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How to Break It Down: Why We Love Mini Goals

We often say around here that we "do goals differently," and that can mean a lot of things–that we don't believe in anxiety-fueled goals, that we DO believe in attaching a strong WHY to each goal, or that we believe little by little progress is just as powerful as a big leap of faith. One of my favorite ways we do goals differently, though, is the way we actually go about tackling them–and THAT has a lot to do with mini goals.

The Cultivate What Matters proven process includes three steps:

1. First, uncover what matters to you: your passion, path, purpose, priorities, and big-picture vision
2. Then, make a plan: identify your big picture goals and clear starting steps
3. Finally, take action: think big picture and take small steps, experiencing change along the way

I am SO excited to say the 2019 PowerSheets, debuting this October, are going to reflect this process more clearly than ever before. As we reimagined the newest version, we wanted to reflect the way we see much of our community (that's you!) and our team setting goals. Instead of setting very concrete goals for the year, you are identifying "buckets" of areas that matter deeply to you and where you want to experience change. For example:

  • Love long-distance family members and friends well
  • Cultivate a life-giving home
  • Enjoy our family of three (before it becomes a family of four) (One of my 2018 goals!)
  • Love the things above, not the things of this world (Lara!)
  • Phone down, eyes up (Jess!)
  • Cultivate the Fruit of the Spirit in motherhood
  • Intentionally take care of myself through activities I love (Kristin!)
  • Use my creative gifts well (Kaylee!)
  • Build a strong financial foundation (Jess!)

Personally, I LOVE goals in this format–they immediately fire me up, because I can so clearly see how they have the potential to transform someone's life, not just serve as another thing to check off a to-do list!

But, as we all know, to see a change in these areas, at some point we DO need to make them more concrete (which makes them more actionable). Breaking each big "bucket goal" down into mini goals helps us take the next step, and when we string many steps together over the course of a year, THAT is when we will see real change!

Our PowerSheets walk you through all the necessary steps to do this, including getting specific and visualizing what progress on your bucket goal might look like and identifying what success at the end of the year might look like. Once you have the why and the finish line, it's easier to fill in the middle!

Speaking of the middle, that's where your Tending List comes in. Every month, it gives you the opportunity to refocus on your big picture yearly goals, identify the next ways you can move forward for each, and then add those mini goals to your daily, weekly, and monthly slots. Let's look at one of my goals for the year as an example!

Break_It_Down

Big picture yearly goal: Grow our family story through creating and maintaining a beautiful, simple visual narrative

Monthly goals I have completed so far this year:

  • Gather all of the loose printed photos in our home. Cull them to keep only favorites.
  • Sort loose printed photos into a box with sections (childhood, school, newlyweds, family life)
  • Choose a back-up solution for phone photos (we went with Amazon Prime)
  • Order new external hard drive for back-up
  • Create folder system on hard drive
  • Collect all random digital photos and sort them into folder system
  • Choose new favorite photos for display at home, print them, and frame them

This particular big picture goal hasn't had too many weekly goals, but I have had great success with daily goals here. As I work through organizing my backlog of phone photos especially, I'm editing, sorting, and transferring just one month per day of phone photos to our hard drive (i.e. January 2018, February 2018). It's not overwhelming, and I can clearly see myself making progress toward my big picture goal with each step!

If you are feeling stuck on a goal that you KNOW matters to you, this is the best way I know to start making progress. Break the big picture goal down into smaller and smaller chunks until it's almost impossible to NOT progress. That momentum builds, and soon enough, you'll be on your way.

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Frustrated by Your Finances? Introducing the Finance Goal Guide!

Friends, wow! We're still celebrating in the wake of our launch earlier this week. You truly blew us away with your enthusiasm for our new (and, ahem, legacy!) products, and perhaps the most exciting thing is that your response tells us we're meeting a need, right where you are... and that's our deepest desire.

Over the next few days we'll be personally introducing you to each of our new products and sharing a bit of the story behind them. It's my pleasure to kick things off with an in-depth look at our Finance Goal Guide!

Finance Goal Guide

Similar to our Parents Goal Guide, Fruitful Friendships Workbook, Couples Goal Guide, and now Wellness Goal Guide, the Finance Goal Guide was designed to be used alongside your PowerSheets. Each of our guides help you dig into a specific area of your life that needs cultivating.

Through a slimmed-down and focused section of prep work, the Finance Goal Guide will help you identify the things that have been holding you back from a financial healthy mindset, help you establish a strong "why" for your financial future, and identify what financial goals you most care about achieving (and the first action steps to take for each).

Goal Guide Bundle

My favorite part about this guide is that it requires NO financial know-how to use. With finances, one of the most frustrating things is that we often don't even know where to start. We've overcome that barrier by providing action steps (bitesize, achievable goals that will add up to big change!) for eight different areas of your finances, including establishing solid financial practices, paying down debt, investing, and giving money away. Yes, you'll still have to put in the time and effort to make those changes, but you'll be doing so with a solid road map in place!

Finance Goal Guide

On a personal note, I have seen the fruit of financial literacy and financial freedom in my own life, and it's no secret that I'm the resident Cultivate cheerleader for all things personal finance-related! I spearheaded the development of this product, and I truly believe it is going to help change the money stories of so many women, and that FIRES ME UP! If this product is winging its way toward you right now, know that I am so excited for you, and will be cheering you on from here on out!

Ready to get started? I recorded a webinar with my top five tips for cultivating your finances a few weeks ago, and you can view it right here! Shay Cochrane, my personal finance soul sister, joined me along with thousands of you, and it was a fun and impactful hour!

Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 3.29.52 PM

A favorite takeaway: so many of us resist thinking or talking about our finances, preferring instead to bury our heads in the sand. The funny thing is that the more you think about money (as in, face your situation head-on and make a proactive plan), the less you need to think about money (as in, worry about whether you have enough). Our new Finance Goal Guide is the perfect first step in managing your money with confidence, freeing you up to live and give as you've dreamed!

Shop the Finance Goal Guide here!

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Introducing the Cultivate What Matters Summer Collection!

Planting seeds doesn't lead to overnight results—legacies are built with time and little by little action. As we sit on the edge of summer, we know many of you are itching for a restart button:

You want to stop the mindless scrolling.

You want to speak kinder words to your children.

You want to invest in your faith so that it becomes deep and life giving.

You want to make time for taking care of your body.

You want to steward your finances in a way that not only provides for you, but allows you to give generously to others, too.

You want a chance to wipe the slate clean.

View More: http://ginazeidler.pass.us/cultivate2018springsummer

These things are possible. And they're not about doing more or being more. They're not about striving for perfection, or having it all together. But they do require a new path and a new plan.

Let's grow the right things. Let's grow what we've been given, right where we are. Let's grow what lasts longer than us. And let's grow together!

Since launching our 2018 PowerSheets in October and selling out in January, our team has been counting down the days until we have Six-Month PowerSheets in hand again. They are FINALLY here!

Then PowerSheets Goal Planner is perfect for women in every stage of life, every role, and every season. PowerSheets work, and you're going to feel the impact right away if you're faithful to the process. PowerSheets will help you prioritize with confidence, giving you more time for what's truly important in your life.

PowerSheets_Make_TendingList

“PowerSheets are even more useful than they are beautiful! They have made me reconsider what I want to spend my time on and help me focus on what is important. I am so proud of the progress I’ve made with them! They change my perspective, lift my spirits, and they work. What a blessing!” - Amanda N.

In addition to restocking Six-Month PowerSheets in White, our team has worked with joy and excitement over the past few months, creating new products to encourage and empower you!

Write the Word for Kids

Our BRAND NEW summer collection includes seven new products to help you cultivate what you care about most:

NEW! Write the Word: Cultivate Prayer: Grow in connection with God through the powerful gift of prayer.

NEW! Write the Word: Cultivate Forgiveness: Dig into God’s Word to learn the truth about His life-giving grace, mercy, and forgiveness.Write the Word

"I was struggling to find time in God’s word and didn’t know HOW to spend time in God’s word. These journals make it so simple which is what I needed in my chaotic life!” - Mary Beth

NEW! Cultivate Faith Sticker Book: Use stickers in your PowerSheets, day planners, Write the Word journals, and Bibles to remind yourself of what’s most important in your day-to-day, in your walk with God, and as you celebrate life!                                                                            stickers

NEW! Wellness Goal Guide: Uncover your unique wellness goals and then set action steps to cultivate fitness, nutrition, and self-care.               wellness

NEW! Finance Goal Guide: Focus on taking control of your finances and define action steps to get started on achieving your financial goals, starting right where you are!                                                                                                                                                                                                   View More: http://ginazeidler.pass.us/cultivate2018springsummer

NEW! Write the Word for Kids: Everything your children will need for a fun adventure through God’s word -- perfect for summer break!

Cultivate 2018 Spring Summer-NoEditProofs-0127_preview

"The children have eagerly read their Bibles and written in their Write the Word for Kids Journals every day since we’ve been back from the photo shoot, and they’re also thinking more about their goals. Thank you!" - Tiffany

This collection was designed to help you dig deep into what matters most to you. Whether it's cultivating your faith, taking care of yourself, stewarding your finances, or planting seeds of faith in your children, we trust you'll see sprouts of change by the time fall rolls around!

Now is your time! Are you ready to spend your days thriving?

SHOP NOW

Our guarantee: When you intentionally use these products, change will happen. And we’re standing on the sidelines ready to be your biggest cheerleaders!

Photos by Gina Zeidler

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How To Be Present

At the most recent Making Things Happen Conference this spring, as I sat in the back listening to each of our attendees share over their two days at The Carolina Inn, I noticed something...

Over and over, a theme emerged: women want to be present in their lives. They want to be present for their spouses, present for their kids, perhaps present in their time with the Lord, or even simply present with the task at hand as they move throughout their day.

This sounds like such a twenty-first century problem, doesn't it? And there's shame there, like why can't we just do this thing that sounds so simple?? While I'm sure this has always been a challenge to some degree, the fact is that it is uniquely a "right now" problem: there are more distractions, and more powerful distractions, tempting us than ever before in history. (Can you tell I'm reading The Tech-Wise Family and LOVING IT? :))

MTH_Spring_Conference_Group

Photo by Rachel Coffey

But back to the MTH Conference: this deeply-seated desire to be present was so universal and so keenly felt, but by the same measure, attendees seemed at a loss for how they could create change in this area in their lives. I certainly don't have all the answers, but I wanted to share a few things that have worked for me and for other Cultivate team members. The catch? Very few of these will be surprises to you. We all know these things. The true challenge is doing them. I'm here to encourage you on that, too, as you'll see below! :) Let's go!

One final note: when we talk about being present, I don't think most of us are talking about achieving a blissed-out state of zen. What we want is to live deeply in important moments, giving the people we care about the gift of our attention, and maximizing (in the most heart-centered sense) each moment we have. We want to live and remember each day as distinct and praiseworthy instead of just one more in an undifferentiated slog. Okay, now let's go :)

1. Define what's truly important to you and remind yourself of it often. We will never stop talking about the importance of a "why" at Cultivate - it is central to everything we do, and to the message of the PowerSheets! Without a strong and personally meaningful why, we'll never stick with something that's challenging or requires something of us. So why does being present matter to you? Define it, write it down, and perhaps picture it visually (I have a simple inspiration board on my fridge that reminds me of the kind of life I want to live -- one that is very present).

As an example, part of my why was articulated beautifully in this opinion piece from the New York Times. The author writes that the quantity of "quality" (present) time is almost as important as the quality, that we delude ourselves when we think we can "plan instances of extraordinary candor, plot episodes of exquisite tenderness, and engineer intimacy in an appointed hour." The truth is that we never know when those moments will show up, so I want to be present and ready for them as often as I possibly can be. "People tend not to operate on cue... We reach out for help at odd points; we bloom at unpredictable ones. The surest way to see the brightest colors, or the darkest ones, is to be watching and waiting and ready for them."

2. Set a hard boundary. This is perhaps contradictory to my first point, but if being present is something you struggle with, start by setting a discrete time period when you commit to being fully present. It might be in the hour after your kiddos arrive home from school, the thirty minutes when you sit down to dinner or breakfast, or the ten minutes with your spouse before you go to bed. Making a commitment is the first step in keeping it.

3. Don't just hope things will work out - make a plan. Identify your biggest barrier to being present and make a plan to defeat it. For most of us, I would venture to say it's our phones. I have found that the very simple practice of putting my phone in the same place on the kitchen counter when I get home from work stops me from having to make a decision every day about whether I'll have my phone in my pocket, in the bedroom, etc. When I place that phone down, it's a physical reminder that I'm switching over into uninterrupted time with my daughter.

4. Find a way to quiet your mind. By definition, if we're not "in the present," our minds are in the past or future, right? Once my phone is put away, I focus on soaking in as much of the moment as I possibly can -- the sights, the sounds, the smells -- instead of focusing on what happened earlier that day or what's to come. It can also be helpful to focus on your breath, especially if you feel a pull to grab that phone!

5. Learn how to be together. Sure, perhaps the best way to be present with someone is to sit by their side and simply listen to them. But, I think we can also be present with each other in ways where our whole world doesn't need to come to a screeching halt. Some of my favorite moments each day are in the mornings when I'm getting ready for work and my two-year-old is sitting next to me in her high chair eating breakfast. Washing my face, doing my hair, and putting on makeup don't require much brain power, but since my hands are busy, it's easy to focus on her and whatever she'd like to talk to me about. If she's playing independently in the afternoon, I also like to sit on the sofa nearby and read my own book - giving her the gift of my available, present self, even though we aren't interacting constantly.

6. Make a system for capturing info. Aside from my phone, one of my biggest barriers to being present is all of the stuff constantly swirling in my head. You, too? To dos, worries, reminders, appointments to make, ideas to remember, birthday messages to send... the list goes on. Simply keeping a scratch pad out in our kitchen so I can jot those things down instead of juggling them in my mind goes a long way toward freeing me up mentally to remain "in the moment."

7. Acknowledge the tension. Like I mentioned at the beginning, just the fact that we struggle with being present can be a source of guilt or shame. Shouldn't being with our kids be the easiest thing in the world? Shouldn't sitting with our spouses bring us the most joy? They very well might - but that doesn't mean the pull of long-held habits is easy to break. You are learning a new way of being, so simply acknowledge the little by little steps you're taking as well as the set-backs, and keep moving forward!

8. Listen to older people instead of resenting them. We've all heard about the frazzled mom at the grocery store who wants to strangle the grandma who says "you're going to miss these days!" as she tries to wrangle her three screaming kids out the door. Well, my own grandma's best parenting advice when I asked her was "I just tried to enjoy them." What a simple, poignant, true thought. To me, that is what being present is about: simply enjoying the people and time I have been given. Keeping that as my focus instead of resenting it, even in the difficult moments of parenting or life, has been a game-changer for me.

Friends, I'd love to hear: is being present something you struggle with? What tactics have helped you be more present in your life?

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Goal Action Ideas for Finance Goals

Today we're continuing our Goal Action Ideas series with a Finance edition, supplying you with a bank of ideas for your Tending Lists on that topic. Like all overwhelming things, cultivating a stronger, more streamlined financial life is done through embracing little by little progress, and digging in even when things seem messy. I'd love to hear YOUR ideas, so please drop them in the comments! (In fact, many of the ideas in this post came from awesome PowerSheets users in our Facebook group!)

Though I've loved all of the topics we've covered in this series, I most definitely have a soft spot for today's. First, because I am extremely passionate about the freedom that comes from having your financial house in order, and therefore so happy to be your enthusiastic tour guide in this world. Second, because finances can just be an icky subject–one that feels too complicated, too stuck, too hopeless to make any progress on.

There is SO much hope here, though, friends! As with everything, little by little progress is the name of the game–sometimes with a few big leaps along the way. I've compiled our best action ideas for finance goals below, and I hope it encourages you to dig in where you are!

Monthly Goals:

  • Do a comprehensive review of your finances and set a goal to work toward
  • Sign up for Financial Peace University or a similar personal finance course (PS users suggested Wallet Win!)
  • Read a personal finance book (try Total Money Makeover, The Financial Diet, Love Your Life Not Theirs, or The Millionaire Next Door - or tell us your favorite in the comments!)
  • Make a budget (see our tips here)
  • Choose a way to track your budget (more ideas here - consider an app like YNAB, Mint, Good Budget, or Every Dollar Counts)
  • Set up an initial review meeting with a financial planner (either in person or an online option like Learnvest)
  • Set up a retirement account (either a 401k if offered through your work or an IRA)
  • Total all of your debt, especially if you have multiple sources (this will give you a goal to work toward!)
  • Choose a financial mantra to keep you motivated and post it somewhere you'll see it every day (we suggest your refrigerator)
  • Similarly, choose a picture that represents your biggest financial goal and post it somewhere you'll see it every day
  • Increase your retirement contribution
  • Comb through your expenses from the last month and look for areas where you can cut back
  • Create a visual countdown of your debt and post it prominently where the whole family can see it (more paying down debt tips here)
  • Open a charitable giving account (donor-advised fund) to streamline and maximize your generosity
  • Open an account designated as an emergency fund and seed it with an initial deposit
  • Make a plan to fully fund an emergency fund (most experts recommend three to six months of expenses)
  • Purge your social media accounts: unfollow accounts that contribute to feelings of lack or make you want to spend money!
  • Take our friend Nancy's Contentment Challenge

Weekly Goals:

  • Listen to an episode of a personal finance podcast (Cultivate readers suggested Entreeleadership and Matrimoney!)
  • Sit down with your significant other (or yourself!) and review the week's budget and spending
  • Purge a room of your house (this helps identify waste, cultivate contentment, and curb spending)
  • Update your budget
  • Pay bills
  • Unsubscribe from sales emails
  • Sell something (and put the money toward debt or a savings goal)

Daily Goals:

  • No spending
  • Express gratitude

These are just a few suggestions for items to add to your PowerSheets Tending List each month to make progress on your finance goals for the year!

If you are looking for another great resource for getting started on your financial goals, please allow us to introduce our Finance Goal Guide!

We'd love to hear from you: what else would you add to this list?

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