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:
—Sabbath
—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:
—Sabbath
—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 are Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 to get you started.

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!

WRITE YOUR GOALS USING THE CULTIVATE WHAT MATTERS METHOD:

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.

Mini-goals:
—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!

Love,
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! ––Patti Kowaleski-Hall
— 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!


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. I know you want to live your best life in 2020. The PowerSheets Intentional Goal Planner makes it possible! Buy yours NOW for 15% OFF with code BESTYEAR2020!

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Welcome to the 9th annual Intentional Goal Setting Series! Here’s Part 1 and Part 2 to get you started living your best year!

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

Let’s dig in!

Remember how you felt when you started this series just a few posts ago? Equal parts nervous and excited, maybe?

What would you uncover in this process? Would it be hard? Would you be able to follow-through? Would you be adding to your plate instead of simplifying things?

But, you felt the fear and dove in anyway. You stepped outside of your comfort zone, and that says a lot about you!

Look where you are NOW.

— You are doing goal setting differently than you’ve done it before.
— You are NOT choosing goals out of thin air or because of comparison or fear or trying to keep up.
— You, my friend, are uncovering what matters. And that changes everything!

You’ve blown me away in this series and you’re getting ready to choose your best goals for 2020—goals you can’t wait to get started on. I’m so excited for you!

REFRESH YOUR MIND

First, let’s refresh our minds as we begin! Review everything you’ve written so far. Like we talked about in Part 2, look for the threads or themes in what you’ve uncovered so far.

I can’t believe what I would have missed had I not reviewed everything again with fresh eyes. Here’s what I found…

— The biggest thing that keeps popping up—my clearest thread—is spending time with my physical Bible and growing a richer faith

— I also circled and highlighted many things that have to do with solitude, moving my body, and helping our children delight in good things. (See my word of the year popping up??)

WRITE GOAL IDEAS FOR 2020

Now that our minds are refreshed, let’s write out some goal ideas! Make a list of “goal ideas” for the year that help you live out what matters in the big picture. Your goal ideas don’t have to be perfectly written—just write what comes to mind first when you think about the big picture. Feel free to share some of your goal ideas in the comments, too!

Check your goal ideas to make sure they’re worth spending your time on. Let’s sort through the goal ideas and see if we can find any weeds. It’s easy to make goals that sound good or goals that look like other people’s. Let’s not do that 🙂

The idea here is to do your life well, not to give yourself a new to-do list of random things that sound good or things we think we “should” have on our lists because everyone else does. Maybe those things aren’t right for you in this season—or ever. Be intentional about how you decide to spend your time, with your own unique gifts and talents and resources. How you spend your time is how you spend your life. Check each of your goal ideas to see if they are leading you in the right direction.

Do a GOAL CHECK and ask these essential questions:

— Will this goal help me to cultivate what matters?
— Will this goal help me get to where I want to be when I’m eighty years old?
— Does this goal help other people?
— WHY do I want to make this goal happen? Am I desiring this goal for the right reasons, or am I striving for “perfect”—or whatever I’ve been chasing?

Download a free printable checklist (direct download) below!

If the answer is NO to any of these questions, then it’s possible it’s not the best use of your time. Don’t run in circles with goals that don’t directly connect to what matters most in the big picture. Cross goals out that don’t fit. Be bold and take leaps of faith as you write!

If you are a believer like me, here are some additional questions I’m asking myself (there’s so much more for you in my God + Goals 5-day reading plan on the YouVersion Bible app!).

— Does this goal help draw me and others closer to God?
— Is this goal rooted in God’s truth? (Find scriptures to support it!)
— Does this goal rely on my strength or God’s?
— Does this goal help me steward what I’ve been given well?

Yep! I have a printable for these questions if you want them, too! Download it below (direct download)…

WRITE YOUR WHY

When I was a personal trainer in New York for many years, I had a client come to me and  say, “I want to lose 20 pounds because that’s what I weighed in college.” 

Can you guess how far a goal like that will take someone?
You guessed it! About the same distance between my thumb and my pinky!

When we dug deeper into what mattered to him in life and where he wanted to be when he was 80, a picture of true fitness started to emerge. Instead of, “I want to lose 20 pounds because that’s what I weighed in college” (not very motivating and more self-defeating), his goal changed to, “I want to be healthy and strong so that I can 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.”

True story.

That goal worked.

That was motivating.

Get real with why you want these things to happen and connect them to something that really matters to you. This is the key to achieving your goals instead of tossing them aside.

There is so much goodness to come when we write our 2020 goals in the final post in this series coming December 27th using a special method I’ll tell you about then. For now, keep making a mess and digging into that rich growing ground of yours!

Your turn! Today’s Goal Uncovering Steps:

—Review everything you’ve written again and mark, circle, highlight, or sticker the threads (or themes) you’re seeing.

—Write your goal ideas.

—Check your goals with The Intentional Goal Setting Checklist.

—Write down your WHY with every goal idea.

Need some extra motivation? The Ultimate New Year’s Giveaway is on! 

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’sFinancial 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! ––Patti Kowaleski-Hall
— 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

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 2019 as we will. Here’s to our best year yet togetherstarting 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. I know you want to live your best life in 2020. The PowerSheets Intentional Goal Planner makes it possible! Buy yours NOW for 15% OFF with code BESTYEAR2020!

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Hi, friends! Welcome back to Part 2 of the 2020 Goal Setting Series! If you’re new, I’m especially glad you’re here. Hop over to read Part 1 before digging in here or into Part 3, and Part 4.

Want to listen to this post? You’ll love today’s new episode of the Cultivate Your Life Podcast—with bonus content!


Oooooh, this is getting good! As we talked about in Part 1, we’re doing this goal-setting thing differently.

You’re not choosing goals out of thin air, or because of comparison.
You’re not doing fleeting resolutions or quick fixes that don’t fix anything at all.
You are uncovering what matters—and I am so excited for you today!

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. Your PowerSheets will guide you to take the goals you uncover and live them out in 2020—month by month and little by little. Setting great goals is one thing; living them out is another thing entirely. 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. (15% off just for you today with code BESTYEAR2020!)

Let’s knock some barriers down today, shall we?

You know the feeling you get when your to-do list is overflowing?

You have so much to get done and there’s not enough time for the rest of life—the joy-filled living part. You can’t slow down, though, or let go of anything. Something might fall through the cracks if you do. You keep going, trying your best to get one more thing done and feeling like the only thing that’s done is you.

Have you felt that before?
I have, too!

Maybe you’re here searching for something that will make life easier because you feel like you’re MISSING YOUR LIFE. You think, “When will I start really living?”

Let me go ahead and share that conquering your to-do list once and for all won’t solve things.

So, what does solve this battle of Woman vs. To-Do List? It starts with what goes on that list in the first place. Maybe, just maybe, you could start doing less and making it mean more. It all starts with answering the one question that can change your life forever.

Before we get to that golden question, let me help you with something you may be feeling right now. Have you caught yourself feeling like your answers to Part 1 weren’t “enough?” Maybe you’re wondering if you did it “right?” Yes, my friend, you aren’t just doing this “right”—you’re rocking it! You are here for a reason and your answers to Part 1 were exactly what they were supposed to be. You are on your way to your best year!

Get your 2020 PowerSheets before we sell out for the year! Just for you: use code BESTYEAR2020 for 15% off your purchase.

I wrote the handwriting piece above (which has since been shared online tens of millions of times—so crazy) not about skydiving, traveling to a foreign country, or anything you might typically see on a bucket list. I wrote it late one night in my kitchen, after putting baby Grace to sleep, about wanting to finally read the Bible from start to finish. It felt like a daunting task, but I wanted to grow my faith. I was determined—this really mattered to me in the big picture!

When something matters to you in the big picture, how you do it doesn’t matter as much as why you do it. 

My why drove me forward, especially during the many times I fell behind or wanted to jump ship. (Have you ever felt that way?) Little by little, over the course of a year and a half, I did end up reading the Bible—and it changed everything. The little-by-little added up. (Listen to the whole story of these words here!)

Maybe you want to cultivate stronger friendships, grow a lasting legacy with your work, or make meaningful memories with your family. Maybe you want to pay down debt, be able to run outside with your grandkids when you’re 80, or finally do that thing that’s been on your list forever. Whatever it is, let’s talk about it!

Let’s plant the first seed right here, together!

ASK YOURSELF THE GOLDEN QUESTION

Ready for the one question you need to ask yourself to uncover your best goals? Here it is.

Where you want to be when you’re 80—or 90 or 100? What will be important to you then, and what won’t? The answer to this question is the secret to setting goals that matter—goals you can’t wait to get started on. This is the question at the heart of the PowerSheets Prep Work, and in your PowerSheets, you’ll get even more clear on your life vision through a series of additional exercises and questions!

Let’s see how this first question changes things, though. Have you heard of S.M.A.R.T. goals? S.M.A.R.T. is the “gold standard” in goal setting, and it stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals.

But, time and time again, despite their reputation of being foolproof, SMART goals fail. SMART goals are missing one key component (the secret sauce of our community’s success!): purpose.

When the goal you want to achieve matters to you in the big picture, you will follow through. No matter how many times you mess up along the way, you’ll get back up—because you care! How perfectly you get there doesn’t matter as much as why. And the why behind your goals is what keeps you from jumping ship at the first sign of imperfection.

If you don’t first uncover what matters, even your goals achieved will lack meaning. Doesn’t that make you stop and think for a minute? We get this one life and only the Lord knows how long or short it will be. I don’t know about you, but that gets me all sorts of motivated to use it well. I quite literally don’t have time to waste, because I don’t know how much of it there will be!

Are you feeling this, too? This urgency to double-down on what’s important in life? (I know how you feel and I am so excited for you! I wish we were in the same room right now! Imagine me giving you a huge high five—plus high fives from all the ladies I’m so grateful to work alongside each day. We’re with you each step of the way and we are praying for you throughout this series!

You are in the process of uncovering purpose-filled goals and it starts with the big picture—the vital step most people miss!

What will matter to you in the big picture and what won’t? I’ve asked this question of thousands of women and the answers tend to be centered on relationships and growing what lasts longer than us. What won’t matter to you? How many likes you had on an Instagram post, how much other people approved of you, or having a perfectly clean house or organized pantry, perhaps?

There’s nothing wrong with any of those things, by the way—if having an organized pantry helps you love your people in the big picture, organize your heart out! And social media can be a wonderful tool to help others when used well. It tends to be more of a distraction many times, though, right?

Your answers here matter. The good you do today has the potential to change generationsthat’s why uncovering good goals and having a clear focus is so important.

The alternative to focusing on what matters in the big picture? Spending your time lost in distractions. Lost in Instagram. Lost in the chase for perfection, or significance, or approval, or whatever it is that has been holding you back from really living. You’ll find yourself restless, knowing that there’s more to this life. If that’s you right now, you are in the right place! I know that feeling well, and this is your chance to choose change as you answer this question:

To get uncomfortable.  
To think bigger than you and beyond your current circumstances.
To press into fear and give it the boot!

Write out your thoughts about where you want to be (or don’t want to be) when you’re 80—and remember, make a mess. No perfect answers or handwriting needed. Write what’s true for you.

Psst—about that to-do list: knowing where you want to be in the big picture helps you simplify your life—and your list—TODAY. If there are things on your list that aren’t pointing to what matters in the big picture, it’s possible they don’t need to be there! (Take that, to-do list!)

MAKE YOUR YES AND NO LIST

Now that you can see the big picture a little more clearly, what are you going to need to say YES to in order to live it out—and what are you saying NO to? Saying no to one thing means you have the opportunity (space, time, patience, focus, resources) to say yes to something better. You’ll answer this question every month of 2020 in your PowerSheets, because it’s a powerful way to refocus on what matters throughout the year, not just at the beginning.

Write your list of what you are saying YES to in 2020 and what you’re saying NO to. Look back through everything you’ve written in your PowerSheets so far, and making your lists will be simple!

Here’s a peek at what I’m saying yes and no to from my PowerSheets:

Download my free Intentional Year List printable below (instant download) to keep your list in clear view all year long. This is a great printable to put on your fridge, on your bulletin board, or wherever you’ll see it most!

You may find some of your 2020 goals coming to the surface in these lists, because they are a powerful summary of where you’re going and where you DON’T want to go in the year ahead. 

Doesn’t that feel so good to write those things out? 

Clarity on what matters—and what doesn’t—is energizing! I’m excited for you!

MARK WHAT’S IMPORTANT

In our PowerSheets and in this series, we’ve uncovered a lot together so far! Now, read over all you’ve written so far and circle, mark, or sticker things that stand out to you. Look for common threads or themes in what you’ve written. Add or cross out as needed. 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. Use those stickers to mark what matters. Uncovering good goals is like a treasure hunt—get messy and dig a little deeper. Get out a highlighter or a big bold pen and get messy here!

Listen in to the podcast for more on uncovering threads!

This step took me about 20 minutes: I went back and read every word I wrote in my PowerSheets prep and highlighted, circled, and stickered things that stood out—things that really mattered to me and things that kept coming up.

(Side note: lots of you have asked what pens and highlighters we love. I use these, these, and these. I also use our Goal Setting Sticker Book—my favorite!)

The threads point to places that are craving cultivation—forgotten patches of your life that are waiting to be transformed.

The threads are little golden strings that tie your goals together.

The threads are your goals in the making.

Let’s do some treasure hunting and find them!

Now is the time to get your 2020 PowerSheets Intentional Goal Planner! You’ll get 15% off with the code BESTYEAR2020!

Those themes that keep popping up? The things on your yes/no list that you can’t get out of your mind?

These little threads are illuminating your path forward. Notice them. Mark them. And take a shovel and dig into them.

This is cultivating.

Tilling your growing ground, digging in deep, and preparing for new growth.

CHOOSE A 2020 WORD OF THE YEAR 

When you look at all you’ve written so far, what word keeps popping up in your mind? What one word most resonates with you for the year ahead, summarizing what you want to focus on?

Here are some tips I use that may help you uncover your word:

First, I like to make a list of a few possible words that resonate with me, even if I think they aren’t exactly right.

My list for 2020 included:

  • Quiet
  • Diligent
  • Prepare
  • Recreation (or Re-creation)
  • Margin
  • Forty (😉)
  • and Delight

Second, I got out the dictionary! Make your list of possibilities and then look at the definition of each word, its origin, and any synonyms and antonyms. I love using BlueLetterBible.org to look up the Greek, Hebrew, and related verses, too. You may be amazed at what you discover!

My 2020 Word of the Year?

Delight

I didn’t think I would choose this as my Word of the Year, but that’s the beauty of this process! Taking time to go through the PowerSheets process and write to you here, search scripture (I love this verse, this one, and this one, too!), and pray about where the Lord wants me to go in 2020, helped me see it clearly. You’re about to experience the same!

Listen to much more about my Word of the Year in today’s podcast episode!

Have some ideas about your word, but worried you’ll choose the wrong one? Take the pressure off! It’s just a word to help you remember where to focus. Think about this as a word for the season ahead, not for all of time. It doesn’t have to be perfect, and you have permission to change your mind later on! (In the PowerSheets, you’ll do a goal refresh every three months because, as we grow and change, our goals do, too—no pressure needed!)

Repeat after me: it doesn’t have to be perfect. DONE is better than perfect!

Once you have your word, I’d love to hear your word in the comments. Give a virtual high five to those who might have the same word as you—we are bound to have some shared words!

Now, do something with your word.

Write your 2020 word in prominent places in your life. On days you feel overwhelmed or need some direction, your word will help remind you of where you are going. This will help keep you from getting distracted and off track. Put your word on a sticky note in your car. Put it on the card that comes with your PowerSheets. Make it your computer desktop or phone lock screen. Write it anywhere and everywhere to remind yourself of where you are going!

You can even download one of our hand-lettered iPhone wallpapers! Our bank includes more than 100 words, plus the option to design your own!

How fun, right?! (Share this with your friends so they can be reminded of their words, too!)

I’m excited to kick off the year delighting in the Word with the Fresh Faith Challenge. Join me!

Your turn! This week’s goal-uncovering steps:

First, buy your PowerSheets if you haven’t already! 15% off with code BESTYEAR2020 just for you.

Answer the golden question: what will matter to you in the big picture and what won’t?

Make your yes and no list.

Mark what’s important. Go back and mark things that stand out to you in what you’ve written so far. Find the themes.

—Choose a 2020 Word of the Year as a way to remember what matters in the big picture.

You are doing it! Step by step, your focus for 2020 is becoming clearer. I love doing this work with you, and I’ll be back next Wednesday, December 18, for Part 3. 

Need some extra motivation? The Ultimate New Year’s Giveaway is ON! How great are these amazing prizes this year!? If you needed 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 aha! moments. One person who comments with answers to every step in this series will win a bonus prize: one of everything from the Cultivate What Matters Shop! Yes!!! – Gloriana Hopkins

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! ––Patti Kowaleski-Hall
— 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!


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. Need a last-minute gift? Buy her a gift card for PowerSheets! It comes with a printable card and the cutest downloadable gift wrap, too. Best gift ever!

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Hi, friends! Welcome to Part 1 of the 2020 Goal Setting Series! If you’re new, I’m especially glad you’re here. Part 2Part 3, and Part 4 are also live!

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:

— Health
— Friends
— Family (including your significant other, if applicable)
— Finances
— Spiritual + Personal Growth
— Work
— Recreation

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.

Besides…

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 yearit 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!

A peek at the little-by-little progress I made each month: January / February / MarchApril / May / June / July / AugustSeptemberOctober / November 

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:

lara casey goal setting comparisson

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 aha! moments. One person who comments with answers to every step in this series will win a bonus prize: one of everything from the Cultivate What Matters® Shop! Yes!!! – Gloriana Hopkins

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! ––Patti Kowaleski-Hall
— 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 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 togetherstarting 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! Hop on over to Part 2Part 3, and Part 4 to get you started on your best year!

Hop on over to Part 2Part 3and Part 4 to get started on your best year!

Photos by Traci Huffman, family photo by Gina Zeidler

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