Balanced Life membership – get moving and motivated with a year of at-home pilates! —Heather Renee
— A Floret Flowers puzzle (it’s double-sided and so much fun!) —Leah Meadows
—A Revelation Wellness membership with a ‘Wellness Kickoff Package” to cultivate your health in the New Year. —Elizabeth Hiney
— One Artifact Uprising album to document the people and experiences that matters most to you. —Natalie Gessell
— An Emily Ley Simplified Planner to keep your schedule organized in the new year. —Amanda Burley
— Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University course—a life-changing experience to help you pursue financial freedom. —Cindy Booth Carlson
— One Val Marie Paper Yearly Prayer Journal. I’ll be using one this year, too! —Michelle McQueen
— A Hello Fresh boxto keep you fueled with good food. —Kate Mariani
— One Art Bar canvas (up to $150 value) to brighten your walls. —Gina Abatiello
— A Fitbit to help you celebrate your literal steps forward. —Evangelina Cantu
— An Amazon Alexa to keep you dancing. —Rachel Whorley

And the bonus prize for one of you who comments on all 5 posts in this series: ONE OF EVERYTHING Bundle from the Cultivate Shop! —Katie Ledvina

Why am I doing this? I want you—yes YOU—to know what I know now on the other side of burned out and overwhelmed: there’s a different way to do this—a way that works. Step by step, you are going to feel ready, renewed, and clear about your year ahead. I’m so excited for you!

SHARE THIS SERIES WITH YOUR PEOPLE. Don’t keep all this goodness to yourself! I’d be so grateful if you spread the word about this free series. Email this kick-off post to your friends, tweet it, ‘gram it (here are lots of sharable graphics for you to make it easy!), text it—sing it to the rooftops! Let’s get all our friends in on this so they can feel as refreshed and clear about 2019 as we will. Here’s to our best year yet togetherstarting now!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends January 30th. Winners will be announced on February 1st here on the blog. Hard goods are for US entrants only. If you don’t claim your prize within 48 hours, another winner will be selected, so mark your planners and stay posted! 🙂 This post contains affiliate links.

P.S. A year from now, you’ll be so grateful you started today! Buy your PowerSheets NOW!

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Pressure-filled goal setting? Adding more to your already-full plate? No, thank you! This is goal setting for people who hate goal setting. Step by step, you’ll uncover goals that last—goals you want to follow through on. No perfection required!

In this episode:

—We get honest from the start: you’re in one of two camps—you’re either excited for the year ahead, but don’t know how to get started or where to begin, OR you’re frustrated that you didn’t make progress on some of your goals this year and you’re feeling burned out.
—I tell you why traditional goal setting hasn’t worked for me, and I’ll teach you goal setting process for people who hate goal setting. (Yes, I said it—I hate traditional goal setting.) My process is untraditional, and IT WORKS!
—You learn what a “cultivated goal” is—and it doesn’t include the traditional pressure-filled, do-it-all goal-setting stuff that you’ve heard about your whole life. Cultivated goals are about growing what you’ve been given and what you already have: your relationships, your money, your possessions, your work, your children, your home, your health, and your time.
—We talk through practical, easy-to-implement tips to cultivate your life. You’re going to love them, and they’re going to change your life!
—You will take away a short and easy homework assignment that’s going to set you up for success all year long.

Interested in some of the things I mentioned throughout this episode? Here you go!

—If you need a proven 3-step goal setting process that actually works, the PowerSheets® Intentional Goal Planner is for you!
—Catch up on my Eighth-Annual Intentional Goal Setting Series here on the blog – start with Part 1!
—Read all about how I embraced imperfect progress in my book Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life. You can read the first 3 chapters for free here!
—Want to uncover what matters most in person? Join us at the Making Things Happen Conference in Chapel Hill, NC. This is one of my favorite things I teach every year!
—Take our Goal-Getting Personality Quiz to find out how you best set goals and get our best resources and encouragement to finally set goals you can’t wait to get started on!
Break your big picture goals down into smaller and smaller chunks until it’s almost impossible to NOT progress. That little-by-little progress will build momentum over time, and soon enough, you’ll be on your way! Need some starting steps? Browse our Goal Action Plan blog series for inspiration. We broke out some common goal buckets (such as parentingfitnessnutrition, and finances) into simple monthly, weekly, and daily goals to give you starting steps.

LOVE IT? SHARE IT! Text, email, carrier pigeon—share this episode with friends however you like! Feel free to snag one of these graphics to share.

WANT AN EMAIL WHEN A NEW EPISODE GOES LIVE? Enter your email address below, and I’ll send you a note when a new episode goes live each week!

I’D LOVE TO MEET YOU! Come say hi on Instagram! I love sharing my life with you! If you loved the outro, don’t miss the Ari Raps highlight on my Instagram!

SUBSCRIBE NOW to the Cultivate Your Life podcast on iTunes so you won’t miss an episode. If you love the podcast, please leave a quick review on iTunes—it helps lots of other women find this free encouragement! Just click here to review, select “Ratings and Reviews” and “Write a Review” and let me know what your favorite part of the podcast is. I’ll be featuring some of your reviews in a future episode!

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It’s about that time of year — the time when we all start to make decisions about what “program” we’re going to invest in next year. What goal setting system, what nutrition plan, what Bible reading plan, what journal, what skincare regimen, what podcast? Where will we spend our time, our money, our energy? Where will we invest our attention and our trust?

In 12+ years of business (and 38+ years of life!) I’ve tried a LOT of things that made a LOT of promises. Few are worth sharing. But the ones that are – oh, friends! I could talk your ear off about each one of them! 

Last year, I shared 20 things that made a difference in my life and our business (and I still stand by all of them—go read the list if you haven’t yet!). I’m back with another 20, and I’m equally as excited about each of these investments. Here’s this year’s list, with some notes on how I invested my time. No matter where you are in life or business, I hope you find something that will help you cultivate what matters!

20 Things I Invested in that Paid Off

10 things I invested in personally that paid off:

1. The garden. The lessons we learn in the garden are endless and our time there is never wasted! This year, we were overjoyed to finally grow a pumpkin. Do you know how many years we tried to grow a giant pumpkin—or any pumpkin at all for that matter? Seven. Seven years, people! Year one: squirrels. Year two: yep, Nutty the Squirrel does it again. Year three: our baby pumpkin was run over by a car. Year four: too much rain. Year five: too much heat. Year six: I just don’t even know. Year seven: We switched seed varieties, and I got some advice from a wise farmer friend.

Over these seven years of waiting and patience and waiting some more, the Lord was teaching us a beautiful lesson: all things (and life change) come in His perfect timing. We didn’t grow a giant pumpkin overnight—it grew us over the last seven years. Rita came right on time. (I even took her to Making Things Happen!)

2. My homeschool planner + (Pam Barnhill’s Autopilot courseMoving into our second year of homeschooling, I have learned a few things, but I’m still—and likely always will be—a student, too. Taking the time to develop The Cultivated Homeschool Planner helped me get organized and focus on what matters most in our time together. It’s a simple system that helps me keep sight of our big picture goals while getting the day-to-day learning done, too. It’s a free download — I hope you find it helpful! 

3. Cultivating my calendar. A little forethought goes a long way. You’ve heard it here before and you’ll hear it again 🙂 Investing just a little bit of preparation time each month to mark occasions big and small helped me shepherd the hearts in my care well (and helped me save money, since I wasn’t rushing out to the store last minute or rush shipping gifts!). I have loved using our new Celebrations Binder to keep all my plans in one place – a simple system for keeping it all together!

4. Morning time. We do “morning time” in our family: gathering the kids together at the table each morning to grow our faith and family bond. My first action step: gathering a few boxes. I made a box for each kiddo and filled each with a Write the Word for Kids journal, craft supplies, and a few books. And…

5. A kid-friendly place to gather. I bought these wipeable indestructible chairs to replace the not-so-kid-friendly upholstered ones from IKEA that were falling apart anyway. (Bonus: they came fully assembled!) Then, I bought this plastic table cover to protect our table from art supplies and the general wear-and-tear of morning time. I gathered all the kiddos at the table with some snacks (a tip I learned from my friend, Sally Clarkson—snacks make new things more appealing!), I prayed for us, and I read them a book while they colored. That was it. It lasted for 15 minutes and it. was. awesome.

 

6. Prioritizing with my PowerSheets – Investing time in my PowerSheets (a mere 18 minutes a month!) was the number one thing that gave me my time back and helped me invest it in the right places. My PowerSheets have helped me prioritize this year—including making some major decisions—stay focused, and not waste my time and life on distractions. We’re all so grateful for how the PowerSheets have helped us and you!

7. Books on Audible. We did a few drives to the mountains this year (I fell in love with hiking!). How did we keep the kids entertained during all the driving? We listened to books! We finished the entire Little House series this year, the Winnie-the-Pooh series, Aesop’s Fables, and a collection of Peter Rabbit stories. I’ve also enjoyed Emotionally Healthy Spirituality and I’m really looking forward to listening to God and Money in 2019!

8. A mini trampoline for the kids. Three active kiddos can easily equal chaos. I loved having this option to let them bounce off some steam whenever needed—and yes, it lives in our living room!

9. Blogging about my goal progress here—and the challenges along the way! Our monthly coffee dates here on the blog have been some of my favorite times. Looking back on these updates makes me so grateful—we lived so much life together this year, friends! I love you!!! Monthly updates: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, and November!

10. The YouVersion Bible appYes, this was on my list last year, but it is holding its place as one of my BEST investments! This is where I invested the most consistent time this year as part of my number one goal (much in part to the PowerSheets motivating me to keep going!). The app is free, and I spent about 10 minutes reading each morning. Every bit of that time has been fruitful! I often quote Karen Lamb in saying, “A year from now, you’ll wish you had started today.” I am grateful I started this goal almost a year ago–and I can’t wait to do it again in 2019! P.S. You guys. I am SO excited to have worked with YouVersion to create a reading plan about God + Goal Setting that is now live (and free for anyone)! Ahhh!!

Okay, let’s talk business! For the record, everything on my list from 2018 is still going strong. I can’t recommend these things enough! Here are 10 things I invested in for our business in 2018 that paid off:

1. Crucial Conversations training. This could go in either the business or personal sections, because it’s impacted all aspects of my life! Kaylee, Emily, and I attended a two-day workshop this spring, then came back and taught the curriculum to the rest of our team. Gaining new tools to have effective conversations that resolve conflict in a healthy way has been so fruitful. If you can’t attend a training, I recommend the book!

2. The StoryBrand framework. We worked with a StoryBrand consultant as we developed our website refresh and then went through Donald Miller’s StoryBrand class as a team this fall. As an Enneagram 1, I do well with frameworks, and I’ve loved learning how to serve people well by becoming a more effective writer! The book is also great!

3. A fresh perspective. How’s this for simple?! A few weeks ago, I rotated my desk 90 degrees, so I faced the door instead of the wall while sitting down. Now, I can move about more easily, greet incoming team members, and I have better natural light, too! Sometimes we get so stuck in the way we’ve always done things that it’s hard to see another way, but all it took to make this improvement was a minute of stepping back and considering the possibilities — and then a little effort pushing! (Ha!)

4. A fractional CFO. Though PowerSheets have helped me reframe my thinking on the subject of money (“I am learning to be more skilled with numbers” versus “I’m not a numbers person”), the fact remains that my expertise does not lie in financial spreadsheets or sales projections. As our cyclical online retail business has grown more complex, I’ve found great comfort in having a trained guide to help us make decisions. Enter Stephanie! I love that she specifically works with purpose-driven organizations (mostly non-profits), so we are kindred spirits!

5. Encouraging Ari’s newfound talents. We consider all of our gents honorary members of the Cultivate team, and they play the key role of supporting each of us throughout the year! This year, though, Ari took a more active role in the business – in the form of customized Cultivate raps! I’ve loved watching him flex his creative muscles. Also, there’s that time we gave Ari and a friend a box of Cultivate What Matters products. This is what happened. 

6. Boostopia. Many of you know that one of our core values is the Power of One. This means that we care deeply about every conversation we have with you, and are fanatical about our customer service — or “customer delight,” as we call it 🙂 Boostopia is a support platform that gives us better analytics and insight into the work we do in our customer service inbox. They’re based in Durham, and we were connected to them because the founder goes to Kaylee’s church – such a small world!

7. PowerSheets. – I know I have listed this twice, but for good reason. We have used PowerSheets as a team for the last three years and they have delivered. They have helped us uncover good goals, make action plans, and celebrate progress. If you haven’t gotten your PowerSheets yet, a great option is the Make It Happen bundle, which includes three of our most helpful products!

8. AllBirds sneakers. Ari and I are both happily on the AllBirds train (branch?). I wrote about my wardrobe switch-up in last year’s list, but I’ve loved having these go-to sneakers that look polished but allow me to move and stand at my desk in comfort (especially important for our wellness sprint weeks – see below!). We both have the Wool Runners!

9. Quarterly wellness sprints. Last year I shared the difference wearing a Fitbit has made in my life, and that we invested in a tracker for each member of our team. This year we stepped it up a notch and hosted quarterly wellness sprints – four weeks throughout the year where we compete to see who can get the most steps over seven days, with a prize for the winner! We’ve all noticed we feel more productive and happier these weeks, which is a win-win!

10. Reducing waste. This was an investment of time more than anything – working with the team to identify and then take action on waste in our business, so we are freed up to do the most important work!  We used this worksheet to brainstorm (the waste definitions are here), and also loved watching this video on the Lean desk! 

I’d love to hear! What did you invest your time or money in this year that paid off?

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