Category: Goal Setting

Welcome back, friends!  In Part 1, I asked you to dig deep and get real about how you are, define what worked in 2013, what didn’t work and make your 2014 Pinterest Board. By the way I apparently have no idea how to use Pinterest!  My #2014GoalSetting hashtag for boards doesn’t work, so re-title your boards “Making Things Happen in 2014”  so we can find each other! : )  If you are just joining us, it’s never too late to start.  Even if you read this in February or October.  Now is the very best time to begin.


Here’s the ironic thing about the titles of these posts: I don’t believe in traditional “goal setting.” It doesn’t work for me. I look back at old “goal lists” and most of those things didn’t happen. I honestly forgot about those goals because I microwaved a goal list that sounded good, but wasn’t really connected to what matters. That’s why we aren’t setting goals until the very last step of this series. Powerful goals take some slow cooking and carefully chosen ingredients and a lot of fire!

I also look back at things I worried about and 99% of those things never happened, either! Coincidence? No. It’s a giant reminder that I am not in control. God’s plans are always better and much bigger than mine, including — and many times, especially — the challenges. We can make all the plans we want, but we never know what will happen tomorrow. Like I said in my last post, you never know how much time you have.  Don’t wait.  You can choose to see that fact as terrifying or downright exciting. I choose the latter. Let’s continue…

First, here are my answers from Part 1.  Remember to leave yours here in the comments, too, so we can cheer each other on.  I’m giving away a $20 gift code to my shop and lots of other goodies on every post if you need more motivation to dive in.  All winners will be announced January 31!  Trust me, you don’t want to miss these surprise prizes : )  I will keep you in suspense for a little while longer…


And before you read my list, make yours. Don’t fall into the trap of comparing lists with others. Let’s celebrate each other’s good things instead. If I read my list here as the me of five years ago, I think I might feel a little lost and fall into comparison. When I talk about good things that happened in business in 2013, know I walked in the shoes of someone who didn’t have a business at one point — and the shoes of someone who failed at a whole lot of things (and still fails constantly!) — not that many years ago. You can read my whole journey by clicking, “nice to meet you” above : ) OK, a few of the great things that happened in 2013:

– I read a lot of the Bible.  My goal has been to finish the entire thing, from start to finish, by December 31.  I’m currently in John.  The year isn’t over yet, though! (I will report back January 1.)  I have a ways to go, but this has definitely been the biggest blessing and source of goodness in my life this year.
– I started the Contentment Challenge in October and am still going. Aside from a couple boxes of Christmas lights, a new vegetable planter, eye liner (I’ve had the same one for likely a few too many years past its expiration), a can opener (because ours broke), and new non-nursing bras after mine literally disintegrated because I’ve had them for so long, I haven’t purchased anything outside of the Contentment Challenge for myself in four months. However, I have definitely purchased too much for Grace. Mostly clothing and books. And stickers.
– The Southern Weddings ladies WORKED. They worked hard for what matters – to help couples plan meaningful beginnings to married life, to make our company sow good seeds in the hearts on many daily, and they all fought for love and what matters most in their own lives too. They truly walk the walk. I am so grateful to learn and grow with them daily!
– Ari interviewed for his job at UNC in November 2012.  We waited to hear a yes or no for months and things started to look pretty discouraging.  This was perhaps the thing I prayed about the most this year, besides my dad’s health and for God to guide my steps every day.  I begged God to let us stay in Chapel Hill.  The alternative was to move somewhere really far away from our families, away from my staff, away from our church, and possibly out of the South completely.  I eventually resigned to the fact that maybe that was His plan and maybe we would have to do that.  This entire experience taught me to trust Him.  Not to trust I will always get my way, but to trust that His plans are good no matter what. Miraculously, just when we thought for sure they had given the job to someone else, Ari was told he had it! THANK YOU LORD for this answered prayer.  Ari accepted a position at UNC as Associate Professor of Interventional Radiology in April! : )
–  I launched this new site and brand on February 13th, and I still love it more than all the Luna Bars and chickens in the world!
– We also launched two shops, the Lara Casey Shop and Southern Weddings Shop, and I debuted my first line of PowerSheets.  The PowerSheets have gone through three redesigns and I finally feel like we have them right.  I am so excited to use my own 2014 set soon. Using the PowerSheets this last year has been a significant source of focus for me.
– I met a lot of lovely silver-haired friends this year on our morning walks through the retirement community across the street. This gave Grace and me so much joy. We looked forward to seeing “Mr. Bill” and “Mrs. Rhetta” every morning. The weather has been cold, so we have sadly had to stop our morning path, but Gracie made ornaments for them and Mr. Bill even came over to our house to say hello last week and bring us a thank you note! It was so great. As Gracie says, “Mr. Bill is sooooooo sweet.”
Emily and I led a lot of webinars with the goal of making MBH more accessible to a wider audience, specifically people who are just starting businesses and not in the place to do full branding.  This has been on my heart: give all of the knowledge God gives you away to as many people as possible.
– Emily and I also worked with 22 wonderful branding clients. After lots of prayer, we have decided to hold off on taking 2014 projects during this season of growth for our businesses and toddlers!
– I did 103 consulting sessions.  These were some of my favorite conversations of my life.  I love being one-on-one with people and helping them see life and business in new ways and I have made some lovely new friendships from these conversations.
– One of my 2013 goals was to stop breastfeeding.  This was a really hard decision and a total lifestyle change for me that was coupled with a lot of fear.  But, after 16 months, I stopped and Grace is still a happy healthy camper… and I have THREE HOURS back in my life every day.
– Ari and I celebrated our 7 year anniversary in style – at the Whole Foods buffet with Grace : )
– I wrote a 46-page book proposal and it was accepted.   Totally crazy.  You can read the whole story here.  I signed my book contract with Thomas Nelson in October.  I’m currently deep in the thick of writing, with my final manuscript due in about 30 days.  Pray for me!!!  And forgive me if I don’t answer your emails for the next month!
– I read two books that completely changed my life: Seven and Interrupted.  As a result, well… a lot of things happened as a result.  I stopped shopping in October with the Contentment Challenge. We stopped using paper towels.  I stopped buying bottled water. I bought 50lbs of oatmeal in bulk.  I started to understand how taking care of our world is directly connected to loving God.  I started to understand God’s heart more.  I started to see just how much I need Him.  We started praying about adoption.  Needless to say, God used these books to change me. I have SO far to go still, but I am grateful for the heart change so far.
– In June, after finally knowing we were staying in Chapel Hill, we bought our house — praise the Lord!  Well, the bank technically bought it, but we are paying the mortgage : )
– As a result, we planted a vegetable garden!  This was one of my greatest joys this year.
– We hosted the Making Things Happen Conferences in March and October.  They were both so heart-changing for me personally and I met many new friends. The 2014 MTH is a handful of seats away from sold out already.
– We said farewell to Susan and welcomed Meredith into our family. Meredith has been a dream come true and moved all the way from Norman, Oklahoma to be with us! Read her inspiring blog.
– We interviewed and hired Lisa, who has been a huge blessing in all of our lives.
– Nicole celebrated 3+ years with us and renewed her contract (with some bribing – see here), Emily celebrated 4 years, Marissa celebrated 3+ years and Kristin celebrated her first wonderful year with us.
– Ari and I took a week of “stay-cation.”  Our stay-cation included a trip to the Piggly Wiggly — definitely a highlight ; )
– I took 2 weeks completely off of social media. I learned so much. I didn’t miss it.
– Ari and I started teaching Sunday School. This was a huge highlight this year and something I have always wanted to do!
– We also shared the story of our marriage – the good and the challenging – live on camera.
– We celebrated the one year anniversary of my dad’s baptism.  God is amazing!
– We launched the Southern Weddings and Lara Casey monthly newsletters. These helped me connect with many new friends.
– We celebrated five years of Southern Weddings with lots of favorites from the last wonderful years:  favorite editorials, real weddings, SW ladiesbehind-the-scenes goodness, amazing photographs and our growth.  God is good!
– My Grandma Bunny was diagnosed with mouth cancer and, at the age of 96, started radiation treatments.  She is not cured, but has responded well to them.  Her cancer has shrunk significantly, which is more than we could have asked for!  Amen, hallelujah, thank you Lord!
– I cooked a lot this year and really enjoyed it. Having a vegetable garden made this even more fun this year. Over Christmas, I made my mom’s famed Tunisian Couscous and a Christmas Quiche that were wonderful!
– I spoke at 8 conferences including Engage!13, Americasmart, Pursuit 31, the Influence Conference, Atlanta VOWS, Making Things Happen, and the MAGS Gala. I loved every single one of them.  I would do this year all over again with speaking.  It was so gratifying.
– We finally, after years of trying to get it, got!  Oh my stars, this feels so good.  Read the whole story here.
– We took a family vacation to Beaches.  More on that trip soon.  It was so good and so needed.  Grace met Elmo.  Highlight of her little life ; )
– We completed our 6th print edition (“V6″) of Southern Weddings!
– I got to spend lots of face-to-face time with my friends, Emily Ley and Gina Zeidler as we travelled to speak at the Pursuit 31 Conference together and did the Making Things Happen Conference here together.  I am so blessed by them.
– Our friendships grew and Gina is pregnant!  That is such a highlight of the year!!!
– Completely out of the blue, I got an email from Southern Living and, after many meetings and much prayer, we’ve now joined in a really wonderful partnership with them.  Read the whole story here.
– We launched a brand new Southern Weddings site and brand in November.
I became a minivan mom!  YES!
– We created a personal budget and I feel great about our Life List progress!  Download a free Life List printable here.
– Perhaps the thing I am most grateful for this year, though, is my dad’s health and happiness being restored twice over. Dad, you just told me on the phone that you have been reading my blog, so this is for you: I love you so much and am so grateful for what God has done in your life this year! It is truly a testament of His goodness and care for us and how He can make the “impossible” possible : )
– I will keep adding to this list as I think of things, and I encourage you to do the same with your list!  In fact, I encourage you to print your list out and have it in front of you as an encouragement for the start of a new year.  Frame this goodness!


Now, onto my list of things that were challenging or didn’t work well this year:

– As much as I have strong boundaries with social media (read more about how I set boundaries at, social media still continues to invade my heart at times in negative ways. It distracts me from life right in front of me too often.
– I travelled a lot for speaking in the fall. I purposely put them all back-to-back, but this was still challenging. By the time I got to Pursuit 31 in October, I was spent. I was physically and emotionally exhausted.
– Editing the magazine and doing layout for several late nights and long days didn’t work. I’ve already talked to the SW ladies about finding someone to do layout in my place this fall so I can focus on the big picture.
– Having a booming business in my house didn’t work at times. We verged on far too big for this space. My garage will likely never have a car in it. I’m not sure what to do about this yet, if anything.
– We were constantly having website server issues, which are thankfully now fixed with our new private server. This was costly and frustrating.
– There were lots of days I didn’t have time to call my mom, answer texts from friends or stop to smell the roses. There were certainly many more days than last year that I DID do those things, but I still need more of that.
– I fell off the exercise wagon many times. I still “exercised” almost daily this year, but many times it was a slow poke workout or a brief walk, especially when it got really hot and when it got really cold outside. I feel the effects of this. I have so much more energy when I am healthy and strong. I want more of that. I want the fire to do it.
– Although I have been doing the Contentment Challenge, we still have far too much stuff. I feel like I am CONSTANTLY getting rid of things. All I need is less. More on that later.
– Grace has been sleeping in our bed the last couple months, which is not great for Ari and me.
– On that note, parenting a toddler is hard. Really hard. We are blessed that she is healthy and I think of that blessing multiple times a day, but her constant resistance and tantrums can wear on a mama.
– On that note again, I really don’t like angry me. My controlling nature in parenting has gotten the best of me several times lately as Grace’s “no’s” have increased. I don’t like it. I am praying for wisdom and God’s peace.
– I had far too much to do in this last quarter of the year in general. I was supposed to be writing my book the whole time, but there were endless tasks that needed tending to. My goal for the coming year is to completely flip that on it’s head.
– Having a full plate and a toddler has left little time for friends outside of church activities and occasional dinners. I need a close friend locally who I can really connect with and grow spiritually with.
– Ari works a lot. He loves his job and we are so grateful he has it, but sometimes his call schedule makes me sad. I miss him a lot and so does Grace. We are grateful he helps so many people daily, though.
– I worried too much and I wasn’t always the best mom, wife, boss, friend or daughter. I tried, but my failures always had a good ending — they always pointed me right back to Jesus. God’s grace makes all things new.
– There were more but I have those on my own private list. It’s always good to remember that, while many people (including me) blog very personal things, there are still many things that aren’t shared for good reasons. I always try to remember that when reading other’s blogs. You never know what kind of battles people are facing. Overall though, I have nothing but praise for this year. God answered many prayers.


STEP FOUR: OK, next up! What are the three biggest lessons you learned from what DID work? Write them out here in the comments or somewhere. I will share my list tomorrow.


STEP FIVE: What are the three biggest things you learned from what DIDN’T work? Again, write them out. I’ll share tomorrow here, too.


STEP SIX: What fires you up? What are the things that light your soul on fire? Pretty simple, yet very profound: name them (you can download a printable list here if you want!) and then DO them. Do more of what fires you up. If dance parties, hugging your kids, laughing with your husband and doing good things for others fires you up, DO those things today (and always, but start with just today).


Download a free printable of the list above here.

Physically do some of the things you want to see more of in your life and take action on them. Not all of them, just some of them. Do what you can. We all have at least five minutes every day, even if we don’t think we do, to make what matters happen. How much time have you already spent on social media today?  How much time will you spend on it the rest of the day?  Trade that time for doing something that fires you up.  I don’t think many of us can say that lurking on Facebook fires us up, can we?

See what happens when you physically start living the life you know you were called to.  Little by little, get connected to what matters most to you. Love on people. Write out your list and then DO something on that list.  If you love the ocean, but don’t live near it, click here.  Does the sound of rain make you feel alive?  Here you go!  If you love dance parties, pump up the jam!  If you love hugs, give one.  If you are fired up by great art, start here with my friend Otto who is moving to Nepal and leaving wedding photography.  If you are fired up by words, read these amazing quotes that were penned by my friend Kelly, who lettered something every single day of 2013!  Go, Kelly, go!   If you are fired up by creating, make something right now.  Just for the love of making it.  If you are fired up by the outdoors, close your computer or put down this iPhone and step outside.  Just do it.  Right now.

See how making the things on your list happen starts to shape your life — and most importantly — the lives of everyone around you.  God gave us talents and gifts that are meant to be used to shine His glory brightly to the world — and He gave us sunsets and the roaring ocean likely to leave us in awe of His goodness. Note to self and everyone: It’s hard to do and see those things hiding behind a computer screen : )

The Bible doesn’t tell us to “follow our passions” so we can be happy, but it definitely tell us to use our unique gifts to serve others. And there is a deeper happiness found in that. A peace that passes all understanding. You were created for great things, my friend. You were created to shine brightly for Him. That is definitely something to have a dance party for! Share your list here. I will share mine soon too. Making life happen in 2014, here we come!

More tomorrow. Get to writing and DOing, friends!


PRIZES FOR THIS POST: Read Part 1 for all the ways you can win! Randomly chosen commenters on this post will get either a $20 gift card to my shop or a Simplified Life Binder set!


Winners will ba announced January 31 so you have lots of time to spread the word about this series and make these posts happen!

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Lara Casey 2014 Goal Setting

Today I turn 34 and something has struck my heart like lighting: Don’t wait.  At church this past weekend, one of our preachers told us about a memorial service he had just gone to. A 35 year-old killed was killed in a car accident last Tuesday morning. That wasn’t on the young man’s to-do list for the day or in his plans. He thought he had his whole life ahead of him. The heart of the sermon that followed: You might not have as much time as you think you have. Don’t keep what God has given you to yourself. This thought has permeated every inch of my heart, so here I am. I am fired up to not keep what God has given me to myself in this series, in the book I am furiously writing (my final manuscript is due in 30 days — pray for me!) or in any aspect of my life.

So, the biggest rule to this entire goal setting series is don’t wait.  If God puts something good on your heart to do, DO it.  Now.  Don’t wait till you have a perfect list of 2014 goals in front of you.  Do the good you know you ought to do.  Do it with gusto.  Do it knowing that you might not have as much time as you think!



Prints of above available here in gold foil, on sale for $12 — originally $20.

Maybe this isn’t how you expected I would start this 2014 Goal Setting series, but I’m done waiting.  If we face the reality that our lives are not in our control — that we don’t get to decide how long we get to walk this earth — we actually learn to live our lives to the full.  Facing the reality of life — and eternal life — makes me feel bold and clear and direct. It makes me want to use every gift God has given me and stop fearing what other people think (<—- how many of you are in that boat right now with me?) or what comforts I might lose if I give more and live with much less. It makes me want to hug tighter and teach Grace love more profoundly quit a lot of things and stop wasting so much time. Anyone feeling this way too? Welcome. I’m celebrating 34 years today — and the fact that I still have the ability to reach you today through this computer — by kicking off what will, Lord willing, be a powerful start to 2014. Let’s do this.

Here’s the deal.  Making things happen requires action.  As we go through this series, either use the comment area here to leave your answers or write them somewhere. But, don’t just think them. 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! Friends, help me out here and cheer each other on, too. You never know who you might inspire or whose life you might completely change with your words.

2014 powersheets lara casey

Those of you with 2014 PowerSheets will be all set, although you may need more space to write a few of these extra steps — and there will be exclusive steps just for PowerSheets owners, too! If you haven’t ordered your set yet, you can still order in time for my live 2014 Goal Setting Webinar on January 15! Pre-orders start shipping January 9. But, let me make one thing very clear: you do not need PowerSheets to make things happen. They are just a great tool. They won’t do the work for you. If you just have a notebook to do this series, use that! If you have scrap paper, that’s great too : ) It’s not about the perfect stuff, it’s about how you USE what you have.

We’re going to take this day by day, in small powerful chunks, because there are no shortcuts to any place worth going. – Beverly Sills   For the entire series, I’ll be sharing my personal progress and goals as well.  And I have no idea what those goals will be yet.  No idea!  I know the heart of what they will be, but this is a series — a process — for a reason.  You can microwave some goals and have a pretty little 2014 list by Monday, or you can dig deeper and set goals that matter to you over the next week or so with me.  You can pray hard about them and really weigh whether or not they are the best use of your time.  You can set goals that are twenty levels below the surface, where the fiery good stuff lives.  Or you can just make resolutions that get forgotten and tossed aside come February 1.  So, steps 1-3 will happen today and we’ll continue on Monday with the rest. And, if you need an extra kick in the pants to make this happen, keep reading.  I have a little something for you at the end.

I’ve revamped and updated my Goal Setting series from last year based on what I learned in my own process and what I’ve seen work for thousands of others who joined me. I am very excited about doing this with you and so curious to see where it leads me personally, too.  Are you in this for a quick fix or for making LIFE happen?  Awesome!  Continue…

Before we start, a question: how are you?  No, really.  How ARE you today, friend?  Free-write (or “download” as I like to call it) for just a couple minutes.  Be honest with yourself.  You can burn your paper after if you want to, but be honest.  How are you??  If you need a place to start, write out three things that are challenging you in life today or lately and also write three things you are grateful for today.  It’s so important to start with where you are and get it out.  Your worries today can directly affect what you write next, so don’t shove them under the table.  Acknowledge them.  Write them.  Call your BFF and talk them out.  Whatever works best for you, but whatever you do, do it now.  Don’t wait.  When you are done with that, take a deep breath and let’s get started with Step One of 2014 Goal Setting.


STEP ONE: Let’s take a look back at what worked in 2013. What are you grateful for in 2013?  What good things happened?  I know I’m starting with the hardest step. Most people don’t like taking the time to do this because it doesn’t seem like it will get you anywhere fast. Trust me here. It will. Why is this the most vital first step? It’s really easy to look back at an entire year and just see the yucky parts. Like when something happens to you at the end of a day and you automatically call it a “bad day,” regardless of what happened the other 23 hours. Anyone do that? [Raising my hand high!] Let’s focus on what went well first. Make your list right now. These positive things are there to guide you and you should CELEBRATE THEM! Celebrate what you want to see more of.  Gratitude changes everything and will show you just how far you’ve come… and it just might give you the energy and hope you need to press on full-force! Make your list of things you made happen and things you are grateful for.  You can list as many as you like!

One huge thing I am grateful for is that I started this Goal Setting series a year ago and tracked my progress throughout 2013 with my PowerSheets and here on the blog for accountability. You can read my goal updates (I posted my progress every three months… or when I could!) here: April, August, October. I am so exceedingly grateful that I wrote things down throughout the year. This was new for me and completely changed things.  It gave me so much more to celebrate because I didn’t forget things or let negative things overshadow them. This helped me to have the energy and confidence to keep going when things got hard. It helped me see so much more of God’s goodness that was there all along.  I will give my final 2013 Goal update and my list of great things that happened in 2013 next week.  Gotta use every day I have left to, Lord willing, take more action on those goals!

A few tips on how to make your list that have helped me:

1.  Take a look back at your 2013 calendar, blog posts (if you blog) or photos you posted on social media.  Those might give you a clue into some of the highlights you’ve forgotten.

2.  Talk to your significant other or BFF about your year and ask them to reflect some of the highlights back to you.  They may remember some that you have forgotten!  This is also a really great inspiring way to celebrate the good things of 2013 this weekend.  Make it your dinner conversation tonight : )  And remember, this isn’t all about you – ask others to tell you their highlights, too!  Goodness is contagious!

3.  Thank people.  As you reflect on the good things this past year, say thank you to those who were a part of that.  I’m starting today, too, with some texts, emails, phone calls and physical letters and a lot of praise to God.  Gracie is doing her happy dance, too : )


STEP TWO: What didn’t work? Honesty time! And before you do this step, remember not to beat yourself up here. You are brilliant and I know you want to make this your best year yet. The past is behind you. The old has gone, the new has come! Just list some facts here. In business and life, what didn’t work well to help you live your best life this year and what needs improvement?


STEP THREE: As a creative, visual person, imagery really lights my heart on fire more than anything. Great photographs and colors can make my heart sing and help me clarify my vision. If you are like me, you will really love Step 3.  Make a Pinterest board of images that will inspire a brilliant year. Title your board “Making Things Happen in 2014” so we can search for each other’s boards! Now, one word of caution.  I rarely use Pinterest because it can be the black hole of distraction and discontentment.  Pin wisely, friends.  Pick stuff that lights your hearts on fire and move on!  Here’s my board from last year and here is the one I’m starting today for 2014.  I am alone with Gracie today, so there will not be much pining happening!  Just reading books, running around and singing silly songs : )

OK, that’s it for today and that’s plenty to work on! Take your time with this and remember: PROGRESS NOT PERFECTION.  This is not about writing the perfect list with a perfect pen or making the most beautiful Pinterest board… it’s just about honesty. To make things happen, you have to start with where you are. This is a process that will have a big payoff, but you have to commit to working through it. Be still and let your year’s vision slowly cook, like a pan of homemade hot baked cinnamon rolls fresh out of the oven. They wouldn’t be so flaky and yummy cooked in the microwave, would they? Just a big pile of mushy dough. I’m not going to hand you your 2014 goals. We’re going to do this right and get there together. Sound good? Awesome! Get to it!


If you need an extra kick in the pants to make this happen, I’m going to be giving away a $20 gift code to my shop (there are some crazy amazing new Making Things Happen and inspiring goodies coming to the shop soon!) and goodies from other shops I love on EVERY POST in this series to one lucky commenter per post.  You can win multiple times and you can increase your chances of winning by:

– Pinning this post or any in the series
– Instagramming – or “gramming” ? I suddenly feel old. Ha!
– Facebooking (is that a word??)
– Tweeting
– Blogging or in any way sharing this post/series
– For all entires, link back here to and use the #2014GoalSetting hashtag. You are welcome to use graphics from my posts!
– Lastly, leave a comment saying you did any of the above.  You can enter as many times as you like on all posts!  I’m going to choose some extra winners along the way, too, for some special surprises : )

Why am I doing this?  I know God put me here on this earth for many reasons, and He has made it clear that one of those reasons it to motivate people to take action on what matters most.  I want you — yes YOU — to make what matters happen in your life.  So, help me spread the word and let’s get all our friends in on this for accountability!  Making things happen is always better when shared : )  “See” y’all Monday!  YAHOO!!!

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I am going to try something new the next weeks: writing blog posts and not stressing over them being perfect.  DONE is better than perfect and, though I have a lot lot lot of writing to do in the next 12 weeks (more on that next), I also feel called to write a lot here.  I want to practice writing here most days and just getting the thoughts out of my head.  Done is better than perfect.  Because the good we know we ought to do and — the good we know we ought to share online — can stay in our heads or we can DO something about it. Done is far better than perfect.   So, here goes!  Photos in the post taken last week by my amazing friend, Gina.  I love you, G!  I don’t usually wear makeup often, so I wanted photos taken for Grace in the same way she would remember me every day : )

View More: gracie in our bed because she was making molars last week and up all night. And yes she sleeps sideways in our bed — very comfy for us. Ha!

I wrote a series on Goal Setting & Setting Yourself Up for Success at the start of this year because I got really tired of NOT making progress on the things that matter most.  In fact, I realized I didn’t know what truly mattered most to me.  I didn’t want to end another year with regret about things I could have accomplished if I had just taken tiny steps along the way to make them happen.  I got really tired of looking back and realizing how much time I wasted on worry and things that distracted me from my purpose.  I started this year with one main goal in mind and several that branch out from it: to know God more and walk in His ways.  I wanted to finally do the things I’ve always had on my heart to do.  I wanted to make LIFE happen. Turns out, a lot of you felt the same way.

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The big morning stretch!

I updated you with my first round of progress on April 10 and our second update was supposed to be on July 10th, but I posted on August 8th with this update.  And I am, once again, a couple weeks late to update you, but here I am.  Welcome to round three of my 2013 Goal Progress!

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If you are stumbling on my blog for the first time, or if you need to start fresh, below are the links to get you moving. It doesn’t matter that it’s almost November. It’s NEVER to late to do what matters and start LIVING. Today is the day — YOUR day to start making it happen, to get back on track, or to choose a new track entirely!

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A few updates since my last check-in!

– I spoke at 8 conferences in the last 12 weeks.  8!  And I loved every single one of them.  I would do this year all over again with speaking.  It was so gratifying.  Full recaps of my summer/fall speaking coming soon!

– We got!  Oh my stars, this feels so good.  Read the whole story here.

– We took a family vacation to Beaches.  More on that trip soon too.  It was so good and so needed.  We also visited the Grove Park Inn as a family and I took Grace to see my parents in Florida.

View More: hair is the best kind of hair : )

– My Grandma Bunny was diagnosed with mouth cancer and, at the age of 96, started radiation treatments 5.5 weeks ago.  She is not cured, but has responded well to them.  Her cancer has shrunk significantly, which is more than we could have asked for! Her final treatment is tomorrow.  Amen, hallelujah, thank you Lord!

– We did approximately 8 trillion photo shoots for the next issue of Southern Weddings

– I signed my book contract with Thomas Nelson and started writing yesterday.  More to come here.

– We completed our 6th print edition (“V6”) of Southern Weddings and sent it off to print last week.  We get the copies later this week!

– We hosted a life-changing second Making Things Happen Conference last week.  It was incredible.  Full recap coming soon!  Registration for the 2014 Conference is now OPEN and seats are already flying.

– I got to spend lots of face-to-face time with my friends, Emily Ley and Gina Zeidler as we travelled to speak at the Pursuit 31 Conference together and did the Making Things Happen Conference here together last week.  I am so blessed by them.

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In case you missed the GOAL SETTING + MAKING THINGS HAPPEN posts, it’s never too late to start now!


If you started with me on your goal setting in January or even if you’re new here (welcome!), I’d love to hear about your progress, big or small. The goal is PROGRESS NOT PERFECTION. Honest updates will help you move forward. So, weigh in below. I hope to encourage you or pray for you. And you just might inspire someone else with your comment!

View More: always go in our PJ’s to visit the garden in the morning.  PJ’s and awesome gold boots for Gracie.

— MY 2013 Goals —

Goal 1: To know God more by learning about Him in the Bible and through prayer because knowing God means I will know what is right and good and He will direct my path. Everything good comes from that. God is my compass. I want to know everything I can possibly know about God so I can align my life with His will. I want to know God so I can change for the better for everyone in my life. I want to study the Bible and pray without ceasing. That means a lot of things, namely less time in my phone and on email and on extraneous projects and more focused time without distractions, reading. My goal in short: read and pray daily. Repeat.

// YES! I finished reading the Old Testament and am plugging along with the New Testament.  This has proven challenging because the NT is so packed with goodness that I keep wanting to take it in very slowly.  But, I hope to be finished with the Bible completely by December 31.  That will be something to celebrate!

View More: adventures usually continue with reading and exploring the house.

Goal 2: I want Ari and I to have a more thriving joyful marriage because that will help us be our best for each other and Grace and everyone in our lives. Because we are stronger as individuals when we are stronger as a couple. Last year was truly a year of transition and miracles and this year, I want to celebrate life more together. I want to make Ari feel special and help him be his best. I want to open my heart and let him in more. I know I have a self-protecting wall up most of the time. I want to learn more about what God wants for our marriage and I want to DO those things. I want to help other couples do those things, too. I want to lead by example, in our failures and triumphs.

//  If you want to know more about our story, read here and you can hear our whole story live on camera in the Amazing Life Together recordings.  In our marriage, we have been praying a lot together and separately about what God wants for our family – adoption, more children, where to plant the seeds of our resources and how He wants us to use our time.

View More: there are always tickle parties.  Always. 

Goal 3: I want to become more physically strong so I can be full of energy to do God’s work every day and give to others. I stopped weight training last year and that is the longest time I’ve been out of the gym. I want to be physically strong so I can live a long healthy active life and be able to teach Grace about God and how to live a good life through my actions. I want to fuel my body to do good things. I want to recognize when I am tempted to use food to control my emotions and choose God instead through prayer, reading, stepping outside to take a deep breath or just by being still and having a good cry if I need to.

// I have been a bit off-track with the weather change stress of having too much on my plate the last weeks.  I learned in this season that all we can do is do what is right in front of us.  We cannot predict tomorrow.  One day at a time : )  And so, I am trying to get my fitness focus back one day at a time too.  I still get up to exercise every day, but pushing myself to workout hard has been well… hard.  I am glad I’m doing this update for accountability and to remember WHY I want to be strong in the first place!

Goal 4: I want to stop breastfeeding, Lord willing, by Valentines day (I started weaning last week) and stay emotionally fit, despite the hormonal changes. I want to keep my energy up and give thanks, despite my current feelings (imagine if you didn’t have a period for two years and your hormones decided to start creating one… that’s where I am). I want to do whatever I can naturally to regulate my hormones so that I can be my best for my family, my staff and my friends. I also really want those 3+ hours a day back to do more for God every day. And, at the same time, I don’t want to lose the beautiful thing I have learned in all of this – that taking time to be still during the day is a very good thing.

// Check!  Read my update from April for the details on how I stopped.  Done and done.

View More: the neighborhood park with Daddy.

Goal 5: I want to be humble and learn a lot this year about a lot of things so I can do what I do well. I want to learn skills that will help me be a light for other’s to know God. I want to be a better more skilled designer so I can spend less time creating graphics and so I can create inspiring products that help people focus on what is good in life. I want to learn to be a better leader so I can build my team up and equip them to do the same for others. I want to learn how to cook special dishes that make my family feel special. I want to learn how to keep plants alive more than a few weeks. I want to continue my calligraphy training so that I can write beautiful letters to special friends. I want to learn how to be a better writer so I can communicate my thoughts in a more compelling authentic way. I want to learn how to do my job in a more direct, powerful, efficient way so I can make more of an impact on everyone I meet. I want to learn more about investing and finances so I can be a better steward of our money. I want to learn so I can give more.

// Design – Nicole has continued to teach me so much through all we’ve been doing with our print magazine. Leading – I’ve focused so much on our company mission in my speaking engagements, so leading from that core has been fairly easy.  I am so grateful for a team of women who are just as passionate about our core mission as I am!  Cooking – My garden has been one of my greatest joys the last months.  We’ve harvested hundreds of tomatoes and I’ve had so much fun tending the garden with Grace. Eating straight from our garden is so satisfying!  Plants – Yes, as you can see I love my garden!  I am sad it is close to the time when my annuals will fade away, but I will have fun during the winter planning for spring goodies.  We did plant kale and lettuce for fall though and it’s looking beautiful!  Calligraphy – I stopped my calligraphy training to focus on other priorities.   Writing – Well, I have a book to write now.  A whole separate post coming on this. There is a lot of writing in my future!  Job efficiency – Yes, we had a great meeting recently about profitability and how we use our time as a team.  I do feel very efficient with my time and priorities now as compared to the start of the year! Finances – This continues to be the biggest answered prayer in this category.  We now have a clear personal budget, a savings and investment plan (with many thanks to our dear friend and financial coach Will Ray!) and I hired a new accountant for our business who has been so helpful thus far.  Guys, I can’t tell you what a relief all of this is!  Being able to know where we can invest time and resources and where we need to scale back is a huge blessing.

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Goal 6: I want to learn how to be more efficient and reach more people with less time away from my family. I want to spend less time on the phone with clients and far less timing emailing. My goal is to find revenue streams this year that are more automated, yet help people in a profound personal way.

// Yes, our shop has done well and I’ve continued to fight for my boundaries to keep my time focused on what matters. Read more about how I set boundaries here. I’m done with consulting and branding work for the year so I can focus on getting my book done, so my time has been streamlined. I am in the process of planning my 2014 speaking calendar, too, and have only accepted one speaking engagement thus far.  Speaking gives me the opportunity to affect more people at once and therefore spend less time on the computer or in sessions.  I’m excited to be speaking at the Bliss and Bespoke retreat in Charleston in February.  If you are interested in having me come to your conference to speak, I’d love to hear from you as I’m blocking off my time for 2014 now.  You can read more info here!

View More: you tell we are related?

Goal 7: I want to learn how to be a better mom. I currently don’t read anything on parenting. I fly by the seat of my pants. I want to learn from others who do it well and become a mother full of wisdom so that Grace can be her best under our care. I want to raise her to be giving and pure and to have a heart of grateful JOY. I want to help Grace have more play friends and be a living example of the Bible for her in our actions. I want to be much more patient and less controlling and let go of my life so I can live in hers.

// I don’t even know where to begin with this update.  I’ll just give you a little glimpse into my world with the sweetest little monkey on the earth.  Late last night as I tried to calm Grace to get her to sleep (poor thing has a bad cold right now), she suddenly starts praying:

(clasping her little hands together and squinting her eyes so she can still see) Thank you God for Daddy.  Thank you God for helping me.  Amen!

And then she proceeded to sing a mashup of Twinkle Twinkle and Old MacDonald. DJ Grace is the cutest.  Then, mid-song, she looks at me in dark room, by the light of the moon coming through the window and says, “I love you so much mama.”  Melt my soul.  It’s moments like that that make me forget the constant toddler tantrums and separation anxiety that we weather daily.  Each challenge is an opportunity to teach her to know God’s heart and — though I fail at it daily — teaching her that is one of my greatest joys.  Showing her compassion and how to love others and how to say “I’m sorry” and how to celebrate life all make my mama heart very full.  We’ve had a lot of adventures together lately and I love my time with her.  Even when she refuses to clean up her messes and hits me with lollipops (yes that happened today).

View More: loves when Ari lifts her up high to touch the trees!

Goal 8: I want to continue to build a remarkable business that is a catalyst for real LOVE. I want my clients to have better LIVES and I want our brides to have strong MARRIAGES. I want to be a centered sounding board and prayerfully guide my clients this year to their fullest potential. My goal is to always come back to our CORE and to keep refining it.

// YES YES and YES! This update continues to stay strong and I am so grateful.  It becomes clearer and clear to me by the day that, the more we focus on our core and refine it to align with God’s will, the more powerful our work is on all levels. Our core mission is to inspire brides to cultivate a life full of love – celebrating their families, the rich culture of the South and what matters most to them – and then to draw from that rich well to create a meaningful beginning to married life! Through our weekly staff meetings and all of the decisions we make, we come back to this core mission daily and it clarifies everything. We’ve had SO many great staff meetings lately centered on our core and taking action on that daily.  I am so grateful for Nicole, Emily, Marissa, Kristin and Lisa!

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Goal 9: To learn how to take better photographs for myself so that I can remember Grace as she is in these sweet moments. I am not really sure why for this goal. It feels like a very God-centered goal, but it’s something I can’t explain. I have this connection to great photographs… they somehow speak to my soul. They change me. I think a gift God gave me was to be able to see the vision of a photograph to create. I can see moments and the big picture and a vision. I don’t have the technical skills to match that to capture the moments I see, if that makes sense. I even bought a great camera last year. It hasn’t been used yet because I get really frustrated with technology and numbers and learning new skills that I have to read a manual for. I want to learn the technical skills of how to take the photographs that I see in my heart.

// I’ve learned a lot about light and processing lately just through observing others and studying.  But, for now, I’m leaving this to the pros!

Goal 10: I want to live with less, keep a new budget based on the historical data we have from 2012, and be more frugal this year because my money is not mine. It’s God’s and I want to do more with our money for Him. I want to not only give away things I don’t need, but give away things I love. Ari is really good at this. His favorite sweater was in our charity pile this weekend and, when I asked him about it, he said he said that it wasn’t really giving unless you were giving something you didn’t want to give away for the sake of someone else. I love that. I want to be more sacrificial in my giving.

// We can’t take our stuff to Heaven with us.  I have so much growing to do here, but I am so grateful for how God is changing our family in this realm.  I read Interrupted and it further convicted me that my heart needs to change more and more to be like Him.  So, I started the Contentment Challenge at the start of September.  Not shopping for things I don’t need hasn’t been hard.  At all.  It’s giving things away and living sacrificially that has been a huge challenge on my heart.  More to come here.

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Goal 11: I want to build other’s up in faith and give lots of tools this year for people to make that happen. I want to study the Bible with others in my home and online. Going back to goal 1, I want to know the Bible so I can share it with others. Showing people the new life that I have been given and the indescribable JOY and freedom and love and genuine purpose I have found in this new life… well, that is something I want to share. Big time. If you were to find the most beautiful island in the world, you would want to invite all your friends. That’s how I feel about being in a relationship with God. I want everyone to be able to feel this goodness. I want to equip people with basic tools to know God more.

// With my book manuscript due at the end of January, I’ve had to table the in-person Bible study.  I did, however, write to our women’s ministry leader to tell her I was interested in doing this so we are going to meet one afternoon to talk about it.  I so badly want more time to be able to learn and study more so I am better equipped to teach God’s word to others.  I have been so convicted by Bob Goff talking to us at Pursuit 31 about how we need to stop agreeing with Jesus and DO something about who He is.  I want to live that.  So much.  I want to have Bible doings instead of Bible studies.

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Goal 12: I want to finally WRITE MY BOOK. I already have most of the content written and just need to put it together. Nicole and I started talking about the printing and technical aspects of this before the end of the year, so it’s in the works. My goal is to release it before the end of 2013, if not sooner. I want it to be timeless and done well so it will help creatives make things happen year after year. I want it to be a legacy for Grace to learn from as well.

// I signed my contract with Thomas Nelson/Harper Collins last week.  I am pretty afraid to write this book, but slowly God is giving me clarity.  This update is not wrapped up in a pretty bow yet.  Check back with me in January : )  My manuscript is due January 31, 2014 and the book debuts in January 2015!

View More: made us say “banana pants” really loud!

Goal 13: I want to continue to paint and create products for small creative spaces that inspire people to live better lives. God is the ultimate creator and I believe He gave all of us creative talents that are meant to be USED. I want to use my creative gifts much more this year: design, painting and singing.

// We successfully launched the Lara Casey Shop in February and sales have been very consistent with little to no marketing.  The PowerSheets have been our most popular product besides the AMEN print (my favorite), and have sold out now six times.  My own PowerSheets have been an exercise in discipline and have challenged me to take action on my goals and never tarry.  Painting – I finally painted the giant 5 foot canvas in our living room!  YES!   Singing – I love singing with Gracie and that is plenty for me right now.

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Goal 14: An immediate goal I have is to finish my website. It’s been over a year in the making and it’s a monster. The coding is almost done, my shop is populated and I just have a lot of site content to populate now. I’m hoping we can launch it late this month!

// DONE! We launched and I still love this site more than all the Luna Bars and chickens in the world!  OK, maybe not more than chickens.

Goal 15: I want to foster my friendships is a purposeful, focused way because then I will build a stronger bond with my friends and we can do more good things for others together. I want to be more prayerful for my friends, even when they don’t know it. I want to do surprise things for them to make them feel special and build their faith and capacity to love.

//  One of my PowerSheets goals has continued to be to pray for my friends often.  Ari and I pray for friends at dinner as well.  I still long for “dear friends” (here locally) as the Bible describes them. More on my recent friendship thoughts here.

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Goals 16: I want to support new moms more. I had a really hard time after Grace was born and several friends sent me care packages that really made a difference. I started a new moms group and my goal is to have several care packages and cards ready to go for new mamas and expecting mama friends that I can send out right away. I want to support new moms locally, too.

// I have shifted my focus to praying for friends who are going through infertility and those who are pursuing adoption.  God just has both of those things on my heart lately.

Goal 17: I want to send more real mail to build stronger connections with others, because hopefully it will help people feel God’s love.

// I sent a big bunch of cards and letters out last week and am working on some new shop products for 2014 that will help all of us stay connected the old fashioned way : )

View More: best.

Goal 18: I want to do more random acts of kindness. As often as possible because these things can help people feel hope and know that God is good. A little kindness can change someone’s life for the better.

// I want to do more of this.  That is all.

Goal 19: I want to show my family God’s love through my actions so that they will know Him more and trust in Him. My family is going through a lot right now. They need a lot of love. My goal is to be sacrificial with my time and resources so I can support them and take care of them in their distress.

// Yes!  I was able to go visit them in September and it was so good to be home.  And, like I mentioned above, my Grandma Bunny was diagnosed with mouth cancer.  At the age of 96, she started radiation treatments 5.5 weeks ago.  She is not cured, but has responded well to them.  Her cancer has shrunk significantly, which is more than we could have asked for! Her final treatment is tomorrow.  Amen, hallelujah, thank you Lord!

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Goal 20: I want to be like Moses this year in the way he trusted and just DID what God said to do. He let God use him. I want to be open to change and trust that God always has the perfect plan. No matter what.

// I have had to step out on faith in so many arenas lately.  I keep saying that I don’t feel equipped and the truth is that I am not equipped.  But, He is.

I can do all this through him who gives me strength. – Phil 4:13

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So, what is it that you want to make happen? Comment below to tell me about your progress this year, what’s been a challenge for you, and what you look forward to ahead. We’ll check in again before the end of the year!  Wow, time is flying!  I want to hear from you this week so I can hopefully encourage you and so you can also encourage each other. Make it happen, friends. No more lurking. Making things happen means taking action. So, fill me in! Remember, this is about PROGRESS, not perfection.  It’s never too late to start. Start today.

P.S. CONGRATS to the winner of the 2014 PowerSheets set (or anything in my shop up to $35 if you already ordered the PowerSheets), Sarah Lackner!  Sarah, email me and we will get your goodies to you!

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