Hi friends!! The UPDATED 2017 version of the resource I share below is now available and can be found here! Keep reading to see how I use my PowerSheets to set realistic goals that are actually doable!
I’ll be totally honest with you. I sat down to write this post a few times this week, and just ended up staring at a blinking cursor, frustration growing in my belly.
It has been a busy and stress-filled week. I am still not recovered from having family over for Thanksgiving, so my house has been a disaster, my kids have been a bit out of control, and my husband is barely home at all right now, (it’s concert season for music teachers!) so I’ve been on my own for the most part. I have just felt like I have NOT been able to get it together. So how was I supposed to write about setting goals?
Yesterday, after trying to write and getting interrupted no less than 167 times in five minutes, I decided to just TAKE A BREAK. No computer, no writing, no planning for the day. I was only feeling like a failure anyways. So, I dove into something I could actually accomplish. I finished washing and folding all the laundry, and I even put it away. I sat down with my kids and read a couple of Christmas stories. I made dinner. I let my kids go outside to play even though everything was wet. I stopped stressing about ALL THE THINGS and just started doing what I could.
It ended up being a really great day. And this morning, I was able to dive into setting my goals and get some writing done because my mind and heart were clear and refreshed from the day before. I thought about the difference between yesterday and today, and I realized something that’s really true for me.
I cannot think about all the things I have to do, or want to do, in a clear way, until my physical space is peaceful.
So today, as we talk about setting realistic goals for the new year, I would encourage you to take a few minutes (maybe even a day!) to get your space ready. Get rid of the clutter in your mind (my house has been WEIGHING on me, so it was such a relief to get that done!), and also find a space to work where you are at peace and able to think!
Alright, let’s get started!!
I’m so excited about this topic today, because I LOVE planning, and also because I love the new year. Reflecting on the last 12 months, and dreaming for the next 12 months totally pumps me up.
In the past, I’ve done this a few different ways. I’ve chosen a word for the year, and I’ve refused to choose a word for the year. I’ve set goals and made plans based on what I’m feeling. But most of those things have fizzled out by about mid-March, if I even made it that long.
This year, I’m doing things differently, with a new resource in hand. And it’s making all the difference.
I’ve spent the last couple of weeks diving into Lara Casey’s PowerSheets. PowerSheets are a really unique set of worksheets that guide you through the goal setting process, by digging deep and doing a lot of prep work that helps pull your goals out of you. It’s not just listing out what things you’d like to do next year – it’s really getting at the heart of what matters to you, and giving you a plan for tending to those things all throughout the year. I’ve used bits and pieces of PowerSheets briefly in the past, but this is the first year I’m really working through everything, and I’m seeing how this workbook is going to become one of my most-used tools in the next year.
Firstly, what you need to know about Lara, the brilliant mind behind the PowerSheets, is that she loves Jesus and is so dedicated to pointing others to Him. So these worksheets are not your ordinary “do more, be better” goal makers. These worksheets are a beautiful joining of the things God’s placed in your heart, and the practical application of how to make those things happen. I’m wary of products or books that focus on us and our desires and our behavior – things that lack grace and Gospel. But PowerSheets are not that. And I’m so grateful for a tool that aligns with my faith and perspective.
So, let’s dig in!
Preparing The Way
I started off by filling out my “Get To Know You” page, which seemed a little silly at first (because yes, I know myself), but actually it was SUPER helpful in being able to verbalize what makes me tick, what I love, and what I am passionate about & grateful for. Then, I jotted down some basic goal ideas – really just brainstorming here about what I might want to focus on in the next year, so the ideas started flowing. I took my time praying through this step, because my focus this year is to Pray First & Love Well. I want to be sure, as I’m working on my goals for the year, that everything I do lines up with what God’s will is, especially as it relates to my life & vocation.
Next, I spent some time taking stock of where I’m at right now, in this season of life. How are things going, how am I feeling, what’s been going on? This was so good for me, because I needed to get this out on paper! Life has been a little hectic lately, and I’ve felt frazzled. Writing it all out helped me to see WHY that is, and pinpoint exactly what needs to change.
The next step focuses on identifying your fears. One of my fears was filling out this page. Ha. It can be so hard to dig deep and get to the root of my anxiety and stress sometimes. But once I dug in, I realized that this needed to be written out too. Lara has designed the PowerSheets to ask some important questions, and I was able to actually put words to what I’ve been feeling lately. I’ll share a little with you here.
I love writing and blogging, and I love being a stay-at-home-mom. I don’t feel fully myself without each one. But I’ll be totally honest and say that I am still figuring out how those work together. My biggest fear is choosing the wrong thing, and regretting my choice, because I want my family to know that I loved them fully, and I also want to use my gifts well for the Lord. I often feel like I need to be ALL IN, with one or the other, or else I’m failing at both.
Writing out this fear helped me to realize that if God’s given me both things, He will make a way for both to exist. Sometimes one will take more energy than the other. Sometimes I’ll need to ask for help. Sometimes I’ll have to say no. But it’s okay to live out two pieces of my heart, and it’s okay to still be figuring out how to do my best at both of them. As long as I keep surrendering them to the Lord, I can trust that He will lead me & show me where to walk. This was a HUGE stress reliever for me! I felt like the Lord just lifted that giant burden of anxiety I’d been carrying.
After writing out my fears, I took some time to look at what has and what hasn’t been working in the last year. This was so KEY!! I have always always always skipped over this kind of deep reflection in the past, but looking at it through the PowerSheets really helped me to figure out what things I was ready to say NO to this year, and what things I needed to say YES to. It was so enlightening!
Next, I thought through the things that fire me up. What makes me come alive? What am I passionate about? What do I love? I listed these things out and got excited even in just doing that! I love one-on-one time with my kiddos, and good conversation with my husband. I love creating things that matter eternally, and encouraging others. I love time by myself to plan and think and read. And oh yes, I love a good book!
I think as moms, we don’t often prioritize what fires us up, and with good reason! We have people to take care of and meals to cook and clothes to clean, and there just doesn’t seem to be time. But I found that even in just writing these things down, I was refreshed and energized and ready to GET TO IT! I think maybe we need to make a little more time for these God-given passions. Maybe, just maybe, they make us more effective mommas (and wives)!
The BIG PICTURE is next, thinking about what a fulfilling year would look like, and what will still matter to you when you’re 80. I always feel like that’s such a revealing question – what will matter to you when you’re closer to leaving this earth? It immediately forces me to get down to the nitty gritty of what is really important. It’s easy, in light of that, to figure out what things I need to take off my plate. Which is the next step – writing down what you’re going to say NO to this year, and what you’re going to say YES to.
Do you see how this process both simplifies and focuses our goal setting? I love it!!! With the PowerSheets, I’m not left alone to figure out the three things I should be working on in the next year. No, instead, I’m challenged to think about what really matters to me, and commit to making those things happen!
There’s an entire page to write out why these things are important to you, and you’re also encouraged to choose a word for the year. I chose the word ENCOURAGE for 2016, because I feel like this is the theme of what God’s teaching me right now. That more than a manager, my family needs me to be an encourager in this season. And where writing is concerned, I feel the call to be fully focused on encouraging women in a way that points them to Christ. I also hope to pursue the things that encourage me – reading good books, cultivating real life friendships, making memories with my family – and saying goodbye to the things that fill my time, but don’t fill my soul (I’m talking to you, TV and Facebook!).
There are pages to write out what things have been “growing” in your life lately, and what you are choosing to cultivate in the next year. And then there’s an awesome, mad-libs style worksheet that guides you through writing out what your year could look like, with those important things in focus.
It’s only from there that we start to set goals!! I love this so much, because instead of sitting at the table, wondering what things I’m going to “do” this year, I now have a solid foundation of what’s really and truly important to me! It makes goal-setting so much more clear and simple!
So let’s talk about these goals we’re setting! Within the PowerSheets, each goal gets its OWN PAGE. That page consists of a few key categories:
- What the goal is: Write out the thing you want (or need) to do.
- Why it’s important: Why does this matter? Write it down so you don’t forget.
- How it will affect us and others: Always considering your effect on those around you.
- Space for 6 action ideas: This space breaks down the goal into actual steps. How will you accomplish this? What are the pieces you need to include? This takes the goal from a nice wish to actually doable!
- Questions to keep your focus in focus: Does this goal line up with my word for the year? What will I regret if I don’t do this? etc.
Isn’t that AWESOME? There are pages for 10 goals, which is kind of amazing. I’m still working on my goals – I’ve been taking my time going through all of these pages, so that I can think deeply and really prepare my heart through prayer. Right now, my plan is to set 5 personal goals and 5 business goals. I’m excited to continue filling them all out!
Tending To Your Goals
This is the part of the PowerSheets that, in my opinion, really sets them apart from any other approach to goal setting that I’ve seen. Each month gives you space to brain dump (which I love), plan how you are going to intentionally rest this month, and encourages you to go back and review your goals before attacking your Tending List.
The Tending List is a monthly worksheet where you are actually able to track your monthly, weekly, and daily goals. The idea is to keep this sheet handy all month – on your fridge, on your counter, on a clipboard or the front of your binder, wherever you can see it! The reason for that is because this sheet actually helps you TRACK those goals, and continue tending to them! There are check boxes for the weekly and daily goals, so you can physically see your progress and how you’ve been doing. And that’s the key – focusing on PROGRESS, not perfection.
The Tending List is my favorite because it gives you an actionable plan. Instead of forgetting about everything you intended to do, the Tending List keeps those things right in front of you, and helps you continue to work on them! Then, each month, you get a chance to refresh your goals, clear the clutter, and keep on keeping on!
THIS is why I’ve fallen in love with my PowerSheets. Because for the first time ever, I feel like the goals I’m setting are realistic, meaningful, and doable! I’m the kind of person who really needs to write everything down in order to approach it in an organized and peaceful way, and the PowerSheets accomplish that for me. I am SO grateful to have this tool! I feel focused and equipped in a way that I haven’t felt in a long time.
(Oh, and did I mention there are stickers??)
More than anything, this intentional planning lines up so well with my hope to grow in the Lord and in the knowledge of His Word, so I can share His Gospel with others – whether that be in my home, in my neighborhood, or on the blog!
Phew! That was a lot, I know. This very well might be the longest blog post I’ve ever written. But I hope it has encouraged you, and inspired you to set aside some time to intentionally and prayerfully think about the new year! Come on back tomorrow, when we’ll talk a little about how grace fits into all of this!
Looking for this year’s PowerSheets? The UPDATED 2017 version of PowerSheets is now available and can be found here!
A Word From Lara…
Goal setting can seem so overwhelming. Give us your best tips!
I agree! That’s why traditional “goal setting” doesn’t work for me. I think goal setting should be fun and simplify life, not give you a new to-do list. I used to get really frustrated when I would come to the end of a year, look back, and realize I made zero progress on some of my goals. If I would have just tended to that goal little by little over time, I would have made some real progress!, I would think to myself. So, I started studying goal setting. How could I make progress and have fun? How could I remove the pressure of traditional goal setting?
The PowerSheets were born! I designed them to help women–whether you are a creative, an entrepreneur, a mom, a student, or someone who needs solid guidance and motivation–uncover purpose-filled goals and strategically plan action steps to make what matters happen. After five years of using them, and watching thousands of women make meaningful progress, here are my top three tips for making what matters happen in 2016!
1. START 2016 GOAL SETTING NOW. There is one sure way to start a year a bit cattywompus. How many times have you crammed goal setting into the few days between Christmas and the New Year? That’s four days. Four days when you are likely traveling, with family, or soaking up some rest. You can microwave your goals, or you can dig deeper and set goals that matter to you. A batch of fresh cinnamon rolls tastes a whole lot better when cooked slowly in the oven! You can set goals that are twenty levels below the surface, where the fiery good stuff lives, or you can just make resolutions that get forgotten and tossed aside come February 1. I’m going to start my goal setting now, and I invite you to join me!
2. MAKE A MESS. How many unused journals do you have on your shelf? What about that adorable planner you bought last year and never touched? Good tools are meant to be used. Don’t wait till you have the perfect pen or timing. Forget about perfect handwriting — just dig in to your 2016 goal setting! Making it happen is all about progress, not perfection. In order to plant a garden, you have to get your hands dirty in the soil. It’s the same with growing good things in our lives. Make a mess and get your hands dirty!
3. CULTIVATE WHAT MATTERS. How you spend your time is how you spend your life. It can feel impossible to stop and put the train brakes on in a busy holiday season and think about the coming year. I know this feeling well! But, when you take the time to dig into meaningful goals, you will have a clearer understanding of what to do with your time NOW and in the coming year—and where not to spend your time. So, dig in! Say yes to what matters and be done with all the rest. You will find simplicity and get your time back.
A little about Lara…
Lara is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Southern Weddings magazine, where they encourage couples to plan a meaningful beginning to married life. Lara is also the founder of the Making Things Happen movement, a nationally-acclaimed workshop that has been sold out for the last seven years and has toured over 40 cities. She frequently speaks on goal-setting, faith, mission-centered business, and how to make what matters happen. Her first book, Make it Happen: Surrender Your Fear, Take the Leap, Live on Purpose, recently released nationwide through Thomas Nelson publishers. Lara loves to garden, explore local farms, and she wishes her neighborhood would let her have chickens. She lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with her husband, Ari, their bubbly daughter, Grace, and new little redhead, Joshua. They are also in the process of adopting!