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Renew Breaks: what are they and why we do them

Each December, the Cultivate and Southern Weddings team crowds around a computer screen, pulls out a set of PowerSheets, and digs into some serious dreaming and planning. Why? While we each have individual PowerSheets for our work and personal goals, we know reflecting on the past year and setting goals as a team will prepare and equip us to continue to spread our missions!

Those of you that followed along last December might remember our word for 2017: RENEW. The definition of renew is to make new, fresh, or strong again, and the minute it was suggested, we just knew it would be the perfect word for our year.

We've talked at length about the importance of taking care of yourself in your personal life, but I want to share more about something we have incorporated into our company culture (thanks largely in part to Lara's personal experience and encouragement!) over the past year and half: renew breaks!

What is a renew break? A renew break can be a lot of different things! The easiest way to describe it is it's simply a time to step away from your computer and to-do list to do something different and give your brain a break. We add it to our Tending List each month, and we hold each other accountable for it, too!

If you're looking for a way to incorporate a little bit of self-care into your workday, here's a round-up of some of our renew breaks from 2017:

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Marissa took some time last month to schedule her company date night for February!

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Because Kristin works remotely and can sometimes not step outside during a workday, she prioritizes her mailbox walk each day!

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Ive learned that the best time to paint my nails is right before digging into my inbox because nothing will get chipped! I keep a few polish colors in my desk drawer when the mood strikes, and I'm lucky the in-office gals don't mind the smell!

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Amber spent some time each day reading a new book and checking off one of her daily PowerSheets goals!

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If you've been following Lara's 2017 goals, you know an active lifestyle to give her more energy is on the top of her mind! Her new FitBit encourages her to get up and get to moving if she's been still for too long!

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It's tempting to spend our lunch breaks tied to a computer, but Emily has been stepping outside to her porch for lunch ever since we've been experiencing this spring-like weather!

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This was one of my favorite renew breaks from the past month! Emily brought in her Warby Parker try-on kit and modeled some options for the in-office gals! Head to her blog to see what she chose!

As you can see, our renew breaks aren't large or extravagant affairs! They're simply an opportunity to take a break and refresh our spirits to finish the day strong!

Are you going to give renew breaks a try? What are ways you renew your mind throughout your workday? We'd love to hear from you in the comments!

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March 2017 Goals Round-Up

Happy March, friends! It's that time of the month where we share a monthly goals round-up! If you read our 2017 Goals Round-Up, you know that I'm a big fan of reading all of your goals for the year and cheering you on!

The whole reason we changed the name of our business last year was because we knew we needed a platform to tell other people's stories–YOUR stories–and the Monthly Goals Round-Up were born!

Remember, keep sharing your goals with us each month so that we can cheer you on! Whether you're posting in our PowerSheets Facebook Group, leaving us a comment on social media, or using the #PowerSheets hashtag, we love seeing what you are working towards each month!

The PowerSheets and Cultivate What Matters community has evolved into something bigger than we could have ever imagined–something bigger than us, and we are grateful for the opportunity to encourage each of you to cultivate what matter!

So, without further ado, here are some of YOUR March goals!

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Photo by Cultivate's lovely Art Director @NicoleAYang

Lara's March goals are full of color and inspiration, and she also offers some encouragement on how to combine similar goals on your Tending List.

If you're looking for an encouraging word to add to the top of your March PowerSheets, look no further than Rachel's PowerSheets! It's quite appropriate for a month where we celebrate St. Patrick's Day!

Lynne's March PowerSheets recap is a great reminder that not only is it okay to step away from the routine of your everyday life each month to spend time working on your PowerSheets, it's an investment!

Erin offers a great recap of her February goals as well as her goals for March! One of our favorite things to see is how some of her goals are already turning into habits! Way to go, Erin!

If you've recently gone through a life transition, Brandi offers a lot of encouragement about how to use PowerSheets for basic needs and then shift towards some of your other goals!

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Photo by Gina Zeidler

One of the reasons the Cultivate Team sets monthly PowerSheets Prep days is because we know how quickly the days can go by! We love how Rachel has set reminders on her calendar to fill out her PowerSheets each month!

Ashley's "small and simple" goals are perfect for her because they are connected to what matters most in this season! This is a great reminder that your Tending List doesn't need to be completely full each month!

We're excited to see that Harley is tackling a Social Media-Free Weekend on her March PowerSheets!

If you're a recovering striver, Janelle's March goals offer encouragement and practical tips for you!

Courtney reminds us all that daily goals are habits we want to cultivate, and she added a few new daily goals to her PowerSheets this month! While these goals might seem simple (a 10-minute a day Pilates challenge), we know that the little by little is where good things grow!

If you've posted your goals somewhere, we'd love to see them! Feel free to drop them in the comments, too–no fancy blog required! We can't wait to take a peek into what this month holds and cheer you on!

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How to Build a Budget

Personal finance goals and questions come up so often in the PowerSheets Facebook Group that Jess and I thought it was high time we added a bit of this content into the blog schedule! And, lucky me, I'm the one who gets to write to you about it! (No, really: lucky me. I am extremely passionate about financial freedom, both in my own life and helping to equip others, so there is almost nothing else I'd rather write about!) To start, I thought I'd share a little bit about how to build a budget.

I have followed a written budget for eleven years now, and I can confidently say that it is the number one reason I feel at peace with my finances. I don’t worry about whether or not we’ll have enough money to pay our mortgage or insurance bill every month; I know we will. The headspace this surety frees up allows me to focus on my dreams and keeps me on track to reach my lifetime financial goals. There are few things better than that!

If the word budget sounds scary, shake off that fear and listen to this: a budget is not about denying yourself and cutting out everything fun, it's about making a plan. Dave Ramsey likes to say that budgeting is “telling your money where to go.” I like that image. A budget helps me be purposeful about how I spend and save instead of just closing my eyes and hoping. While there are many ways to track a budget (which we can chat about later!), building a budget is pretty standard. It’s all about two things — income and expenses — which make up your cash flow.

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1. Calculate your monthly net income (your gross income minus taxes). For most of us, this is simply our paycheck.

2. Add up all of your fixed expenses. Fixed expenses are difficult or impossible to change and are the same (or roughly the same) every month: rent, utilities, your electric bill, student loans, car loan(s), auto insurance, health insurance, etc.

3. Calculate your monthly contribution to your financial goals. Like the experts say, pay yourself first. Put money into an emergency fund, reduce debt with extra payments, save for a down payment, save for retirement, and/or feed an investment account. If it’s a priority for you, include charitable giving in this step. Whatever you do, do not skip this step! Treat your savings like any other budget line item, not as something optional if there’s money left over.

4. Add up all of your variable expenses. Like the name implies, these are things that are not externally set, so you could, for example, cut back here if you wanted to move faster toward your goals. Examples include groceries, dining out, clothing, entertainment, gifts, travel, gas, personal care, etc.

5. Put it all together. When you subtract your fixed expenses, your contributions to your financial goals, and your variable expenses from your net income, there are three possible outcomes: you’ll either have a surplus, you’ll break even, or you’ll have a deficit. If you come out with a surplus, you can either save more or spend more (assuming you’re already saving the recommended amounts!). If you break even, perfect! If you have a deficit, it’s time to take another look at your figures (most likely your variable expenses), and adjust numbers until you’re in the clear. By the time your budget is finished, you'll have a plan in hand, ready to be followed to financial freedom!

Easy to understand, a bit harder to follow in practice :) Your homework: walk through these steps, and start calculating! If you’ve never made a budget before and are unsure how much to allocate for certain categories, I’d suggest looking back through last month’s expenses (maybe on a credit or debit card statement) and estimating from there. It might take a few months to get the balance across categories just right.

For more, here's another post I wrote about what we take into consideration when making our yearly budget.

I'd love to hear any questions you might have about making a budget, or if there are other personal finance topics you'd like to chat about more!

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PowerSheets Party – March 2017

Happy March 1st, friends! We had a blast creating and celebrating Cultivate What Matters Week earlier this month! In the midst of many people choosing to give up on their goals, we embraced the little by little progress and chose to keep making progress on the things that matter most to us!

On the final Friday of each month, the team hops on Instagram stories to share our personal PowerSheets prep with each of you! Join us in sharing your prep work each month using the hashtag #PowerSheets on social media so our team can cheer you on and encourage you as you cultivate what matters. This month's PowerSheets Party is a little different than previous months since I was flying solo! With Lara out for her final round of book edits, Nicole visiting her alma mater to participate as a guest judge, and Amber at Disney for her son's birthday, I was admittedly nervous at first.



This month, I decided to share my personal PowerSheets prep with you this month (along with a confession!) I hope this reminds you that the Cultivate Team embraces the little by little progress alongside each of you; you are not alone!

If you haven't done your March PowerSheets Prep yet, that's okay! Take some time today to dig in! Even if you only fill in a few items on your to-do list, it's still going to add up over time!

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Share your March goals in the comments below. We'd love to read about what you have planned for the month!

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Our Favorite Things – February

Today's the last day of February! We're here to celebrate the progress that's been made, and to share a few of the things that have helped us cultivate joy, make progress on our goals, and live more purposeful days this month. We'd love for you to share what has helped you in your PowerSheets progress, too - just drop a note in the comments!

  1. One of my monthly PowerSheets goals repeats each month–read three books. Book of the Month Club helps me do just that! BOTM is a subscription service that announces five book selections at the beginning of the month. Many of them are familiar ones, some are ones you might not have heard of, and sometimes they are exclusive titles. You choose one, and they ship it directly to your door! It's an easy way to ensure I know one of my three books for the month!
  2. The Cultivate What Matters manifesto has encouraged our team all month long, and we love having an official manifesto to cheer us on as we continue to make little by little progress on our goals!
  3. We passed a cold around the office this month, and Harney and Son's Hot Cinnamon Spice Tea was exactly what I needed during my workdays! I'm not a big tea drinker, but it was a perfect way to soothe my throat.
  4. Starbucks recently released their limited edition Lilly Pulitzer S'well water bottles. I'm usually not a fan of bright colors, but even I wouldn't mind carrying my water around in one of these! They're only available in stores, and they're disappearing quickly, so don't miss your chance to grab one if you see it! Psst: If you pick up a spare bottle, send me an email because there are a few Lilly-loving ladies on our team who I know would love to buy one from you :)
  5. Our Square Inspiring Desk Card sets are coming back to the shop in the coming weeks! These sweet cards are the perfect dose of color for your bulletin boards, so stay tuned!
  6. In an attempt to take better care of my body, I've recently started washing my face when I get home from work if I don't have evening plans, and this face wash has become a favorite of mine!
  7. My friend Nora has started selling her embroidery online. I love her goal behind her creations–to produce pieces that bring delight! Wouldn't these be the sweetest housewarming gift for a new neighbor?
  8. One of Nicole's 2017 goals is to take more photos, and we love that Artifact Uprising makes it easy to record your memories with their vast variety of photo book options!
  9. We're growing our team! The Cultivate and Southern Weddings team is looking forward to meeting our newest Editor and Customer Delight Associate! Applications close Friday, March 3rd, so don't delay!

Tell us: what "things" are helping you make progress on your goals this month? We'd love to hear so we can add them to our lists!

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