Episode 028 of the Cultivate Your Life Podcast was released on December 11th, 2019. Listen here!

Lara: You are tired of it. You are tired of the way that traditional goal setting has made you feel. All those feelings of guilt when you messed up on a goal, and you just decided to jump ship on the whole shebang. The feelings of not following through again, the feelings of overwhelm somewhere around, I don’t know, January 2nd. I’ve been there and I’m so glad that you are here right now. We are going to have a lot of fun together digging into part two of the 2020 Goal Setting series, including learning how to choose a word of the year. What is that? What does it even mean? How do you do it? Where do you start? I’m here to guide you and I’m so excited for our chat today. 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.

Lara: You are blowing me away, blowing me away. Have you gone to 2020goalsetting.com yet to read all of the comments? This is like a goal setting fiesta happening in the comments. You guys, this is the kind of thing that just makes me really frustrated in a good way, because I wish we could be in the same room together doing this in person every year. My house would be completely packed out and it would be awesome. Because I just want to be in person to tell you how proud I am of you, how excited I am for you in our world. As we’ve talked about… I know that sounds so big, but I am. I’m so excited for our world, for the whole universe, because when one woman chooses to cultivate what matters, it changes her family, all the people around her. And that causes a ripple effect to start happening, and that changes the world.

Lara: So, high fives to all of you across the world that have joined for The 2020 Goal Setting series. And if you’re just now joining us, welcome. Welcome, you’re joining an amazing group of women that have been doing this alongside me for the last nine years. Crazy, right? We have really got to plan something awesome for year 10, but I’d say this here right now tops them all so far. So this is getting good. As we talked about in part one of the series, we’re doing this goal setting thing differently. We are not choosing our goals out of thin air or because of comparison. We’re not doing fleeting resolutions or quick fixes. I’m so relieved to even say those words. Whew. You feeling that too? You and I are choosing to do things differently than the rest of the world. We’re choosing to cultivate what matters.

Lara: So this four part series is a taste of the PowerSheets Intentional Goal Planner. Now your PowerSheets, they’re going to have a whole lot more goal uncovering insights and guided worksheets than I include in this series. And if you haven’t gotten your PowerSheets, now is the time. We are sold out of several of the covers, so go on over to cultivatewhatmatters.com and get your power sheets now for 15% off with the code, bestyear2020. We are uncovering really meaningful goals rooted in what matters most here together. And the thing that matters most though, is that you do something about it. So that’s why I love my PowerSheets, because they not only have helped me alongside this process to uncover the things that I really want to spend my time on, this gift of time that we have, but they help me to live it out little by little, day by day, month by month, throughout the whole year. So go get your PowerSheets.

Lara: I’m so excited for you and us today. Let’s knock down some barriers, shall we? Let’s do it. You know the feeling you get when your to do-list is overflowing? Yeah, I know. We know this feeling, right? 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. You feel like you just can’t let go of anything because something might fall through the cracks if you do. So you keep going, keep trying to do your best to get one more thing done. Feeling like the only thing that’s done is you. Have you felt that before? Maybe you’re feeling that right now? And I certainly have felt that too. Maybe you are here listening to this podcast because you’re searching for something. Something that will make life easier because you feel like you’re missing it. You feel like you’re missing your life, and you think, when will I have time to start really living?

Lara: Let’s go ahead and talk about this. Conquering your to-do list once and for all won’t solve things. So what does solve this battle of woman versus to-do lists? 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. Now, before we get to that golden question though, let me help you with something that you may be feeling right now. Have you caught yourself feeling like your answers to our first chat together in part one 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 one were exactly what they were supposed to be. This is just a process and you are on your way to your best year.

Lara: Several years ago I wrote a note to myself in the kitchen. Have you ever done that? You need to remind yourself of something. Maybe it’s, I need to buy milk, or need to take out the trash, or buy more diapers, or whatever it is, and you write yourself a little note. Well, I had just put my daughter, Grace to sleep. She was just born recently, and I just put her to sleep, and I got this sinking feeling that I wasn’t really living my life. Something was missing. I felt that same frustration that we just chatted about feeling like, when am I going to start really living? And there was this one thing that I really wanted to do, and I had made a lot of excuses about not doing it. And so I wrote myself a little note, and here’s what I wrote. I said, “You know all those things you’ve always wanted to do? You should go do them.”

Lara: I wrote that little handwriting piece to myself, not about skydiving, or 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, and I didn’t feel like I had enough knowledge, or patience, or smarts, or so many things that I told myself. But here’s the big but… I wanted to grow my faith. I was determined. This really mattered to me in the big picture. Now, 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?

Lara: Little by little, over the course of a year and a half, I did end up reading the Bible. I started out trying to do any year, but it took me a little extra time and it changed everything. The little by little imperfect progress added up. 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.

Lara: Ready for the one question you need to ask yourself to uncover your best goals? Here it is. Where do you want to be when you’re 80 or 90 or a hundred? 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 that you can’t wait to get started on. This question is the heart of all that we do. So, let’s see how this question changes things though. Have you ever heard of smart goals? Smart 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 for 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.

Lara: No matter how many times you mess up along the way, you’ll get back up because you care. How perfectly you get there does not 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 lately? This urgency to double down on what’s important in life. I know how you feel and I am so excited for you.

Lara: Like I said, 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 in my office. I am so grateful to work alongside these amazing ladies, and just imagine them also giving you high fives. We are with you each step of the way, and we’ve been praying for you as you go through this series. You are in the process of uncovering purpose-filled goals. And it starts with the big picture, the vital step that most people miss, but not you. So what will matter to you in the big picture and what won’t? I have asked this question, of thousands of women over the years, and the answers tend to be centered on relationships and growing what lasts longer than us. Now, sometimes it’s hard for me to envision where I want to be when I’m 80 or 90 or a hundred, but what’s not hard for me is to envision where I don’t want to be.

Lara: So we’re going to flip this question around, what won’t matter to you then? How many likes you had on an Instagram post? How much other people approved of you? Or having a perfectly clean house, or an organized pantry perhaps. Now there is actually 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 sister. And social media can be a wonderful tool to help others. 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 generations. That’s why uncovering good goals, and having a clear focus is so important. Now, 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’s been holding you back from really living.

Lara: I just want you to know too, I’m talking with my hands a lot as I talk to you here. I am super passionate about this because I’ve lived it. I have lived the chase for perfect, and it goes nowhere. I have lived the chase for significance and it goes also nowhere. I have lived that chase for things that I will never catch, and I want to help you to go somewhere that lasts. So what if you don’t choose to focus on the big picture and look at what matters? You will find yourself restless like I was, 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 answered this question, to get uncomfortable, to think bigger than you and beyond your current circumstances, to press into fear and give it the boot.

Lara: So write out your thoughts about where you want to be, or where you don’t want to be. What will matter? What won’t, when you’re 80 or 90 or a hundred? And remember, make a mess. No perfect answers or handwriting needed. Write what’s true for you. And remember our brains, they seek out pattern and habit. They would really like to just do the same old thing you’ve always done. So if this is a little uncomfortable? Good, that means your brain is trying to change. So dig in to that uncomfortable feeling of, whew, I don’t know if I’m going to write the right thing, or have the perfect words. You don’t need perfect words. Just throw something out for now. Start somewhere.

Lara: Sometimes, the hardest part of getting started is getting started. Am I right? So start somewhere. Write what’s true for you. Now a little PS here about that pesky to-do list. Knowing where you want to be in the big picture helps you to simplify your life and that list today. Not on some far away day when you have your shiny list of goals in hand, right? We’re not waiting for that. If there are things on your to-do list that aren’t pointing you to what matters in the big picture, is possible they don’t need to be there. Take that to-do list

Lara: Next step. 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 that out? And what are you going to need to say no to? Saying no to one thing means you have the opportunity, the space or time, the patience, focus or resources, to say yes to something better. You make room in your life. And we can just stop right here to take the pressure off. You’re not making a yes and no list for all of time. Okay? This is just for right now, write out what you’re saying yes to and no to maybe just in this season. That’s one of the things I love about the PowerSheets process, is we use, like we talked about in part one, The Power of 90 Day Windows.

Lara: Every 90 days our brains need a little refresh, so every 90 days we get to come back and say what we’re saying yes and no to, throughout the year. In fact, every month in the PowerSheets we do that. So write your list of what you’re saying yes to, in 2020, and what you’re saying no to, as you begin that year. A very simple way to make these lists, is just to look back through what you’ve written so far. What have you uncovered so far alongside me in this series? Making that list will be really simple when you look at that. Now here’s a little peek at what I’m saying yes and no to, from my PowerSheets.

Lara: Okay? I hereby interrupt this with a little commercial break from my son Joshua, who just walked into my office. So Joshy, me and my friends here are talking about things that we’re going to say yes to, next year and things were going to say no to. What are some things that you want to say yes to?

Joshua: Chocolate, vanilla bars, honey bars, cupcakes, and chocolate cake.

Lara: Whoa, so fantastic list. Okay, I love you dude. Okay, what do you want to say no to, in the new year?

Joshua: [inaudible 00:18:07], chicken soup, and chicken pie, and everything that’s stinky.

Lara: Everything that’s stinky. Thank you. This commercial break was brought to you by my son, Joshua Isaacson. I love you buddy. I really can’t top that list. I can’t top that list. Yes to chocolate cake. I’m going to add that to my PowerSheets. So, this is one of my favorite, by far, pages in the PowerSheets. Because I love the yes, no list, because you know what? When we say yes and no to things, we’re actually making decisions. And when we make decisions about what matters to us, it changes our actions. And changed actions create changed lives. So the things you write down here, they matter. They’re going to help you to make different decisions when you’re presented with those things in the future, like chocolate cake.

Lara: Okay. On my no list is, filling my schedule before filling it with the word and what matters. Also on my no list, I am saying no to any time that is filled with distraction, that takes me away from doing the things that I know God wants me to do. I am saying no to flying by the seat of my pants at times. I’m saying no to the unimportant stuff that we manage. I clean up Legos a lot, and I know that just sounds like a funny thing to say, but it’s real. The things that we own, they take time to manage and pickup or cleanups, so having less stuff helps you to have less to manage. I am saying no to even things that are good like packing my schedule with good things. Sometimes even too much of a good thing is still too much.

Lara: You can read so much more on [email protected] Now let’s move over to the yes list. So when you say no to one thing, you’re making room, you’re saying yes to something better. On my yes list for 2020, I’m saying yes to focusing on my relationship with God in a richer way, and I know that has a ripple effect. I’m saying yes to preparation for the things that matter. I’m saying yes to studying truth and life in my physical Bible instead of always just using the Bible on my phone. I’m saying yes to the mountains and hiking and breathing space, to being what I call pray-pared… You like that twist on prepared? It’s my favorite. Being pray-pared for the things that matter. I’m saying yes to margin for the meaningful, to wowing friends and my team by encouraging their souls. I’m saying yes to generosity and relationships, giving Him all the glory. And last but certainly not least, I’m saying yes to quiet.

Lara: Download my free Intentional Year List Printable. It’s an instant download and it’s going to help you to have a space to write out what you’re saying yes and no to. You can put it up on your fridge, on your bulletin board or wherever you’ll see at most. So download that now at 2020goalsetting.com. You might find that some of your 2020 goals are starting to come to the surface in what you’ve just written. Because saying yes and saying no, these things 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? Oh, clarity on what matters and what doesn’t is energizing, and I’m excited for you. So now let’s mark what’s important. Right in front of me as you and I are chatting, I’m looking at my great grandmother’s [inaudible 00:21:56] quilt.

Lara: It’s here draped over the tiny little couch here in my office. There’s such an intricate pattern to this. It’s huge, this quilt is so big. And I can’t help but long to have sat next to my great grandmother while she worked her needle over many months. Her quilting was part of her legacy, it mattered. This heirloom makes me feel like I’m a part of something bigger. A story that will last longer than me. Now many years later, I can’t help but notice the tiny little threads, the things that have brought the pieces of this quilt together into one cohesive whole. Without these little threads, they would have no way to stay bound together to create something that lasts, that has a purpose. The themes that keep popping up as you go through this series in your PowerSheets, those are threads too. Your threads point to places that are maybe craving a little nourishment, things in your life that are waiting to be stitched together to make something new.

Lara: Threads are your goals in the making, ready to be discovered and used to tie the big picture of your life together. So let’s notice them, mark them and bring them together right now. Go back in everything you’ve written so far, and find the threads. Circle, mark, sticker, the things that really stand out to you. Look for common themes in what you’ve written, and you can even cross things out if you need to. So just get out the highlighter and a big bold pen and get messy here. This step usually takes me about 20 minutes. I went back and read every word I wrote in my PowerSheets prep, and I highlighted, I circled, and I stickered things that stood out, things that really mattered to me, and things that kept coming up. Mark the threads, mark what matters. What keeps coming up for you as you go through the series, write it down. And let me just remind you that thinking things doesn’t count.

Lara: I know you might be running on a treadmill right now. You might be driving in your car. That’s totally cool. When you get a chance to grab the nearest scrap paper you have in your purse or wherever you are, [inaudible 00:24:18] Use the power of handwriting. This matters. There was a study done where they took a group of students who took notes freehand using pen and paper, and a group of students that took notes using a device. And there was just a landmark difference in those that took notes using pen and paper, because here’s what happens in your brain when you write things down in your own beautiful, messy handwriting, you start to make decisions about that information. You actually, in writing notes, you capture the heart of that information. And isn’t that funny? I remember being in school and taking so many notes and thinking to myself, I’m never going to come back to this, but you know what? It was just the sheer act of writing the notes that really made the biggest difference.

Lara: Writing down notes helps your brain to start to make decisions about the information you’re taking in. So don’t skip this, whenever you can, [inaudible 00:25:17], write those things down. No perfect words required. And the step you’ve been waiting for, choose a 2020 word of the year. So when you look at all you have written so far, what one word keeps popping up in your mind? What word most resonates with you for the year ahead? Summarizing what you want to focus on. Here are some tips that I use that may help you uncover your word of the year. First I’d like to make a list of a few possible words that resonate with me even if I think they aren’t exactly right. And most of the time I feel like I am not going to choose this as a word of the year, but I’m going to write it down anyway because I’m just making a mess here practicing what I preach.

Lara: So, my list for 2020 included, quiet, diligent, prepare, recreation or recreation, margin, 40, I’m laughing but I really wrote that down. I’m turning 40 in a few days. And finally the word, delight. So next step, I got out the dictionary. I love this, still love looking at the meanings of words because I love it so much. So, make your list of possible words and then get out the dictionary or dictionary.com and look up the words origin. Look at the synonyms and the antonyms. And one of my favorite things is to use blueletterbible.org, type in my word and look at some biblical definitions of that word, or the Greek or the Hebrew, some related verses, I really get into this. I love looking at the meaning of words. Now you may be amazed at what you discover. So as I set out on my 2020 word of the year journey, I thought to myself, okay, the word that sounds the coolest on this list is probably recreation or recreation or margin, right?

Lara: And then I started looking them up, but I was like, “I don’t know, I don’t think that those are really the heart, or summarizing all that I’m uncovering and what matters in the big picture.” And so what is my 2020 word of the year? You might wonder, it’s delight. I did not think I would choose this as my word of the year, but that is the beauty of this process. As I searched scripture and read so many verses that make my soul soar, that include the word delight, and as I prayed about where God wants me to go in 2020, it was pretty clear, and I hope that you’re about to experience the same. Do a little digging. It’s like a treasure hunt, then you might be amazed at what you discover. Now, maybe you have some ideas about your word, but you’re worried you’re going to choose the wrong one.

Lara: Can we just take the pressure off? It’s just a word. This is just a tool to help you remember what matters. It’s just a word to help you remember where to focus. Think about this as a word for the season ahead too, not for all of time. And it doesn’t have to be perfect. You have permission to change your mind later on. And remember in the PowerSheets, we’re going to go back every 90 days, every three months because as we grow and change, so do our goals. No pressure needed. Now repeat after me, wherever you are right now. Let’s get weird. Can we get weird for a minute? I think we can after all this time spent together. Repeat after me, “It doesn’t have to be perfect.” Oh, I can hear you. I can hear you across the country, across the world. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

Lara: And now repeat after me again, “Done is better than perfect.” Done is better than perfect. Once you have your word, I’d love to hear your word. Come over to 2020goalsetting.com. Please share with me, I would love to give you some virtual high fives, and give some high fives to those who might have the same word as you too. Remember as we started this series, one of the main ways you can get the most out of this is to encourage her. This is not about us, right? And also we’re bound to have some of the same words, right? Your 2020 word in prominent places in your life. So you’ve got your word, now let’s do something about that. Use this… Again, it’s a nudge. If you want to spend time doing different things than scrolling your phone at night, a nudge for you might be to have a book open on your nightstand and not have your phone there.

Lara: These are just physical nudges that can lead you to make different decisions. If you don’t want to be watching TV at night, give yourself a good nudge and remove the remote from your bedside table, and put something else there so that you might choose it. That’s a nudge. Same thing here, write your 2020 word in prominent places in your life, and let me just say this too, you have permission to make up your own word. All right? We get to write our own rules. You can make up a word. You can use two or three words. Doesn’t have to be a single word. This is just for fun. Write that we’re in prominent places in your life, and on days that you feel overwhelmed or you need some direction, your word will hopefully help you remember where you’re going and where you’re not going. This will help keep you from getting distracted and off track.

Lara: So put that word on a sticky note in your car. Put it on the Word of The Year card, that comes with your PowerSheets. Make it your computer desktop. I’m excited to tell you this, or your phone lock screen. So you can actually download one of over a hundred words that we have hand lettered for you at 2020goalsetting.com. Come on over, download your word of the year. So we’ve got that word in there, and make it that you’re phone wallpaper as a constant reminder. I mean, think about, how many times are you looking at your phone? Make it something good that you’re seeing on the back of that screen. So isn’t that fun? I know. So fun, right? And be sure to share this with your friends so that they can be reminded of their words too.

Lara: Now, I’m excited to kick off 2020 with you doing something that we did this past year. The first month of 2019 was probably one of the most faith transforming months for me. And it can be for you too. So join me and women from all over the world for the 2020 fresh faith challenge. I am really excited to grow our faith together step-by-step and also to use my word of the year and delight in the word with the fresh faith challenge. So hop on over to freshfaithchallenge.com. It’s free, sign up. And I am so excited to kick off the year with you in that.

Lara: And there you have it, now you know good things grow little by little over time. You don’t have to do any of this perfectly, and I am with you every step of the way, cheering you on doing this work right alongside you. Your answers in this series at 2020goalsetting.com have blown me away. Every year you bring your best and this year tops them all. So this week’s goal uncovering steps. Today, first, make sure you buy your PowerSheets if you haven’t already, and use that code. Take advantage of that exclusive 15% off code, bestyear2020, use that code right now at cultivatewhatmatters.com.

Lara: And then you know now that answering the golden question is going to help you to uncover the right goals. So what do we do together today? First answer the golden question, what will matter to you in the big picture, and what won’t? Next, make your yes and your no list, and hop on over to 2020goalssetting.com and get that free printable to make your list, and then mark what matters. Go back and Mark the things that stand out to you. In what you have written so far, find those threads that pull things together. And last but not least, choose a 2020 word of the year as a way to remember what matters in the big picture.

Lara: You are doing it step-by-step. Your focus for 2020 is becoming clearer. I am having the time of my life, as it seems, you are too, going through this series together, uncovering what matters most. Getting to make action plans we can’t wait to get started on, and then living them out. There is so much more ahead. But for now, go over to 2020goalsetting.com, enter the ultimate new year’s giveaway. Oh it’s so on. You guys are all about this giveaway. Those prizes, are they so good? And can I ask you a favor? Will you share this free series with all your friends? Because there’s someone out there who like me, feels like it’s impossible for anything to change. And hopefully in this series she’ll see that it’s not, that little-by-little a whole new life can be uncovered.

Lara: You know all those things you’ve always wanted to do my friend, you are getting ready to go do them. I couldn’t be more grateful to be here with you. Until next time, I’ll see you next week with part three of the 2020 Goal Setting series. And in our comment party that is happening over at 2020goalsetting.com, you guys rock. So hop on over to the party, 2020goalssetting.com and I will see there.

Ari: Cultivate your life with my wife, Lara Casey Isaacson. We’re not quite done. And this is the out-tro and in case didn’t know. Now don’t forget to rate it and review it, rate it, and review it. You can do it and tell your friends to listen in and subscribe to be notified when a new episode drops. Now cultivate your life with my wife, Lara. Is that okay babe?