Category: Goal Setting

Friends! Hi!!! It’s been a crazy few days here in the Isaacson house. Norovirus hit us hard, but thankfully we’re on the mend now. Nothing like a bout of sickness to make you grateful for the gift of being able to simply be on your feet. I’m also feeling grateful for this particular day – February 28th. Today I’m praising Him for the lives of two special friends who share a birthday and a first name: Emily Thomas (turns 30 today) and Emily Ley. I’ve had the joy of working alongside Em Thomas for 8 years (!) and I’ve been friends with Em Ley for just as long. I’m so grateful they were both born. Today is also the day that, six years ago, we found out some happy news.  It’s a good day!

It has been a month of little-by-little progress on my goals, but some areas need some changing. Here is the progress I made on my February Goals and my new March goals below.

IMG_9441Gracie doing “Celebration” with the flowers Ari gave me for Valentine’s Day!

My monthly PowerSheets goals for February:
– Settle into a new Cultivate What Matters work rhythm. YES! I spent an entire day plotting out content for newsletters, blog posts, and product releases in our Asana system, and it feels so good to have a realistic plan for the whole year.
– Finish my final book edits. In progress today–my final edits are due on Monday, so I’m taking a bit of a social media hiatus till they are done.
– Build what I’m calling a “Cultivated Calendar” + blog it. I made progress here and have written about 2/3 of this post. Moving this to March to complete.
– Write my Gardening 101 Guide. Yes! Instead of writing a PDF guide, I decided to turn this into a blog series first. Here’s part 1. This way, we can chat along the way and you can ask questions as we go!
– Memorize good words for goal number 3. I have not made good progress here, so it’s time to redirect. I’m adding this to March and trying a new strategy to get this going.
– Take the next steps in garden planning and start some seeds indoors! Yes! We are starting seeds today when Grace gets home from preschool, and I have a post in the works about how you can do it too.
– Continue to gather good homeschool info. Yes, I’ve been collecting some nature journaling resources and we applied to a local homeschool co-op program.
– Start my “little by little” painting, a painting I decided to create in celebration of what I’m learning in my Bible reading goal. I’ve gotten all the materials, so next, I’m adding “paint” to my April goals–lots happening in March already.
– Finalize 2018 PowerSheets. Yes! Draft one is done and I’m pumped about the changes coming.
– 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. Yes! This was a deeply refreshing time. Read more about it on Nancy’s blog here.


February weekly goals:
– Sabbath – lifegiving weekends. Yes! I have been studying what sabbath means for Jews and what it means for gentiles like moi. Since I’m married to a Jew, this has me extra intrigued. I particularly enjoyed parts of this article and this one. I had what felt like my first real sabbath day a couple weekends ago and it was so sweet. I felt God telling me to cease from “producing.” I spent the day with the kids (Ari was working) outside, not doing errands or trying to finish projects. It wasn’t easy at times. I wanted to get a few things done, but I kept remembering to pause and trust. It was fruitful. The day made me realize how addicted to productivity I can be, instead of just resting with Him and being with Him. It was a fast from busy, and very eye-opening. 
– Meaningful connection with Ari. Yes! We had a date night in February and great conversations in between.
– Learn and cultivate new sleep habits. Yes! We switched out the light bulbs in our bedroom lamps with these amber lights, and I got Ari this reading light. We also started using lavender essential oils in a small diffuser at night.
– Pray through my prayer journal. Yes, and I continue to love this thing. I spend the first week or two of the month filling it out as prayers come to me.

February daily goals:
– Read my chronological Bible reading plan (I have been loving this!) – Yes! I only missed a couple Sunday mornings when I was with the family, but caught up the next day.
– #RunLiftPraise – Yes, despite five days of norovirus and not getting out of bed for two of those days, I’ve continued to make progress and I feel great.
– Eat more raw foods. Yes! I’ve been eating raw peppers, spinach, and kale.
– 40 days of prayer with Ari. I didn’t finish strong on this one, but even doing this for the first couple weeks was a huge blessing. 
– Be active in my work day. Yes! Senorita FitBit keeps me moving.

Now, on to March!

FullSizeRender-4 3I got a little messy with my PowerSheets this month : ) 

My monthly PowerSheets goals for March:

I had a lot of goals for March, and after praying on them, I combined a few that worked well together. For instance, my afternoon Word refresh times. Instead of trying to do both the Lent study and memorizing scripture, I’m giving myself a choice each afternoon.

– Finish my final book edits.
– Prepare prayerfully for MTH and our family vacation at the end of the month.
– Celebrate our 11 year wedding anniversary well. The traditional gift is steel (these materials always make me giggle!), so I’m considering either these collar stays stamped with Ari’s favorite Bible verses or getting us family bikes. These are far too pricey for us, but look how fun these are.
– Finish 2016 taxes.
– Hire our new team member/s!
– Blog posts: 1. Release my book cover (next week!!). 2. Build and blog my “Cultivated Calendar.” 3. Parts two and three of my Gardening 101 series.
– Celebrate Sarah’s birthday. She turned one on February 26th, but with the sickness in our house, we moved the celebration to this coming weekend.
– Celebrate Purim.
– Begin afternoon Word refresh times: Amen Paper Company Lent study + memorize good words for goal number 3 by putting the verses on index cards this month. I hope to do this for a few minutes each afternoon to close my work day.
– Take the next steps in garden planning, and decide on garden structures (we need a bench) and a final garden plan.
– Make changes now to switch to my homeschool work schedule starting in the early summer.
– Spring cleaning!

FullSizeRender-3Where I’m sitting right now as I finish this post and book edits this week! That lemon is almost ready to pick. : ) 

March weekly goals:
– Sabbath – lifegiving weekends.
– Meaningful connection with Ari.
– Pray through my prayer journal.

March daily goals:
– Read my chronological Bible reading plan
– #RunLiftPraise
– Eat more raw foods.
– Be active in my work day.

sarah-and-joshMy little monkeys today : ) 

Your turn! I’d love to hear: how are you feeling about February? Do you have goals for March? 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!

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I almost gave up yesterday. I woke up feeling anxious about all I needed to get done, the kids were being wild (Sarah has been pulling Josh’s pants down lately–all the big eye emojis!), and I considered skipping my weights. This may seem small, but it’s the seemingly-small decisions we make that add up over time. Even if I had decided to skip strength training that morning, it would have been fine–progress matters, not perfection–but I learned something in that moment. I stopped, I got still, and I asked myself why I wanted to quit. It’s so easy to get narrowly focused on today, and lose sight of what will matter when we’re 80. For me, being healthy so I can live strong and healthy for my family is part of my big picture. The to-do’s that felt so urgent, causing me to consider not cultivating what matters, suddenly paled in comparison. So, I took a deep breath and pushed through. I’m so glad I did.

You see, it wasn’t about pushing through a workout. It’s never really about what’s on the surface.

It was about laying down the worry I was experiencing, which was really about not trusting God in that moment. I was trying to get ahead instead of get still. Trying to achieve instead of abide.

That’s big. These decisions add up.

Making progress on goals isn’t about checking something off of a list, or making perfect steps forward; it’s about growing something that lasts longer than us. When the big picture is in view, real motivation happens. Real motivation is the kind of fire you can tap into when you don’t feel like it. (Hand raised here on tapping into that a lot!) Real motivation is grace-filled, and gives you the freedom to change plans and miss a step (or ten) on the path, as long as you are still on the path.

IMG_9183Out in the garden yesterday morning.

Get this: February is statistically the month that gym membership attendance goes down, and fast food consumption goes up. Makes you think, doesn’t it? Many of us feel burned out, or guilty for not starting the new year like we had hoped. (Are you feeling that?) Here’s what happens: 50% of the US population sets goals in January. Come February 15th, half of those people give up.

But, not us.
Not you.

No matter how imperfect our progress has been so far, we. are. not. caving.

We are getting back up and shaking things up.

Instead, we’re celebrating the power of little by little (sometimes imperfect!) progress, and we’re flipping this statistic on its head together!


Peonies grow through the dirt, and so do we.

We believe that growing an intentional life is possible, right where we are: in the mess, in the tension, in the wait, and in what may feel imperfect.

We believe the imperfect is rich growing ground. We do not have to have it all together or do it all to live a purposeful life.

We believe that goal setting can be life-giving instead of guilt-inducing. We believe that good goals have the power to simplify our lives, and give us our time back!

We believe that good things grow over time, through little-by-little progress

We believe that cultivating what matters isn’t magic: it takes hard work and intentional decisions. From tilling up the earth and planting seeds, to tending and pruning, to the harvest, growing good things takes muscle, heart, and leaps of faith.

We believe in growing together, in blooming where we’ve been planted, and in helping others do the same.

We believe cultivating what matters changes everything.

For tips and ideas on how to get motivated, refreshed, or how to start over on your grace-filled goals completely, we’ve got you covered! Join us on the new today.

You get two choices this week: become a part of this statistic and give up, or shake things up and cultivate. We’re excited to dig in with you! Which one are you choosing?

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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…

*Drumroll please*

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!




1. 10 sets of 2017 PowerSheets – Cameron Klepac, Nheylin Ung, Allison Hemer, Vanessa Clark, Megan Bennett, Danielle, Gunnels, Kelly Kamps, Stephanie Michele Seat, Mandy Watson, Katie Hilbert
2. A Fitbit Flex – Kendall (encouraged Brooke Scheider)
3. A gift card for a massage – Tierra Hayes
4. The 2017 Floret wall calendar – Lisa Riley
5. A Fresh Start prayer journal from Val Marie Paper – Wendy Alexander
6. Farmgirl Flowers bouquet – Keri Sanborn Sheehan
7. A (monogrammed!) Cultivate clipboard – Tracy Selle
8. Watercolor set from Artist’s Loft – Michelle Brewer
9. 2017 Simplified Planner – Jessica Van Kipp
10. Mrs. Meyers cleaning products + a free house cleaning! – Kristy Gussio
11. Sweeter than Honey coloring book from Lindsay Letters – Kre Davis
12. My favorite Jonathan Adler Grapefruit Candle – Ashley Riddell Stark
13. Five copies of the Make It Happen book – Jessica Lauton, Charlotte, Balzer-Gott, April Emery, Cilzia Motterle, Stacey Kidder
14. A Write the Word journal – Paula Davis
15. A Meyer lemon tree – Meleah Spencer

One of everything from the Cultivate Shop for a lucky friend who commented on all five posts in the series – Janice Chan

Email me with your mailing address at!

Not one of our winners? That’s okay! We’ve opened up preorders for our Six-Month Undated PowerSheets Workbooks. These are expected to ship by late May, arriving just in time for June goal-setting to set you up for the rest of the year. Lara’s Goal-Setting Series and Make It Happen book are great resources to use while you wait for your happy mail to arrive!

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!”

Now go make it happen, and have a happy weekend!

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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)

Lara Casey Blog February PowerSheets Goals

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!)
– 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!

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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.

Coming out of that season, I am extra grateful (more than I ever was before) to be able to dig into my four goals for 2017. I shared with you how I’m growing my number one goal, and now it’s time for number 2: Run, and finally get back into weight training.


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!

Lara Casey Blog Running Weight training with kids3My 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!

IMG_0442Many 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.

Lara Casey Blog Running Weight training with kids1This 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!

Lara Casey Blog Running Weight training with kids2Everyone 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!

PowerSheets Lara Casey progress

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 advice after 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!

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