Hi, friends! Welcome to Part 1 of the 2020 Goal Setting Series! If you’re new, I’m especially glad you’re here.
Want to listen to this post instead of reading it? Listen to the brand new special episode of the Cultivate Your Life Podcast (includes bonus content and coaching for the series)!
You came here for a reason. What brought you here?
Maybe you’re feeling frustrated as you look back at 2019.
You didn’t make as much progress as you hoped on some of your goals—or you forgot about them completely.
Perhaps goal setting has failed you before and you feel defeated already thinking about the new year. You’re considering going “goal-less!”
Perhaps you stumbled on this post and it intrigued you because you want change in your life, but you’re afraid of how long it will take. You want change yesterday—you want a quick fix.
Or maybe this year has been great—you made progress on the right goals and you want to keep it going for 2020.
Whatever brought you here, you are in the right place!
Welcome to the ✨Ninth-Annual Intentional Goal Setting Series!✨ We’re 9 years strong, friends! (What are we going to do for our 10-year anniversary next year!? Let’s plan something extra fun together!) Many of you have been doing this series alongside me since year one and your goal updates each year blow me away!
Who is this 2020 Goal Setting Series for? The short answer: YOU! 😊
If you’ve tried goal setting before and burned yourself out—or didn’t follow through—you’re in the right place.
If you aren’t convinced yet that setting goals could work for you this year (and be fun!), you’re in the right place, too.
If you feel like your life is flying by, and you want to finally live your life like it’s the only one you’ve got, high fives!
If you’re new to this series, a big welcome from all of us—you’re in for a treat this year!
Whether you’re a mom, a student, a business owner, an empty nester, in a season of transition, or a season of starting fresh—in any place where you are in life, we’re going to let go of guilt-filled, fleeting resolutions, and embrace a whole new way of doing this goal-setting thing.
Are you SO ready for this?! Me, too.
First, let me back up a bit and introduce myself, because we’re going to get to know each other quickly as we go through this 4-part series.
Hi! I’m Lara. I’m a mom to three, a grateful wife, CEO of a growing company, and I love getting my hands dirty in my garden here in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I’ve written two books about goal setting and intentional living (with a special book on the way next summer!). I’ve led a conference called Making Things Happen for 10 years, and I was once a personal trainer, a wedding planner, and the Editor-in-Chief of a national wedding magazine.
I am the creator of the best-selling PowerSheets® Goal Planner.
And… I don’t love goal setting.
No, that’s not a typo.
I don’t like it at all… at least in the way it’s traditionally done.
Traditional goal setting (maybe you’ve done it before?) starts with “big dreams” that are often born of comparison, chasing perfection, fear, and a desire to keep up with others. Traditional goal setting tells us to conquer the world and that we can’t mess up along the way or we won’t achieve our big dreams. Traditional goal setting tells us that our worth is hinged on our performance and progress—or lack thereof.
I write about this because I’ve done it. I’ve fallen into those traps before. You, too? It’s doesn’t feel good, does it? Chasing the world’s idea of success always leads us to defeat.
Traditional goal setting.
No, thank you.
Have you had it with traditional goals, too? We’re going to be fast friends. You’ve found your people! ☺️
Nine years ago, I set out to uncover a process that works for the rest of us—those of us who don’t want to be ruled by overflowing to-do lists, who want to spend our time on things that really matter.
I flipped the traditional process on its head, and rather than starting with “big dreams” and adding more to my plate, I strategically examined what mattered in the big picture using some key questions. This changed everything. It changed what goals I chose to focus on and it gave me motivation to make them happen—no matter how many times I messed up along the way. I started seeing results without the pressure. I discovered that I didn’t need to make perfect progress to see results, and it was (and is) SO FREEING.
This is goal setting for people who hate goal setting. Welcome!
Feeling relief from the pressure already? Great!
Here’s the paradigm shift in how we do goals:
Goals will not change your life.
Knowing what matters will.
Goals are just how you get there.
You are going to uncover intentional, less-is-more goals—goals that lead to lasting change. Goals that add up to something in the big picture. I call these “cultivated goals.”
And cultivated goal setting starts with uncovering what matters.
Over the last nine years that I’ve been writing this series and watching you all live out your goals with your PowerSheets, I’ve studied what makes us feel unmotivated and what causes us to follow-through.
What causes people to change starts with one pivotal moment. It’s the moment when you decide that the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change. It’s the moment you decide you are tired of doing the same things you’ve always done and getting the same results you’ve always gotten.
This might just be that moment for you.
Now, you could just stop here and quit before even trying. You could do that and I won’t judge you! 🙂 I’ve given up on a whole lot of things in my life right at the starting line. But, here’s where that might leave you (like it did for me): going through the motions, not feeling confident that you’re on the right path, getting distracted, lacking motivation, not taking care of what you’ve been given, and generally wasting your time.
Or you could end 2020 knowing you lived your best year, with direction and motivation (but no perfection required). Cultivated goals—the kind we are going to uncover together—will do that for you.
This 4-part series is a taste of the PowerSheets Prep Work. Your PowerSheets have many more goal-uncovering insights and guided worksheets than I’ll include here. Even more importantly, your PowerSheets help you take the good goals you uncover and LIVE THEM OUT in 2020—month by month and little by little. It’s not enough just to set good goals—you need to do something about them, too! : ) This series is a starting point to help you think differently. If you are ready to quit traditional goal setting, you are going to LOVE the PowerSheets!
NOW is the perfect time to get your 2020 PowerSheets if you haven’t already—the order deadline for domestic New Year’s delivery is Wednesday, December 18th. Use the code BESTYEAR2020 for 15% off your order today. (Two covers—Teal Linen and Pink Linen—have already sold out, but we still have two inspiring covers to choose from!) Our fulfillment team in Kentucky ships fast!
3 WAYS TO GET THE MOST OUT OF THIS SERIES (and your PowerSheets!):
1. Instead of just thinking your answers, write them down. This is so simple and impactful! Write your answers in your PowerSheets or a journal. If you want accountability, leave them here in the comments. I want to cheer you on! And…
2. Cheer her on! You know how it feels when someone encourages you? Yes—amazing! Let’s do that for each other throughout this series. You never know how your words might change someone’s life forever.
3. Make a mess. If you tend to buy journals or planners and then leave them on a shelf (been there!), let’s turn that habit around starting now. Practice what I call “making a mess.” You aren’t going let the need for perfect handwriting or perfect answers or perfect timing keep you from uncovering your best goals, are you? Didn’t think so!
Ready to get started? Yesssss! I’m so pumped for you!
DO A LIFE AUDIT
Do you know the reason you burned out and gave up on some of your goals (or all of them) somewhere around mid-January or February? Perhaps you added to your already-full plate without subtracting a few things first. That’s like planting new seeds in a garden that’s already packed full.
To grow new goals, first look at what’s already there. Then, you can either keep growing those things if they matter to you, or clear them out and make room for new ones. Let’s do that together, taking a look at how we are doing right now so we can avoid burnout—and finally follow through on the things that matter to us.
Won’t that feel so good? Consider this spring cleaning for your goals!
Old you: growing allthethings at once, most mediocrely. The result: nothing grows well.
Cultivated you: growing the right things, one step at a time. Doing a few things well and loving it!
Answer this question: How are you? Really. How are you? Look at the life audit categories below and write a few thoughts about how you are doing in each one:
— Family (including your significant other, if applicable)
— Spiritual + Personal Growth
In the PowerSheets, we call this a Cultivated Life Evaluation (and we return to it every quarter, which is so helpful to check-in and reevaluate as our lives change!). Give each area of your life a rating between 1 and 10, along with a few thoughts on why you chose that number. 1 means you are not satisfied in the area and want to see radical change. 10 means you are happy as a bee on honeysuckle!
“How are you?” seems like a simple question, but getting your true thoughts out of your head will lead you to find solutions and set you on a new path.
Knowing where you are now, mess and all, helps you to leap to where you’re going! The soil you’re standing on right now is your growing ground.
Maybe you’re thinking, “Oh, Lara, every category is terrible for me!“ Guess what? You might think I’ve lost my marbles, but I think that’s GREAT! It means you have more opportunities for good change ahead. That’s exciting! So, call each category what it is—I’m cheering you on as you get honest to write it out—and let’s count those challenges as the opportunities they are.
An example from my life: In 2018, I was challenged by contentment and emotional spending. I felt especially frustrated by out-of-the-blue things that knocked us off course when I was working hard to keep our finances in order! But! I decided to use my frustration (and low rating in that box) as fuel. Earlier this year, after going through the PowerSheets process and uncovering what matters and what was holding me back, I set a goal to have a No Spend Year in 2019. (More on that shortly and how my frustration turned into big change—no perfection required!)
Allow yourself to write the things that may feel undone, imperfect, or hard, and write in some positive thoughts, too—even if the positive feels tiny!
Now, a bonus challenge: let the dirt be dirt. Once you’ve written everything out, notice your feelings for a moment—whatever they may be—without trying to change them or push them away immediately. Let the challenges and places you’d like to grow sink in a little.
If you’re like me, I often want to fix my circumstances right away instead of letting myself feel anything at all. My instinct is to reach for a distraction when faced with something that feels hard. (Anyone tempted to go scroll Instagram right now?)
But, distractions never bring me peace or clarity. So, let’s not do that. Maybe the soil of your life needs some fresh nutrients, or maybe there are some big rocks in the way of you planting new things. The only way you’ll know, though, is to see what’s there first.
All those rocks and weeds?
They are opportunities—places in your life that are ready to be transformed!
LEARN FROM THE PAST
In traditional goal setting, you focus on the future, and on achieving your goals as fast as humanly possible. That is a recipe for b.u.r.n.o.u.t. I’ve done it many times before, and it’s a dead end. But! Uncovering cultivated goals means learning from the past in order to grow new things ahead. The past has a lot to teach us! Let’s take a look back at the last year.
What good things happened in 2019? What grew well? What are you grateful for from the last twelve months?
I know this can be a challenging step. We often don’t like counting our blessings, because it may feel self-indulgent or like it won’t get us anywhere fast—or perhaps you are thinking that there were no good things that happened in 2019! It’s easy to look back at an entire year and see only the hard parts, like when something happens to you at the end of the day and you automatically call it a bad day, regardless of what happened the other twenty-three hours.
Let’s do a little digging! A few tips to unearth the good stuff:
— Talk to someone who knows you well about your year and ask him or her to reflect some of the highlights back to you. He or she may remember some that you have forgotten! This is also a great way to celebrate the good things of the past year with others. Make it your dinner conversation tonight. (A tip: try looking at the good things from each season this year—it might help to jog some memories!)
— Take a look back at your calendar, blog posts, social media updates, or photos. Those might give you a clue into some of the good things you’ve forgotten.
— Read through your 2019 PowerSheets—a simple way to see just how much you’ve grown this year!
— Review your finances from the year. This is like reading a journal of places you went, and what some of your priorities were.
My Good Things: My word for 2019 was HEART. What that looked like this year: letting my heart be changed by getting to know God’s heart more.
This was the year…
— I learned how to nap—our Year of Sabbath has been a gift.
— Psalm 90:12 changed my life—and a whole lot of your lives, too.
— I started a podcast : )
— Our plans didn’t go as planned. Our house flooded, our garden stopped growing, and things generally went awry this summer. Why is that a good thing? God had a plan!
— I wrote a children’s book (coming summer 2020!)
— We did an 8-mile hike as a family!
— My “No Spend Year” goal was a success. If I was doing traditional goal setting, though, I would be telling you it was an epic failure (see: house flood and unexpected expenses!). Here is where cultivated goal setting helps you win: you don’t have to be perfect to live out what matters, and you don’t need a perfect track record to make progress! I knew from the start that what mattered was my HEART changing about money and, by His grace, it did. (We loved this book as one of our first action steps this year!) Our little by little progress added up to heart change and more peace in the unexpected.
— I’ve made new friends this year and strengthened old ones. At almost 40, that is a gift.
— Team Cultivate settled into a new office, sold that office house a few months later, and then we signed a lease on a commercial retail space that we are so excited about!
— We grew our faith together as a team and went into the linen business 😉 We had fun!
— We took five hiking trips to the NC mountains with the kids.
— Ari and I celebrated 13 years of marriage. Read Make it Happen or listen to episode 001 of my podcast for our story.
— Grace joined the Bouncing Bulldogs jump rope team and is loving it!
— I am on track to finish the Old Testament by December 31—my number 1 goal for this year alongside some close friends who have been reading with me.
— We are in a wonderful homeschool rhythm using the cultivated homeschool planner.
— My neck is almost completely healed, praise the Lord. I share more of that story on The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey.
— Ari continued his rap career.
I set four goals for the year and, little by little, they happened! Did I mess up along the way? Yes! Did I have some challenges? Definitely. But, imperfect progress is still progress, and when you embrace that fact, you are far less likely to completely jump ship on your goals! My imperfect progress added up big time, and yours will, too!
Use the 15% off code BESTYEAR2020 to do this all year long with the PowerSheets Goal Planner!
Now, let’s name a few of the challenges from 2019. What didn’t help you cultivate what matters this year?
This may be the most valuable step you take—this will help you know where you’re NOT going in 2020! Write the facts and know that each thing you write down is an area of your life that could be made completely new.
A few of my 2019 challenges:
— The times I worried, feared, or gave in to stress when our plans didn’t go as planned, were because I forgot that God is God and He has done countless miraculous things in my life.
— My neck pain (from gardening, of all things!) was painful, distracting, and made movement difficult at times.
— 40 is knocking on my door and I’m feeling it.
— We intentionally chose to forgo our monthly date nights to help our budget and cover expenses elsewhere, but I think we could have had an at-home “date” once a month. (See? Your Prep Work can help you see what needs to be a focus in 2020!)
— Times pride got in the way of obedience or trust.
— Sitting too much at my desk!
— When I made decisions before asking the Lord.
There were many more challenges and, in all of them, I grew. For that, I’m grateful!
Where do you go from here with your challenges? Well… do you know how cow manure is one of the best fertilizers for gardens? It’s the same with our challenges! 🙂 Our challenges can be the best fertilizer for new growth ahead when you name the lessons you’ve learned from them.
GET AFTER GRATEFUL
One of my big lessons each year? I don’t do this life alone—even in the times I catch myself feeling “alone.” I’m not, and you aren’t either! 🙂
Looking back at your list of good things and challenges and all you’ve written in your PowerSheets so far, who helped you to live on purpose this year? Who encouraged you or helped you? Download a free printable worksheet here and write the names of those you are grateful for and why. And then, do something about it! Thank them for the specific things they helped you with or inspired in you RIGHT NOW. You may think they don’t need encouragement, but words have power. As my friend Rach says, “Get after grateful!” It changes things!
Download the FREE Gratitude List printable!
You can keep this simple and still make a huge impact: a text or an email can go a long way to change someone’s day—and change their life. I spent the morning sending emails to friends and colleagues who have meant a lot to me this year, and I’ve felt the glow of sending those happy messages all day! A few highlights from my PowerSheets:
Who are you grateful for this year? Leave your answers in the comments, but most of all, send some love to the people on your list!
Your turn! Here are your goal-uncovering steps for the week:
First, buy your PowerSheets if you haven’t already! Use code BESTYEAR2020 for 15% off while supplies last.
Do a life audit. How are you doing in each area of your life and which areas do you most want to improve?
Evaluate the past. Write your list of good things. Name the challenges. Learn from them.
Get after grateful. Name who you’re grateful for and do something about it!
Then, share your answers here in the comments to encourage others. I can’t wait to cheer you on. And remember this: we’re tossing comparison out the window and doing the most radical thing we can do: walking our own unique paths (and cheering other women on as they do the same)!
Well, that was fun, wasn’t it!? I’ll be back next Wednesday with more goal-uncovering goodness.
You’re doing things differently this year and I’m so excited for you!
Goodbye, traditional goal setting—and all the pressure that comes with it!
A page from my 2016 PowerSheets:
You’re letting your 2020 goals bake like a pan of homemade cinnamon rolls. They wouldn’t be flaky and yummy zapped in the microwave, would they? I know you’re anxious to set your goals and have that pretty goals list in-hand already, but we’re going to do this right and slow cook them together, little-by-little, with some bold leaps of faith along the way.
Need some extra motivation? The Ultimate New Year’s Giveaway is ON! How great are these amazing prizes this year!? If you need a little extra encouragement to share your answers as we go through this series, this is it! I can’t wait to read your thoughts and hear your
There are 36 prizes, so that means 36 of you are going to win one of these prizes—it could be YOU. (Including international friends for digital prizes!)
Here’s what you could win…
— 10 sets of 2020 PowerSheets to help 10 of you cultivate your BEST year yet!
— A Goal Guide Bundle to help you dig deeper on your specific goals.
— Five signed copies of Cultivate.
— Five signed copies of Make It Happen.
— One Write the Word All Seasons Collection to help you cultivate fresh faith all year long.
— A gift card (YES!) for a
— A pair of Apple Airpods to listen to your favorite podcasts, music, or audiobooks.
— A Swoozie’s gift card for all of your gifting needs!
—A Revelation Wellness membership with a ‘Wellness Kickoff Package” to cultivate your health in the New Year.
— Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University course—a life-changing experience to help you pursue financial freedom.
— One Val Marie Paper Yearly Prayer Journal. I’ll be using one this year, too!
— An Audible subscription to check all those books off your reading list!
— One Art Bar canvas (up to $150 value) to brighten up your walls.
— A Fitbit to help you celebrate your literal steps forward.
— An Echo Dot to keep you dancing.
— Two Italian Gift Frames from Framebridge to frame the memories that matter most!
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 kick-off 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 together—starting now!a Rafflecopter giveaway
Giveaway ends January 10th. Winners will be announced on January 13th here on the blog. Hard goods are for US entrants only. If you don’t claim your prize within 48 hours, another winner will be selected, so mark your planners and stay posted! This post contains affiliate links.
P.S. A year from now, you’ll be so grateful you started today! Buy your PowerSheets NOW and use code BESTYEAR2020 for 15% off—while supplies last!