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 into this post!

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!!!

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 massage to kick off your year refreshed!
 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 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.

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!!!

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 massage to kick off your year refreshed!
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 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!

Photos by Traci Huffman, family photo by Gina Zeidler

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Hey there, December. You snuck up on us! Did you feel the December sneak-up, too? I was feeling a little scattered yesterday until I did my December PowerSheets! I love getting all my thoughts and to-do’s out on paper and being guided to focus on what matters this month. It’s a big month and I’m ready.

Here’s a look back at my November PowerSheets goals and what I learned this month. I can’t wait to hear about your goals, too.

November Monthly Goals:
—Cultivate my 2020 calendar (Here’s how you can do the same!) / Progress here and more to come.
—Pray over 2020 company and personal goals / Yes! We set our 2020 company goals, which was an exciting and enriching process together. I finished my own 2020 PowerSheets prep, too, and am waiting to write my actual goals for another couple weeks. It was my favorite year using the PowerSheets process!
—Make a meaningful gift list / Done.
—Celebrate Gracie turning 8! / Unicorns and glitter abounded and Grace turned 8!


—Write the 2020 Goal Setting Series / Part 1 goes live this Wednesday, along with a special episode of the Cultivate Your Life podcast—get ready!

November Weekly Goals:
—Sabbath rest / Yes, and I particularly enjoyed these two podcast episodes that talk about Sabbath: Jennie Allen and the Bema Podcast (so good!).

November Daily Goals:
—Bible reading / Yes! I’m so close to finishing this #1 goal for 2019!
—Run! / Yes!

December is a big month! As you can imagine when you are the CEO of a goal setting company, it’s go time around here! I love this month of intentional forethought, reflection, and reorienting our hearts and souls on what matters.

Gracie wrote my encouraging words for the month, and I love them! 🙂

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.
—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.
—Finish and release the 2020 Goal Setting Series. This is our best series yet in 9 years and I can’t wait for you to read part 1 on Wednesday! Hooray! Text CULTIVATE to 81787 and I’ll send you a text message each time a new post in the series is live!
—Pray for all of you as you set your goals! 🙂 As I was doing my own 2020 PowerSheets this year, God put it on my heart to pray fervently this year for each woman as she starts her PowerSheets and uncovers what matters. I’ll be praying for you and can’t wait to see what the Lord helps you uncover!
—Turn 40 ☺️ My friend Lisa-Jo Baker has been a huge encouragement to me as I near this new decade. Any advice for me, friends, as I soar over the hill? I still have this on my mind constantly!
—Prepare for a new year with joy! One thing I’ve learned over the years is that change feels uncomfortable! Our brains seek out patterns and habits, so when we come out of the gate on New Year’s Day with alllll of those shiny new goals, our brains need time to catch up to these new patterns and rhythms. So, if it feels uncomfortable to do new things in the new year, that’s GOOD. Your brain is re-wiring. Keep going and little by little, your steps will add up. Knowing this helps me to ease into the new year with joy and with zero overwhelm or burnout. I take it slow, knowing good change will be worth the uncomfortable. (Also, I don’t wait till January 1 to start my goals—I get the momentum going and take small steps early. You can, too. There’s nothing magical about January 1!)
—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!)

December Weekly Goals:
—Sabbath
—Read great words and stories to the kids. What are your favorite books to read aloud during this season? I’d love to get more recommendations!

December Daily Goals:
—Bible reading
—Run!

Doing my 2020 PowerSheets by the “fire!” 😊

Your turn! Do you have goals for December? Comment below and I’ll pick one of you to send a special surprise box of goodies to from the Cultivate What Matters Shop! I love sending real mail, and I love hearing your thoughts! 

P.S. You know those hurried days between Christmas and New Years when everyone scrambles to set goals? Instead of microwaving your goals, let’s slow cook them. Join me starting on December 9th for PowerSheets Prep Week! I’ll walk you step-by-step through the PowerSheets Prep Work and Goal Action Plan pages to help you prepare well for 2020. Get your PowerSheets ordered now so you get them in plenty of time, and mark your calendar. I can’t wait to dig in with you!

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You’re feeling it. The end of the year, with all of its bells and whistles, is coming at you like a freight train. Christmas music has been playing for months, and if you haven’t already purchased ALL of your gifts, you feel behind.

Do you want to take a break from the hustle and bustle? And refocus on what really matters?

Me, too — and today’s episode has some really good news for you!

LISTEN NOW!

In this episode:
— Does being “intentional” conjure up images of Pinterest, crafts, and hours and hours spent with loved ones? While those things aren’t bad, we start today by talking about how they aren’t a requirement for living with the big picture in mind.
— I tell you about another one of my orchids, its untimely demise, and the message my daughter delivered to me when I really needed it. Once again, I was reminded that His plans are always better than mine.
— Are you in the middle of that right now? Just wanting to get all the things done? Or are you feeling like a failure, having not done the things you had hoped to do this year? We talk about how maybe God wants to grow something different in you. He is there in the unexpected!
— I ask you to think about where you were on January 1, 2019 (and I tell you what I would tell my January 1st self, if I could go back and talk to her!). We also hear from some other listeners about what they would tell their January selves!
— Then, we looked ahead to our January 1, 2020 selves and wrote a little letter to that gal. What would it take for you to look back then and know you cultivated what matters now?
— I gave you a reminder that we get to choose and there’s still time. We can’t do it all and do it all well, but we can opt out of the crazy! As a reminder of our opportunities to choose and the importance of gratitude, we took a little break out in the garden.
— So, where do we start with turning our hearts around, and in the process, turning the rest of our years around? I start with prayer, and I finish the episode by praying for all of us.

Interested in some of the things I mentioned throughout this episode? Here you go!

— Listen in to episode 1 for the story of the infamous orchid — the one that first taught me the power of little by little progress!
— Curious about the flood in our house? Here’s the backstory!
— I shared Psalm 37:3-5.
— Get your 2020 PowerSheets goal planner today! Then, join us for PowerSheets Prep Week starting December 9th. Together, we’ll uncover what really matters and set goals to help live it out!

LOVE THE PODCAST? SHARE IT! Text, email, carrier pigeon—share this episode with friends however you like! This episode is really special, so I hope you’ll share it with someone you love! Feel free to grab one of these graphics to post about it, too!

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The leaves are changing. The air is turning crisp. And my focus has turned to preparing well for the new year while finishing 2019 with an exclamation point (turning 40 on December 27th)!

I love this season and I also know it takes a little extra strategy to be intentional. November is a month we get to choose one of two paths: the path of crazy or the path of peace. One of the best ways to do that?

Welcome to NO-vember!

When we say no to one thing, we are saying yes to something better.
This is your month to say yes to what matters in the big picture.
This is your month to say NO—even when it’s hard—to the non-essentials. We only get this one life; let’s live it on purpose.

Here’s a quick look back at my October PowerSheets goals and what I learned this month. I can’t wait to hear about your goals, too!

October Monthly Goals:
—Ask God to prioritize my days / Yes, I really needed this focus and reminder on my Tending List. This is one of the many examples of how visibility creates accountability—and spurs us on to action. In the overwhelming moments, I stopped and asked Him what I should do next. I keep my PowerSheets open on my desk during the week and out on the kitchen counter on the weekends so I remember what matters. This helps me say YES intentionally instead of in a reactionary way.
—Do what’s most important in the big picture / I made big progress here. This was a month of looking at the big picture—of what will be important at the end of our days—and trying to make changes now accordingly. I did this through conversations with friends, prayer, and talking about what’s important in the big picture with my kids. I love showing them how to begin thinking this way!
—Delight in the Lord / I studied the word “delight” in the Bible and really needed this, too. My focal verse has been Psalm 37:4. Just breeze through some of the verses on delight in the Bible. So good!
—Hire a full-time Admin and Ministry Assistant / Done, praise the Lord! We had SO many wonderful applicants and I wish I could have hired you all! This lovely young lady starts in a couple of weeks and I’m very grateful.
—Put our home back together anew (next week all of the floors downstairs are being torn out and replaced from the flooding, so I’m using this as an opportunity to get rid of things and make our spaces more meaningful with less) / YES!! Double yes! I worked so hard on this! I think I got almost 20K steps the day we moved out of the office house that we sold and simultaneously moved back into our house after the floor renovations were finally done. I was so tired and so grateful! One huge benefit of all of this happening was having to take all of our furniture and basically everything out of our house. We donated a lot and put things back in much better places!

October Weekly Goals:
—Sabbath. / Yes, we got back to lighting the Shabbat candles on Friday and the Havdalah candle on Saturday and it has been so sweet for our whole family. I love this practice we’ve cultivated this year!
—Be there / Yes! I’ve taking Grace to jump rope practice and using intentional forethought to be sure I’m there for the things that matter to them—even in the seemingly small moments.

October Daily Goals: / Progress on all of them below!
—Bible reading each morning / Yes, I’m reading through the Old Testament with a few friends this year and we are in Jeremiah. Not the easiest reading, but just when I think I can’t read any more of God’s anger, His GRACE and MERCY flood right in. Woosh! I’ve felt all the emotions in this reading and it has been so good for my soul. I’m already excited to dig into a slow read of the New Testament in 2020!
—Run! / Yes! This has been something I’ve worked on all year off and on. My knees have, praise the Lord, held out so far. Grateful for this!
—Re-creation with the kids / Yes! From hiking to jumping in leaves and the State Fair, we’ve made memories.
—Pray over our children. / Yes, before bed, I pray over them out loud.

Don’t miss these from October:
The Podcast is back! I had such a fun time chatting about the history of PowerSheets and a little promise I made to myself that’s been shared millions of times on the internet.
— You are so excited about the 2020 PowerSheets Collection—it has blown us away! You had the very best ideas for new products and we made them happen for you!
— Did you see Ari’s rap? We had so much fun making this video for you to celebrate PowerSheets Launch week!
—Take a peek at my favorite new products from the 2020 Collection. It was hard to choose just 5 out of the 15—I’ll be using them all!

On to NO-vember! What are your goals for November? I’d love to hear below! I’m keeping it simple and focusing on saying NO to the things that don’t matter so I can say YES to the things that do.

November Monthly Goals:
—Cultivate my 2020 calendar (Here’s how you can do the same!)
—Pray over 2020 company and personal goals
—Make a meaningful gift list
—Celebrate Gracie turning 8!
—Write the 2020 Goal Setting Series

November Weekly Goals:
—Sabbath rest

November Daily Goals:
—Bible reading
—Run!

Your turn! Do you have goals for November? Comment below and I’ll pick one of you to send a special surprise box of goodies to from the Cultivate What Matters Shop! I love sending real mail, and I love hearing your thoughts! 

P.S. You know those hurried days between Christmas and New Years when everyone scrambles to set goals? Instead of microwaving your goals, let’s slow cook them. Join me starting on December 9th for PowerSheets Prep Week! I’ll walk you step-by-step through the PowerSheets Prep Work and Goal Action Plan pages to help you prepare well for 2020. Get your PowerSheets ordered now so you get them in plenty of time, and mark your calendar. I can’t wait to dig in with you!

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