Happy 2017, friends! How are you feeling about this new year? Overwhelmed? Unsure? Fired up? Excited? I’d love to hear from you.

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If you are in need of some simple grace-filled coaching on how to get started with your 2017 goals, you are in the right place! Here are my top tips for getting started, and making powerful progress. I have a fun giveaway at the end for you too!

(You guys, this screen shot of me below makes me giggle!)

Tip 1: First, get some GOOD GOALS. You’re going to be tempted to skip this tip and find some “quicker” ones, but this is the best one. Before you get started on making your goals come to life, you’ve got to have some good goals! There is nothing magical about January 1, and you are not one bit “behind,” if you haven’t started (or finished) setting goals yet. Today is the best day to begin. Uncover your good goals for 2017 in my sixth-annual Goal Setting Series. It’s free (yay!), and I am blown away by the over-1000 comments so far—you are all on fire!

2017 Goal Setting, Part 1: Get Started!
2017 Goal Setting, Part 2: Cultivate What Matters
2017 Goal Setting, Part 3: Say Yes, Say No, Choose a Word
2017 Goal Setting, Part 4: Uncover Intentional Goals
2017 Goal Setting Part 5: Make it Happen – How to Set Your Good Goals
*The Ultimate Goal Setting Giveaway in this series ends January 30th, so you still have time to dig in!

Tip 2: Embrace progress, not perfection. Know that good things grow over time, and the little-by-little progress you make matters. It adds up! You don’t have to have the perfect plan right from the start to begin something (we often get hung up there, don’t we!?). In fact, I encourage you to test out different systems and starting steps to see what fits you best as you begin a goal. For me, the month of January is my “testing” month. I’m getting my feet wet with my goals, learning what works and what doesn’t, and genuinely embracing progress, not perfection. It’s okay to grow slow. You do not have to do it all, and accomplish everything on your list immediately. I know you may want to, but we miss so much when we race to the finish line. We miss the magic and ripening that happens in little-by-little imperfect progress.

Tip 3: Get uncomfortable. Our brains seek out routine and what’s easy because “easy” uses less energy. So, when you shake things up and break your normal routines, it’s potentially going to feel uncomfortable. Your brain literally works harder when you cultivate new goals or habits. Embrace the uncomfortable in getting started on your goals, knowing you’re on the right path!

Tip 4: Share your goals! Accountability is powerful, and it sometimes makes me cringe (anyone else feel this way too?) because I know it will call me to action. It just plain works. Tell the people closest to you about your goals, share them on a blog, text them to friends, or tell your small group to pray for you. As I mentioned in the video above, my husband Ari is my best friend, and I was still hesitant to share my goals with him because I knew he would ask me about them later on! Sharing our goals makes us accountable, and I’m so glad I took the leap and shared them. : ) For more accountability, join a Goal Group for free at CultivateWhatMatters.com, or make a date with local friends for goal encouragement (many people do this for PowerSheets). Goals are better grown together!

Tip 5: Make a hashtag. This is a fun tip for those who want to share your goals, and tell your story! Hashtags are a part of a bigger story—they allow us to follow storylines. So, if you want your goals to become a part of your story, consider a hashtag to keep you accountable to telling and living the story of your goal. Mine for my 2017 Goals are #RunLiftPraise, #2017TheYearofLight, and #OurLifeGivingHome.

Tip 6: Set yourself up for success. When you are growing something new, weeds are bound to pop up and try to suck the life out of what you’re growing. So, set yourself up for success and don’t let the weeds grow! I recently installed WasteNoTime for Safari (allows your to block usage of certain websites), Ad Blocker Plus for Safari (removes banner ads), and Newsfeed Eradicator for Chrome (removes your Facebook newsfeed and replaces it with an inspiring quote!). These have been so helpful to keep me focused!

Tip 7: Put your goals front and center. Have your goals out and written everywhere and anywhere! Too often, we simply forget about our goals, and end up going through the motions of life. But, we aren’t going to let that happen in 2017, are we? Keep those goals front and center so you don’t forget where you’re going! (If you are a PowerSheets user, put your monthly Tending List out where you can see it every day—I keep mine open on my desk!)

Tip 8: Harness the power of the calendar. I will blog an entire post about this soon, but I am learning the power of the perpetual calendar (recurring events that happen each year), and the power of filling your calendar with what matters (your goal action steps, rest time, relationships) before it gets filled with all the other things of life. First things first, take a look back at your 2016 calendar and identify times you needed more margin, planned too much, or want to change things for this new year. This is so helpful for us in our business, but also for our family. There were many holidays I didn’t do meaningful things for that I could have done something for (even something super simple) had I been more intentional in preparing. A little forethought goes a long way. It seems so simple, but it’s so rarely done: make what matters to you a priority and put it on your calendar! Many more tips to come, and in my video above. You can get a peek at my calendar here, too.

Tip 9: Think outside the box. Since it’s cold here in Chapel Hill right now, running (one of my 2017 goals) isn’t going to happen outside for a while. Instead, I’m “running” inside on an exercise machine we got on Craig’s List, and I’m listening to the audio Bible using the YouVersion Bible app! Get creative with how you make your goals happen.

Tip 10: Use the Cultivate What Matters Method. Use the Cultivate What Matters Method in this post to write your goals and starting steps out. You’ll be so glad you did. If you are someone who feels overwhelmed because you think you have too many goals for the year, be sure to read my tip above goal 4 in this post. I hope it helps you simplify, like it did for me!

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Okay, it’s your turn! I’d love to hear your own tips and tricks for getting started on your goals, and staying on track. What helps you? What motivates you? What are you trying this year? One lucky commenter on this post will win a Cultivate What Matters sticker book!

P.S. After everything selling out so quickly, we are pumped to open pre-orders for six-month undated PowerSheets today! Get yours here.

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

Welcome to the final post in my sixth-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. I am reading every comment and am so excited for your year ahead. You are doing the hard work, making a mess, and making meaningful progress! You are on fire! For me personally, this has been (I can’t believe I’m saying this about goal setting) delightful! I’m so grateful for how this process has been refined over the last six years. What a joy to do this work alongside you! 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.

Dig in:
2017 Goal Setting, Part 1: What Worked and Where to Start!
2017 Goal Setting, Part 2: What Didn’t Work + What I Learned
2017 Goal Setting, Part 3: Say Yes, Say No, Choose a Word
2017 Goal Setting, Part 4: Uncover Intentional Goals

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Okay, now let’s do some dreaming together! Imagine it: the end of 2017. The weather gets colder, December 2017 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!):

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Knowing where you want to be at the end of 2017, what do you need to cultivate today? Literally today. My friend Lysa says that 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.

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I made some decisions, aiming my arrows at the target, as I finished my 2017 PowerSheets and this goal uncovering process. The goals I’m about to share with you may seem simple, but they are boldest scariest 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 willing to sit in the restlessness and tend to these goals little by little to get to the end of this year knowing I stewarded what I’ve been given well—not perfectly, but well. Making decisions with focused arrows attached to them will be worth it. The tending and watering, waiting, getting messy, and awkward growing stages in between will be worth it!

I’m all in.

Grow Fruitful Friendships

Maybe you are feeling the same hesitation-scary-I’mALLin 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!

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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 2017: 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. I already have the canvas. I’m teary-eyed thinking about this!” 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!

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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 2017 goals! Are you ready?

Here are my 2017 Goals for this year of LIGHT (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 the whole Bible again. Like I told you in Part 3, I did this once before, over the course of a year and a half. I didn’t use a fancy reading plan, I just looked at the number of pages in each book of the Bible, and divided them over the course of a year. I put the names of each book I was supposed to read during each particular week on my iCal calendar, and that’s how I stayed on track. It took me longer than I thought, but it was worth it! Every bit of my reading was worth it.

Why? I want to grow my faith by going straight to the source—getting to know more about God Himself. I want to know more of the big picture of His story. I want my mind to be filled with light and truth, so I can live it.

The positive effect taking action on this goal may have on my life and others: When I am filled with truth, I am also filled with PEACE. I don’t worry as much or feel fear about my circumstances. This helps everyone around me (my family, team, friends) to feel steadfast calm too. I’ll know more of God’s wisdom to be able to walk in the light. As my faith grows, I’ll be able to share the fruit of my faith with my children and others. There are endless positive effects this goal could have!

How I will feel at the end of this year having made progress on this goal: Lord willing, peaceful, more assured, and more mature in my faith.

Starting steps: 1. Open the Bible and look at the lengths of each book again. 2. Open my iCal and plot out what I could realistically read each week. 3. Pray about having the diligence to complete my reading each week, not for the sake of completing it, but to grow closer to God.

How I will know I accomplished or made progress on this goal: I will, Lord willing, see the fruit of this goal in my life, and in turn in the lives of others.

Encouraging words: Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path. – Psalm 119:105 ESV

How I will celebrate at the end of 2017: I may not finish this by the end of this calendar year, but I will celebrate my progress by… I’m not sure! Anyone have ideas?

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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 as I was writing this I got excited—because I know how quickly strength can be gained! 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. More on how I’m going to make this work in a minute. This is a goal I didn’t want to write on the blog, because it means y’all are going to keep me accountable, and this one is tricky. But my why is worth taking this leap…

Why? So many reasons! I will live longer, healthier, and more at peace. When I am strong, I’m able to be active with my kids. When my body is healthy and strong, my mind feels the same. Also, I am nearing 40 and feeling my body changing. It’s time to steward well what the Lord has given me.

The positive effect taking action on this goal may have on my life and others: I may have more energy, better focus, and more endurance to love on the people around me well. That’s exciting!

How I will feel at the end of this year having made progress on this goal: SO grateful I leaned into the tension I felt in finally starting this goal, and excited for another year ahead of little-by-little progress.

Starting steps: Since getting to a gym isn’t in the cards with all these kiddos in the mornings, I’m committing to doing this at home with some free weights. My first action step is to ask you for suggestions on other at-home training gear (preferably that doesn’t take up much space!). My second action step is to open my iCal, and write in a gentle plan to ease into weight training again, focusing on large muscle groups and core strength. I’m going to write out a new plan each six weeks based on where I am.

How I will know I accomplished or made progress on this goal: I will break this goal down in my monthly PowerSheets pages so that I have measurable milestones to hit, enabling me to track my progress here. Overall though, I will know I made progress by my physical strength and endurance growing over time, and the fruit of my hard work coming out in my interactions with my family.

Encouraging words: (A pep talk to myself!) You did this many times before, Lara! Your body can easily adapt. With His strength, you can gain strength!

How I will celebrate at the end of 2017: The first thing that comes to mind is going on a celebratory family run with the kids in the jogging stroller. I would love ideas here too!

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Goal 3: Live a year of radical gratitude and praise. I will keep this plain and simple: I have been doing a lot of complaining lately. Something I realized when writing my upcoming book, Cultivate, is that complaints are clues. They reveal to us places in our hearts where we don’t trust in God’s goodness, or His power. This hit me hard, and it has made me want to do something rather big about it.

Why? To grow my faith like never before! And because when I complain, I’m teaching Grace and our children that God isn’t good or faithful. Ugh. Words have power. I want to use my words well, to grow good things!

The positive effect taking action on this goal may have on my life and others: Lord willing, my heart will change as I choose words that are life-giving. I’ll teach my children so much in this. And in the times I mess up, I’ll get to show them what grace looks like.

How I will feel at the end of this year having made progress on this goal: So good. I know I’ve said the same thing for all of my goals so far, but this will be incredibly satisfying to see God’s word at work in my heart!

Starting steps: One of my monthly goals for January is to memorize scripture about speaking life-giving words, where good words come from, and about gratitude and contentment. Breaking this down, here are my starting steps: 1. Open up BibleGateway.com and look up scriptures. 2. Copy and paste them into a Word doc. 3. Print two copies – one for my desk, and one for the refrigerator where I will see it often. 4. Put a date on my calendar to have a scripture recital party : ) I’ll give the paper to Ari and Grace, and they can tell me if I memorized them correctly. I’ll leave it up to them on how we’ll celebrate if I do!

How I will know I accomplished or made progress on this goal: I hope and pray I’ll see a wave of gratitude and contentment sweep through our whole house! I hope to see the fruit of this goal in the words we all use with each other. The possibilities are so exciting to me!

Encouraging words: Well, these are more convicting words, but they do encourage me to take action on this goal. This scripture (“do everything without grumbling'”), this one (“out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks”), and this one too (bridle your tongue)!

How I will celebrate at the end of 2017: This is where I want to do something big—something radical to make this year different from any other. I want to celebrate God’s faithfulness each month, and also at the end of the year. I’m still praying on this and will come back and update you when my plan is formed!

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*This goal is a great example of how this goal uncovering process simplifies life! As I looked through all my goal ideas, I realized many of my smaller goals were a part of a bigger picture. Too often, we focus narrowly on tasks, projects, or reaching milestones and forget why we are doing them in the first place. We lose motivation this way! So, here’s an example of how to group several things together under one big picture that motivates you! I’ll be breaking this goal down into monthly goals, weekly goals, and daily goals throughout the year in my PowerSheets.

Goal 4: Cultivate our life-giving home. This includes homeschooling Grace in the 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. 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.

Why? Our home is the center of where our children’s hearts are shaped. I want this to be a home that allows them to see God at work—in the small and in the big things.

The positive effect taking action on this goal may have on my life and others: Cultivating our life-giving home will hopefully be a blessing not just to our family, but to many others!

How I will feel at the end of this year having made progress on this goal: We will feel more family unity, and will have cultivated a strong family narrative of faithfulness, love, and joy. This will feel Tony-the-Tiger grrrrrrrreat!

Starting steps: 1. I brought my Life Handbook with me on this trip and I can’t wait to write out our family traditions in it! So, step number one is to open my Life Handbook after the kids go to sleep tonight, and write in just one page. Start small with these starting steps friends! 2. Open my iCal and put a homeschool start date on the calendar! Ahh!! 3. Pray about our office space. (Prayer is an action step!) 4. Put “preparation days” on my iCal for holidays and celebrations. There’s much more here, but I’ll be working it out in my PowerSheets, one step at a time!

How I will know I accomplished or made progress on this goal: This is multi-faceted. I will have a plan in place for homeschooling Grace by the spring and a space to do it in. We’ll have gone on more date nights together (we went on two this year with all of our family transitions, so anything more will be a huge win!). I will do more intentional preparation for holidays and celebrations, allowing us to have meaningful remembrances of God’s faithfulness.

Encouraging words: “All people need a place where their roots can grow deep and they always feel like they belong and have a loving refuge. And all people need a place that gives wings to their dreams, nurturing possibilities of who they might become.” – Sally Clarkson

How I will celebrate at the end of 2017: We’ll have a special, simple meal at the end of 2017, and talk about all we are grateful for from the year—all that God grew in our lives and in our home.

There you have it! My four goals as I begin this new year. I just let out a sign of relief. How these goals will play out over the next weeks will be more specific as I do my monthly PowerSheets pages, but I am so grateful for this process and clarity! I know where I’m going.

2017goalsettingLove 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 2017 goals?

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!

img_7806Happy New Year from us today!

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 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 2017 PowerSheets, the Cultivate What Matters sticker book, the Cultivate What Matters flair pens, books, journals, art prints and so much more!

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Enter below and be sure to leave your answers to each step as you go through the series with me!

 

Pssst! Head to this post to find out if you’re a lucky winner!

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

1. Grab a copy of my bookMake it Happen.

2. Order your PowerSheets for much more goal uncovering goodness!

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

4. Join me live each Wednesday at noon EST on my Facebook page for free goal coaching and inspiration! Turn on notifications for the page and you’ll get an alert each time I go live.

5. Join me in person for the Making Things Happen Conference in March. The early-bird rate ends January 31st. See you there!

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

If you are just joining us for this series, welcome! It’s never too late to begin. February 1 could be your January 1 if you like, so feel free to dig in anytime!

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2017 Goal Setting, Part 1: What Worked and Where to Start!
2017 Goal Setting, Part 2: What Didn’t Work + What I Learned
2017 Goal Setting, Part 3: Say Yes, Say No, Choose a Word

Welcome to Part 4!

Maybe you have ideas about what your goals might be this year (or maybe not yet and that’s okay too!)–and you are already overwhelmed and anxious about HOW to make them happen. You want all of your goals to have been tackled yesterday. Because here we are at the start of the year, and you have to do it all right away, right? False. I know the feeling though. Lean into that restlessness and let it unlock one of the greatest freedoms you’ll ever discover: the power of little by little.

Lara Casey garden My favorite flower to grow in my garden: zinnias!

We’re about to plant some good seeds as we uncover goals that have meaning. And then we’re going to take action on them. Making good things 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 lightbulbs I see going off! You are starting to see clearly, and it’s happening little by little. Your goals may change half-way through the year, or you may make them happen faster than you think if you take it day by day by day. Little by little these beautiful 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.

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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 long the way too. Your goals matter enough to tend to them like a garden.

Like I told you from the start of this process, traditional goal setting does not work for me. Swiftly-made resolutions get forgotten and then they linger and make you feel guilty for forgetting them. Anyone else ever experience this? Well, hopefully at this point you feel more equipped than when you started this process to write some down good goals. Goals that mean something.

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Let’s get messy and start to pick out some good seeds to plant this year! You ready for this? It’s going to feel possibly-scary the moment before you do it, but SO GOOD when you take a leap of faith and write what’s on your heart. You can do it!

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 done so far. Read every word. Re-write or add to things once more if you need to. I added to my lists and re-wrote things after going through this process because I got more clarity. Cross stuff out, revise things, 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 2017 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 before moving to the final exciting step…

2. Write out some goal ideas. Now, 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 what’s on your mind. 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. Don’t do that. 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 ti’s worth spending your time on.

nrp-olivia-swfruitfulsummer-1113Photo by Olivia of Nancy Ray Photography

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 also 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 additional 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. 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 toss them aside.

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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 to 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. Otherwise, you may spend 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 I don’t know about you, but I do not want to live my days by accident. I want to live on purpose, and use all the gifts I’ve been given to help others do the same! Join me.

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? Whatever it is, act like it today. Take some leaps of faith and write out goals that are potentially outside of your comfort zone. Good goals are worth the hard work it takes to plant them. Soak them in sunshine, water them little by little, and get ready for a flourishing garden full of blooms–and a harvest to share!

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I’m going to share my 2017 goals in the next post.

When you are ready, write your goal IDEAS here in the comments. If you aren’t sure of your goals yet, I want to hear from you right where you are. As you reviewed all you’ve written so far, what stands out to you? What themes are you seeing? Tell me in the comments and let’s encourage each other as our goals begin to take shape. SO much goodness to come when we actually write out our goals tomorrow (using a special method I’ll tell you about then!).

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 2017 PowerSheets, the Cultivate What Matters sticker book, the Cultivate What Matters flair pens, books, journals, art prints and so much more!

lara-casey-2017-goal-setting-giveaway

1. 10 sets of 2017 PowerSheets!
2. A Fitbit Flex
3. A gift card for a massage
4. The 2017 Floret wall calendar
5. A Fresh Start prayer journal from Val Marie Paper
6. Farmgirl Flowers bouquet
7. A (monogrammed!) Cultivate clipboard
8. Watercolor set from Artist’s Loft
9. 2017 Simplified Planner
10. ARE YOU READY FOR THIS?! Mrs. Meyers cleaning products + a free house cleaning!
11. Sweeter than Honey coloring book from Lindsay Letters
12. My favorite Jonathan Adler Grapefruit Candle
13. Five copies of the Make It Happen book
14. A Write the Word journal (we’re sold out of all of them except peach!)
15. A Meyer lemon tree – a family favorite around here!

Enter below and be sure to leave your answers to each step as you go through the series with me!

Pssst! Head to this post to find out if you’re a lucky winner!

Giveaway ends January 30th. Winners will be announced on January 31st here on the blog. Shipping some of these items can get costly, so hard goods are for US entrants only. We can convert some of these to digital prizes for my international friends, though (gift cards instead of shipping the item). 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, but it helps us raise funds for Love One Another Project!

Ready for 2017 Goal Setting, Part 5? Here you go!

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

Welcome back for 2017 Goal Setting! Anyone else get the heebee-jeebees hearing the words “goal setting?” Then, you are in the right place, my friend. As we talked about in Part 1, we’re doing this differently. We’re sifting through all the noise and distractions, and we’re doing goal uncovering. We’re taking our time. We’re taking big leaps. We’re making what matters happen, little by little. If you are just joining us, you aren’t late to the party — there is nothing magical about January 1! Here are Part 1 and Part 2, for your reading pleasure. Enjoy and have fun working through each step!

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Welcome to part 3. We have lots of fun things to do today!

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STEP 7: This step is so important! Here’s where the magic starts to happen. Read over all you’ve written so far. Circle, mark, or sticker things that stand out to you. Look for common threads, or themes. Add to what you’ve written, if needed. Refine and get messy here! Dig through what you’ve written so far, and see if you can find any themes. I’d love to hear one of the things that stands out to you in what you’ve written so far. Let me know in the comments. There are no wrong answers here!

2017 goal setting circle

An interesting thread I found as I sifted back through what I wrote: running. I do not run. I mean, I run after kids. But, I don’t run for exercise. Walking is more my speed. But, the times I race Grace down the driveway, or leap over a crack in the sidewalk with her on the way somewhere, or swoop the babies up in both arms and run to see our cow-farmer mailman, Walter, at the mailbox, something lights up in me. I don’t know what that’s about exactly yet, but it kept coming to mind.

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STEP 8: With everything you have written down thus far in mind, what are you going to need to say YES to more often in order to cultivate what matters in 2017, 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 2017 and what you are saying NO to. There are no wrong answers here, friends. My answers are pictured below, and my lists are a huge mix of big-picture things (saying no to “non-essentials”) and specific everyday things (saying yes to “loving on each of our children in the individual ways they feel most loved”). Post yours here in the comments to inspire others, and keep yourself accountable!

2017 goal setting yes no list powersheets

This was a very helpful step for me. You can see on my “no” list above that I came up with a little check-in to help me evaluate whether or not purchases, projects, or potential commitments on my calendar are worth saying yes to:

1. Have I prayed about it?
2. Does it honor or help other people draw closer to God?
3. Is it life-giving?

I’ve already used this check-in several times since writing this list, and it has been so helpful!! Feel free to snag this idea and make your own check-in too!

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STEP 9: Pick a word for 2017. 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 make happen? If you don’t know, here are a 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. Then, I 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. 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.

Once you have your word, write 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!) Write that word in prominent places in your life, too. This will help you simplify your direction and focus. 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!

2017-wordFeel free to use this graphic above to share your word—you never know how you might inspire others!

My word for 2017 is 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.

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

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 2017 PowerSheets, the Cultivate What Matters sticker book, the Cultivate What Matters flair pens, books, journals, art prints and so much more!

lara-casey-2017-goal-setting-giveaway

1. 10 sets of 2017 PowerSheets!
2. A Fitbit Flex
3. A gift card for a massage
4. The 2017 Floret wall calendar
5. A Fresh Start prayer journal from Val Marie Paper
6. Farmgirl Flowers bouquet
7. A (monogrammed!) Cultivate clipboard
8. Watercolor set from Artist’s Loft
9. 2017 Simplified Planner
10. ARE YOU READY FOR THIS?! Mrs. Meyers cleaning products + a free house cleaning!
11. Sweeter than Honey coloring book from Lindsay Letters
12. My favorite Jonathan Adler Grapefruit Candle
13. Five copies of the Make It Happen book
14. A Write the Word journal (we’re sold out of all of them except peach!)
15. A Meyer lemon tree – a family favorite around here!

Enter below and be sure to leave your answers to each step as you go through the series with me!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Pssst! Head to this post to find out if you’re a lucky winner!

Giveaway ends January 30th. Winners will be announced on January 31st here on the blog. Shipping some of these items can get costly, so hard goods are for US entrants only. We can convert some of these to digital prizes for my international friends, though (gift cards instead of shipping the item). 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, but it helps us raise funds for Love One Another Project!

Ready for 2017 Goal Setting, Part 4? Here you go!

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

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.

If you have been feeling restless lately, so badly wanting things to change, but believing that it’s impossible, I know one thing for sure: there is a way out. 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 2017 Goal Setting. If you are new here, welcome! Hop on over to read Part 1 here to get started.

And 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, planting good seeds for what’s ahead! Today is a good day!

Okay, let’s get to it.

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

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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!

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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 2016? 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. I know you want to make this your most purposeful year yet, so don’t let negative self-talk paralyze you as you make this list. Write the facts and move forward. Each thing you write down is a potential area of your life that could be made completely new.

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Once you have your list of the challenges from 2016, name some of the lessons you learned from those challenges. Here are some my lessons from 2016…

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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. Leave your thoughts in the comments and help encourage others as well.

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STEP SIX: Who helped you cultivate what matters in 2016? 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 or inspired you? Download a free printable worksheet here. 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.

View More: http://robynvandykephotography.pass.us/sipnseePhoto by Robyn Van Dyke from baby Sarah’s Sip-n-See. I love these friends!

This year, more than ever, many friends made enormous sacrifices for our family. Here are just a few of the many.

– Every single person who was a part of our adoption—from our adoption consultants, to my friend Casey, and many more. Thank you to so many friends who prayed us through this! We kept a private blog throughout the process for family and close friends, which was one of the best things we did all year. It was a safe space for us to share what we were experiencing, and allowed friends to connect with us and pray specifically.

– When you’re in the thick of it, it can be hard to reach out and ask for help. Knowing this, lots of friends simply showed up. They showed up with food, extra hands, prayers, and encouragement. My friends Talia, Tori, and Bianca often took Grace for play dates with their girls, and this was huge. It was a hard transition for Grace with two babies added to the family so quickly (and two very tired parents all of a sudden). Our friends took her out for play dates, and this was so good for her little heart. I’m so grateful!

– Several generous friends gave us milk for Sarah. This was an enormous gift. I pumped for Sarah while I was still nursing Josh and made enough for a couple bottles a day, but it was undeniably hard. That is a story for a whole other post! These friends filled in the rest, and what a blessing. I’ll never forget this gift.

– As the transition eased and the hard season came to a close, I needed someone to help me sift through all that had happened, and to make some decisions about how I would spend my time moving forward. I began coaching with my friend Diana. Diana has helped me make God-led decisions in the wake of such rapid life change.

– One year ago, I prayed for a wise mentor to help me prepare for adoption, write my book well, and grow my faith. That was a tall order! But, God sure did answer. I still can’t believe how He orchestrated this. I was in an airport going through customs and I heard, “Lara!!” We had never met in person, but Renee spotted me and we exchanged emails. Months later (and I don’t even remember exactly how this happened but that’s God for you), Renee generously offered to drive three hours to my house to help me with my book outline and to encourage me as we prepared for adoption. I was blown away. She showed up with buckets of encouragement and wisdom for me… and it turns out it was her birthday! This generous and selfless gesture sprouted a friendship. I don’t know what I would have done without this lady in the hard seasons of this year. I love you, Renee!

– My team. My team! This has been quite the year for us. As I’ve mentioned, beginning of this year with all of our family transition was trying on our team. But through it all God was growing all of us. I am so grateful for these women.

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There are so many more! If you’ve sent me an encouraging email this year, prayed, given me a hug, or if you were the lady in the grocery check out line who told me I was doing a great job on my first outing with all three kids by myself (when two out of the three were crying, and I was feeling anything but confident in my ability to wrangle three littles at the grocery store at the time!)—thank you. Your encouragement has genuinely made a difference.

Who are you most 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! Great photographs and colors can make my heart sing. If you are like me, you will really love this step. Make a Pinterest board of images that will inspire a purposeful year. What do you want to grow? Title your board “Make it Happen in 2017″ so we can search for 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 discontentment. The goal isn’t to have a Pinterest-worthy year, so pick images that have deep heart, not just pretty things. Here’s my board from last 2013 and from 2014, 2015, and 2016. I’ll be pinning 2017 here. *I made this step optional for a reason! If Pinterest distracts you too much, skip this step! There are no rules here. Do whatever will help you to make what matters happen.

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

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 2017 PowerSheets, the Cultivate What Matters sticker book, the Cultivate What Matters flair pens, books, journals, art prints and so much more!

lara-casey-2017-goal-setting-giveaway

1. 10 sets of 2017 PowerSheets!
2. A Fitbit Flex
3. A gift card for a massage
4. The 2017 Floret wall calendar
5. A Fresh Start prayer journal from Val Marie Paper
6. Farmgirl Flowers bouquet
7. A (monogrammed!) Cultivate clipboard
8. Watercolor set from Artist’s Loft
9. 2017 Simplified Planner
10. ARE YOU READY FOR THIS?! Mrs. Meyers cleaning products + a free house cleaning!
11. Sweeter than Honey coloring book from Lindsay Letters
12. My favorite Jonathan Adler Grapefruit Candle
13. Five copies of the Make It Happen book
14. A Write the Word journal (we’re sold out of all of them except peach!)
15. A Meyer lemon tree – a family favorite around here!

Enter below and be sure to leave your answers to each step as you go through the series with me!

Pssst! Head to this post to find out if you’re a lucky winner!

 

Giveaway ends January 30th. Winners will be announced on January 31st here on the blog. Shipping some of these items can get costly, so hard goods are for US entrants only. We can convert some of these to digital prizes for my international friends, though (gift cards instead of shipping the item). 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, but it helps us raise funds for Love One Another Project!

Ready for 2017 Goal Setting, Part 3? Here you go!

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