Transcription of Cultivate Your Life Podcast Episode 027: How To Set Goals for 2020, Part 1

Episode 027 of the Cultivate Your Life Podcast was released on December 4th, 2019. Listen here!

Lara: Maybe you’re feeling frustrated as you look back at 2019. You didn’t make as much progress as you had hoped on some of those goals or you’ve forgot about them completely. Perhaps goal setting has failed you before, and you feel defeated already thinking about the new year. You’re even considering going goalless. Perhaps you’ve stumbled on this podcast though because it intrigued you. You really want change in your life, but you’re afraid of how long it’s going to take. You want change yesterday. You want a quick fix or maybe this year has actually been great. You made progress on the right goals, and you want to keep it going for 2020. No matter what led you here, you are in the right place. Your imperfection, your past failures, your heartache, and that desire for fast change are all welcome here. In fact, they might be the very things that propel you forward on a fresh new path. How? In today’s episode, I’m going to tell you how we can change the way we see goal setting forever. Today’s episode is a must listen. Let’s talk.

Lara: You know all those things you’ve always wanted to do? You should go do them, the things that last longer than you, the things that run deeper and are more thrilling than skydiving, the things that make you come alive. Welcome to the Cultivate Your Life podcast where each week we talk about how to uncover what matters to you in the big picture and start acting like it today. Whether you’re feeling stuck, overwhelmed, or in need of some refreshing truth today, I’m Lara, and you are in the right place. Let’s cultivate what matters together. Hello, hello. I am so glad to be here with you even with a voice that decided to go on holiday vacation a little bit early. I am so pumped to be here with you for our podcast version of the Ninth Annual Intentional Goal Setting Series. We are nine years strong, friends. What in the world are we going to do for that 10 year anniversary next year? I need some ideas. We got to plan something extra fun together.

Lara: Now, many of you have been doing the goal setting series with me since year one, and your goal updates, every year, they just blow me away. Let’s kick this off with who this goal setting series for. The short answer, you. If you’ve tried goal setting before and you’ve burned yourself out or you didn’t follow through, you’re in the right place. If you aren’t even convinced that goal setting could be good for you this year and fun, you’re also in the right place. 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, I’m sending some huge high fives your way, just big ole high fives. Here we go. Yep, high fives everywhere all around because this is the place to be. If you’re new to this series, a big welcome from all of us across the world that have been doing this for almost a decade together. You are in for a treat this year.

Lara: Now, to see the written typed version of this, go on over, there’s so many fun surprises, at Hop on over to You can follow along with the series and also enter the ultimate goal setting giveaway. Y’all, it’s so good. Whether you are 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, just makes me cringe, and embrace a whole new way of doing this goal setting thing together. Are you so ready for this? Oh, yeah. Me too. First, let’s back up a little bit though, and I want to introduce myself because we are going to be getting to know each other very quickly as we go through this four-part series.

Lara: If we’ve never met before, hi. I’m Lara. I’m a mom to three. I’m a grateful wife. We have quite the story. You can go listen to episode one of the podcast to hear that story. I’m the CEO of a growing company called Cultivate What Matters. Big surprise on that name. Right? I just 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, so excited to tell you this, I have a special new book on the way next summer. That’s all I can say for now. I have also 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. With all that experience, I’m the creator of the bestselling PowerSheets Intentional Goal Planner.

Lara: Here’s what’s most important. I don’t love goal setting. No, you didn’t hear that wrong. I don’t love goal setting. I actually don’t like it at all, at least the way it’s traditionally done. Traditional goal setting, maybe you’ve done it before, starts with big dreams that are often born out of comparison or chasing perfect or fear and a desire to keep up with others. Does that sound familiar? Traditional goal setting tells us to conquer the world and that we can’t mess up along the way or we won’t achieve those big dreams. Traditional goal setting tells us, hear me out on this one, traditional goal setting tells us that our worth is hinged on our performance and progress or lack thereof. I write about this and can share about this because I’ve done it. I’ve fallen into all those traps before. You too? It doesn’t feel so good. Does it? Chasing the world’s idea of success always leads to us feeling defeat. Traditional goal setting, no thank you.

Lara: If you have had it with goals too, guess what, we’re going to be fast friends. You have 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 the things that really matter. Here’s what I did. I flipped the traditional goal setting process on its head and, rather than starting with those big dreams and adding more to my plate, I strategically examined what mattered in the big picture using some key questions. Now, this changed everything. It changed what goals I chose to focus on, and it actually gave me motivation to make them happen no matter how many times I messed up along the way. Boy, did I mess 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. Guess what. You don’t either.

Lara: This is goal setting for people who hate goal setting. Welcome. Are you feeling relief from the pressure already? Good. Throughout my life when I’ve felt frustrated, and maybe you’ve felt this too, frustrated that I didn’t make progress like I’d hoped, in the times I found myself overwhelmed, which was many, I still fall in that trap, when I even hit goals but felt knocked down in the process, it was always because of one thing. I have gotten this one thing wrong so many times. You ready to hear what it is? Goals are not the goal. What matters is. Goals are just how you get there. Fact number one, the hashtag dream big has over 12 million posts. Fact number two, statistics show that dreaming big lasts us until about February 13th, the day most of the world gives up on those New Year’s resolutions. Here’s fact number three, statistics also show that the essential ingredient for follow through is first knowing what matters, setting goals that have a why, setting goals that are connected to helping you thrive in the big picture.

Lara: Now, we’re going to dig into this, but here’s a little tip to start us off. Why in the world does that matter? Because our brains, they gravitate towards things that help us survive and thrive. Think about it. Think about the things that you’ve worked really hard for, even just your daily activities. What are those things motivated by? Your brain was built to focus on survival and thriving, period. For instance, you set a goal to lose 20 pounds because that’s what you weighed in college. Real life story here. I had a client that came to me and said, “Hey, I want to lose 20 pounds to get back in my college jeans,” and I looked at him with compassion, and we had a conversation.

Lara: Instead of me saying, “That’s absolutely not going to work. Sorry. Goals born out of guilt just flat out fail,” we had a conversation. We did what you and I are doing right now, getting to know each other, getting to know what really made him tick. It turned out the thing that was most important to him was his family. Instead of, “I want to lose 20 pounds because that’s what I weighed in college,” his goal became, “I want to get healthy and be fit so that I can live long enough to walk my daughter down the aisle.” That matters. That is connected in his brain to thriving and surviving. That will motivate you to no end no matter how many times you fall down along the way. Knowing what matters changes everything. Knowing what matters is the step most people miss in setting goals that last.

Lara: Knowing what matters helps you do what we call cultivated dreaming, dreaming that’s pointed at the big picture instead of, and, again, maybe you’ve done this, I certain have, dreaming that’s pointed at the big picture of instead of dreams pulled out of thin air because of comparison or fear or trying to keep up. So exhausting. Isn’t it? Here’s the paradigm shift in how we do goals, how you are going to do goals for 2020, knowing that goals will not change your life. Let’s let that sink in for a sec. Goals will not change our lives. Knowing what matters will. Goals are just how you get there. In this four-part series, you’re 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. Cultivated goal setting starts with, you guessed it, now you know, uncovering what matters.

Lara: Here’s just a little letter to all of the world. Dear all of the world, that sounds very big, but I mean this, y’all. Dear all of the world, dear culture of hustle where anxiety rates are on the rise every day, dear women, us, all of us who have put our hope in chasing so many things that have failed us, we have sometimes unintentionally chased perfect and chased a title or wealth, appearance, knowledge, goals achieved, wins, new friends even, organizational skills, where we live, our stuff, our status, our maturity, our abilities or, here’s a big one, what others think of us. Right? This is a reminder for you, and it’s also a reminder for me too. Start with what matters. Look at the big picture of your life, and we’re going to do that.

Lara: Let me introduce you to a discovery that my team and I made recently, and it’s something that we’ve seen happen for years and years and never really put a finger on until just now. We call it the cultivate continuum. It sounds like a big word. Right? It is so simple though. What I’m about to share with you is this cycle, the same cycle that we see in all of life around us. We see it in the seasons, in my garden, in our faith, everywhere. We move through this cycle every day, every month even in our PowerSheets, and every season as we renew our focus on what matters. Here’s what it is. We start with uncovering what matters. Then, we make a plan. That’s the setting goals part. Then, we live it out. You uncover what matters. You make a plan. You live it out. Now, most people stop there. Most of us think it should be three steps and we’re done. That’s why we fail in our goals. This is why we don’t follow through on goals, because we fail to recognize that it actually is the cycle that keeps going.

Lara: You uncover what matters. You make a plan. You live it out. Then, you come back to uncovering what matters and making a new plan in every season of your life and living it out in different ways. Then, you do it again. You uncover what matters in the next season or in the next week, and you make a plan, and you live it out. Have you felt this pressure to set goals on January 1st, and you feel like almost like you can’t even write them down on paper because, oh my goodness, there’s so much pressure that I have to do these for the rest of time? If I write these things down, this is what I’m committing to for the rest of the year, and it feels impossible. Guess what. It actually is impossible. Isn’t that so freeing? Is it impossible. Your brain needs, you and I have talked about this, our brains need a refresh every 90 days. We can not intently focus on a concentrated project or goal for more than 90 days without needing a refresh on what matters.

Lara: I know. Aren’t the light bulbs going off for you right now? Most of us, we start with… Again, I can speak about this because I’ve done it. Most people start with making a plan. We start with the middle step of this cycle. We skip the uncover what matters part. We just set off on our course on January 1st making a plan. Then, somewhere around, I don’t know, January 2nd, we start to feel like, “Oh man. I over-committed. This is too much. I don’t know about all these shiny goals I set out to achieve.” This is a paradigm shift in the way we think, my friend. We’ve got to start with what matters. When we lose sight of that, our goals are meaningless. When you know what matters, the mundane actually becomes meaningful. I’ve shared this with you before, but even things like taking out the trash to me can become meaningful when I think of the reason why I’m doing it. Doesn’t it mean that every task in our life is going to be pleasurable. No, but it helps me to do the things that don’t feel fun.

Lara: Right now, I have, where is this? Look at this. This stack of tax paperwork sitting on my desk. Do I love, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10, 11, 12 envelopes just from today of tax paperwork sitting on my desk. Do I love filling that out? No, but when I think about the big picture why, that I get to fill those out because the Lord has blessed us with resources to use for his good purposes, then, yeah, of course I’m going to go do those things. It gives meaning to these things that we think are mundane. You have a why, and it’s energizing. The other great thing that happens is when you start with what matters, instead of just going out the gate with your plan, when you start with what matters, you get to get creative and take opportunities as they come throughout the year to make progress on those things that matter because you have a compass. You know what matters and what doesn’t.

Lara: All this to say that how you accomplish your goal in 2020 is not as important as why. You can make progress on a goal in a million ways. Think about that. There’s so much freedom and fun in that. That is where goal setting becomes fun, is when you don’t feel like you’re stuck with a rigid plan. You’re not so focused on the goal that you lose sight of what matters. Remember, goals are not going to change your life. Knowing what matters will. Goals are just how you get there, and they change and they grow as our seasons and as our life does too. Over these last nine years that I have been writing this annual goal setting series, I’ve studied what makes us feel unmotivated and what causes us to follow through, and I’ve made a ton of mistakes along the way myself. Isn’t that the best ground for learning? Good, because I’ve got a lot of mistakes under my belt.

Lara: What causes people to change though? The one thing I know is that what causes people to change starts with one pivotal moment. It’s the moment when you decide that the pain of staying the same, that frustration you feel right now looking back on 2019, when you think about staying the same and doing the same old things over and over again, when you start to believe that I actually don’t want to stay here anymore, when the pain of staying the same outweighs the pain of change, that’s when people change. It’s the moment you decide that you are tired of doing the same things you’ve always done and getting the same results you’ve always gotten. This might be that moment for you. Now, you could just stop here and quit before even trying.

Lara: You could do that. 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 me. Going through the motions, not feeling confident that you’re on the right path, getting distracted, lacking motivation, you know, not taking care of what you’ve been given and generally wasting your time or you could end 2020 knowing that you lived your best year, with direction and motivation, but I want you see this in a big neon sign, but no perfection required. Cultivated goals, the kind we are going to uncover together in this series, will do that for you. Now, I know you’re probably feeling right now like, “Okay, Lara. We’ve talked enough about this series and how we’re going to do it. Let’s just do it,” but I want you to think about something.

Lara: Have you ever… I’m sharing all these embarrassing things. Have you ever turned on the burner on your stove with a pot of hot oil and you’re going to make a stir-fry or whatever it is and you didn’t have your ingredients out in time and that oil got so hot that the moment you put your ingredients in, you were so scattered, all your stuff was not prepared where you needed it in front of you, that things got a little burned? Maybe it’s just me. That is just like this series. We need to have our ingredients out in front of us so that you have a clear picture of where we’re going with this so you can make a good meal. Apparently I’m hungry. Moving on. This four-part series is just a taste of the PowerSheets Intentional Goal Planner, this first section that we call the prep work.

Lara: That’s the uncover what matters part. Your PowerSheets, there are lots of you out there that are using your PowerSheets this year, and I am so excited to do this alongside you. Your PowerSheets are going to have a whole lot more goal uncovering insights and guided worksheets, of course, than I’m going to include in this series, but even more importantly, your PowerSheets are going to help you to take those good cultivated goals that you uncover in this series and live them out month by month, little by little. I’m saying that because it’s not enough to just set good goals. We’re going to set some good goals here. We’re going to uncover some really great things, but then you got to do something about them too, so be prepared for that. The goal is not to get to a list of goals, the end, something for you to just share on the Instagrams. Right?

Lara: The goal is for you to uncover what matters, set some good goals for this season, and then live them out little by little. This series is a starting point to help you to think differently. If you want a system that’s going to help you to live it out all year long, get your PowerSheets Intentional Goal Planner today. I’m just going to stop right here and tell you that two out of the four covers are officially sold out, so get your PowerSheets now. Now is the time. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Now is the time, and I have a surprise for you. This is the only time I’ve ever given out a code, a discount code, for PowerSheets. Get your PowerSheets for 15% off today using the code bestyear2020. Use the code bestyear2020 for 15% off your PowerSheets at, and our shipping team in Kentucky is going to be so grateful to get your order and ship it out to you ASAP. Don’t forget, use that code bestyear2020 for 15% off at

Lara: We are literally like two minutes away from doing our first step together. Are you excited? I’m excited. I’m excited for you. I can see you dancing in that seat. I can see you. You’re dancing. You’re loving it. I am so excited. I’m really pumped, so here’s three ways to get the most out of the series and out of your PowerSheets. Number one, super important, instead of just thinking your answers, write them down. I get it. If you’re driving, you’re doing laundry, whatever, just grab some scrap piece of paper or use a voice memo or whatever it is. Handwriting makes a difference though. At some point, write your answers down. This is so simple and impactful. Write your answers in your PowerSheets, in a journal. If you want accountability though, come over to and leave them in the comments so that I can cheer you on personally. I can’t wait to read your answers throughout the series.

Lara: The number one way to get the most out of this series is write your answers down. Thinking them doesn’t count. Number two, cheer her on. You know how it feels when someone encourages you? Yeah, it feels amazing. Let’s do that for each other throughout this series. You never know how your words might change someone’s life forever, so hop on over and cheer some of those ladies on in the comments. You just never know if you might meet a lifelong friend. I’ve seen it happen over and over and over over the last nine years that we’ve been doing this together, and nothing excites me more. Number three, here we go, make a mess. If you tend to buy journals, true confessions here, people, if you buy journals or planners and then leave them on a shelf, I’ve been there, done that, let’s turn that habit around starting now by practicing what I call making a mess.

Lara: You aren’t going to let the need for perfect handwriting or perfect answers or perfect timing keep you from uncovering your best goals this year. Are you? Didn’t think so. Number one, write your answers down. Number two, cheer her on. Number three, make a mess. Are you ready to get started? Yes. I am so pumped for you. Let’s do this. Do a life audit. Do you know the reason you burned out and gave up on some of your goals or maybe all of them somewhere around mid January or February or January 2nd like we talked about? 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, we’re first going to look at what’s already there. Then, you can either keep what’s growing and keep growing those things if they matter to you in the big picture or clear them out, make room for new ones.

Lara: Let’s do that together right now taking a look at how we are doing today so we can avoid burn out and finally follow through on the things that matter to us. Isn’t that going to feel so good? Consider this spring cleaning for your goals. Old you, old me, old us would grow all the things at once, mostly mediocrely, and the result was nothing grows well at all, but the cultivated you grows the right things one step at a time, doing a few things well and loving it. It starts with this question. Answer this question. How are you, really? How are you? We’re going to check in on a few key areas of our lives. In the PowerSheets, we call this a cultivated life evaluation. It’s like doing a life audit. We actually come back to it every 90 days, like we talked about, the magic of 90 days. Your brain needs a refresh. It’s so helpful to come back to this and just do a little check in, this is like a foundation, and reevaluate how we’re doing and where we might need to focus.

Lara: I’m going to name some of these life categories for you. You can change the categories if you’d like and make it custom to your own life, but you’re going to give each area of your life a rating between one and 10 along with a few thoughts on why you chose that number. For example, one means that you’re not satisfied in this area, and you want to see radical change. Are you ready for this? 10 means you are happy as a bee on honeysuckle. Y’all know I love some bees, so that means you’re pretty happy. All right. Here we go. How are you doing with your health? Keep in mind, there are things I know that are things you can’t control, but how are you doing? How is your mental space doing about your health? How are you feeling about it? No guilt, no shame here. Just give it a rating one through 10. We are going to do some great things with these numbers moving forward.

Lara: Just real quick, lay down the facts, one through 10. What about friends? Give that a rating, one through 10. One means that you want so much change here. You want radical change. 10 means you couldn’t be happier. Family, and this could include a significant other if that’s applicable. How are you feeling about family? How are you doing? Remember, nobody needs to know or see these answers but you. Don’t write these things down in fear of writing the truth because then the Instagram world might see it or a friend, whatever. You can burn this paper if you want to. “Be safe,” says Smokey the Bear, but nobody needs to see it but you. Right? How are you doing with your health, your friends, family? Now, what about finances? How are you in your finances? I want to stop here for a minute. Notice any tension that you might feel in your body. It’s okay to feel tension. I just want to tell you you’re doing a great job. You’re doing this right, especially if you’re feeling like, “I don’t want to think about this stuff.”

Lara: You might be tempted to just jump ship on this podcast right now and go to happier lands, but I am proud of you for not doing that because you want change. Change takes change. Change sometimes take hard work and looking at the hard things and seeing the challenges as opportunities because they are. All right. Here we go. Next category is spiritual and personal growth. How are you doing with that? How are you feeling? The last two categories are work and recreation. Now, work could mean the work you do, the good work you do as a love at home mom. It could mean you go to a nine to five. You decide whatever work means to you. Everybody works. We all do work no matter what it is. We’re all working and moving and moving forward with things. How do you feel about work? How do you feel about recreation? If you’re like me, sometimes you think to yourself, “What is recreation? I do not know about this thing you speak of, recreation.”

Lara: The word, if you just break it apart, is re creation. What are you doing to fuel yourself back up so that you can cultivate what matters, not just in your life but in the lives of others? There you go. Those are seven different key areas of life. Again, you can customize them as you like, but how are you? How are you with your health, friends, family, finances, spiritual and personal growth, work, and recreation? “How are you?” might seem 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 because you don’t know what you don’t know. Unless you stop and evaluate where you are right now, how are you going to know what to change? 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, even if you answered all zeroes, is your growing ground.

Lara: Now, maybe you’re thinking, “Oh, Lara. Every category is terrible for me.” Well, guess what. You might think I lost my marbles, but I think that’s great. It means that you have more opportunities for good change ahead. That’s really exciting. Call each category what it is and know that I’m cheering you on as you get honest to write it out. Let’s count those challenges as the opportunities that they are. Here’s an example from my life. In 2018, I was challenged by contentment and emotional spending. I remember my finances category, I think I marked that a three or a four. I felt especially frustrated by the out of the blue things that knocked us off course when I was working so hard to keep our finances in order, but I decided to use my frustration and my low rating in that box as fuel.

Lara: Earlier this year, after going through the PowerSheets process and uncovering what matters, which is what you’re doing right now, and also knowing what was holding me back, I set out to have a goal of a no spend year in 2019. Remember, I knew what mattered first. To me, the thing that mattered was having a heart set on eternity, and so I set a goal. The way I got there this year was having a no spend year, readjusting how I thought about money, and more on that in a little bit. Allow yourself to write the things that may feel undone, imperfect, or hard and then write in some positive thoughts too even if the positive feels tiny. Again, I’m proud of you. You’re doing this. You’re working really hard at this. Now, a bonus challenge for you overachievers, which is pretty much everybody listening to this, let the dirt be dirt.

Lara: Once you’ve written everything out and all those numbers, just notice your feelings for a minute, whatever they may be, without trying to change them or push them away immediately. Don’t we do that? Let the challenges and places that you’d like to grow sink in a little bit. If you’re like me, I often want to fix my circumstances right away instead of letting myself feel anything at all. Have you done that too? My instinct is to reach for distractions when I’m faced with something that feels hard. Are you tempted to scroll Instagram right now? Here’s the thing though. Distractions are never going to bring peace or clarity. They never bring me peace or clarity ever, so let’s not do that. Maybe the soil of your life needs some fresh nutrients or maybe there are some real big rocks in the way of you planting new things. The only way you’ll know though is see what’s there first. Besides, all those rocks and weeds in your growing ground, they’re opportunities, places in your life that are ready to be transformed.

Lara: Learn from the past. In traditional goal setting, you focus on the future and achieving your goals as fast as humanly possible. Now, that is a recipe for burn out. I have 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, so let’s take a look back at this last year. What good things happened in 2019? What grew well for you? What are you grateful for from the last 12 months? Now, 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’s not going to get us anywhere fast or perhaps you’re thinking that there were no good things that happened in 2019. It’s really 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 23 hours.

Lara: Let’s do a little digging, a few tips for you as we unearth this good stuff. You could talk to someone who knows you well about your year and ask him or her to reflect some of the highlights back to you. I do this with Ari. He or she may remember some of the things that you have forgotten. This is also a really great way to celebrate the good things of the past year with others. You can make it your dinner conversation tonight. Also try looking at good things season to season, so just think to yourself, “Okay, what did we do in the spring? What was good in the spring?” Then, move on, “What about the summer?” That might help you to jog your memory a little bit. Number two, take a look back at your calendar, your blog posts, your social media updates, or your photos. That might give you a clue into some of the good things you’ve forgotten.

Lara: Number three, super simple, read through your 2019 PowerSheets. That’s what I did. It’s a simple way to just see how much you’ve grown this year. We have this great monthly page after each month where you write out the things that were good and the progress that you’ve made, and that really adds up over time. All right. Number four, review your finances from the year. This is a pro tip. This is like reading a journal of the places that you went and what some of your priorities were. Here are a few of my good things. You can read all of them at My word for 2019 was heart. Here’s what that looked like in my year. It looked like letting my heart be changed and getting to know God’s heart more.

Lara: This was the year that I learned how to nap. Our year of sabbath was a gift. Other good things were that Psalm 90:12. As you and I have talked about so much together this year, it’s been my favorite conversation with you. Episode eight of the podcast, How to Number Your Days, totally changed my life, and it continues to. I started this podcast. That was new this year. Other good things, may sound weird, but another good thing was that our plans did not go as planned. Our house flooded, my garden stopped growing, and things generally went awry this summer. Now, why was that a good thing? It was because God had a plan. I didn’t see it as a good thing at first, but he had a plan. I wrote a children’s book this year. I have such butterflies saying that out loud for the first time. I did. I wrote a children’s book, and it’s coming in the summer of 2020. I’m so excited to let you read it.

Lara: We did an eight-mile hike as a family, and we survived with two three-year-olds and a seven-year-old. My no spend year goal was a success. Now, here’s the thing. If I was doing traditional goal setting though, I would be telling you this was an epic failure. Let me remind you of said house flood and unexpected expenses, two exploded water heaters. Here is where cultivated goal setting helps you to 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. By his grace, it did and hopefully will continue to. We loved reading the book God and Money as one of our first action steps this year, and our little by little progress added up to a heart change and more peace in the unexpected.

Lara: Other good things, I made new friends this year and strengthened old ones. At almost 40 years old, that is such a gift. Team Cultivate settled into a new office. We sold that office house a few months later, and then we signed the lease on a commercial retail space that we are so excited about. I can’t wait to meet you there in the new year, and there’s so many more things. Go read all my good things at More importantly, I want to hear yours. Share those in the comments on the website Overall though, I set four goals for the year, and little by little they happened. Now, did I mess up along the way? Yes. Did I have some challenges? Definitely, but imperfect progress is still progress. 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.

Lara: Now, let’s name a few of the challenges from 2019. What didn’t help you cultivate what matters this year? This might actually be the most valuable step you take because this is going to help you to know where not to go in 2020. Write your things down and know that each thing you write down is an area of your life that could be made completely new. Here are a few of my 2019 challenges. Any time I worried, feared, or gave into stress when our plans didn’t go as planned, it was because I forgot that God is God, and he has done countless miraculous things in my life. They were everything from my neck pain, turning 40 soon and feeling it, to times pride got in the way of obedience or trust, times I sat too much at my desk, when I made decisions before asking the Lord first. You can read all of my challenges from the year at

Lara: There were a whole lot more that I listed, but in all of them, I grew. That is the value of doing goal setting this way. Again, most people start with a plan. We’ve done that. Right? We’ve done that, and we are over it. We started with a plan. We set out with big goals and dreams, and we burned ourselves out, and we just felt the guilt and the shame, and the cycle continued. Not anymore, my friend. You and I are doing things differently by looking back in order to look forward, by being smart and looking back at the things that didn’t work and did work and reaping the lessons from those. Where do you go from here with these good things and challenges, especially the challenges? Well, do you know how cow manure is one of the best fertilizers for gardens? Well, it’s the same with our challenges. Our challenges can be the best fertilizer for new growth ahead. When you name the lessons, you learn from them.

Lara: One of my biggest lessons each year is that I don’t do this life alone. Even in the times I catch myself feeling alone, I’m not alone, and you aren’t either. Let’s, as my friend Rach says, get after grateful. Looking back at your list of good things and all that you’ve written in your PowerSheets so far, who helped you to live on purpose this year? Who encouraged you or helped you? You can download a free printable worksheet at to write down the names of those you are grateful for and why. Then, do something about it. I told you we were going to do things, not just think them. Thank those people for the specific things they helped you with or inspired in you right now. Yep, pause the podcast.

Lara: You may think that they don’t need encouragement, but your words have power, so get after grateful because it changes things. You can also keep this really simple, and it can still make a huge impact. Just pause right now. Send a text message or an email. That can go a long way to change someone’s day. Just flip it in reverse. What if someone sent you an email or a text message right now? It’s going to change their life. I spent the morning sending emails to friends and colleagues who have meant a lot to me this year, and I felt that glow of sending those happy messages all day. Who are you grateful for this year? Leave your answers in the comments at, but most of all, send some love to the people on your list.

Lara: Now, you might be thinking, “Lara, this is a really happy activity, but what does this have to do with goal setting?” Once you make your list and you send out a few of those messages, I want you to tell me the answer. See how it makes you feel because one of the best things we can do when we feel unmotivated is to motivate somebody else, is to give that gift right back to others. Then, we key into one of the secrets of life. It’s not about us. Cultivated goals are about helping others to know what matters too, so I’m going to start right here. I’m grateful for you. Making this podcast this year… Why am I getting all teary-eyed? Making this podcast this year has been a sacrifice of heart, and I’ve been so motivated to do it every single time because I think about where I was 10 years ago and how lost I felt, how hopeless and how alone I felt.

Lara: If I can just help one person, just one person, to know that there is a hope that never ends and his name is Jesus, if I can help one person with that, I’m good. I’ll step into what’s uncomfortable. From the moment I started this podcast, it has felt completely outside of my comfort zone. All that to say I’m grateful for you. I’m really grateful for you. Thank you for having this conversation with me each week. Thank you for spurring me on and encouraging me. It really means a lot. I’m excited for you to give that same gift to your people and just watch this domino effect happen. You know what happens when one woman chooses to cultivate what matters? World change. Think about that.

Lara: When one woman chooses to focus on what matters instead of chasing dreams born out of comparison or fear or keeping up, she changes her world. Her people around her feel that, and that has a ripple effect through the generations. I have chills. You know what? That one woman is you, and I am cheering you on. I’m so grateful to be doing this alongside you. That, my friend, is part one of 2020 goal setting. Let’s review. First of all, we did a life audit together. We asked that simple but profound question. How are you doing? How are you doing in each area of your life? Which areas do you most want to improve? What needs the most nourishment and cultivation? Also, what have you been chasing lately, and how is that making you feel?

Lara: Number two, we evaluated the past. We made our list of good things, and we named the challenges, and we extracted some valuable lessons from them. Then, we got after grateful, naming the people we’re grateful for and then doing something about it. We’re not here to just think things. We’re here, you’re here because you were tired of living the same way you’ve always lived. You’re tired of getting the same results you’ve always gotten. You are ready to have a paradigm shift in the way you think about goals, and you just began that. Come on over Share some of your answers in the comments to encourage others, and I can’t wait to personally cheer you on.

Lara: Remember this, we are tossing comparison out the window and doing the most radical thing we can do together. We’re walking our own unique paths and cheering other women on as they do the same. Comparison is not just the thief of joy. It’s the thief of everything, so keep your eyes on your purposeful path and celebrate others. Celebrate progress, not perfection. Cultivate gratitude over comparison because gratitude turns what we have into more than enough. Well, that was fun. Wasn’t that fun? I’ll be back next week 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.

Lara: You are letting your 2020 goals bake like a pan of hot homemade cinnamon rolls. Now, those cinnamon rolls, that dough, it would not be so flaky and yummy if you zapped it in the microwave. Right? I know you’re anxious to set good goals, and I know you would really like it if part two was already available, but I’m purposely not putting it out there because we are going to let those goals slow cook. Instead of just pushing after having that shiny pretty list of goals in our hands, we’re going to do this right, slow cooking our goals little by little with some big bold leaps of faith along the way. I’ll be back next week for part two. Until then, go to and enter the ultimate New Year’s giveaway. We have some amazing prizes I really wish I could win myself. Don’t forget, get your 2020 PowerSheets now. Use the code bestyear2020 for 15% off your order, and I will see you next time.

Ari: Cultivate Your Life with my wife Lara Casey Isaacson. We’re not quite done. This is the outro, and Casey didn’t know. Now, don’t forget to rate it and review it. Rate it and review it, you can do it. Tell your friends to listen in and subscribe to be notified when a new episode drops. Now, Cultivate Your Life with my wife Lara Casey. Was that okay, babe?