Category: Goal Setting

Have you seen the extra tag on all those items you are considering purchasing this year?

You may not have seen or noticed this tag before, but it’s there:

The Time Tag.

Everything we buy costs not only dollars but time.

The Time Tag illuminates how much time it will take to care for, manage, or get the most out of that item. And, with what I call cultivated purchases, how much time you will potentially get back!

Everything has a time tag.

Think about it.

That new sweater you have your eye on today?

It will cost you time in caring for it, giving it a place to live, and washing it to make it last.

The inspirational book you’ve been wanting to dig into?

It will take a few hours to read, but potentially another hour to implement what you learned to really get the most out of it.

People often talk about “investing” dollars into new purchases that they hope will have a return. But, what you may not have considered before is the investment of our time in those things to get the very most out of them.

I’ve kept a running list Of the things I have invested my money and my time into this year (both personally and in business) that paid off. Here’s my list with some notes on how I invested my time!

10 things I invested in personally that paid off:

1. Date nights. Ari and I wanted to have more date nights in 2017 than we had in 2016. (Our odds of succeeding were good with only 1 date night in 2016!) I mentioned this in a blog post last year and my friend Joselyn texted me immediately after seeing the post. Knowing all we had experienced in 2016, she insisted she babysit as her gift to us. This was a gift of time, and that first date night helped us see how important it is for our family for us to have Time to talk without multitasking for three kids. It spurred us on to invest our dollars and schedules into getting more of that time together. We now have a handful of babysitters we call for date nights that have helped us make this a priority. The double blessing is being able to bless friends and college students in our church with babysitting money too. And our dates are never fancy! We go somewhere inexpensive, and we usually end up going grocery shopping together that same night. It’s a joy to hold hands through the produce section and just be together.

2. Fitbit Charge 2. This is one of the best things we invested in as a family. It took a big commitment to change how we use our time throughout each day: either sedentarily or active. Both Ari and I have been significantly more active because of the FitBit’s hourly reminders to move. We have more than doubled our activity during the day (!!), and we feel more energetic. This has helped me take action on one of my PowerSheets goals: Worship the Lord as I strengthen the body He gave me so I can love others with joy and enthusiasm. The benefits I received from using my FitBits also helped start the fitness initiative for our team (see my standing desks and desk stepper here). I gifted everyone on the team a fitness tracker and together we studied how our activity relates to our productivity and overall job satisfaction. This has been huge for all of us! (Fitbits are on sale today for Black Friday!)

3.  Kids dental flossers. You might giggle at this, but stay with me here! Every time I went to the dentist, I felt the guilt creep up. No, I haven’t been flossing. Again. I know I know, Doc. I’ll try harder! This was such a simple change, but getting these flossers for the kids (no mess with wrapping the regular floss around my fingers and the kids pulling it allllll out of the container) ended up motivating me to make this a daily habit. And you get LOT of flossers (300!) for just $12. Why was this important to me and how did this make the list?? Because everyone in my family has had dental woes. Root canals. Gum grafting. You name it. I’m hoping to avoid all of that with a $12 yearly investment of money and a couple minutes a day! And the first time I went into the dentist after starting my new flossing habit, I felt so good confidently saying, “Yes! I floss and I love it!” 🙂

4.  PowerSheets – Without clarity on where to use my time well, I would surely waste it away in distractions! More than any other year, investing time in my PowerSheets (a mere 20 minutes to an hour a month!) was the number one thing that gave me my time back and helped me invest it in the right things. My PowerSheets have helped me prioritize, stay focused and not waste my time and life on distractions. We’re all so grateful for how the PowerSheets have helped us and you that we couldn’t help but DANCE! My friends, it is with great joy and many laughs that I officially unveil our very first music video!

The Cultivate Team Just Wants to Dance from Lara Casey on Vimeo.

5.  Yearly prayer journal. Filled with my monthly prayers, church notes, and things I’m grateful for, investing time in this journal has helped me cultivate more focused prayer. I bring it to church every Sunday and love looking back at all God has done this year! Studies have proven the power of writing things down in our own messy handwriting: it helps them sink into your brain and you start to change your behavior based on what you wrote. Much like writing down my goals each month in my PowerSheets, I have felt the effect of pen-to-paper heart and head change in using this prayer journal.

6.  The Echo, also known as “Alexa” in our house. This was a larger purchase for us (we bought it a year ago for $179 and they are significantly less today for Black Friday), but it has paid off in surprising ways. Ari’s dad is a composer and I spent most of my life in music and theatre. We use our Echo literally every day, specifically in the mornings, mostly to listen to music.

And we see it shaping our kids.

Music is the movement of sound to reach the soul for the education of its virtue. – Plato

Sarah, in particular, has been changed by the presence of music in our home. She is sensory-seeking and comes alive when there’s a beat or a melody. Her eyes light up and her body can’t help but move with joy!

This is most certainly a luxury and not a necessity, but having the ability to use this device hands-free has been one of the biggest benefits. I don’t have to have a phone in my hand. And I usually have one or two kids in my hands, so before this playing music didn’t happen as often!

We have family dance parties to worship music, play Italian favorites for pizza night, turn on composers we are studying in homeschool while the kids play, and, aside from music, I make full use of the shopping list and other features like listening to the Bible and Audible books while I cook or clean the kitchen. Grace loves asking Alexa to tell us jokes, too! There’s more time investment I hope to make here in the new year as I teach the kids different music styles and about music and culture. This excites me!

7.  The garden and my plants. We spend a lot of time out in the garden as a family, tending to the tomatoes, picking flowers, and getting our hands dirty. It’s not just a refreshing place for me to be tech-free and get some fresh air, but it has become the place where our kids’ imaginations grow and flourish. We added some fairy garden items to the garden this year and Grace’s imagination ran wild! Josh has loved picking tomatoes to snack on and Sarah can’t get enough of watching the butterflies and bees. The lessons we learn in the garden are endless and our time there is never wasted! Follow @GraciesGarden and get a copy of my new book, Cultivate, for more from the garden.

8. Amber-colored lightbulbs for better sleep. When my hormones started ch-ch-ch-changing this year (I’ll be 38 on December 27th!), my sleep quality began to suffer. I set out to do whatever I could naturally to help my body rest: lavender oil, no screen exposure at night, etc. But the thing that helped the most was changing our bedside lightbulbs to amber-colored bulbs. Fluorescent lights, laptops, and cellphone screens contain a high level of blue light that disrupts melatonin production and throws off our natural circadian rhythms—keeping us awake when we should be sleeping. Many sleep specialists suggest that this widespread exposure to blue light, long after the sun has set, is a major contributor to the modern epidemic of insomnia. However, the amber-spectrum light emitted by firelight and candlelight demonstrates no negative effect on melatonin production.SomniLight. I am sleeping much more soundly now, and noticed a marked difference on the few nights I had to be on my phone later than usual or look at a blue screen!

9. Changing how I dress and the way I think about it. I have been thinking about how to write about this for an entire year! I have wrestled with the tension of how clothes are an earthly thing, and how God certainly doesn’t need us to dress well to live intentionally. But, something happened this year with me and clothing that did help me live more intentionally. For my birthday last December, Ari gifted me a consultation with our close friend, Joslyn (yes, the same friend who gifted is a night of babysitting early this year!), who is a personal stylist. Let me tell you that nothing about this would have excited me (I have never been into clothes or fashion!) if it weren’t for the fact that this was with Joslyn and I know her heart. She has been a gift in our lives in many ways, specifically through our adoption process and after we brought Sarah home. She is one of the most faithful, selfless, God-led women I know. Before I did this consultation with her, I feared that personal styling was all about external looks… until she came over to my house.

God used Josyln to teach me how to live my everyday life with a new integrity–matching my outside to my inside. My outside before was like a protective covering, clinging to the past and to who I falsely believed I was. I was afraid to be myself. Afraid to show my curls. Afraid to move forward and step into the new person God had molded me to be after all of the change we went through in 2016. It was a year of heart change, as I wrote about in Cultivate.

Through the process of letting go of clothes that I didn’t need and kept me hiding in that protective shell, I experienced a shift.

There’s really so much more to write here, but I’ll keep it simple and tell you the practical stuff. We took everything out of my closet and Kondo’d it–examining how each item made me feel, how it practically helped me serve others, and why I was holding onto it. I had spent the previous few years not buying much new clothing at all thanks to the Contentment Challenge, but I still ended up giving away 2/3 of my clothes that day with Joslyn. It felt so good. Fewer choices. All things I felt content in. I felt free.

Joslyn helped me choose a few new staples from budget-friendly stores like Old Navy (50% off today), J Crew Factory (50-60% off today) and Target (most of which we got 40% off when the early spring sales started). She also showed me how to mix and match clothes for work, and she encouraged me to step it up–take some risks and wear things that make me feel like I’m ready for anything.

At our Fall Team Summit, in reflecting on the year so far, Emily said to me, “Your outside matches your inside and it’s really inspiring.” I’m so grateful. I feel like I am more respectful of my team and I’ve been able to step into more corporate settings with confidence. And it didn’t cost an arm and a leg–just a perspective shift, a lot of things given away to clear the clutter that was holding me back.

There you have it. I blogged about clothes! (And it will likely never happen again! Ha!) I still don’t love fashion, but I do love feeling content right where I am and having less choices to make each morning.

10. The YouVersion Bible app. This is where I invested the most consistent time this year as part of my number one goal (much in part to the PowerSheets motivating me to keep going!). The app is free, and it cost me 10-20 minutes each day. Every bit of that time has been fruitful! I often quote Karen Lamb in saying, “A year from now, you’ll wish you had started today.” I am grateful I started this goal almost a year ago–and I can’t wait to do it again in 2018!

Okay, let’s talk business! Here are the 10 things I invested in for our business that paid off:

1.  Joining C12. Will Ray (husband of my friend Nancy Ray) has been our business financial coach for several years now, helping me gain business financial literacy, and most of all, helping me do business with God’s wisdom. A year and half ago, he took a leap of faith out of business coaching and into leading a C12 group here in our local area. C12 is a group of Christian CEO’s (12 members per group) that meet together once a month to help grow each other’s businesses and faith. When Will invited me to come to a meeting to give it a try, I was honored to be asked and also intimidated! Most of the group has been in business far longer than me, and their businesses are large. And spending all day away from the kiddos once a month didn’t seem like it would work for my life season. How could I step away for an entire day? But, with the blessing of my team and Ari, I went once and never looked back. I come back refreshed and excited about not just work, but motherhood and homeschool and marriage, every time. It has been a powerful thing in my life to spend all day with a group of gentlemen who humbly love the Lord and lead their businesses from that same humility. I have often pinched myself in being at the table with them. I still feel like the smallest fish in the pond, but this group has blessed me deeply, and I’m grateful to have helped their businesses grow as well. The financial and time investment, including all the time I have spent implementing the many things I have learned through C12, has been exponentially valuable in our business and in the maturing of my faith.

2. Business coaching. I’m an Enneagram type 1 and, at heart, an emotional decision-maker and a sensitive soul! Having a sounding-board each week in making decisions has been so valuable for me (and in turn my team and husband and kiddos!). Diana helped me push through finishing Cultivate, take the leap into homeschool, implement what I’ve been learning this year through C12, and most of all she has always directed me to God’s wisdom. We talk on that level each week, we pray, and God is the one who does the heavy lifting!

3. Grammarly. You guys! Grammarly is the BEST. This yearly subscription (I paid $139.95 which comes to 11.66/month) has saved me and my team countless hours in copyediting! Using this tool in blog writing, email correspondence, product creation, and long-form writing has led me to invest time in learning to be a better writer. Becoming a more skilled writer has led me to become a better communicator, and that is a benefit that has no price tag! Well-written words can shape relationships, hearts, and entire cultures.

4. EOS principles. The thing that has had the most tactical impact on our business is implementing EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System) principles this year. Encouraged by Will Ray, we began with changing our meeting structures in May and everything else followed… and I mean EVERYTHING! For a solid EOS primer, read Traction. You will be so glad you did!

5. PowerSheets – I know I have listed this twice, but for good reason. We have used PowerSheets as a team for the last three years and they have delivered. They have helped us uncover good goals, make action plans, and celebrate progress.

6. Asana is the project management system we use, and it’s safe to say it has more than doubled our productivity. We used to do everything in email and on paper lists. Projects would get forgotten about, tasks would fall through the cracks, and our inboxes were craycray. Asana brings it all in one hub, allowing our team to work together without the use of our inboxes for the most part. It does take an investment of time to learn to use it effectively, which we are constantly improving, but it’s worth the time invested. Simply put, we get more of the right things done. (Bonus: be sure to hunt for the Tab-B feature. You will thank me! Meow! ; ) )

7. The Making Things Happen Conference. I’ve led this conference for the last 9 years and I’ve also done the work right alongside the attendees every time. The tactical experience and clarity uncovered in this conference have been a fast-forward button on my personal and professional goals. Experiencing MTH is like doing PowerSheets in-person with a room full of passionate women who make what matters happen. It’s my favorite event of the year! Over half of the seats are gone for our spring conference. Get yours before our early-bird rate ends!

8. CAI. As a small business, I have been our finance, HR, and get-more-printer-paper departments! Until four weeks ago. CAI is a non-profit here in North Carolina that offers on-demand HR and legal services to its members at a fraction of the cost of a full-time HR expert. Our membership for a team of 9 is $900 for the year as compared to the $6K starting rate I was quoted for an individual HR consultant. Our membership has already paid for itself after one month! As part of our membership, we get access to 24/7 HR advising by phone or email (which we have already used four times!), legal support, employee handbook creation, and so much more. Thank you, CAI!

9. Zoom.We have four team members who work here in NC with me and five that work remotely from various other states. To stay connected each day, we had been using Google hangouts for video calls. But, the constant connection issues and dropped calls led us to seek a more reliable solution. Enter, Zoom! The old saying goes, “There are no deals.” Sometimes when you don’t pay for something (Google hangouts), you get what you pay for! Making the decision to pay a small monthly fee for Zoom has been a game-changer for our team. We connect more often and with zero tech troubles!

10. Steadfast bookkeeping. One of the biggest business woes I’ve experienced over the years is unreliable bookkeepers. My team knows. This is been the bane. of. my. business. existence. I like accuracy and dependability, and I finally found both plus a great client experience in Steadfast bookkeeping. Praise the Lord! Working with Stephanie and Sarah has been delightful! I can’t recommend them enough.

I’d love to hear! What did you invest your time or money in this year that paid off?

P.S. Our Black Friday / Cyber Monday sale is ON (our biggest sale of the year!), and so many intentional gifts are on sale!

Affiliate links are used in this post. All proceeds are donated!

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I wish I had a direct line to my loved ones’ brains so I could know exactly what gifts would make them feel most loved and appreciated.

I’ve done a lot of thinking lately about gift giving in general, and how a meaningful gift can quite literally change someone’s life.

Wrapping paper from The House that Lars Built

When I think about the most memorable gifts I’ve received, the things that top my list are gifts of time. When a friend insisted that she babysit for us early this year so we could have our first date night in a long time after a hard season. When we got home from adopting Sarah and our church small group and my team had filled our kitchen with encouraging notes and groceries. And the time my friend Marcia wrote 30 prayers for me on separate notecards–one for each day in the final month I was writing Cultivate.

There have been physical gifts that meant a great deal too. Grace made me a little pink candle holder last year (melt my heart!), and I have felt such joy in receiving gifts for the garden. The women I work alongside gifted me a beautiful set of garden tools with my initials on them. I almost didn’t use them because they are so pretty, but they are happily covered in dirt now from many gardening adventures!

These are the gifts I remember and cherish.

I love the idea of wrapping spring bulbs in pretty fabric or paper! Source.

A timely gift, given with love, can change someone.

I want to be that kind of gift-giver.

But, I have to tell you that I sometimes feel inadequate when it comes to gift-giving.

I am not the best gift wrapper. (I have high hopes of improving my gift wrapping skills this year so I avoid getting added to this list. 🙂 )

I have often waited too long and had to make last-minute purchases.

And, because I want gifts to be meaningful, I often get stumped on what to give!

My garden-loving heart loves this simple wrapping with a sprig of peach buds!

I don’t want to gift people things that they won’t use, or surface gifts–things they might like for a moment but then forget about. I want to gift things that add meaning to people’s lives or bring them delight and refreshment. And I know this may sound strange at first, but I don’t want to give gifts that make people think about how great I am, but rather gifts that help them cultivate gratitude and celebration for their lives as a whole.

Do you have a list of gifts you are considering for friends and family this year? (Or perhaps a list of items you are wanting to invest in for yourself?)

What are you hoping to make people feel or experience in your gifting?

Early this year, we decided to curate an intentional gift list for the holidays, and we’re so excited to reveal it today!

Our first-ever Cultivate Gift Guide is a bit different from your average guide. It’s a curated list of meaningful gifts (starting at $0!). Our hope is that these gifts help you, and your loved ones, cultivate what matters.

Inside you’ll also get a preview of our biggest sale of the year that starts next Tuesday starting at 10 am ET. I’ve already talked to many of you who are excited that Write the Word will be in the sale this year!

Your turn! I’d love to hear: what are the most memorable gifts you’ve received? What gifts added value to your life and others?

P.S. Next up, I’ll be sharing the 20 things I invested in this year, both personally and for our business, that paid off. I can’t wait to share!

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I don’t know about you, but I need some recharging after a full week. You too?

Here are three things I’m doing:

1. I’m going analog. For the last 8 years, I’ve gone social-media-free on the weekends. If that feels totally terrifying, all the more reason to give it a try! I did it once and never looked back.

2. I’m not trying to fix anything or start any new projects! This month, I’m focusing on less house, more home. Less cleaning the house (because I do that sometimes when life feels messy), and more loving the people in it.

And…

3. I’m letting myself laugh. All three of my kids are currently downstairs singing their new hit single, “Pooopeee diaper!!” at the top of their lungs and rolling in giggles. Their chorus of silliness has me in stitches too! It feels good to have a belly laugh, doesn’t it? Why is that? Research has proven it reduces muscle tension, opens our brains to solve problems, and helps us feel renewed hope in challenges. Need some of that right now? Here you go! We gave two men a box of PowerSheets and here’s what happened.

Two Gents Unbox the 2018 PowerSheets Collection from Lara Casey on Vimeo.

Happy weekend, friends!

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Let’s dig right in: How was October for you?

Wait–what’s that I hear??

Let’s hit the brakes for a minute because I think I can hear your thoughts from here! 🙂

When I asked how October was, did you think of the hard things first—or want to skip answering that question entirely? (It’s okay if you felt that urge!)

We often want to MOVE FORWARD instead of looking back, right? Even if there was a lot of good in the month, we want to move on.

Let’s flip the script for a minute.

Before a farmer plants a seed, what does she do? She evaluates her growing ground–the soil she’s standing on. She looks back at the last growing season to learn from what went well and what didn’t. Do you know what’s exciting about that, something that so many people miss?? Rich soil is filled with transformed remnants of the past. Those bits of the past help plants to flourish.

The same is true for us.

When we take a look at where we are, and how we got here, we get to reap the rewards of retrospect.

And we can do this quickly together right now! A few seconds answering 5 simple questions can potentially help us gain years of intentional living–totally worth it.

Planting our winter garden–the pansies are back!

My PowerSheets help me take a quick look back each month so I can move forward with confidence and clarity. Here are some of the questions for you to try yourself:

  • What were you especially grateful for in October?
  • Who were you grateful for and why?
  • What is a favorite memory from October?
  • What are you choosing grace over guilt about?
  • What good lessons did you learn?

Here are my answers (in my messy handwriting!):

Those few seconds of intentional retrospect help me see the good–even in the small things– and get after what’s next. Here’s a deeper look at what I learned and my October Goals Progress:

October Monthly Goals:

– Read + DO What’s Best Next . – Even though I didn’t read more of the book in October (I redirected here and focused on reading Traction instead), I practiced the principles I’ve learned so far. In October, I focused on leading my team to make the good of others our top priority–read the letter I wrote them here.
– Cultivate our 2018 PowerSheets release with prayer (no better fertilizer and soil nutrient!). – So, a funny thing happened. I prayed for humility, and the Lord answered in several ways, one of which was a little challenge at the start of our launch day. Things that feel like challenges at the time might just be God growing you. It’s not fun many times, but now I see it as an answered prayer!
– Write Gracie’s Garden. – I redirected here, too, and have moved this to December.
– Uncover God’s wisdom for our family with Ari. – Read more about this in my October goals post. We made progress, but not in the way I expected! This has brought me to my knees the most in the last few weeks. 

Challenge and conflict are a part of marriage. What makes a healthy marriage isn’t a lack of conflict; it’s learning to embrace it and dig into it in a healthy way. We humans don’t often like to talk about conflict, do we? If we don’t talk about these things, though, it’s so easy for others to feel isolated–like something is wrong with us if we have tension in marriage or family at times. We all have it!

Some challenges are harder than others, and we’ve had some of those lately. The interesting thing is that Ari and I are great. We’re closer than ever. But the enemy does not like that. The enemy likes to bring friction where good is happening. The enemy would rather I not write this paragraph or be married at all. The enemy does not want me to tell you our story.

In fact, he tried to convince me not to share any of this in this post. But, I hope this helps someone!

Our marriage used to be very different. We used to fight without hope of resolution. We started sleeping in separate beds. It all seemed impossible to change. We have a bedrock of faith together now, but does this mean our marriage is magically perfect or we don’t sometimes lose sight of that hope? No. It means we have a way to get back on track–a source of conflict resolution and a Counselor to help us when things get challenging. And it also means we get attacked.

When it feels like the rug has been pulled out and I’m on my knees on the hard ground–I get two choices: my way or His way. My way tends to be trying to control or fix challenges, to blame or be prideful when I feel hurt. His way is for me to LET GO.

‘The truth is, I’m fearfully, imperfectly, and wonderfully made. And so are you. There have been many times of transformation in my life—not a single, all-at-once event—all leading me closer to the woman God created me to be. Like layers of petals that come undone over time to reveal a fruitful center, I’ve been in a continual state of coming undone. It turns out that coming undone is part of coming alive.‘ – from Cultivate (page 51)

I came undone a little more in October, and for that, I’m now grateful. (See, the gifts of retrospect are real!) I feel fired up about growing my faith and Ari and I have stronger armor on.

More on this in my November goals in a minute…

Back to October progress…
– Nurture the hearts in this home in new ways. – Yes. How? Nothing complex here. By being on their level, doing the things that make them feel loved. But, I have failed here so many times, too. I have raised my voice and lost my cool and seen my sin as clear as day. This has also prompted the PostIt Prayers you’ll see in a minute…
– Create my Cultivated Calendar for Q4 (the last three months of this year) and 2018. I am so excited to go through all 10 of the steps I shared here for the weeks and months ahead. – I made progress here in the last couple days of October (I made my list of important holidays and celebrations for each month and put them in priority order) with more to come this month.
– Set joyful plans for Ari’s 40th birthday. – Done. Thanks to your advice in my Instagram lives in October, I told him to kindly stop asking about having a party for his birthday because I’ve got this! 🙂
– Set our new budget. – Progress was made here and we hope to have it done by next week. The hardest part so far has been deciding on sub-categories in our “shopping” budget, which includes everything from homeschool supplies to toilet paper. Anyone have advice here? What categories do you find helpful in general for your personal budget?
– Start reading Traction.– Yes! I am so grateful to be reading this with my coworker, Emily.

I never end a month with all my PowerSheets bars and boxes filled in, because it’s about progress, not perfection–and little-by-little progress adds up!

October Weekly Goals:

– Meal prep. – This has become a habit now. I make a batch of vegetable chicken soup on Sunday that lasts us till Wednesday. We hard boil about 2 dozen eggs, too, and try to have cut veggies and easy things to grab throughout the week. For those that don’t know, we gave up family dinners a long time ago for the sake of our sanity and sleep! The kids eat dinner really early (around 5) and go to sleep shortly after (Sarah at 5, Josh at 6, and Grace at 7) so that Ari and I can have time together at night and everyone is rested in the morning. Ari’s schedule is unpredictable, so the pressure of dinner as a family every night had to go. We do breakfast with daddy instead, and everyone is a lot happier. This is why “meal prep” fits us better than traditional “meal planning.”
– Homeschool with joy. – Now that we are through the getting-our-feet-wet stage, it’s time for me to get after this more. 

October Daily Goals: 

– Continue reading my chronological Bible reading plan for my Number 1 goal.– Yes. I have continued listening to the audio version first thing in the morning on the Bible app before the kids wake up.
– #RunLiftPraise – Start weights back up again so I can have the strength to love my family well. – I am so grateful for you all encouraging me on this one! It took a couple weeks to get back on track, but I have had a lot of fun doing this in the morning with the kids. Josh even says, “Mommeeee!!! Ab time?” Which, for him, means climb-all-over-mommy time, as evidenced below…

Photo by Grace of the Mommy Couch during “ab time” 🙂

– Eat green + clean. – Yes. Although, I discovered Sunbutter recently and it’s way too good.
– Rest in the Spirit. – Yes, but not by my efforts or with ease. It was a challenging month as I mentioned earlier. I clung to the Lord in those times which gave me new peace and rest in my soul–even in the mess.
– Raw prayer (I am grateful for my prayer journal). So much prayer continues to pour out for so many needs in the world, in our community, and in this home. I am grateful for a God who hears us. – Yes. Raw prayer continues as something I am cultivating.
– Praise dance. – This was my favorite! We did a lot of praise dance parties in the mornings, as you may have seen on my Instagram stories.

Here are my PowerSheets goals for November:

My last goal update hit a chord with you, and I’m so glad it did. We each have a unique purpose and it’s time to get after it. My theme for November is to do just that and, after what I learned in October, I feel double passionate about getting after this life: passionately pursuing my faith, my husband, my family, raw prayer, the work I’ve been given to do, and getting after grateful.

The PostIts are prayers to direct my thoughts and actions this month.

November Monthly Goals:

– Prioritize with diligence. – I know this may sound funny, but prioritizing in new ways is my top priority. A friend told me something this week that stuck with me: if everything is a priority, nothing is. Prioritizing means to choose one that is above all the others. I have already searched scripture for direction on this. Here’s the best verse I can find on how to prioritize. This is my verse this month.

Why this goal? So many reasons. I work 40 hours a week as the CEO of a growing company, I homeschool two half-days a week, I have three kiddos I love to love, and I have a marriage to cultivate. I want to do these things well, working heartily from a place of rest and trust in Him. The transition to homeschooling has led me to rely on His strength more, and I am grateful for that. But in the fringe moments between all of this lately, I have been tempted to the extremes of getting just one more thing done and wearing myself out, or idleness–which is different than truly resting. Instead of being tempted to strive, or be lazy, I want to keep coming undone.

I want to surrender the things that might be good, but might not be His priorities for me in this season–or at all.

Prioritizing doesn’t mean doing more; it means doing the right things and surrendering the rest.

Cultivate my calendar.– I feel the urgency to do this task now! Grace’s 6th birthday and Thanksgiving are ahead.
– #GetAfterGrateful project. – I’m all onboard the Rach Kincaid train this month! I wrote about her and this phrase in Cultivate and I hope you will jump on this train with us. My project? Writing 30 Ebenezers–30 specific remembrances of God’s faithfulness in our family (see Chapter 10 of Cultivate). I may share them on the blog with you. Also included in this goal is to continue praise dancing, singing, and expressing my gratitude.


– Write my (7th annual!) 2018 Goal Setting Series with fresh eyes. – This is the most popular series here on the blog each year, and my hope is that this month prepares me to write it with fresh eyes and rooted faith. Mark your planners for December 20th, the first day of the series!
– Be a light-filled mom from resting in you, Lord. – My PostIt Prayers will help with this one.
– Less house, more home. – We had several major home repairs made in October: replaced a cracked and moldy shower (black mold all through the insulation in our bathroom), kitchen repairs and updates, walls that were cracked from our foundation settling, leaky sinks, broken doors (our front door wouldn’t close!)–so many things needed fixing and updating. Let me tell you though, once you start fixing things, your eyes start noticing more things to fix. I want my eyes fixed elsewhere, knowing I can’t take this house to Heaven with me! While there are still many things to put back together after our repairs, my focus is on cultivating our life-giving home. Less working on the house; more nurturing the souls in it.

My sweet buddy on launch day.

November Weekly Goals:

– Homeschool with diligence–careful and persistent work and effort.
– Continue reading and implementing Traction.

November Daily Goals:

– Raw prayer.
– Continue reading my chronological Bible reading plan for my Number 1 goal.
– #RunLiftPraise
– Eat green + clean.
– Prioritize. This is also a daily goal because, in learning how to prioritize in new ways, I want to act on it. Little by little, I believe this will add up to change in every area of our lives.

I’m not sure this counts as a Halloween costume because it’s my REAL LIFE.

Your turn! Do you have goals for November? What are you cultivating in this new month? I’ll pick one of you to send a special surprise box of goodies to from the Cultivate What Matters shop, as well as a T from Simply Sow and a copy of Sally Clarkson’s new book, The Lifegiving Table (so good!). I love sending real mail, and I love hearing your thoughts!

Congrats to October’s winner, Stacey Meredith!

P.S. We’re HIRING!

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Just this morning, Grace and I picked the Meyer lemon that has been growing for over a year on our little tree. One beautiful sunny yellow lemon. On the surface, you may be wondering why this is significant–it’s just one lemon, right?

Last winter was especially challenging. I was deep in the thick of writing Cultivate, and slowly coming out of one of the hardest seasons of my life.

But, there on the lemon tree (who had somehow lost all of her leaves at that point) was a bloom. One little bloom.

It was a surprising sight. And that little tree wasn’t done! She soon burst with dozens of fragrant lemon blossoms. It was a gift–a clear reminder that out of hard things come good things, and there is good in every season–even when we can’t see it or feel it.

It gets too cold here in North Carolina for the lemon trees to stay outside, so we bring them in for the winter. Grace and I take on the role of bees and hand-pollinate our trees with a little paintbrush in the winter months.

We tended to that tree little-by-little, and today just happened to be the day the fruit was ripe.

This sunny lemon sure did pick a perfect day to be ready to enjoy, because, like the lemon taking a year to ripen, today is THE DAY here in our little office too! Our 2018 PowerSheets release (and start shipping!) this morning after over a year of hard work, tending, and prayer.

This year and this week and this day have already felt different than before. They have felt cultivated.

Our readers have told us this launch has felt very calm, and they’ve felt our excitement. It has indeed been calm. There has been a lot going on, but we feel confident in these products. And we are truly excited about this new beginning.

Today isn’t about a product launch for me, it’s about a new opportunity to cultivate what matters most in our lives, from the exact spot we’re sitting.

It’s not about doing more or being more. It’s not about striving for perfection or having it all together. It’s about growing the right things. It’s about growing what you’ve been given right where you are. It’s about growing what lasts longer than you. That’s what matters.

I created the 2018 PowerSheets Goal Planner to help women uncover cultivated goals and do something about them.

The 2018 PowerSheets are for all of us — in every stage of life, every role, and every season. From love-at-home moms to students, entrepreneurs, and empty nesters, the PowerSheets are for anyone who desires a grace-filled system that, if you are faithful in the process, works.

My hope is that we are equipped to prioritize with confidence, giving us more time for what’s truly important.

Because at the end of the day, isn’t time what we need most to invest in what matters?

Less time spent scrolling and comparing. More time spent walking in your unique path.

Less time saying “yes” without thinking about boundaries. More time spent with the people who you love.

Here are some more details about what The PowerSheets Goal Planner is. There are three simple sections inside:

Part 1: The PowerSheets Prep. The first 35 pages help you uncover your unique goals and what matters to you.
Part 2: Intentional Action Plans. Then, I walk you step-by-step through creating a simple action plan for each of your goals with S.M.A.R.T. starting steps.
Part 3: Monthly Tending Pages. After uncovering your goals and action plans, now it’s time to live them out in your everyday! 

What’s in the new One-Year Goal Planner:

– NEW! Goal Refresh and Month In Review pages
– Expanded Goal Action Plan pages
– Wildcard pages to download and personalize your PowerSheets Goal Planner
– 188 pages of inspiring quotes and worksheets (12 more than 2017 // 21 additional full-color pages)
– Simple, impactful design
– 12-month dated monthly workbook with January 2018 start month
– Inside pages measure 7 x 10 inches, overall goal planner measures 9 x 10 inches
– Sturdy, yet flexible spiral binding and full-color tabs
– Water-resistant, flexible cover with rounded corners
– Free bonus materials, including a “Word of the Year” card, encouragement postcard, and inspirational desk card
– Exclusive to the One-Year edition: seasonal worksheets and colorful tabs that are dated by month
– Worksheets include the Goal Action Ideas, Monthly/Weekly/Daily Tending Lists, Relationship Tending, Cultivating Gratitude, What Fires Me Up, Things I Want to Learn/Things I Learned, and more!
– Includes exclusive access to the Cultivate What Matters community and PowerSheets Facebook Group
– Two full pages of our signature goal setting stickers (because goal setting should be fun)!

Important to know: now through Friday, October 27th, you’ll get free domestic shipping when you spend more than $100 in the Cultivate Shop. USE CODE FREESHIP at checkout. You can pair your One-Year PowerSheets Goal Planner with our PowerSheets Accessories Bundle to get free shipping. (I love our new Goal Setting Sticker Book that’s in the bundle.)

The 2018 PowerSheets help you cultivate your unique goals, but what gets me most excited is that they help you cultivate your relationships with those who matter most to you. Setting good goals–cultivated goals–can have a ripple effect on your family, your children, your friend, your coworkers. This is why I do this work!! You have the potential to impact your life, right where you are, starting today.

Maybe you’re happy where you are right now, or maybe you’re already feeling overwhelmed about starting fresh and you’re scared. Remember that peonies grow through the dirt, and so do we. Little by little progress takes time, but it adds up.

And you won’t be walking this path alone. I know you’re reading these words as pixels on a screen, but I am a real person typing this. Cultivating what matters and helping women do the same is my life’s work–my passion and part of what the Lord has given me to cultivate. Lord willing, I’m going to walk you through every step of the process–from your PowerSheets Prep to defining your unique goals to making little-by-little progress on your Tending List each week. You are not doing this alone. And I have a wonderful team of women I work alongside who is with you too!

Thank you so much to the many friends who have encouraged us and prayed for us throughout the last year as we’ve grown these new intentional tools. The little-by-little has added up, and we’re so grateful to celebrate this new beginning with you!

And that sunny little lemon? I am making lemonade for everyone today!

Order your 2018 PowerSheets One-Year Goal Planner here.

Have questions? Head to our FAQ party page and join my FREE live class today at Noon ET for an inside look at how PowerSheets work. If you can’t join live, a free replay will be available.

If you’re new here, welcome to the Cultivate family! I am so grateful to be on this journey with you!

P.S. One of the greatest joys of doing this work is getting a front row seat to see women cultivate what matters in their own lives. Here are a few words from some of the many women who have used PowerSheets.

“PowerSheets are even more useful than they are beautiful! They have made me reconsider what I want to spend my time on and help me focus on what is important I am so proud of the progress I’ve made with them! They change my perspective, lift my spirits, and they work. What a blessing!” – Amanda N.

“The PowerSheets have given me the ability to see goals as a clear meaningful path instead of just another to-do list! If you are at all questioning whether or not this product is for you… it is! Little by little progress adds up, and the PowerSheets will help you set a plan to put your goals into action!” – Sarah

“As a grandmother on medical retirement, I wasn’t sure that PowerSheets were right for me. After using them and with the encouragement of the Cultivate team, I realized I still want the rest of my life to matter. I want to live with intention and leave a legacy for my children, grandchildren and beyond. Through the PowerSheets process, I’ve been able to uncover my good goals. Some of them are lofty and some of them are simply feeding my family better through consistent meal planning and time organization. Many of my goals include relationship building between myself and God, my husband, my family, and friends. No, I’m not building a business or traveling across the country for my company, but I’ve found PowerSheets to be relevant for me. Today. Right where I am. Thank you, Lara and team for enriching my life and helping me live intentionally.” – Carol W.

“The PowerSheets are one of the best investments in myself I have ever made. I have actively used my Powersheets for 18 months. I cannot say enough great things about how fantastic the system is for helping you explore your priorities so you create goals that really matter to you and your life. This is a GRACE filled system that is flexible enough to change with you and your life circumstances as the months progress; in fact, the PowerSheets prompt you to pause and re-evaluate your goals/progress quarterly. There is no rigidity in the process, only opportunities for you to really brainstorm what’s important, what you want to achieve, and where you want to go. The PowerSheets help you craft tactical ideas to get there and provide an easy and intuitive way to track your progress. We all have things we want to do- PowerSheets have turned my desires into accomplishments. If you are someone who really wants to make changes and live life with intentionality and purpose. Don’t hesitate to make this investment. Trust me when I say you will want the FULL year! It’s the more prudent investment and value. You can’t put a price tag on living the life you aspire to have!” – Kristin T.

“I always thought that I was the kind of person who could set goals in my mind and just check them mentally when I felt I’d accomplished what I wanted to. The concept of intentionally setting goals and putting it all down on paper didn’t quite resonate with me. Of course, my goals were intentional–otherwise, why would I set them for myself?! Nonetheless, at the end of a particularly stressful year, I found myself wanting to do better and be better at the things that were most important to me. So on a whim, I purchased the PowerSheets. Best. Decision. Ever. Mind blown/life changed- I think that’s the best way to describe how this has impacted my life. Nothing is perfect, sometimes I forget to update my progress and other times I realize goals I set weren’t goals I ultimately wanted to complete–that’s the beauty of it. PowerSheets help me be intentional with how I spend my time, so I’m not always exhausted at the end of the day doing all of the things for everyone. This, in turn, has allowed me to have more energy and time for the things I actually want to do and spend time with those I love. PowerSheets has given me the tools to be a better person by keeping me focused on the people and things that truly matter. There is always room for improvement, but this year has set a good pace for me. If you’re on the fence, don’t be- take the leap of faith. I promise it’s totally worth it! Bonus: the team’s Instagram always makes you feel like you’re setting goals with friends–they’re great!” – Daniella

Get your 2018 PowerSheets One-Year Goal Planner today.

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