Category: In The Office

Leading a team never crossed my mind when starting my business back in 2004. But, in order to grow and be able to use my specific gifts well, I quickly realized I couldn’t do it alone. Since starting my business, I’ve learned a lot about cultivating a meaningful team culture. I’ve also made a ton of mistakes that taught me far more than my successes! But, it’s the same with hard seasons in life and mistakes along the way: they grow us.

A little bit about our team today: I work alongside eight full-time employees, three of which are remote. We also have one part-time designer, and a few part-time employees who help us in our busy seasons. We run two companies together: Southern Weddings and Cultivate What Matters. I love each of these women, and I’m turning the mic to them to tell you what they think makes a great team!

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From Emily (With the company 7.5 years. Read her story here.)Skills are important, but it’s much harder to teach integrity, passion, kindness, or tact. I think we have prioritized these “soft” qualities when adding to our team, and it has paid off tenfold. If you can surround yourself with people who genuinely care about each other and about your work and mission, the work that needs to happen will get done, and will get done well.

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From Nicole (With the company 6 years. “I first met Lara as a student at UNC, and applied to be an intern at Southern Weddings shortly thereafter. Once my internship was over, I was invited to stay on as an editorial assistant, and eventually made my way to my dream job as the Art Director!”)Instill a learning spirit and sense of adventure. Operating and growing a business is hard work, and new demands can pop up exponentially faster than you anticipated. Our team handles them not only because we have a great sense of responsibility, but because we trust each other to learn new skills that help move us forward, and because we approach challenges like exciting opportunities (at least, we try to!). Additionally, we’ve always felt the need to hire people who are smarter than us, instead of those who meet us where we are. One of our office mottos is, “make it better/do it better,” after all.

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From Marissa (With the company 6.5 years. “While working in Corporate America, I was inspired by this post, and took a chance on using my own Truth Day as a cover letter to my resume. Lots of emails, an in-person interview, and several phone calls later I actually started working as Lara’s assistant as well as running social media for SW. Through the years, my job role has shifted and evolved, but my love for our mission and my coworkers hasn’t.”)Don’t let roles or titles define all tasks. While it is important to have clear job roles and expectations, cross-brainstorming with other departments or team members that might not have the same area of expertise is not only refreshing, but so very helpful. Knowing that your colleagues are willing to jump in and help when a project gets challenging or when you need a fresh pair of eyes is invaluable. You also never know when you’ll discover a hidden talent!

From Kristin (With the company 5 years, after we met her at a SW Gingerbread Barns event!)Build in refreshment days to the yearly calendar. Having an annual team retreat, or taking an afternoon to visit a local bakery or pick blueberries does more than just give you time out of the office. It gives you a chance to connect and learn about one another. Being able to reset and refocus is a great way to establish strong team unity and commitment.

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From Amber (With the company 1 year. We featured Amber’s wedding on Southern Weddings forever ago, and became friends. She became a wedding planner and did a lot of editorial work with us, and later spoke at the MTH Conference. After a year of searching for the best fit for our marketing position, Amber emailed me one day asking if we were looking for someone. Turns out, she was the perfect fit, and it was perfect timing! More here.)Use tools like Strengths Finder or personality type resources to your advantage. Ensure that the roles and tasks for each position are a good match for the team member’s individual strengths and working style. When potentially adding new team members, you can gain insight from these test results to see how they will potentially balance the team as a whole — so you can achieve greater success!

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From Jess (With the company 1 year. “I’d known Lara for about a year when she asked me to help watch her kiddos while she finished writing her next book, Cultivate. I turned her down (sorry Lara!) and instead took a full-time job in Customer Service and Social Media with a start-up in the Triangle. When my hours at new job unexpectedly shifted a few months later, I offered my assistance to Lara with Grace and Joshua while I was job-searching. We had a few conversations about my newfound love for customer service, and she mentioned that the Southern Weddings team was looking for a Customer Delight and Shop Manager. A few whirlwind days of conversations, interviews, and prayer later, I officially joined the team and it’s only gotten better since!”)Prioritize small talk – It seems inefficient, but taking 15 minutes in the morning or before calls to catch about how your evening/weekend was will add up over time. These little by little conversations create relationship equity, and you slowly learn facts about your other team members that you wouldn’t have otherwise known.

*Lisa is on maternity leave right now, but you can read her story here.

unspecified-3Photo by Faith Teasley – one of my favorite photos! We were picking tomatoes from a neighbor’s farm for a photo shoot : ) 

Three tips from me:

1. Be very specific about what you need when hiring. Make your ultimate wish list of skills, and qualities needed, and keep interviewing till you find the perfect fit. EntreLeadership has a great chapter on hiring well. So often I see business owners scrambling in the hiring process because they don’t actively seek out employees till months after they really need them (we have done this in the past too!). Don’t let the urgency of your immediate business needs outweigh the long-term success you could have through a patient and thorough hiring process. Even if your business suffers in the short-term (like it did for us before we hired Jess and Amber in January after a YEAR of searching!), the long-term benefits will be worth your patient intentionality.

2. Know your why, and live it out yourself. This is more of a leadership tip, but if you want your team to follow your lead, be worth following. That does not mean you have to be perfect (I am certainly not); it means being humble when you mess up, and it means being excited about the core of why you do what you do. Our office motto: if you’re not excited about it, no one will be!

3. Get yourself a Henrietta! Having a team mascot—a visible figurine or item–helps you to be unified and energized together. A natural choice for us here in the South, and a unanimous selection: Henrietta the hen. She’s a two-inch tall golden hen, and each week she lays “golden eggs.” One of the hallmarks of our company culture is giving these golden eggs, or words of encouragement, out to each team member during weekly staff meetings. It’s our favorite part of the week!

4. Stare fear in the eyes together. This year has been a perfect example of this. We went through many hard times together—times we all felt fear and uncertainty. There was lots of transition, and me being largely absent in writing my book and having two new babies in the house. But good things came out of that hard season, and the sometimes-hard conversations we had. Talk about what’s not working in your business, what you’re afraid of, and what you think needs changing. Those conversations were ultimately very fruitful!

5. Get on the same page. A boat being powered by a team cannot travel smoothly if everyone is paddling in different directions. We use PowerSheets as a team to set good goals together, and create strong team unity. Last week, we did our set of team PowerSheets (so helpful!!), and this week we all dove into our own individual 2017 PowerSheets!

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Huge thanks to my team for sharing their wisdom in this post, and for ALL they do! I hope you get to meet these ladies in person one day. They are pretty special : )

P.S. Don’t know what to get our team for the holidays? Give them the gift of renewed focus, motivation, and inspiration. Gift them #PowerSheets!  TOMORROW (December 16th) is the last day to order for Christmas delivery. Get your 2017 PowerSheets here and read my last post for a special discount code (which is larger than our usual groups discount, so use that code while it lasts!).

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Hi friends! Jess here :)

While Lara is working heartily on preparing for our 2017 PowerSheets preorder launch on November 1st, I wanted to pop in and personally invite you to what will be one of my favorite broadcasts for the year: our 2017 PowerSheets Reveal Party!

As the Customer Delight and Shop Manager for both the Southern Weddings Shop and Lara Casey Shop (soon to be the Cultivate Shop!), one of my favorite parts of my job is getting to chat with each of you on a daily basis! Whether it’s via email, social media or the telephone, I love hearing stories about how you are using PowerSheets to cultivate what matters in your own lives!

Your honesty, your bravery and your excitement leaves a genuine smile on my face each and every day, and it’s the best reminder for our team of why we do what we do! In fact, I love it so much that I’ve recently created a folder in my inbox entitled “Kind Words” where I file these stories away!

All that to say, Lara, Nicole and I are thrilled to be hosting a live 2017 PowerSheets Reveal Party this Thursday, October 27 at noon EST!

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We’ll be revealing our 2017 PowerSheets covers, giving you the inside scoop on what’s new in this year’s PowerSheets, and answering all your questions!

But this is about so much more than which cover you’ll choose or new PowerSheets accessories–our time together will be a celebration of everything that we (and yes, that includes you!) have accomplished in 2016, and a celebration for what is to come as we (yes, that still includes you!) enter this new season as the Cultivate team.

We hope that you will sign up to join us on Thursday at noon EST.

If you can’t watch live, that’s okay! Registering will give you access to the replay, and it will be an excellent resource for you to decide which PowerSheets Workbook you will purchase come Launch Day on November 1st!

We can’t wait to celebrate with you, and share why we wholeheartedly believe the 2017 PowerSheets are the best product we’ve created thus far.

We’re even planning to pull out the tambourines and ukulele for you to make this the best celebration yet!

Love,
Jess

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We sat in a team meeting, trying to come up with an answer to this question: How do we help people more often than just once a year with our annual print magazine?

Social media is great. Blogs are great. But, holding something in your hands is a different experience. It has the potential to become part of your everyday life.

That was a powerful realization for us. If we could get good words, and meaningful tools into people’s hands, maybe they would sink more deeply into their hearts. A domino effect of change could happen. Big change. World change, even. We are a tiny team, but we believe that what we have is good, and something the world needs: hope.

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Our fifth-anniversary issue of Southern Weddings was a landmark issue for us. My marriage had recently come back to life, and our theme for the issue followed-suit: love never fails. Long before there were thousands of shops offering prints (and this was just four years ago), we took what felt like a big risk and made a gold foil print of those words to match our issue: Love Never Fails. Our hope was that couples would hang it in their new homes together and remember what matters most. We quickly sold out, and people began to understand and live out those words.

A few months later, in the Lara Casey Shop, we released this print, and this desk card, with the same hope: inspire people to cultivate what matters. Help people shift their thinking from distractions, comparison, and lies we tell ourselves too often, to truth. Life-giving truth. We sold out again. Having meaningful words in people’s homes, tucked in lunch boxes, on desks, and written on family room walls, was doing something.

Over the years, we have done notepads, prints, water bottles, original artwork, T-shirts, desk cards, sketch books, and lots of prints with my handwriting. We were up for creating whatever was going to help people get truthful inspiration in their hands. And then, we took a big risk and released the first PowerSheets, hoping that these goal-uncovering worksheets, filled with thoughtful questions and prompts, would help people uncover good goals–and take action. Four years later, thousands of people from literally all over the world are continuing to cultivate what matters with them. From one woman losing 90lbs and taking back her health, to students finding direction in their paths, marriages being strengthened (praise Him!), businesses being launched, moms finding fresh contentment right where they are, people being able to better navigate seasons of transition, and the simple things in daily life being savored more intentionally, the impact was–and is–happening.

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But, two years ago, I started to feel restless. Like the feeling you get when your clothes don’t fit well. I had just gone through a miscarriage and we were beginning to pray about adoption. God was opening our hearts to things we never imagined. Lots of change was in motion in our family, and in our company, and some things didn’t match that heart change.

My website felt too flashy.

We were selling too many different products, which was a lot to manage.

And shop name felt too, well, about me.

We kept running into walls when we wanted to share more good words with the world. Using our Instagram name @LaraCaseyShop felt like we were selling things, even when we weren’t trying to at all. For instance, earlier this year, after I posted this about wanting to quit my business, and we started telling more of our new story, having the word “shop” in our Instagram name didn’t feel like the right home for what we were sharing. Now, don’t hear me say that having “shop” in your name is a bad thing. It’s not at all! This is just what we personally felt in these four walls with our specific story. For us, our name began to make us feel confined, like we had to talk about shop things since that’s what our name was. But, this shop wasn’t created to just sell stuff; it was created to help people. My friend Lindsay and I share a heartbeat. She recently did something similar with her company name and I love what she shared:

“I love making art. I love making it for me, for you, and for the Lord. I believe that He’s given me this gift to bless Him, others, and to steward well. So the solution cannot be quitting. The solution, it seems, is a mind-shift. The solution has to be found in perspective.”

She shifted her perspective from selling art to blessing others with art. And her shift has made a greater impact.

Is selling bad? No way Jose. I believe that God has given us tools and words to help change lives, and the money we make is a tool to help change lives too. We are given all these things to steward well. And for us, to steward what we’ve been given well, we came to the conclusion that we needed a new home to do it from. We wanted to break free of the title trap, and have a home that fit. We wanted to tell other people’s stories, too–YOUR stories. We wanted to simplify, live well, give big, and help you do the same. We wanted a home that was bigger than just a shop. Because we didn’t start this to run a shop; we started this to run this race of life well and help you do the same.

But, renaming a shop is a big deal. There was so much we’d have to change, and what would the new name be anyway???

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Here’s how this conversation went for all of us:

Well, “Cultivate” is our ideal choice. This word has defined the last few years for us. We’ve tilled up the soil, gotten our hands dirty, planted meaningful things, tended to them little by little, and in the last couple months we’ve started to see the fruit. We are cultivating what matters, and the intentional decisions—and little by little imperfect progress–has been worth it.

BUT! Someone else has that domain name, and someone else has the Instagram handle.

So, that’s out. If it’s not perfect, we shouldn’t do it.

Brick wall.

I prayed. We mulled. We discussed all kinds of other names. We slept on it (for about five months). But, Cultivate just wouldn’t let us go.

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And now I’m in tears typing this. I wasn’t at all expecting them, but I believe this is confirmation from the Lord, once again, that He is in this. This isn’t about a company name; it’s about our lives. Little by little, change has happened. Little by little, God has been teaching me to grow what matters, in whatever season I’m in, with what I have, and that I don’t have to do all the heavy lifting.

‘So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow’ (1 Corinthians 3:7).

God’s three answers to prayer: yes, not yet, and I have something better in mind. His answer to my prayers about our company name was a combo of not yet and I have something better in mind : ) When I let go of chasing “perfect,” I finally found freedom and truth. The name became abundantly clear.

In a meeting, I said it out loud:

Cultivate What Matters.

We all got still.

CultivateWhatMatters.com and CultivateWhatMatters on Instagram just happened to be open. Would it be easier to tell people Cultivate.com? Sure. But, that wasn’t God’s plan. And God’s plans are always better than ours.

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Because, you see, it’s not about just growing any old thing. It’s not about doing more or being more. It’s not about striving for perfect, 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. And we want to help you get there.

My friend, Andrea, sent me this note a few months ago as I was in the beginning stages of writing my upcoming book, Cultivate (releases next May):

This past Sunday our pastor said something that made me think of you. His sermon was about work and how we serve the Lord through our work. One of his points was that we were designed for work. Work was part of God’s plan even before the curse of the fall. In discussing this he referenced Genesis 2:15 “the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.” Then he pointed out that the Hebrew word used here as “cultivate” is `abad and that it is the same word used for “serve” in Joshua 24:15 “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”  This just really struck me and made me pause and think. I love the idea that the hard work we are doing in cultivating our faith, our lives, our businesses, our children is serving the Lord. I immediately thought of you and your work on Cultivate.

Yes.

That’s it.

Cultivating what matters means serving, blessing, giving, and finding deep contentment knowing you are right where you re supposed to be, mess and all. Flaws and all. Flowers grow through the dirt, and so do we, friends. And they don’t grow for themselves; they grow to bless others.

So, there you have it. Our new shop and company name is Cultivate What Matters, and we’re so grateful! In sharing this with you, we feel like we’re all coming home.

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What’s ahead and when this change will officially happen: In the coming weeks, we’ll be launching the 2017 PowerSheets, the Cultivate What Matters sticker books (these are arriving as I type these words—wait till you see them!), and most importantly, CultivateWhatMatters.com (right now it redirects to the PowerSheets site). The new site will be home to a new inspiration blog, goal accountability groups, live coaching, downloads, and much more. Along with the Cultivate What Matters site launch, we’ll be changing over our Instagram name and social info to match.

And more change to share today—the relaunch of this here website! : ) These past two years have been a season of transition and change, and the glitter and flashiness of the old homepage just wasn’t me anymore. We’ve simplified it and included new photographs thanks to my friend Amy (now that I’m embracing my curls and have a few more kiddos around the house!). On the new home page you’ll find three free guides on Goals, Faith, and Marriage, to equip and encourage you to live out the words of our soon-to-be new company name.

The blog has been revamped, too. I’ve been blogging every week for the last six months, and I wanted to be able to connect with you more easily. A mobile-friendly version of the blog has been needed for a while; no more zooming in to read things. We’ve also made it easier for you to interact in the comments by using your Facebook profile if you choose.

There’s more and a few surprises, but I’ll let you poke around to find them : ) And we know a bunch of stuff isn’t done and there are glitches we need to still fix, but we’re launching anyway!

More about our new company name and our changes on Facebook Live.

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There’s more to say and share, but in the name of done being better than perfect, I’ll end with this little prayer that’s on my heart right now:

Thank you, Lord. Oh, Lord, you are GOOD. I just took a big deep content breath. I feel You with us. May these changes, our work, and our imperfect words bring you joy. I’m so grateful for this change, what you are growing in all of our lives, and most of all, for Your transforming grace. AMEN

By His grace my marriage was redeemed.

By His grace we have helped women uncover clarity and direction—and found it ourselves too.

By His grace I am Grace, Josh, and Sarah‘s mom.

And now, by His grace, we share this story, and invite you to join us to Cultivate What Matters.

Thank you, friends, for all of your love and encouragement as we’ve travelled this journey!

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To celebrate, I’m giving away a set of our new Flair pens (for you to use to write meaningful words in lunchbox notes, post-its, in your PowerSheets, or wherever!), and five of our new sticker books that are full of colorful, and genuinely meaningful stickers for your planner, PowerSheets, or wherever you want to use them (for example: put down your phone, drink water, take a day off, rest, and many more). Tell me below: what do you want to cultivate in your life?

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How to overcome insecurity _ Lara Casey

Ever feel like everyone has it all together but you? I do. Lately this thought has been swirling in my head. But, here’s how I am evicting that lie out of my life, and how you can too:

1. Name it as a lie. Everyone else “having it together” is not true. I was just texting with a group of friends about our businesses, mothering, and hearts having various challenges right now. I wish I could add all of you to that text group so you could see that we are ALL in this together. Consider this post my group text to you : ) No one has it all together. They just don’t. That is freeing. And even if they did, it doesn’t mean they are more valuable than you and your unique assignment on this earth.

2. What does “having it together” mean anyway? Define the lie and the truth. The lie: I have to have the perfect plan and perfect results or I’m a failure. False. The truth: To me, having it “together” means I don’t have to do it all. It means trusting in God, doing my best to love well, and making little by little progress forward on the things that matter, even if I mess up along the way–at least I’m on the way there!

3. Consider that you are exactly where you are supposed to be, mess and all. When I really think about it, I wouldn’t trade my challenges right now because they are teaching me valuable lessons. They are refining me. They are making me closer to God and to Ari and to my family and friends and my team. If I had no struggles, I would stay the same. And I know that’s not what God wants of me. This is my season of sitting in the tension. A season of change.

You don’t have to have it all together to have value, and you are not alone.

Fruitful Summer 2016

So, with that, I’m excited to announce that Fruitful Summer is on! Last summer, thousands of you joined me from Tulsa to Tokyo to learn how to cultivate community, embrace awkward, and make meaningful relationships happen–no perfection required. Five weeks of practical and simple tips, printables, worksheets, and lots of surprises. Sign up for free at FruitfulSummer.com! Let’s do summer together!

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Photo above by WestMeetsSouth. Love seeing the Make it Happen book in there!

More thoughts on my original Instagram post here.

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Before we dig into Goal Setting, I have something encouraging to share. I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited to share a photograph of a plant with you (stay with me here!), and if you see me around this plant in person, I’m sure you would think I was a wee bit overjoyed about this little guy. BUT! Let me tell you why this is one of the most meaningful things I’ve ever laid eyes on. You see, six years ago, this plant was dead (or so I thought). Have you ever seen a shriveled up brown stemless orchid? Probably not, because it’s really hard to kill one of these things. But, if you’ve read my book or have known me for a while, you know that I was once really good at killing plants. That orchid I wrote about on page 143? Yep, that’s this little guy. He sat in our office bathroom for four years, only getting watered maybe once every other month, if that. There was no green in these leaves. Not a spot of life. In fact, I almost threw him away.

But, God…

Then, God got ahold of my heart. He showed me how addicted to instant gratification I had become in buying plants and things I had no intention of caring for. This wasn’t just about plants — this was how I treated my life. God began breaking me down to build me back up, new and changed. Over the last two years (!), I’ve watered, tended, fertilized, re-potted, pruned, and watched daily for any signs of life. If God could bring my marriage back to life, perhaps He could revive this neglected plant too. So, my friend, this little golden yellow and hot pink bloom is wildly exciting for me! God is real and faithful and this healthy very-alive thing reminds me multiple times a day that the impossible is possible. It’s such a beautiful symbol of how He has worked in me and our family. The impossible is possible. This is true for every part of your life too. God can take what appears lifeless and give it new life!

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Also, in jest I mention trying out a Chia pet in my book if you want to give easy plant-growing a try. I strike that thought. We got Grace a Chia kitty as a potty training prize and it looks so awkward. It’s only barely sprouting on it’s belly. I can grow a garden, but Chia pets are not my forte ; )

Okay, on to Goal Setting! If you are just joining us for this series, it’s never too late to begin! February 1 is my January 1, so feel free to join me:

2015 Goal Setting, Part 1: Good Things 

2015 Goal Setting, Part 2: What Didn’t Work + What I Learned

2015 Goal Setting, Part 3: Saying Yes, Saying No

2015 Goal Setting, Part 4: Get Radical + Sing Loud

Welcome to Part 5. I am excited about this and double excited about the giveaways that accompany this particular post. But, first. My answers from Part 4:

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I asked myself these questions: What is the big picture? If I were to live out my most purposeful year in 2015, what would that look like? Where do I want to be when I’m 80?

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Here’s what I wrote in my PowerSheets:

My most purposeful year yet would be a year of spending all of me and being hour-to-hour refilled ALL for and by God. It will, Lord willing, be a year of SEEKING Him out of love for Him — seeking His word — His truth,  It will be, Lord willing, a year of letting go of our comforts to give sacrificially to others, trusting that all of our true treasure and reward are in Heaven.

Why? Because otherwise I’m wasting what God gave me and ignoring the leading of the Holy Spirit. I want to go and do.

When I’m 80, I want to have raised God-loving children, brought many to know God’s true heart, been a wife of noble character, and have been changed by Him into the woman He desires me to be. I want my faith to be as strong as my friends Tijuana, Thom and Bek, and Carol and Brian. I want to have given all of me in praise for Him!

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My radical is stepping into having two babies this year, one (Lord willing) through birth and one through adoption. I know that will require radical trust in God’s strength and letting go of my own life.

Another radical for me will be writing my second book. I have to finish it before I give birth, so I feel a positive pressure to get moving and get the message of this book down on paper. More to come on that in the next post.

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I have been searching high and low for a song that feels right, but I haven’t found just one. Last year my song was Oceans, because I felt so pulled to step into the deep I-must-give-all-my-trust-to-God waters of adoption. This year, I’m still seeking my song. A few that I love (worth clicking over and reading the lyrics) are:

I Love To Tell the Story – This is my heart for this year — to keep telling His story.

Victory in Jesus – We sang this at Bunny’s memorial service and I sing it almost every morning with Grace. It encourages me greatly! The victory has already been won.

Hide Me – a favorite for years.

I’ll report back when I find the one song that fits best.

lara casey nothing is impossiblea little reminder above from me to you : ) 

Here are your next steps!

How many of you have ideas about your goals as we’ve gone through this series and you are already overwhelmed or anxious about HOW to make them happen? You want all of your goals to have been tackled yesterday. This series is an exercise in patience and doing things little by little to produce lasting results. If you are feeling overwhelmed, we’re about to dive into some clear waters as we set goals that have meaning. Because, you know what? The journey to making those things happen is where the good stuff lives. Your goals may change half-way through the year or you may make them happen faster than you think if you take it day by day by day. This is about progress, not perfection. I know you overachievers want to have done everything yesterday, but I have also been reading every single comment on this series. Taking this step by step is helping many of you make remarkable discoveries! I’m so pumped by all the lightbulbs I see going off! Little by little, babies grow. Can you imagine if we got pregnant and the next day have birth to toddlers?? We wouldn’t be ready and we would have missed so much sweetness. It is the same with our goals. They matter enough to make them happen well.

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First off, review. This is important. Get the big picture crystal clear in your mind and heart before you write your goals. Read through everything you’ve done so far. Read every word. Re-write or add to things if you need to. I added to my lists and re-wrote things after going through this process because I got more clarity. Cross stuff out, revise things, add to your lists of what did and didn’t work (I added a ton to mine!). Add more to your YES and NO lists. Refine your 2015 Pinterest board. Take pins out that don’t fit well. Refine everything and get CLEAR before moving to the final exciting step…

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Yeah, yeah, yeah! You’ve made it! Like I told you from the start of this process, traditional goal setting does not work for me. Swiftly-made resolutions get forgotten and then they linger and make you feel guilty for forgetting them. Anyone else ever experience this? Well, hopefully at this point you feel more equipped than when you started this process to write some down good goals. Goals that mean something. Goals that are very clear and will help you live on purpose. So, let’s do it!

Four helpful tips:

1. Review! Read through all of your progress again so you have all of it fresh in your mind.  Don’t set goals before you do that step above!

2. Make a list of the first goals that come to your mind for this year when right after you review everything you’ve written. I suggest taking a big deep breath and putting on your 2015 song as you start writing goals. These don’t have to be perfectly written — just write what first comes to mind.

3. Then, check your goals to make sure they are really good goals. It’s so easy to make goals that sound good or goals that other people have that you think you should have, too, just to keep up. Don’t do that. The idea here is for you to SIMPLIFY your life, not to give yourself a new to-do list of random things that sound good. Be very specific and careful about what you decide to spend your time on this year.

Do a GOAL CHECK and ask these questions:

- Will this goal help me live on purpose?

- Does this goal also help other people?

- WHY would I spend my time on this goal?

If the answer is NO to that first question, then it’s possible it’s not the best use of your precious time. Don’t run in circles with goals that don’t directly connect to what matters most. Get specific. Focus on what really matters to you in the big picture. Cross goals out that don’t 100% fit. Revise goals that are not clear. Be bold and take leaps of faith as you write.

4. This is the most important key to goal setting. Write down your WHY with every goal. When I was a personal trainer in New York for many years, most clients would come to me with a number and say, “I want to lose 10 pounds.” I would ask them, “WHY 10 pounds?” Usually, when we got down to it, it was just an arbitrary number, or a weight they were in college. There was no real heart connection to the goal of losing 10 pounds. But, when we dug deeper into why they became out of shape in the first place and what they wanted most in life, a picture of true fitness started to emerge. Instead of, “I want to lose 10 pounds because that’s what I weighed in college” (not very motivating and more self-defeating), we worked on goals like, “I want to be healthy and strong so that I can live long enough to walk my daughter down the aisle. I want to live a long, happy life so I can be a better husband and show my kids how to be joyful and healthy, too.” That works. That is motivating. SO, get real with WHY you want these things to happen and connect them to something that really matters to you. It will help you ACT on your goals instead of toss them aside.

I’m going to share my final 2015 goals in the next post. When you are ready, leave yours here in the comments on this post or the final post coming soon!

Some encouragement: the good you do today has the potential to change generations. You never know how long you have left here on this earth to love others and change them for the better in that love. That’s why setting good goals and having a clear focus is so important. Life is to short and too meaningful to coast through. Take your time writing down your goals. Pray on them and talk them out with people you trust. I cannot wait to hear yours and cheer you on! HOORAY!!!

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The prizes for this post are possibly the best I could ever give to you. Financial stress is one of the biggest factors I have felt myself in the past and one of the biggest things I’ve seen holding many people back. I want you to know that, no matter how deep your debt or mistakes you’ve made in the past with money, it’s possible to change things. It really is. These prizes below are tools that have brought Ari and me priceless peace. My prayer is that the winners are as changed as we have been by them. Without further ado, today’s prizes are:

1. A session with Will Ray, who has been a friend and mentor to me for several years. His financial coaching has helped us pay off more personal debt than we thought possible in a short time and Will has also changed the way I look at my business finances. I no longer feel overwhelmed by numbers. Wow, that is crazy to say! Will’s guidance equipped me to make smarter decisions.

2. A copy of Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover. If you’ve read my book, you know Dave’s classic book changed the game for us. A must-read.

3. A full nine-lesson Financial Peace University online course. I wish I could gift this to everyone I know!

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You can win multiple times throughout this post series and you can increase your chances of winning by:

– Commenting on this post to share your thoughts
— Pinning this post or any in the series
– Instagramming any graphic with a link back here to this post or future posts
– Sharing this series on Facebook or Twitter
– Blogging or in any way sharing this post/series
– For all entires, link back here to www.LaraCasey.com/blog and use the #2015GoalSetting 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 : )

P.S. I shared some thoughts here on needing a fresh start. Do you need a fresh start? Already feeling off-track this year? This is for you.

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P.P.S. We found out this week that we are having a boy : ) We are grateful and have begun to pray about names. I share this with such a different heart than I did with Grace, though. I know baby news isn’t the easiest for many and have felt that pain in my own small way. We know this child is His, not ours. May the sharing of this little life bring Him honor. I don’t know how exactly that will play out yet, but that is my prayer. I am tearing up typing this to you. I haven’t written to him before this very moment. Son, we love you. God loves you. May your life bring Him great joy.

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