Happy Friday, friends! It’s Jess here! I’m one of the Editors and Customer Delighter for the Cultivate Team, and in lieu of Lara’s usual Little By Little post on Friday, I’m tickled pink to pop in and spend some time with each of you, because I have something very exciting to announce…
The winners from Lara’s 2017 Goal-Setting Series Giveaway! Whether you are a PowerSheets user or not, we are so grateful for the opportunity to encourage and equip you to cultivate what matters in your life 2017! Uncovering good goals isn’t about doing it all; it’s about doing what matters. Reading through your comments to hear about what matters in your lives has fired us up for 2017!
We know we’re a few days late, but we think you’ll agree that this was worth the wait! There are 29 prizes, so scroll down to see if you’re one of the lucky winners!
Hear us loud and clear for this last piece. Do we truly love our products? Yes. Do we use them every single day? Yes. But you don’t need a *thing* to start setting intentional goals. Today is the best day to start. As the Karen Lamb quote says, “A year from now you will wish you had started today!”
I don’t know about you, but February is typically a wonky month around here. We’ve historically had extra cold weather: February was the month of two epic storms we dubbed Snowmageddon and Icepalooza.
But, there’s one big reason why February tends to be a tricky month for many: the forward momentum of January. We get so excited about doing new things, starting fresh, and growing new habits, that we often burn ourselves out by February 15th. It’s statistically the month that gym membership attendance goes down, and fast food consumption goes up. Makes you think, doesn’t it?
Knowing these things, I’ve set out to turn the wonky month of February into Flourishing February. I shared lots of practical tips on Instagram stories this week (above!). It resonated with many of you so much that I compiled my stories here for you.
I’m ready for this month!
My monthly PowerSheets goals for February: – Settle into a new Cultivate What Matters work rhythm (more on this soon) – Finish my final book edits – Build what I’m calling a “Cultivated Calendar” + blog it (in the works!) – Write my Gardening 101 Guide – Memorize good words for goal number 3 – Take the next steps in garden planning and start some seeds indoors! – Continue to gather good homeschool info (post coming next week about this!) – Start my “little by little” painting (a painting I decided to create in celebration of what I’m learning in my Bible reading goal — more on this soon) – Finalize 2018 PowerSheets – Prayerfully prepare for and experience the Faith Retreat (a biannual retreat my friend Nancy and I are doing with a few friends to spiritually recharge)
Weekly goals: – Sabbath – lifegiving weekends – Meaningful connection with Ari – Learn and cultivate new sleep habits – Pray through my prayer journal (seen in the pic above)
Daily goals: – Read my chronological Bible reading plan (I have been loving this!) – #RunLiftPraise – Eat more raw foods – 40 days of prayer with Ari – Be active in my work day
Your turn! I’d love to hear: how are you feeling about February? Do you have goals for February? What are you doing to cultivate renewal this month? I’ll pick one of you to send a special surprise box of goodies to from the Cultivate What Matters shop. I love sending real mail, and I love hearing your thoughts!
You guys. One year ago today (right as I’m typing this to you), we were talking to Sarah’s birth mom on the phone for the first time. Besides saying yes to following Jesus, it was the most life-changing conversation I’ve ever had. We hope to see her and talk to her again someday. Till then, I’ll keep writing her letters and sending photos of this little muffin. She’s pretty wonderful!
Sarah will be one next month, and we’re trying to think of a meaningful way to celebrate. I’ll keep you posted! For those of you who often tell me, “she’s always so smiley!” (which she is most of the time) here’s another pic from our visit with Ari’s mom last weekend! ; )
Hehe. I love her.
It’s been a great first month of the year. Besides these little one’s growing, our garden has also been blooming. Our plants are enjoying the unusually mild North Carolina winter so far. February is typically ice-and-snow-filled though, so we’re enjoying this while we can!
January has also been a month of steady growth on my 2017 goals. I’ve made progress by pacing myself and relentlessly embracing progress, not perfection. Some things have been easier than I thought (working out at home with the kids), and some things have taken longer than I thought (scripture memorization–post coming soon on that), but what’s been SO freeing is letting go of the race to the finish line entirely. The pace at which we grow something doesn’t matter as much as what we are growing. Little by little progress adds up–and imperfect progress is still progress. Around here we celebrate even the tiniest seedlings popping out of the ground, and we are learning to do the same with our lives. Good things are cultivated over time, not all at once.
Here are 10 Things to Help You Make Little-by-Little Progress in the week ahead!
1. Get yourself some Good Goals (and win some amazing prizes!!). It’s never too late to uncover Good Goals, but the giveaway that goes along with my sixth-annual Goal Setting Series series is almost over (ends Tuesday!). Someone is going to win these prizes. That someone might be YOU if you take the leap and dig in. My hope is that these prizes encourage you to do each step in the series, and cultivate what matters this year–right where you are. Get started here.
2. Come to Making Things Happen! I loved our live chat this week with four of the MTH alum. Their stories are so inspiring! Catch the replay for free here. The early-bird rate for our only Making Things Happen Conference in 2017 ends on Tuesday (save over $1000). If you would like info about payment plans, email Kristin @ SouthernWeddings.com and she’ll get you all set up! Get your seat here before Tuesday!
3. Read good words. The words we say have power, and the words we let into our hearts are powerful too! I shared some new books this week on my Facebook live (which I’m doing once a month now on the second Wednesday of each month–mark your planners for February 8th at noon EST!). The books I shared: Sweeter Than Honey(I love this coloring book and Lindsay’s art and heart!), Different (Y ‘all know I love Sally Clarkson!), Chasing Slow, Cut Flower Garden, and Jennie Allen’s new book Nothing to Provecomes out next Tuesday. So many great reads!
4. Encourage your husband. My friend Kayse is doing an Encourage Your Husband challenge. Join here!
5. Share your progress. What goal did you check off this month? It can be a weekly, daily, or monthly goal. I love hearing your answers! And I love the new progress bars on the 2017 PowerSheets!
6. Get some real inspiration. Hop over to the new Cultivate What Matters blog for tips on productivity, goal setting, choosing your word of the year (it’s never too late to dig in!), and much more.
7. Get organized. First of all, I didn’t know Chick-fil-A had a blog, did you? We love “chicken-fil-a” around here, as Gracie calls it. I’m so grateful to have shared some organization tipswith my friend, Emily!
8. If you want to grow something, tend it. I used to be addicted to instant gratification. I wanted overnight and instant results in everything. But, over time God changed me (and continues to change me). I’ve learned the power of little-by-little progress, hence the name of this series! You can’t soak a plant in water all at once and be done. Good things grow over time with consistent nurturing. PowerSheets friends, here are some great tending tips.
9. Prepare intentionally for February. Look ahead in your calendar, and prepare for a meaningful month. February tends to be a beast here. It’s a weird month of sharp weather, drawing us all inside and making us long for spring. So, I’m preparing ahead of time to make this month joyful! Join the Cultivate ladies on Instagram stories today to dig into your February PowerSheets. I’ll be doing mine on Instagram stories next Tuesday. Also, February 15th is statistically the day when people fall of their goals and resolutions. We aren’t doing that around here, though! We are committed to progress, not perfection. And we have decided to make a new holiday that week: Cultivate What Matters Week! SO much more to come on that, but get ready. We’re flipping that statistic on its head, and embracing little-by-little progress together. No perfection required!
And I’m giving the last spot to my co-worker and friend, Jess…
10. Be like pizza and make people happy! Some encouragement for you to remember if Fri-yay! If you don’t follow Kid President on Twitter, might I recommend it? It’s a guaranteed day-brightener! -Jess
Cultivating what matters alongside you,
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Last year I set only two goals: pray and read the Bible. I intentionally focused on essentials, knowing I wouldn’t be able to grow more than I already had on my plate. 2016 was a year of major transition, sleepless nights, and very little margin as we tried to figure out how to be a family of five. If you are in a season of transition or change like I was, know that it’s okay—and very healthy—to focus on essentials only. Our heartbeat around here is to encourage you to cultivate what matters, right where. That’s exactly what I learned to do last year.
The backstory: I haven’t had a gym membership since Grace was born, and I haven’t done real weight training in just as long. I am a former personal trainer, and used to love being in the gym, and feeling strong. But, the logistics with kids and the gym just haven’t worked out. This is a goal I have wanted to make progress on for several years, but the Lord finally said, “It’s time.”
Why this goal? 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. UPDATE: I am already feeling this!
My little personal trainers like to make obstacle courses for me every day! Case in point above from this morning’s workout: Josh pulled all the books off the shelf.
Starting steps: Since getting to a gym isn’t in the cards with all these kiddos in the mornings, I’m doing this at home with some free weights (I have 3lbs, 5lbs, 10lbs, and 12lb weights that I got on Amazon). My first action step is to ask you for suggestions on other at-home training gear (preferably that doesn’t take up much space!). UPDATE: I realized that these simple weights are all I need right now! 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. DONE! I’m going to write out a new plan each six weeks based on where I am.
HOW I’M MAKING PROGRESS SO FAR: The core of this goal is to get active so I can be my best for my family. So, it’s not just about running and weight training—it’s about living an active lifestyle. Well, I have to tell you that the number one thing that has helped me so far, besides God giving me health to be able to move around in the first place, is that Ari and I made the decision to get Fitbits. Before I tell you about this, you do not need a Fitbit to make progress on a fitness goal. There are free pedometer apps for iPhone and lots of other ways to track activity (or you can WIN A FITBIT here on the blog – giveaway ends soon!). We were hesitant about these purchases. Both Ari and I don’t love buying gadgets. We sat on it for several weeks and asked friends who had them already how they liked them. As Ari turned 39 in December, and I turned 37, that 40 number seemed to call us to get serious about these bodies God has given us to steward well. We both chose the Fitbit Charge 2. Here’s the crazy part. Almost immediately, we became more active as we tried hitting our daily step goals. This is proof that knowledge about where you are can spark big change and motivation. (This is why I’ve always started with evaluating where you are in Goal Setting.) We have also had a lot of fun competing with each other, which is fun for our marriage! : ) Tracking my activity each day has been eye-opening. It was rather shocking to see how inactive I was in my work day, compared to the step-fiestas I have when I’m with the kids. It caused me to completely changed the way I work! I’m currently typing to you standing in the hallway with my computer on the stairwell ledge, stepping in place. Hi!
Everyone on our team is encouraged to get up and move around during meetings. And I intentionally get up and walk around now every few minutes while I’m working. This has helped my productivity, energy, and mood – sitting all day leaves you feeling blah.
Okay, on to running and weight training!
Many of you have asked me about the gliding board Grace is riding on – it’s this one and we love it!
Running:It’s too cold to take the kids out in the jogging stroller right now, so I’m staying in till spring. We have an old elliptical we got on Craigslist several years ago that lives in our bedroom, and I actually use it. (I also run the stairs in our house when I want to switch it up—no exercise machine needed if you don’t have one!) After all the kids are up (around 5am), I get them fed, change all the diapers, lots of snuggles, and then it’s VeggieTales time. Josh and Sarah hang in the pac-n-play and they all watch a couple episodes while I work out. Here’s where I’m making the most of my time and making progress on several goals together. Like I shared with you in my last Goal Gardening post, I am listening to the audio version of the Blue Letter Chronological Bible. This is what I do during the first few minutes of my workout. Then, I turn on a gospel music playlist I made, pick of the pace, and mimic a running speed. I don’t have a formula for this — I just go faster when the music makes me feel like going faster! : ) Because if it isn’t fun, it’s not going to last, and so far, I’m having a lot of fun! I do cardio for about 40-50 minutes, depending on the patience level of my three little workout buddies.
This morning’s heavy lifting. Photo by Grace : )
Weights:Every other day, I do free weights after my cardio time. First, I stretch, then I do a couple circuits (15 reps each) of back rows, shoulder press, abs, body-weight single-leg squats, holding-one-of-the-babies squats, and that’s it! I’m easing into this, and I already feel so much stronger after less than a month.
*For those of you who remember me mentioning my Diastasis Recti last year, I’m very grateful to say that, after a year and a half, it is finally healing. I had a four-finger gap after Josh was born, and for most of last year. This gave me back pain, and I often felt off-balance due to a lack of core stability. Ari kept encouraging me to keep up basic core exercises and see if my body would heal over time. Thankfully, I can now feel the layer of muscle coming together in the space that used to be a gaping hole. I still have an umbilical hernia, but since it’s not harmful at this point, it’s nothing I want to pursue fixing surgically. Just thought I’d give you an update!
Everyone wants to join in when I do abs!
Diet: Many of you have asked me about diet. This is one of those subjects that I don’t love talking about, because everyone’s body and needs are so different. But, in order to grow muscle strength and endurance, you need proper fueling too! Here are some basics I’m following, most of which I learned as a trainer years ago. 1. I eat often. I always have. Every couple hours I have a mini-meal with a balance of protein and good carbs. 2. I eat veggies 3-4 times a day. I have a couple hearty salads throughout the day (meaning, not just lettuce, but loaded with vegetables, nuts, etc.), and we always have veggies of some sort with dinner. 3. I don’t eat a lot of sugar. It makes me feel sluggish, so I avoid it. 4. I go through a lot of protein – maybe 8 eggs a day, organic chicken, and I love Vega protein powder (I add it to cereal and oatmeal every day) and Health Warrior protein bars. 5. Lastly, I drink a lot of water. These are basic guidelines I follow, and they have helped me have energy for these workouts, and life in general. Again, everyone is different, so do what works for you! Side note: I’m still eating dairy and soy-free for Josh. We’re down to one nursing session a day, and I haven’t missed dairy at all in the last 18 months. I will likely stick with this!
How I will know I accomplished or made progress on this goal: I am breaking this goal down in my monthly PowerSheets pages (an update is above with some progress made!) so that I have measurable milestones to hit, enabling me to track my progress. 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. UPDATE: Yes! I have had far more energy to run with Grace to see Walter at the mailbox, and chase kiddos : )
Encouraging words: (A pep talk to myself!) 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, going to the local trampoline park with the family, heading out for a family hike, or setting up a fun Isaacson Olympics obstacle course for the kids. I’ll see what everyone is up for come December!
My best adviceafter a few weeks of doing this is to be committed to your goal, and flexible about how you make it happen. Easing into this new lifestyle has been so good! If I would have done too much off the bat, I’m sure I would have gotten burned out. Little by little progress adds up, and it is helping me to keep at it. : )
I’d love to hear: Do you have a fitness goal this year of some sort? What is your goal? What is helping you make progress? I can’t wait to hear!
Feeling unmotivated or overwhelmed in this second week of the year? This post is just for you! I’m finding so much freedom in breaking lots of “rules” this week, growing slow, and taking January to test the waters with my goals. Who made up the rule that we have to make perfect progress on our goals right from January 1st? Who says you can’t try different ways to cultivate your goals—or quit things that aren’t working? Who told us we have to follow a plan that fits in a box? Here’s the truth: there are a million ways to grow a garden, and everyone’s soil is completely unique! In the same way, how you cultivate your goals will be unique too.
But, if something isn’t working, or you aren’t feeling motivated with your goals, try one of these three things:
1. Push through and give it a fighting chance. I’m gonna pull some North Carolina history out on you: the Wright Brothers. They changed history through their persistence in failure. It takes time to move from what feels like hard work (which most things feel like when you are just starting them), to feeling like you’re in a groove.
2. Consider that your goal might need some changing. Is your goal rooted in what really matters? If not, it might be the reason you aren’t motivated! Don’t know for sure? Use these questions to help you.
3. Redirect! If an action step, routine, system, or something you are doing to cultivate your goals truly isn’t helping you, it might be an indication that you need to redirect! Try something else. It’s okay to jump ship on things that simply aren’t working.
(More in my weekly Facebook live here – mark your planner for next week’s at noon EST!)
Here are ten more things to motivate you for the week ahead, helping you make little-by-little progress on what matters!
1. Make things happen. I’m putting this as number 1 because it’s big news for us around here! I’ve done the Making Things Happen conference 51 times over the last NINE YEARS (that blows me away). This experience continues to change as I do, and it just keeps getting better! So, here’s the news. We have done it twice-yearly here in Chapel Hill, NC, for the last few years, but 2017 is different. We decided yesterday that, for many reasons (including out 10th anniversary issue coming out that same month, 2018 PowerSheets launching, and me starting to homeschool Grace in the fall) we’re only doing it once in 2017–this March! It’s coming up fast, and I would love to have you there. If you’ve done the PowerSheets, or enjoyed the goal setting series, or my book, you will love “MTH,” as we call it! Spend two days with me and some seriously inspiring ladies, uncovering good goals, and making a solid action plan. This conference is unlike any other, which is probably why it’s been around for so long! It’s truly for anyone—mom, student, business owner, have goals, or have no idea what your goals are—who wants to take life to the next level. Have a leap of faith you’re considering? MTH is for you. The early-bird rate ends in a couple weeks (over $1000 off), and we do have payment plans available if you need one. This is your year!
2. Become a goal digger. This play on words always makes me giggle. When I was little, we often visited Las Vegas, but don’t get any casino pictures in your head—there was none of that. My dad’s parent’s lived there in the desert. We’d go to an old Western town when we visited, and they let you pan for gold. I loved exploring and sifting through the rocks with my little brother! But, I digress… this podcast is not about Western adventures, but about “Goal Setting for People Who Hate Goal Setting.” I hope it encourages you! Listen in.
3. Know that good things come from hard things. I shared some of our adoption story, and more about the hard season of wanting to quit my business, on the God Centered Mom podcast.
4. Kill comparison, and make real progress. So, this is a funny story. A loooong time ago, I bought a stuffed chicken (not the stuffed-with-spinach edible variety) for Grace from Sevenly.org. I was intrigued by the mission of this company, and one of it’s co-founders, Dale Partridge, was only 25 years old when they launched! He went on to great successes, including writing one of our favorite business books, People Over Profit. I was so grateful to chat with Dale last week on the StartupCamp podcast about how to kill comparison and make real progress.
5. Don’t wait. After selling out two weeks ago, and getting a flood of emails and requests, we opened pre-orders on Wednesday for a small batch of six-month undated PowerSheets. But, don’t wait till you get your set to dig into good goals! Start small or start big; just make sure you start somewhere. Good goals aren’t about having the right planner, or pens, or kicking off on January 1st. Good goals are about stewarding what you’ve been given well, and you don’t need any thing (or perfect timing) to do that! Yes, we want you to get your PowerSheets if you choose, but more importantly, we don’t want you to waste away these first six months by waiting! Today, tomorrow, or even February 1st could be your January 1st.
6. Tend it to grow it. Here are my January goals above. This page was blank until a couple days ago, and for me, it was perfect timing! Like I said earlier, who made the rule that you have to follow a schedule to make what matters happen, or start right on the first day of the month? With all the loose ends that needed tying, and changes around here, I intentionally waited to set my January goals till now. I’m so grateful I did! One of the cornerstones of the PowerSheets is the monthly Tending List that allows you to break down your bigger goals. These are well-thought-out seeds I’m planting, and tending, little-by-little as I start this new year. (Apparently I love our new sticker book a whole lot!) Several people have asked me what “Cultivated Calendar” means. I have a post in the works about setting up an intentional yearly calendar. More to come!
7. Join me live on the 25th. I’ll be joining a great group of ladies for the Creative Hub Conference, and kicking this virtual conference off on January 25th at 5pm EST. (My dear friend Carrie was super kind to allow me to speak at 5 so I could still put the kids to bed!) This live online workshop goes from January 25-27th, with 14 other great speakers. If you want to learn more about goal setting, business strategies, blogging, and so much more than be sure to sign up.
8. Eat healthy in 2017. Here’s some serious advice about eating healthy from my favorite school principal, Gerry Brooks. And if you need some exercise motivation too, I’ve got you covered. You’re welcome. ; )
9. Tell me your story. One of my four goals is to live a year of radical gratitude and praise. The act of expressing gratitude invites contentment to take root. You guys. These stories you shared with me this week about what you are grateful for are so inspiring and motivating! Wow!
Your turn! What motivates you? Do you have a goal you’re stuck on? Did one of these tips give you a boost? I’d love to hear from you!
P.S. Texas friends, this is for you! I’ll be on Beacon Radio tomorrow (Saturday) between noon CST and 1pm! Listen in on KSLR.com (AM630 in South Texas). I loved chatting with host Steve Teel, and I especially love that the reason he reached out to me is that his young daughter uses PowerSheets! (Hi, Samantha!)