Welcome to the Sixth-Annual Make It Happen Goal Setting Series! I’m so grateful for this series, and for all of you who join each year. How has it been six years, friends? I’m so pumped for this year!!!
Want to listen to this post instead of read? Here you go!
One year ago today, I shared some big news with you. We had just matched for our adoption, and had no idea what the year ahead would look like. I declared 2016 “The Year of Getting Messy”—embracing imperfect grace-filled progress—and that’s exactly what it was. 2016 was the hardest and very best year of our lives. (More on that shortly.)
If you are new to this series, welcome—you’re in for a treat this year! I’m Lara. I’m a mom to three, a business owner, and I live in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. But, the most important thing you should know about me before we start this series is this: I don’t write about goal setting because I love goal setting. The words “goal setting” have often given me the heebie jeebies. I have a lot of things to take care of in my life (like you), and I don’t have room for a whole lot more (I’m guessing that’s like you too), and I get tense even thinking about the pressure to accomplish something beyond my current capacity (areyouwithme?).
We don’t do traditional pressure-filled, do-it-all goal setting around here. We uncover intentional, less-is-more goals. I call these, “good goals.”
Good goals are about stewarding what you’ve been given well: your relationships, your money, your possessions, your work, your children, your home, your health, and your time. A little intentional forethought goes a long way!
Over the last six years, as my life has dramatically changed, so has this goal uncovering process. I’ve studied what makes people feel unmotivated, and I’ve discovered some pretty amazing not-so-secret secrets to getting unstuck. Uncovering good goals is not about doing it all; it’s about doing what matters. Whether you’re a mom, a student, a business owner, in transition, in the wait—in any place where you are in life, we’re going to let go of guilt-filled resolutions, and embrace a whole new way of doing this goal setting thing. For those of you like me who do not like traditional goal setting, you are in the right place!
From hereon out, when I mention “goals” or “goal setting,” know that I’m talking about good, grace-filled goals.
Here’s what good GOALS are all about:
Grow what matters
At a time
Little by little your
Seeds will grow
The alternative to uncovering good goals is going through the motions, not feeling confidence that you’re on the right path, lacking motivation, and not taking care of what you’ve been given well. (Speaking from experience here.)
Good goals–the kind we are going to uncover together–give you direction, and unending motivation. You can’t simultaneously do it all and do life well. But you can choose to cultivate what matters, right where you are.
Here’s what you can expect in this five-part series: Each day, I’m going to walk through a mix of goal uncovering steps from my first book, Make it Happen (which you can sample here), the 2017 PowerSheets, and I have some new ones that we’ve never done before!
The PowerSheets* and my book have many more steps, and helpful prompts, than I’ve listed in this series. This is just a tiny sampling. Do you need the PowerSheets and book to have an intentional year? No. You don’t need any thing to live this life well. They are great tools if you choose to use them, but if you only do this blog series, and use scrap paper to write your answers, that’s great too. : ) Use what you have! If you are someone who has been stuck in indecision lately, or feeling fear about diving into new things, practice what I call, “making a mess!” Use whatever you have available to write with, and on! It doesn’t have to be perfect. Just dig in.
*UPDATED: We sold out of all of the 2017 PowerSheets, and are blown away by the response this year! You can read more here. But! We just opened pre-orders for a small batch that will be in stock in the spring for the second half of the year. Order HERE!
As we go through each step together, use the comment area here to leave your answers, or write them in your PowerSheets, a journal, or on scrap paper. Don’t just think your answers. Thinking them doesn’t count. Write them out and, if you want accountability, leave them boldly here in the comments. I want to cheer you on, and this year I’m going to leave some of my answers in the comments too! Friends, help me out here and cheer each other on, too. You never know who how your words might change someone! If you need an extra kick in the pants to make it happen, I have a giveaway at the end that might encourage you : )
Ready to dig in? Step 1, here we go!
STEP ONE: In order to leap into the new, we first must know where we are leaping from. I’m going to ask you the golden question: How are you? Really. How are you? Let’s look at each area of our lives and do a little check-in. Look at the categories below and write out how you are doing in each one. Feel free to write in your own categories, too! Give each area of your life a rating between 1 and 10, along with a few thoughts on why you chose that number. 1 means you are not satisfied in this area, and want to see radical change. 10 means you are happy as a bee on honeysuckle!
– Family (including your significant other, if applicable)
Here’s a free printable 2017 Check-in Worksheet for you—yay!
This is step one for a reason. “How are you?” seems like a simple question, but when answered from our heart of hearts, it can help set you on an entirely new path. It can change everything.
Reply in the comments, or on paper right now. I’ll leave my answers in the comments too! And don’t get stuck in the negative soil. Include thoughts about what is good in each area, too! For instance, as for my feelings about finances: I’ve been challenged by contentment and emotional spending at times, but I have become more skilled at managing money. It took ten years, but I now feel comfortable navigating Quickbooks, doing our business bookkeeping, and analyzing where we are. (Never thought I would 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. But, that never brings me real lasting 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.
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 in the past, and it’s no bueno. But! Uncovering really good goals means learning from the past in order to cultivate what’s next. The past has a lot to teach us! Let’s take a look back at the last year.
What good things happened in 2016? What grew well and produced fruit in your life? What are you grateful for from the last twelve months? What good things happened? I know this can be a challenging step for many. We 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! It’s easy to look back at an entire year and see only the yucky 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 wonderful way to celebrate the good things of the past year with others. Make it your dinner conversation tonight.
– Take a look back at your calendar, blog posts, social media updates, or photos. Those might give you a clue into some of the good things you’ve forgotten. I made this 7-minute movie below of our adoption story and favorite memories from this year on my iPhone. It’s not perfect (every time I went to export it, it crashed), so I gave up and just let my phone do whatever it wanted with these photos and videos. Now I love that it isn’t the perfect video I had in my head—it reminds me that this year wasn’t perfect either, and it was still good! By the way, the clip where I say, “I just want to express to you how grateful I am…” was recorded the day of Sarah’s birth. Those were words her birth mom said to me, and I will never forget them.
– If you are a PowerSheets user, read through your 2016 PowerSheets! Knowing there would be a lot of major life change in 2016 with our adoption and writing a book, I keep my main goals simple: read the Bible, and pray. That was it! I knew that if I could focus on those two things, everything else would fall into place. And it did.
– A great tip: review your finances from the year. This is like reading a journal of places you went, and what your priorities were.
My Good Things: My list might look different from others, because for me, all the hard things this year ended up being the good things.
1. As you saw in my video, we adopted a newborn shortly after having a baby (they are six months apart). This was a huge blessing and, for so many reasons, it was also extremely difficult. I haven’t written about our adoption story, except in my upcoming book, because it was such a raw and refining time. Ari and I both experienced anxiety and hard emotions as we walked through this sleepless season. In that season, I felt like a horrible mother, an absent friend, and incapable of leading my team. I wanted to quit my business. I couldn’t rely on my own strength, and it was humbling. (I recently shared some of my story from the last year on the God Centered Mom podcast.) So how in the world did this end up as the number one thing on my good things list? Because this was ALL God’s plan. In what felt messy, He was at work. In the things that felt unexplainable to others, He knew. Good things grew out of what felt hard. Our faith grew. Our bond as a family grew. Our capacity to love each other grew. And so much control that we’d held so tightly to was released. This hard season ushered in massive heart change, and it was good. In coming undone, we came alive!
Photo by Nancy Ray
2. I had a challenging time writing my second book, Cultivate, through that hard season. I was nursing Josh every hour at night, pumping milk for Sarah, trying to keep up with Grace and work, and just couldn’t find the words to inspire others in that season. I had started writing this book two years ago, and it was supposed to be released today actually. Little by little, through so much imperfect progress, I wrote, and rewrote (see here for that story), and just two weeks ago turned it all in! It is not at all the book I set out to write two years ago. I needed to live out this story in order to write the specific words that ended up on the page. I am SO grateful for this imperfect path. The new release date is June 27, 2017!
3. Through all of this big change in 2016, many things started to feel like they didn’t fit anymore. Namely: unknowingly hiding the way I was made and the name of our company. So, those things got re-done, undone, and changed. Like a sweater that fits just right, they feel so good now! Letting my hair down and changing our company name have been incredibly freeing.
There is so much more, like the garden (oh it was good for my soul!), Amber and Jess joining our team, my mom visiting us a lot this year, so many generous friends who prayed us through our hard season, Ari and I actually having time together at night now (partly in thanks to our friend Irene and her gentle sleep coaching tips for Josh!), Josh in general, Grace coming out of this very hard family transition with renewed joy, and little Sarah is one of the greatest gifts we’ve ever been given. Getting to love her every day is just amazing! I no longer feel like a horrible mom, leader, or friend. And not because I got better at these things, but because hard seasons can make you rely on God’s strength more than your own.
Good things ahead (bonus if you want to include this!): Well, I have some news. I’ve cried a lot of tears writing this little paragraph, and it’s one I never thought I’d write. In all of the change this year, something else became clear that I’m very grateful for. As of today, I’ve passed the torch as Editor-in-Chief of Southern Weddings. When I started the magazine ten years ago, I never imagined it would grow to what it is today–and it has so much growing left to do! We are a very unique company, running two businesses under one roof, with one small-but-mighty team. Like I’ve learned in my garden, you can only grow so much with the space and time you’ve been given. I can’t lead the vision of two large brands at once and nurture a growing family. Many of you know this shift happened several years ago internally—I’ve been uninvolved in content creation for a while now. This year, however, it became clear that I needed to grow new leadership in our team to help both companies continue to grow well. I’ve been working alongside Kristin Winchester for five years, and her passion for the Southern Weddings mission made her a natural fit. She has already been wearing this hat well: cheering on our team, shepherding the big picture, and encouraging meaningful beginnings to married life. KNW, as we affectionately call her, is a pretty remarkable woman, and we are all SO excited for this new season! My title is now Founder and Grateful Wife, which fits me to a tee. Be sure to check back on Southern Weddings next week for more, and to hear about what’s ahead in 2017!
Other good things ahead: In light of what I’ve just shared, I’m excited to start homeschooling Grace in the fall (homeschooling moms, please share your wisdom with me!), release Cultivate in the summer, watch our kids grow (Josh starts preschool in the fall), continue to do the good work He has given me to do here, and Lord willing, go on more date nights with Ari!
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, letting someone else lead, or letting myself make a mess. The lesson for me was a big one: let go. Surrender. Humble yourself. That’s where change begins. I also learned that it’s okay to grow slow, and it’s okay to be average.
Your turn! Write your own list of good things, and lessons you learned. Write your list in your PowerSheets if you have reached that section, or on whatever paper you have. Either way, I encourage you to share some of your 2016 good things and what you learned in the comments to encourage others!
And remember this: There is no room for comparison in cultivating what matters. A page from my 2016 PowerSheets:
Whether you had one good thing happen or twenty, celebrate the good stuff and let’s help each other do the same. Let’s turn comparison into compassion and cheering on.
Photo by Amy Rae. I love these monkeys.
Okay, that’s it for today and that’s plenty to work on. I’ll be back tomorrow 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 2017 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 2017 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!
Can you smell those good goals starting to bake!? Yum! : )
Need an extra kick in the pants? How about this for motivation? Welcome to the Ultimate New Year’s Giveaway. There are lots of prizes and fun ways to enter. Most of all, though, I hope you comment with your answers from each step as we go through this series. I can’t wait to read your answers, and share mine with you too! One person who comments with answers to every step in this series will win a bonus prize: one of everything from the Cultivate Shop! Yes!!! This includes 2017 PowerSheets, the Cultivate What Matters sticker book, the Cultivate What Matters flair pens, books, journals, art prints and so much more!
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!
Why am I doing this? I want you—yes YOU—to get renewed, and to uncover a solid direction for the year ahead. Help me spread the word, and let’s get all our friends in on this! Here’s to a meaningful, intentional 2017—I am cheering you on friends. ENTER BELOW, and be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments!
There are 28 total prizes, which means 28 chances to win! Your odds are good : ) 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 2? Here you go!