In this new season, these 5 reminders are keeping me moving in the right direction. Maybe you need one of them—or all five today, too!
1. Peonies grow through the dirt, and so do we. If there’s something you’ve been wanting to do or start, but you haven’t made progress yet, consider this: are you afraid to get your hands dirty? If we can’t do something perfectly from the start, many times we don’t even give it a try, am I right? Here’s the truth: to grow flowers, you have to get your hands dirty. Making a mess doesn’t mean you become one. Read more in these free downloadable chapters from my latest book, Cultivate.
2. Little steps add up. They really do. I haven’t made perfect progress on my number one goal this year, but I have made little by little progress. I am on track to finish my goal by the end of this year! Embracing imperfect progress helps us not completely give up when things don’t go as planned. My little-by-little steps forward (even with a few steps back) are adding up.
3. It’s okay to grow slow.In fact, it’s good to grow slow. Think about it: do you plant a seed and expect to get a full-grown tree the next morning? We do that, don’t we? 🙂 We want overnight results but that often leaves us with shallow–or non-existent–roots. Good things grow slow: babies, trees, meaningful relationships, and big dreams.
Six years ago, feeling totally overwhelmed by the large list of things I wasn’t taking good care of (but really wanted to!), I decided to do something different. I was tired of living in regret: forgetting my priorities, neglecting things and people that needed nurturing, and feeling like my time was totally out of my control.
So, I made a list.
I wrote out all the areas of my life, projects, and people that needed my care. I wrote out the things I wanted to tend to. If I could just remember to care for them little by little over time, I believed that tending would add up. Much like when you tend to a plant, watering it over time, it grows and flourishes.
I called this list of priorities my “Tending List.”
Tending: – to give one’s attention to – to lead or be directed in a particular direction
Yes. I needed to do those things.
I was living by accident instead of on purpose. I wasn’t giving my attention to the things that mattered most to me, but rather just trying to keep up. Have you felt that before?
I took the principles and prompts from my goal-setting series and the Making Things Happen Conference, and turned them into interactive worksheets that included the Tending List. I created these powerful (as opposed to lacking purpose and energy–which is what I didn’t want to feel anymore) worksheets to help me and my team set meaningful goals.
I named them exactly what they were: PowerSheets.
And then I started thinking crazy thoughts: What if I shared these with other people? Would they like them? Would this process work for them? And how in the world do I make my own product?? (Zero people were doing this at the time except for larger companies and retailers and my friend Emily, who was a huge help to us as we got started).
We found a local printer, printed the first sets of PowerSheets that we hand-collated ourselves, and started the Lara Casey Shop in 2013. I was so nervous! I wrote a hand-written note to our first customer, telling her how grateful I was and hoping she loved everything.
And you guys.
The stuff we experienced as we tried to figure out how to run an online shop back then (things are so much more turn-key for new shop owners now!):
Days of our lives (literally) spent trying to figure out the Dymo printer to make shipping labels.
Countless phone calls with USPS to figure out box sizes and shipping rates and weights.
Lots of trial and error (a lot of error) learning how to do customer service (which we now call customer delight!).
Lots of laughs as Gracie stickered several dozen orders with farm animal stickers one year.
Many trips to the post office to hand-deliver orders.
The happiest day ever when we realized we could have USPS pick up boxes at my house!
And shipping orders from our little home office here in North Carolina. We were grateful!
The first PowerSheets above, and our first shop manager and dear friend, Emily.
People indeed loved the PowerSheets. Moms, business owners, students, women in corporate roles, teachers, and women in varied seasons of life loved them, and there was a unifying factor that holds true today: a desire to live intentionally. To not forget our priorities. To uncover good goals and do something about them.
That makes me especially grateful.
I have close friends at church who are several decades older than me who tell me about their PowerSheets journeys, as well as high school students that write me letters to tell me of their adventures too. I am grateful to walk this journey alongside so many different women in so many walks of life and seasons!
Our 2014 PowerSheets above with lots of vintage products above. I still have a “Let’s Do This” card on my desk.
The 2015 PowerSheets were changed dramatically in process and I released my first book that year.
And then I got a little messy with paint ; ) And we took a big leap of faith and made a spiral-bound one-year workbook in 2016.
We did all the shipping ourselves. Are you ready for these next photos??
Here’s how it went: a semi would pull up into our quiet residential neighborhood. Nope, no one was moving in, friends. But, LOTS OF BOXES were!
Most businesses have loading docks with several trained loading/unloading professionals (who have forklifts!); we had strength and determination!
We pushed several tons of product into my garage and hoped the neighbors didn’t think we were nuts.
Move over, Charlie’s Angels — meet the Pallet Posse! Ha!
And then, the shipping parties began and we called all of our friends to help (we love you so much, friends!).
One of those friends on the far left below had no idea she would one day work for us. We love you, Jess!
It has been an unexpected and wonderful journey of change:
We did this shipping-out-of-my-house madness until one Thanksgiving when my family sat on shipping boxes for dinner because our dining room was full of PowerSheets orders. That was it.
We moved all the boxes out of my house and garage (we can park a car in there now which is rather miraculous!) and we found a local fulfillment warehouse close to us here in Chapel Hill.
Gracie helping to load our sweet mail carrier, Walter’s, truck.
But what has changed the most over the years is the PowerSheets process. The PowerSheets have changed and grown aesthetically (from loose binder sheets to bound workbooks, the addition of stickers and color, new features, etc.)…
… but most of all the process has been deeply refined every time we release a new edition.
I hope you enjoyed this look back at how PowerSheets and our shop have changed over the years. THANK YOU SO MUCH to so many who have supported us and cheered us on over the years. I’d love to know: when did you first begin using PowerSheets for your goals? We are so thankful for our long-time family and new friends too!
A new season begins for us next Tuesday! I’m starting homeschool with Grace and I am so excited and grateful. This is a whole new adventure for us that we have prayed over and researched and readied ourselves for at length. But the fun and freeing part is going into this new season — which could be more of a lifetime than a season — with readied hearts and open hands. As much as we prepare well for things, all of life is in His hands. I’m excited to see what He has in store for us! More on this next week when we begin.
and new faith as we rely on His leading and step into all of this… new!
Here is a recap of August and the little-by-little progress I made on PowerSheets goals.
My August Goals Progress:
– Set homeschool in motion. – Yes! We had a great getting our feet wet day, and it was so fun and gratifying. – Make Ebenezer’s with the Lord. This goal was inspired by 1st Samuel and a message at church about making memories with the Lord. When we make memories with friends, it bonds us closer together. We end up telling “remember when” stories, and we feel connected. I wrote about intentionally remembering all the Lord has done in our lives in Cultivate, and I am excited to do more of this in August. – Yes, this happened but it was not by our doing and not how I expected it would happen. We had a really hard staycation week and it ended up being a time of needed refinement… and therefore deeper refreshment than any vacation could have given us. Letting go of control is real rest. – Refresh our family goals with the Parent’s Goal Guide . – YES! I am so grateful for the progress we made here and for my chat with Korie Robertson about setting goals as a parent. Ari and I set a few practical goals for our family in the coming months:
Goals for the Isaacsons and Daughters 🙂
1. Help Grace use the potty at night. Yes, she’s almost 6, but we haven’t pushed this till she was ready. She’s gone two nights in a row of getting up to use the potty and she’s so proud of herself. We are too! 2. Potty train Joshua (he’s already rocking this!) 3. Pray for Sarah more, and with the other kids present too so they learn how to pray for her. I have not mentioned this on the blog till now for many reasons, but I believe it’s okay to share a little of where we are now. Sarah has emotional and sensory challenges that have been challenging since the day she was born. The weight of what I’m typing here feels like it needs a blog post by itself, but I don’t have more to share than this: the Lord placed her in our love and care for so many reasons and we are grateful for all the challenges. They are opportunities to love her more, show Grace and Josh a deeper love, and connect deeply with the Lord as we love her as we have been loved! 4. Use Josh and Sarah’s nap time after church as a “daddy daughter date” time to grow Grace and Ari’s closeness 5. Get away. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but we saw during our recent “staycation” the need to be refreshed by stepping out of our environment to get new perspective. 6. Grow deeper roots with our church family group. We are getting together on Saturday morning for Bible study, and on Monday for a BBQ!
Back to my goal progress from August: – Read + DO What’s Best Next. – I didn’t make as much progress in reading this as I had hoped, but progress matters, not perfection. I did practice what I learned so far and LOVE this book. – Lead our Fall Team Summit with joy. Each quarter, our team has a summit to learn together and prepare well for the season ahead. – YES! This time was needed and all praise to Him for how well it went, what we learned, and what’s ahead.
Having KPI (Key Performance Indicator) story time. Ha!
– Give a transparent and light-filled Core Business Presentation. I’m in a small group of Christian business CEO’s and it’s my turn this month to share everything about our business to get their guidance and feedback. I’m excited! – YES!!! This was one of the highlights of my year. I got surprising and God-led feedback from the group. From that meeting, I have made some larger business decisions that I would never have considered before. – Pray over + through the 2018 PowerSheets shoot. – YES! The shoot was awesome!!! I can’t wait to share it with you.
SO grateful for the 2018 PowerSheets shoot with these ladies.
– Joyfully re-release Write the Word – YES! Again, all praise to Him! – Suprise —- [I can’t tell you yet!:)] – Yes! I surprise spoke at a conference and it was so fun!
With Kristin, Kat, and Kaylee at the Creative at Heart Conference.
August weekly goals: – $100/week on groceries. Let me preface this by saying that the Isaacson’s eat a lot. We go through two dozen bananas and 2-3 dozen eggs a week. Josh is also allergic to dairy and soy, so we are limited with some choices. All this to say, groceries is one of the largest categories in our budget. I read an article recently about a family of five that spends $100 on food per week and it inspired me. It feels doable with some creativity and determination. We are giving this a try and have already made progress. I’m excited to teach Grace through this and get creative. – We made great progress here! We stayed at $100/week for two weeks and purposely relaxed a bit when my parents and Ari’s mom came to visit. The last couple weeks of this month we stayed at about $150 – 200/week. This was HUGE for us! Most of all, we have learned to be more resourceful, better about making food from the pantry instead of always eating fresh, and to save every tiny bit of food (if you have little kids you probably know what I’m talking about – the little food scraps add up!).
Sarah was not into Aldi, but we liked the prices! 😉
– WORK IT. I want to have more fun working out this month. – I am super grateful for a shift that happened here. I simply turned up the praise music and danced in the kitchen which made it so much more fun and satisfying to move my body. – Love Sarah + Mackenzie with prayer. Mackenzie is our new caregiver (Sarah is having a baby this fall!). My goal is to love them both through lots of love and prayer in this transition. – Yes! We are so grateful for Sarah, and Mackenzie has already blessed our family so much! – Encourage and pray for my buddy, Amber. In our office, we have a new buddy each month to encourage, and I’m so glad mine is Amber for August! – Yes, we had some great buddy chats, got to see each other in person for the 2018 PowerSheets shoot (she works from Nashville) and I am just super grateful for her. – Grow our faith in our date nights. – Yes. We missed a couple date nights with my parents in town and our team dinner, but it made our date night this week extra special. – Enjoy the garden. – Yes! I used lots of flowers from the garden for shoots, picked lots of flowers for the house and our office, and Grace and I planted a few mums for fall!
Each quarter, the PowerSheets give you a Goal Refresh section, which is so helpful. As we grow and change, our goals often do too! Here are my refreshed goals.
The color bars are me testing a color coding system: giving each big picture goal a color and then labeling my monthly, daily, and weekly goals to match those big picture goals. This helps me instantly remember the big picture and WHY I’m doing these things.
My September PowerSheets goals!
– Start homeschool with JOY! Here we go! – Give and teach the Cultivate book. I am grateful for the last few months in listening to the Lord’s leading on this one. Right after the book launched, I clearly felt Him telling me to be quiet. So, I did. And now I feel Him urging me to open the book and teach and give it all away! I am grateful for the last couple months of rest from books after five years of writing and rewriting and launching them. I’m grateful for this space and time to step away — a time most people would be promoting a new book — and listen in a new way instead of teaching. – Read + DO What’s Best Next – Love on Josh in his preschool transition. He’s so excited for school! – Wisely and diligently prepare for our 2018 PowerSheets launch. So much goodness in store! – Model our new Incentive-Based Bonus System. This is an internal program for our company and a bit of a beast. We have a traditional end-of-the-year bonus system currently, but this new program is a lot more fun and has great potential to grow our culture in new ways. I’m excited to love on my team and implement this, Lord willing, in October.
At our Cultivate Team Summit this week at Fearrington Village.
– Decide on and plan Ari’s 40th birthday celebration for December. I have no idea what to do! Any ideas that fit with my life parameters (i.e. three kiddos to take care of so flying off to an island isn’t in the cards unless y’all want to come babysit for a weekend 😉 )? I really want to make him feel special and remind him of the gifts and talents the Lord has given him. – Write and prep the “Cultivated Calendar” webinar with Emily Ley. Emily and I have been friends for over a decade now, once owned a business together, and are from the same small town (Pensacola, FL). We also have a passion for what matters and making those things happen. Save the date for September 28th at 3pm for a live webinar about preparing well, time management, and organization. – Pray for and determine our 2018 vision plan. We have some opportunities for change in 2018 as a company, and we are actively working to uncover good goals and a clear vision. – Write the Gracie’s Garden book! If this happens, I will be so grateful. Little by little, I hope to make progress here this month.
– Continue to practice leaning out our grocery budget – Love on my buddy for the month, Nicole! – Laugh and pray in our date nights
We loved having my best friend Gina here to shoot our 2018 PowerSheets. Gracie loves Aunt G!!!
– Continue reading my chronological Bible reading plan for my Number 1 goal! – #RunLiftPraise – Delight our children – Eat more green – SLEEP + REST (i.e. Read a good book before bed instead of looking at my phone which keeps me from falling asleep well) – My words for the quarter and for the month: Rely (on God, not myself) + Cultivate (do what He says — dig in, little by little!)
Your turn!I’d love to hear: Do you have goals for September? I’ll pick one of you to send a special surprise box of goodies to from the Cultivate What Matters shop. I love sending real mail, and I love hearing your thoughts! Congrats to August’s winner, Alaina Monts!
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