Author: Lara

You’re not sure what to focus on right now with all that’s going on—you feel stuck, unsure of your next move. Life as you knew it has suddenly changed, and your goals need some major changing, too. You’re worried about the future—and in some ways about how you will survive this. Long-term planning feels impossible right now, so how do you move forward? How do you thrive in the midst of all of this uncertainty?

Let’s talk. LISTEN NOW!

In this episode:
— I guide you through three steps to thrive in the midst of uncertainty, and then how to pass that gift on to others!
— We talk about what it means to take the long view, to stay focused on the big picture. This season won’t last forever, but it will have a lasting impact on our world. (I tell you about Grandma Bunny’s experience with the Spanish flu, too, and how every challenge in our lives will change us—and that’s a good thing!)
— We consider what it might look like for this time to actually grow us for the better. Ugh, we kind of don’t want to go there at first, do we? The gifts we’re left with from this season will most likely be ones of perspective.
— We talk about, in the words of my friend and MTH speaker Hannah Brencher, do in the dark what you know how to do in the light. Sometimes we just want to sit in the muck, yes? But this is encouragement to care for ourselves in the way we know to do when things are going well – right now, right where we are.
— I take you out the garden and we talk about planting seeds (of course!). Think for a moment about what you’ll be so grateful a year from now to remember about this time. I tell you about some of the very specific things I’m doing in this season to cultivate a good, joyful, intentional life RIGHT NOW.
— I share a little encouragement for my new homeschool mama friends that was shared with me three years ago.
— We finish by talking about the third step to thrive in this season: helping others thrive, too. My biggest motivation for being the best I can be right now is to help the people around me—Ari, my kids, my team—live with joy and without fear even in the midst of uncertainty. I share some really simple and practical ways to do this that you can try today!

Interested in some of the things I mentioned throughout this episode? Here you go!
— My PowerSheets are my home base and number one recommendation for this season – not an ad, but they are truly how I’m cultivating an intentional life amidst all the turmoil! I’m so grateful I have these and so many of you do, too! Don’t be afraid to scratch things out and get messy (and check out these great blog posts you’ve all been loving about using your goal planner right now).
— I just finished the Write the Word Worship Journal and am a few days into the Write the Word Hope Journal. Both are SO good for this time!
— Who would have known our Hope Journal would be so needed right now?? Truly for such a time as this. I talk a little bit about creating this journal, and if you’re curious, there’s much more here.
— The Legacy Journal is what I’m using to record for our children the good and the hard in this time.
— Two things we’ve enjoyed as a family recently: Heidi (the end is so beautiful!) and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, the Mr. Roger’s movie.
— Found yourself suddenly homeschooling your kiddos? Here’s a joyful, simple resource that might help: our free homeschool planner download.
— Listen to the April PowerSheets PrepCast!
— If Team Cultivate can pray for you, we’d be honored to do that! Just fill out this form.

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I’m about to hop on a plane with Grace and my mom for a very special adventure – The Philadelphia Flower Show! – so I’ll keep this brief! I hope your March has started well. I’m excited for this new month!

The daffodils have welcomed us into this new month, bringing the hope of spring and new growth ahead. I love them so much!

Between getting a book off to print (coming this summer!), writing the 2021 PowerSheets, and getting our new office ready for move-in, it has been a full and wonderful month! Here are my February PowerSheets goals and what I learned. I can’t wait to hear about your progress, too!

February Monthly Goals:
Live into this change | I feel like I should have a more substantial update for you, but I have yet to form my thoughts. I have continued to love this new rhythm of life and will share more when the words come! 🙂
— Plan our summer hiking adventures | Moving this to March!
— Make our summer homeschool plan | Moving this to March!
Get ready for the Flower Show with Grace and my mom (!) | Leaving for the airport in 10 minutes! YIPPEE!!
Pray-pare to move into our new office | WE MOVED IN!!! Ahhh!!! I am so grateful!
Get outside!
Celebrate God’s love for us

February Weekly Goals:
Do strength training for runners | I did this twice—counting this as progress!
Enjoy reading (books listed here) | YES! When you let go of social media, you get a lot of time back for great literature! February’s reads: I couldn’t get enough of The Call of the Wild and Free. This was a beautifully written and practical book. I highlighted this book more than any other! I felt like this book was made for me right now. Highly recommend. I also loved The Montessori Toddler and implemented some Montesorri elements in our home with great success (toy rotation, putting things on low shelves, self-directed play, etc.). I’m still continuing to mosey through The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry and Heidi (LOVE LOVE LOVE) with the kids. And I’ve saved a favorite read for last! We finished reading Understood Betsy and I could read it over and over. It was a beautiful story and made us laugh and cry – the perfect family read-aloud. We couldn’t wait to read the next chapter each night. One of my favorite books of all time! (If you read it, be sure to get the abridged version – the language has been updated a bit and it’s delightful!)
Listen to the Bema Podcast and the Bible Project Podcast (the Sabbath series is so good!)
Make music in our home | February’s favorites included listening to a lot of Bach, playing on the piano, and singing Lauren Daigle (who we saw in concert at the end of February – what a voice!).

February Daily Goals:
Bible reading. I’m going through this plan with friends each morning.
Run with Him using the Peloton app and my old Craigslist elliptical. | Well, my old elliptical decided to die on me, so I’m waiting on parts to be ordered! Till then, I’m quite literally running around my house 🙂
Write the Word each day | Still LOVING this and I’m about to finish the Worship journal!
Interact with my physical Bible

We took a trip to the mountains with friends in February – so many kiddos and so much fun! 🙂

Don’t miss these from February:
Check out the NEW Cultivate apparel in the shop
Get tips for what to do when you’re unmotivated
Hear all about Team Cultivate’s goal progress since January
Listen in to the March PowerSheets PrepCast
Sign up to learn about the NEW Girls Goal Planner coming this Spring
Enjoy my chat with Denise and Cultivate’s newest feature in Verily

Onto March! I have 2 goals for 2020 (each with 4 mini goals under them) that are focused on growing something that matters to me in the big picture. Each month, I’m breaking my yearly goals down using my PowerSheets®. Here’s what’s on my Tending List for the month ahead!

March Monthly Goals:
— Rest
— Plan our summer hiking adventures
— Make our summer homeschool plan
— Prepare the garden
— Foster curiosity in our kiddos

March Weekly Goals:
— Sabbath
— Enjoy reading
— Music in our hearts and home

March Daily Goals:
— Bible reading
— Run with Him
— Write the Word
— Physical Bible time

Want to do your March pages with me guiding you? Grab your PowerSheets and press play on the PowerSheets PrepCast! Enjoy!

Your turn! Do you have goals for March? Did you make progress on something from February? I’d love to celebrate with you! (Even the tiniest steps forward are worth celebrating!)

P.S. Just getting started on your PowerSheets and want me to coach you through how to get started? You got it! WATCH HERE!

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To summarize January 2020 is like us looking at a masterful painting together and just talking about the frame.

I have my eye on this beautiful piece, titled “Cleft for Me,” from Jess Franks for our new office!

To summarize is to leave out the beautiful, complex, and simple details the Lord wove together over these 31 days. (31 days that have added up to a pivotal (and by that I mean “of crucial and central importance, at a place of pivot or turn”) month for me.)

Summarizing this month means skipping over the forty years leading up to this point. Summarizing means breezing over the pieces of His Word that broke through my soul in these 31 days—and in the whole of my life.

Sometimes the things God does are unexplainable in human terms and yet so vivid in the spiritual. And many times there are stories and relationships and moments (so many of them!) best left in the sacred memory banks of the soul.

Still, I will attempt to summarize. Even a glimpse into this may help you see your own pivot point opportunity, too. In one sentence: it started in the Word.

Each night in January, I’ve put my hands on my physical Bible, writing verses about worship. And each night, I have worshiped. In the hard times, in the gifts, and in the MANY times I felt outside my comfort zone.

When you turn down the volume of the world (what everyone else is doing, what the world expects of you, even good things and worthy pursuits) and slow down enough to let God get a word in, you come to the pivotal fork in the road: stay here or go with Him.

It’s not always an easy choice. It can be humbling and faith-stretching. Sometimes we feel like we just don’t have the energy or emotional reserves for change, right? Going with God doesn’t mean it will be easy, or that the path ahead will be clear. But, you can trust a very known God to be there as you step into the unknown.

Cultivate Your Year LIVE (a day spent with 200+ women doing our PowerSheets together) was a day that inched me closer to this pivot point. As I spent that day teaching and leading, I was also being led. Because, when you spend even a single hour away from the world, focusing on what matters in the big picture of your life—you begin to see a contrast. You see new possibilities for your life and you want to LIVE THEM.

No more doing things the same way you’ve always done them—maybe there are different and better ways forward.
No wasted hours lost in distractions or worry or comparison.
No crowded schedules and moving too fast.

You long for the wonder of the old days, under the stars, singing with your little brother and Grampa Cecil. The days when you would listen to Handel’s Messiah on your dad’s records and you’d make phone calls on a rotary phone that you thought was just the neatest thing.

You want to make some new choices. Those choices will make your life look a little different than other people’s.

You want to delight in Him—and to help everyone around you do the same.

And it’s in these times of stepping away from the world—these pauses on the rush of the status quo—that you can look out and see clearly. You begin to see these changes are more than possible.

After CYYL, I started doing—and thinking about—life differently. Despite my conviction to change, it wasn’t easy! I like comfort. I like routine. I like assurance. I do not like the unknown. I do not like to take risks when I can’t guarantee the outcome.

But! Numbering my days tossed me right out of that comfort zone. Allowing myself to be more still than was comfortable, phone out of sight, fingers searching my Bible, He gave me insight into verses I’ve read a hundred times. (Sometimes I’d say out loud, “Ahh!! I see it!”) If you let the Word of God into your life and open yourself to change, God will change you. 

As you and I spent last year exploring, our brains seek out patterns and habits. Our brains want to conserve calories, so they seek the path of least resistance. To shake them out of that, we have to intentionally choose change by spending our energy in new ways. And it will feel uncomfortable, at first, as we interrupt our brains’ patterns and allow them to be reconfigured. Knowing this from our conversations helped me push through and get to the other side—and God’s not near done with me yet! Change takes change… until it doesn’t. Now? It feels like I tasted freedom.

January 2020 has felt like a lifetime.

Our team was delighted last year when we realized the obvious pun opportunity for 2020: the year of clear vision! But, what’s more delightful is that it happened. In the process of doing my PowerSheets and starting to live out my goals in January, where I want to spend my time has, indeed, become clearer.

I did some simple math. I started this year knowing I wanted to spend more time with Him than the world. (And not just time with Him, but rich time. Like the difference between having a casual conversation about the weather plus a few meaningful moments sprinkled in vs. growing in depth and closeness with each interaction—and growing to crave that time, undistracted by anything else.) I added up how much time I was spending with the world (not thinking about Him or asking for His thoughts, distracted, worried, doing my own thing) and how much I was spending with Him (talking with Him, serving Him as I went in work and mothering and everything in between, listening to Him) —and I asked God for change. 

I asked Him to help me live numbered days.

We’ve been thinking a lot about living numbered days together, haven’t we? In my life, our conversations have been fruitful. Turning 40 as 2019 came to a close ushered in a month of reminders that I am not in charge of my time. A family member awaiting medical tests. A young woman in our church leaving this earth too soon. Our neighbor across the street passing away at home. I held his wife as she sobbed on my shoulder.

Ari and I found ourselves praying each night for friends with greater hope—because, in hard things, we know the end of this story, and it’s good! We prayed with increased gratitude for the life we’ve been given, our children, our work, and our marriage. And again, here I am trying to summarize 31 days that felt like 31 years – and were filled with so much more than I can explain in a few paragraphs! 

I don’t know how many days I will get in this life. That fact doesn’t deflate me, though; it energizes me! I want to use my days well, and I think you do, too. But maybe, like I felt at times, you wonder how. When will life slow down enough to give you time to live it? When will you have the motivation to make the changes you want to make? When will that all happen?

Here’s what I kept hearing in my soul as I experienced this pivot-forming month: If not now, when?

Sometimes the answer is to wait.
Sometimes the answer is to listen.
I’ve experienced those things this month, too.
But, in His timing, sometimes the answer is now.

With each verse I’ve written, each “I see it!” experience, and each day I spend letting my brain unravel from the same way it has always operated, I am compelled more and more to say yes to living numbered days now. And the beautiful thing? The freeing thing? It’s happening little by little—the small daily decisions are adding up. All of this change I’ve experienced has happened right in the middle of my work and mothering and cleaning the house and solving problems and doing taxes. My circumstances haven’t changed; the way I see them has.

Here’s what numbering your days does. The following are not things I decided to do in order to change. They were not the impetus for change, but the result of it. These are things I couldn’t help but do because He changed my thoughts.

Camelias showing off in our unseasonably warm January.

I stepped away from social media this month. I wanted a life reset with the internet (not a temporary break, but a totally new way of using it). I wanted to hear from Him and I did. I did the math here, too: 10 minutes a day on weekdays adds up to 65 hours a year. (It’s usually far more than that in our busier months at work—and most weeks with answering direct messages.) With answering questions and messages and comments I can easily reach 200 hours a year!

Is it time wasted? No. Each message and interaction, to me, is a connection with another heart. We’re not just pixels on screens; we’re people. But, I often think of having all those people in my living room. What would it feel like to take an hour a day and have 100 people pour through my home asking questions? (Many times, deep life questions that I’m not the best person to answer?) It would feel like a lot. I can’t do it all and do it well, but I can choose to cultivate my time for Him. And, even though I don’t like saying “no” to people by not answering all of my messages, I need to use that time differently. I need to say yes to living numbered days. And hopefully, help you do the same. You’ll see me less on social media, but, Lord willing, with more intention when I am there.

We dug deep into Shabbat. We spent a lot of time outside in the sun with the kids. I lost track of my phone. Even as unexpected challenges and meals to make and sibling squabbles continued, we found rest. We had the beautiful realization that, as we are experiencing the Sabbath, thousands of others across the world are doing the same. Something about the sharing of that gives me great joy—we are a part of something much bigger than us.

I started reading books in the fringe hours out of curiosity and to use my brain in new ways. So many books I am loving right now: The Call of the Wild and Free, The Montessori Toddler, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry (on Audible because the author is reading it – love when authors do this), Digital Minimalism, Get Out of Your Head (Jennie’s new book!), and Heidi with the kids.

I read the Bible slowly. Sometimes I’d read the days’ reading twice (or more) to let it sink in. 
I did the Fresh Faith Challenge.
I began listening to this with Ari and this on my own.
I saw friends. 
We got outside. I didn’t read this book, but just the title changed my perspective and, as a result, I got the kids raincoats
I ran over 50 miles this month (thank you, Peloton app and Matt Wilpers)! It’s amazing how the body can adapt if you give it time. My emotional health starts with my thoughts and my thoughts are clearer when I take care of my body and mind!
I let go of a lot of leadership at work. This has been a year+ long effort with so much fruit in January 2020.
I let go of half of my closet.
Ari had three weeks of back-to-back work travel in which we had long phone conversations about life. Some of the best conversations we’ve ever had. 
I said no to many things because they take time—time I want to use differently now.
I said yes to a bucket list trip with my mom and Grace to the Philadelphia Flower Show (!).
I sang hymns at the piano with the kids. If you make music, they will come! I decided to worship the Lord by myself at the piano one Saturday afternoon and I felt little bodies near me a few notes in.
I did some cross-stitching that I’ve had forever (purchased from this lovely shop!). Just a few stitches felt so good.
I chose seeds for our garden.

In all of it, God planted seeds in our souls. I could double the sentences above telling you about the challenges and unexpected events, the unexpected and unmerited grace in it all. There were sleepless nights and tears and crying out to the Lord. But, He always answered. And each time, the pruning and testing of our faith was for our good.

Ari and I grew closer. 
Our kids grew funnier.
I had meaningful conversations at work. 
I prayed.
I listened.
I worshipped. 
I lived. 

And this isn’t the half of it. To summarize this month is to leave out the kisses and the sweet words with my kids and the heartaches and the times God whispered to me through wildflowers or songbirds or that time I stood in the park and looked around at the bare trees and realized—they all look bare, but they are FULLY ALIVE. Soaking up nutrients, waiting for the turn of spring to burst forth in green buds and unfurling new leaves. Life—full, rich life—is happening under the surface. I feel like those trees! 

January 2020 is one for the books for me. Thank you for reading and indulging me in so many words shared. I’m grateful you’re here, for the gift of words, and for all the intricacies that can’t be captured by them!

We will never regret choosing to cultivate what matters in each season of our lives—even when it means disappointing others or not being able to do it all. I’m cheering you on as you do the same!

Now that you’ve had a peek into January, my February goals will come to life in new ways. Read them here.

Affiliate links are used in this post.

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So… it’s the first part of January! Which one of the following best describes you:

—I haven’t set goals yet and I feel behind!
—I want to make my goals happen now. I’m anxious for life to change.
—I have goals, I just don’t know how to accomplish them.
—There are so many goals I want to complete this year—I’m overwhelmed!
—My goals feel the same as last year—am I doing something wrong?
—I haven’t made perfect progress—I already feel like a failure.
—Doing new things feels hard. Is it supposed to be hard?
—I’m afraid to commit to goals. What if they’re the wrong ones or what if I don’t follow through on them?
—I’m feeling great! Clear. Ready. Let’s do this. 🎉

Which one (or ones!) are you feeling? Name it and then…

Let’s take all that pressure off to start the year, shall we? Great!

There’s nothing magical about January 1.

February 1 can be your January 1, if you want!

To learn out how to break free from all of those New Year’s feelings, listen to this podcast episode (one of your favorites!).

How do you get started on your goals—or begin uncovering them?
Small intentional steps.

How do you make a goal happen?
Small steps taken over time.

How do you avoid overwhelm?
You guessed it. Break your goals down into small steps! 🙂 (Much more to come this month on the Cultivate What Matters blog to help you with this!)

Let’s take a quick look back at our small steps from December and then we’ll jump to January. Sound good? Wonderful!

Here are my December PowerSheets goals and what I learned. I can’t wait to hear about your progress, too!

We celebrated this guy’s birthday in December. I LOVE this pic from Gina of the two little ones trying to tickle him!

December Monthly Goals:
—Finish the Old Testament. I am so excited to finish this goal! Going through this slowly this year with friends has been wonderful. Here’s the reading plan we have been going through together each morning. / Yes! On to the New!
—Prayerfully lead Cultivate Your Year Live. I’ve done the Making Things Happen Conference 50+ times over 10 years, and this will be a first for me! I’m nervous and excited. / All my nerves melted as I walked into that room of 200+ women! What a JOY that day was! It was a powerful experience and so fun to spend it with so many women I love.
—Finish and release the 2020 Goal Setting Series. / Hooray! I have LOVED this year with you and recorded podcast episodes to go along with each part of the series! Get started here.
—Pray for all of you as you set your goals! 🙂 / Yes, I’ve been praying for you almost daily!
—Turn 40 ☺️ / Ummmmm yes! My husband (with the help of my team, friends, and family) gave me the biggest surprise of my life with a surprise celebration. I am still in shock—and so grateful for these people who have supported and shaped me over the years!

—Prepare for a new year with joy! / Yes! I am so grateful for the last two weeks of time with family and slowly setting us all up for a great year. I cleaned the house, spent lots of time outside with the kids in the sunshine, and generally enjoyed life. I finished my PowerSheets action plan pages and am so excited about what’s ahead. I’m starting a new year refreshed and ready!
—Get ready for the 2020 Fresh Faith Challenge. I can’t wait to do this again! This year’s January challenge was faith-changing for me—and so many of you! Sign up here for 30 days of Writing the Word. (I’ll be using this journal if you want to join me!) / Yes, loving this and it’s not too late to join!

I made progress on all of the weekly and daily goals below…

December Weekly Goals:
—Read great words and stories to the kids.

December Daily Goals:
—Bible reading
—Run! / I ran TWO MILES without stopping, guys. This was such a milestone for me! 3 weeks of stepping up my fitness and I felt the little by little progress add up. I could have done more!

Don’t miss these from December:
2020 Goal Setting Part 1: Let’s Get Started!
2020 Goal Setting Part 2: How to Choose a Word of the Year
2020 Goal Setting Part 3: The Intentional Goal-Setting Checklist
2020 Goal Setting Part 4: How to Make It Happen
The first monthly PowerSheets PrepCast!
Your 2020 pep talk
My chat with Jennie Allen
My chat with Jordan Lee Dooley

Okay, January! Here we go!

Each month, I give you an update on my goals progress from the previous month – what went well and what I learned – and share my goals for the month ahead. I love writing these posts for accountability, but mostly, I love hearing your goals!

I have 2 goals for 2020 (each with 4 mini goals under them) that are focused on growing something that matters to me in the big picture. Each month, I’m breaking my yearly goals down using my PowerSheets®. I love the new features in the monthly pages that ask you to look at your yearly goals and break them down with smaller action ideas!

I filled out my January Tending list today, and it was right on time. There’s no rule that says you have to start exactly on the 1st of each month! You aren’t one bit behind if you have yet to make your January Tending List. Want to do your January pages with me guiding you? Introducing the PowerSheets PrepCast!

Fun, right? A new episode will release at the end of each month to help you prepare for a great month ahead!

And now… my January goals!

January Monthly Goals:
— Cultivate our calendar for 2020—looking ahead at the whole year to plan what matters!
— Break my goals down using the action plan pages and yearly overview in my PowerSheets (I will report back on how I did it—spoiler alert, it involves sticky notes!)
— Decide on new digital boundaries to try. I want to be away from the internet more—even for good things. There are so many things I want to grow and do in 2020, and I want all the time I can get to do them! I’m not sure what my new boundaries will be, so the goal is to decide on a new rhythm of when to use my phone and other digital items—and for what good purpose.

January Weekly Goals:
—Play more music in our home to fill our souls with music – a starting step here is to organize our music library on Spotify and make new playlists
—Write in my commonplace book

January Daily Goals:
—Bible reading. I’m going through this plan with friends each morning!
—Run with Him using the Peloton app and my old Craigslist elliptical now in the colder months. The kids play Legos while I “run!” Tip: I listen to my own music and watch their feet in the Tread classes pacing. Also, and very important, I do NOT love all of the classes or instruction. Some of the teachers can be a little too self-helpy for me. I do, however, love taking Matt Wilpers’ classes. He is an excellent technical trainer—takes me back to my personal training days. My form and focus are improving with his coaching.
—Write the Word each day in the 2020 Fresh Faith Challenge
—Interact with my physical Bible. I’ll be trying new things in January to see what helps me delight in Him.

Your turn! What are your goals for January? Comment below and I’ll pick one of you to send a special surprise box of goodies from the Cultivate What Matters Shop!

Don’t have your 2020 PowerSheets yet? We just SOLD OUT of Confetti covers and have only 1 cover choice left—Blooms (the one I’m using!). Order NOW before we are sold out for the year!

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Hi, friend! I’m so glad you’ve landed here at the 9th annual Goal Setting Series! Here is Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 to get you started.

Have you heard the news?! The 2020 One-Year PowerSheets are SOLD OUT for the year! The good news? You can still get the 2020 Six-Month Undated PowerSheets Intentional Goal Planner and get started at any time of the year!

Want to listen to this post instead of reading it? Listen to today’s brand new episode of the Cultivate Your Life podcast and subscribe on iTunes!

Welcome to the final post in the ninth-annual Intentional Goal Setting Series! Each year, I am left in awe of the leaps of faith you take as we go through this goal-uncovering process together, and this year tops them all.

I’m especially grateful today to be spending my 40th birthday here with you, uncovering what matters together—there’s no better way to spend a birthday than with friends! AND… today is the 1-year birthday of the PODCAST! 🎉 It has been so fun to see which episodes you loved most this year! Listen in to today’s episode for the official countdown by a very special guest.

8 | How to Let Go of a Dream
7 | When Your Plans Don’t Go As Planned
6 | Why I Stopped Straightening My Hair
5 | Is It Okay to Set Goals as a Christian?
4 | How to Plan Your Year
3 | There’s Nothing Magical About January 1
2 | How to Number Your Days
1 | She Believed She Couldn’t

My favorite episode? How to Number Your Days! What’s your favorite? I’d love to hear!

And now for some goal setting goodness! What a joy to do this work alongside you, friends. You are setting yourself up for your best year yet! If you are just joining, it’s not too late—you aren’t “behind” one bit. Now is the best time to get started:

Part 1: How to Get Started on Your BEST 2020 Goals
Part 2: How to Choose a Word of the Year
Part 3: The Intentional Goal Setting Checklist

This final post is the most impactful. Ready to dig in? Let’s do some dreaming together! 

Imagine the end of 2020. December 2020 rolls around, and you start reflecting on the year you just lived. What would it take for you to look back and know you cultivated what mattered? What will you wish you had started today

(Sometimes it helps to think about the opposite too—where do you NOT want to be at the end of 2020?)

Have some ideas? 

Knowing where you want to be or how you want to feel, do something about it today. Yes, today.

This is a success tip that might change everything for you as it has for me: when you have an idea of where you want to go, don’t waste time—take that first small step. No need to write it down or have a perfect plan, just get to it! (Really—get up from reading this right now and take whatever the next best step is to get you to where you want to be at the end of 2020! Just one tiny step. I’ll still be here when you get back. :))

Get the momentum going while it’s fresh on your mind and you’ll be more likely to take the next step, then the next, and the next… and before you know it, you’re there!

Every decision we make has an arrow attached to it, pointing us in one direction or another. However many hours or minutes are left in the day as you read this (even if you are reading this in bed), how can you shoot one of your decision arrows in the right direction?

I want my decision arrows aimed right at the target. That’s what being intentional is all about.

Need an idea for a starting step? Make your Best Year Declaration! This is a mad-lib style 2020 manifesto generator—fun, right? Just fill in your words, choose the color you want, and it makes a 2020 declaration for you to print or share. Mine is below, and you can make yours right here for free (share this with friends, too!). I can’t wait to see yours!

As I finished my 2020 PowerSheets® and this goal-uncovering process today, I made some decisions on where I’m going and where I’m not going—and it feels so good!

Now, it’s your turn to do the same.
Are you excited? I’m excited for you!

Let’s step forward into 2020 together ON PURPOSE.

Feeling a little fear about that? I feel it, too. What if our plans don’t go as planned? What if we don’t accomplish our goals? What if we fail?

Remember this: when what matters to you is clear, you can’t lose. It’s likely your life will change this year and things won’t always go as planned. But! Here’s what you have now that you may not have had before:

You know that goals won’t change your life.
Knowing what matters in 2020 will.
Goals are just how you get there.

It’s okay for your goals to change throughout the year—they often do!
You won’t make perfect progress—and you don’t need to!

See, I told you we’re doing this differently than the rest of the world.
YOU are on a whole new path, my friend.

Anytime you need a reminder that it’s okay to grow slow and that your small steps will add up this year, I’ll be here for you. I need those reminders, too. ☺️

Imagine the end of 2020 and you’ll know: what matters is always worth it. So, let’s believe in what we can’t yet see. Let’s take some steps forward and, little by little, the fear part will dry up. We’re not going to fertilize the fear this year, friends! Are you with me?

Let’s decide to take action on goals that cut through all the things to get to the things that matter.

Won’t that feel so good?!

One last reminder: we are always “in progress.” Your goals may be the same! As you go through different seasons, the way you take action on your goals may change. As you learn new lessons and take on new life responsibilities, your capacity to do different things may change, too. As you write out your goals, remember that you don’t have to set them for the calendar year. Set them for just this season ahead, and refresh your goals every few months. This is why we put a Goal Refresh in the PowerSheets for every season.

Don’t you feel so much freedom knowing your goals don’t have to be forever?

Ahhhh!!! I’m so ready!


Goal: Write your goal starting with a verb.
My why: Write out WHY this goal matters to you in the big picture. Remember, knowing what matters changes everything!
The positive effect taking action on this goal may have on my life and others: Think of the biggest possibilities here—the positive impact this goal could have. Even if your goal feels “small,” write out the big possibilities!
Break your goal down into mini-goals: Every big-picture goal is made up of mini-goals along the way. Over the course of the next year, what mini-goals would help you achieve or make progress on your bigger goal?
What could stand in the way of your progress? What distractions or challenges could you face? Write out how you’ll turn those challenges into opportunities or what you’ll do to get rid of the roadblocks to your goal.
What does it look like to win? What specifically does it look like to complete this goal or make progress? What would it look like to win this goal at the end of 2020?
 Starting steps + when you’ll do them: Sometimes the hardest part is getting started, right? Write out a few very small starting steps, steps that are so small you can’t help but do them. Also, add a date to each to keep you accountable. You’ll see my examples below!
 Encouraging words: Give yourself a strong pep talk for the days you know you’ll need it! Bonus tip: Consider including a Bible verse to go with each goal, if you like.

Okay, let’s write out some 2020 goals! Are you ready?

Here are my 2020 Goals for this year of DELIGHT (I can’t wait to hear yours, too!). 

Goal: Number my days.

Why: I only get this one life, and only the Lord knows how long I will get with our children and Ari.

The positive effect taking action on this goal may have on my life and others: I will ruthlessly cut out anything that hinders me from LIVING THIS LIFE! This will have a domino effect in my life, changing everyone around me as I live for Him!

Mini-goals (I’ll be using my PowerSheets to break these down even more!):
Cultivate our marriage as a reflection of His extravagant love and grace. Really excited about this goal and already started collecting words about marriage for my commonplace book. The second quote here from Lisa is a favorite.
Pray-pare to cultivate faith in our children, instead of winging it most days. A little intentional forethought will go a long way.
—Run with Him – push my limits to meet with Him in my workouts.
—Be with Him far more than the world—step away for perspective. Have intentional times away in my weeks, months, and in the rhythm of our year to gain Godly perspective.

What could stand in the way of your progress?
Not embracing new changes and different ways of doing things. Keeping my habits and patterns and nudges the same. 

What does it look like to win? This goal comes down to basic math: spend less time with the world, and more time with Him—and grow a love for Him in Ari and our children in the process. By the end of the year, I want to look back and say, “Wow, I spent so much time with God this year! And I didn’t miss the distractions ONE BIT.”

Starting steps: My starting step for my mini-goal of Running with Him already happened! We have an elliptical we got on Craigslist forever ago and I started taking Peloton running classes for accountability on their app this month. I. Love. It. I have never sweat so much in my life, and the kids can play Legos or read books in the same room! 

Encouraging words: Lara, you get this one life! You don’t know how long you will have here on this earth with these children and Ari and the people around you. It’s time to LIVE it! Bible verse: Psalm 90:12 – Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Goal 2: Delight in the Lord

Why: Because that is where real life is.

The positive effect taking action on this goal may have on my life and others: Everything in my life and the lives of everyone around me will be changed and affected by this! A domino-effect of faith fertilized.

—Experience solitude with God – interact with my physical Bible and go deeper in prayer. I’ll be reading the New Testament slowly with friends and doing the Fresh Faith Challenge in January to start the year!
—Orient our lives with Sabbath at the center. This podcast episode was really eye-openning for Ari and me on Sabbath at the center.
—Keep a commonplace book (of delight in Him!).
—Wonder in God’s creation and the miracles He places before us – this includes lots of time out in the garden, hiking (so pumped to hike this year), and running with the kiddos!

What could stand in the way of your progress? Similar to my first goal, not doing things differently. This goal takes a lot of intentional change in how I use my time and in breaking habits to make new ones! What stands in my way is embracing the hard period of new change to get to the point where Sabbath as the center of our lives and solitude are part of who we are!

What does it look like to win? At the end of 2020, winning means looking back and seeing that we changed! We learned how to worship the Lord more together as a family instead of rushing to the next thing. We did Sabbath in new ways—which means doing Saturday differently than most of the world. It means having noticed His goodness and slowed down to thank Him in my commonplace book—a book I hope to pass to our children. And it means interacting with my physical Bible, writing in the margins and touching my phone less!

Starting steps: I’m using the chambray Legacy Journal for my commonplace book. My starting step is to decide what categories I’ll keep in the book. Right now, I’m thinking a section for quotes and clippings that help me delight in Him and that help me focus on these goals, and a section for things we’re grateful for that He has done through the year—counting the fruit and naming His faithfulness for the times we’re sure to need a reminder. As we’ve talked about a lot together this year on the podcast, studies show we retain information better when we write something out in handwriting because we are engaging with it actively and using the information in a novel way. (See this article.) That’s what I want to do—meditate on what is good, pure, lovely and true! When I’ll do this: December 30th is my set-up day!

Encouraging words: Be like David, who delighted in the law of the Lord day and night! Bible verse: (Psalm 37:4) Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. 

There you have it! My 2020 goals! I LOVE them and I can’t wait to hear yours! 🎉

My 2020 vision board is above! I love it so much! 

Whether you came up with two goals or twenty, answering these simple prompts will help you bridge the gap between where you are now and where you want to be. 

Tell me: what are your 2020 goals? I can’t wait to hear! (And remember, there’s no rush, and there’s nothing magical about January 1! Take your time doing each step in this series. Your goals will come as you keep digging in.)

Dear All of Our 2020 Selves,

We’re comin’ for you!
We’re making intentional decisions for you now to set you up for success—success that lasts longer than you.
We’re thinking big picture to uncover some really good goals. Goals that make our hearts sing. Goals that are about growing what matters. They might be challenging and hard work at times, but they will be WORTH IT.
Little by little, we’re taking steps forward for you.

2020 selves, the year ahead may not be perfect, but it sure will be meaningful.

We’ve got you.
We love you.
We’re on it!

Our December 2019 Selves 😘

My Top 9 from Instagram this year. Every one of these posts was written as a reminder of His faithfulness in hard things. Apparently, these resonated with you, too. Especially important to note: that middle post where my husband went viral was your favorite!

You’re ready for an intentional 2020, my friend! Focus on progress—little by little progress—not perfection. Your small steps forward today will add up, and a year from now, you will be so grateful you started today! (If you need help along the way, just ask!)

⭐️ Want more? Team Cultivate and I will be here cheering you on with tips and encouragement, Lord willing, every day, week, and month of 2020! A few favorite resources to get you started on the right foot:

1. Read my books—both were written for this season of setting goals and starting fresh! My first book, Make it Happen, and my new book, Cultivate: A Grace-filled Guide to Growing and Intentional Life, are available wherever books are sold. I was so grateful to record the audiobooks for you, too!

2. Order your PowerSheets to follow-through on your goals year-round. The way you’ll achieve the goals you’ve set is by tending them little by little—and that’s exactly what PowerSheets help you do. Get 15% off with the code BESTYEAR2020.

3. Get on my email list for weekly inspiration and encouragement— and to be the first to know when our new products release.

4. Join me in person for the Making Things Happen Conference in March. We’ll spend two days together, uncovering what matters to you and making an action plan you can’t wait to get started on! I can’t wait to see you there! The early-bird rate ends January 31st, and there are only a few seats left.

5. Listen to the Cultivate Your Life Podcast. You might love the episode on How to Follow Through on Your Goals!

6. Know that you are loved and seen by a very real God who wants to guide you every step of the way this year!

Happy 2020, friends! I am so grateful for you! This may be the end of this series, but it’s just the beginning! Let’s do this!

Need some extra motivation? The Ultimate New Year’s Giveaway is on! I hope this gives you a little extra encouragement to share your answers as we go through this series. There are 35 prizes, so that means 35 of you are going to win one of these prizes—it could be YOU. (Including international friends!)

A big thank you to everyone who entered! What a joy it was to hear your responses and get to chat with you in the comments! Congratulations to our winners below! If you’re a winner, fill out this form to collect your prize within 48 hours or a new winner will be selected!

Here’s what you could win…

— 10 sets of 2020 PowerSheets to help 10 of you cultivate your BEST year yet! –– Jennifer Abe, Diana Riddle, Gina Fornito, Sarah Gusky Kemer, Noelle Carroll, Misty Krasawski, Mikel Rogers, Susan Smith, Tracey Mai-Lauffer, and Ashley Woleben
— A Goal Guide Bundle to help you dig deeper on your specific goals. –– Lindsey Sivils
— Five signed copies of Cultivate. –– Shelby Koerner, Sara D Whittle, Sarah Snyder, Gail Boos, Rebecca Burton
— Five signed copies of Make It Happen. –– Ashly Hilst, Jessica Evans, Andraea LaVant, Rebecca Olsen, and Cheryl Tynes
— One Write the Word All Seasons Collection to help you cultivate fresh faith all year long. –– Tanya Chmunevich
— A gift card (YES!) for a massage to kick off your year refreshed! –– Ruth Gyllenhammer
— A pair of Apple Airpods to listen to your favorite podcasts, music, or audiobooks. –– Cee Jay
— A Swoozie’s gift card for all of your gifting needs! –– Luna Stanley
—A Revelation Wellness membership with a ‘Wellness Kickoff Package” to cultivate your health in the New Year. –– Megan Kurtz
— Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University course—a life-changing experience to help you pursue financial freedom. –– Callie Carter
— One Val Marie Paper Yearly Prayer Journal. I’ll be using one this year, too! –– Marcia Howell
— An Audible subscription to check all those books off your reading
list! ––Hailey Noonan
— One Art Bar canvas (up to $150 value) to brighten up your walls. ––Jamie Goodall
— A Fitbit to help you celebrate your literal steps forward. –– Christine Langford-Dixon
— An Echo Dot to keep you dancing. –– Rachel Nordgren
— Two Italian Gift Frames from Framebridge to frame the memories that matter most! –– Hosanna Stump and Julie David Roberts

Why am I doing this? I want you—yes, YOU—to know what I know now on the other side of burned out and overwhelmed: there’s a different way to do this—a way that works. Step by step, you are going to feel ready, renewed, and clear about your year ahead. I’m so excited for you!

Finally, a request: share this series with your people! Don’t keep all this goodness to yourself! I’d be so grateful if you spread the word about this free series. Email this post to your friends, tweet it, ‘gram it (here are lots of sharable graphics for you to make it easy!), text it—sing it to the rooftops! Let’s get all our friends in on this so they can feel as refreshed and clear about 2020 as we will. Here’s to our best year yet togetherstarting now!

Enter your email for the FREE Goal Setting Series ebook!

In the 2020 Goal Setting Series, you’ll get:
Free goal coaching to help you set the right 2020 goals.
Downloadable goal setting worksheets including the signature Intentional Life List.
Access to a library of Word of the Year wallpapers for your phone.

And so much more!

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