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Cultivating What Matters in Your Finances

Boy do we have a treat for you today, friends! The PowerSheets Facebook group is abuzz with women across the world who have some sort of financial goal on their 2018 PowerSheetsShanna Skidmore, business strategist and financial coach, is sharing her herat and expertise with those of us looking to cultivate what matters in our finances. While Shanna's background is in serving creative business owners, her heart for what she does reaches far beyond that. Today she's sharing three ways to cultivate what matters in your finances, and we hope you're encouraged! -Jess

It happened one day while I was riding my bike to work (more on that in a minute)…It was a ten mile ride to the office and about an hour of peddling. Atlanta has a deceiving amount of hills. We had lived in Atlanta about a year, and I thought our move was for my husband's career. But on that fateful day in the midst of some heavy breathing and wondering if the car behind me was ever going to pass, I heard it. My calling.

In 2006, I started working in the world of finance. Business + Psychology degree in hand, I was a 21-year-old living in a big numbers world. I had my hot pink binder of goals, my fresh out of TJ Maxx blazer, and three-inch high heels that wouldn’t be traded for flats until years later. Back in those days I was taught the American dream went something to the tune of “if you can afford the payment, you can afford it.”

But two car payments, two house payments and a few years of the grind later, I learned the most important lesson about money I’ve ever learned : The American way doesn’t account for one thing–LIFE CHANGE.

Kyle and I found ourselves in a new place, living out big dreams but on salaries we no longer had. As we sat in church learning how to “be rich” in our finances, we took a good hard look at our money and realized we had no margin. There was only one thing we could do. Get rid of the stuff. We traded our wood grain and leather seats for bike helmets and “butt” pants. And since that day we changed our mindset about money. Today I want to share three ways to cultivate what matters in your finances:

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Awareness is the key to change. This is the hardest one guys. Get your tissues and favorite comfort food ready, pull out three months of your past bank statements and take a look. When Kyle and I sat down and really looked at the numbers, we saw more than $1,000 spent eating out and $500 on Starbucks–IN ONE SINGLE MONTH! Just know, as Dave Ramsey says, until we tell our dollars where to go we will wonder where they went! So take a look, judgment free. And then ask yourself “is this where I want my money to go?”

Create white space. What are some areas in your finances you can create some white space or margin? White space is like breathing room…it feels good. Are there some areas you can cut back to put your money where it matters to you more? Here's a tip: use your PowerSheets Prep Work to evaluate what has and hasn't been working.

Reallocate to what matters! A few years ago I decided to throw the word budget out of my vocabulary. Budgets feel like a “no” where as a spending plan feels like a “yes”. So let’s create a spending plan. Where do you want your dollars to go? When changing your financial habits it’s not about stopping something bad, it’s about starting something good! Just like with goal-setting, we have to want the outcome more than we don’t want the hard work! So what do you WANT?!!! You will only change your habits when you want something else more -- is it a house? How much will you save? When will you start looking? Is it a car? How much will it cost? How much will you save monthly? When is your deadline?

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I have worked in the world of finance now for the past eleven years and for most of those years what I’ve said more than anything is this: “they just need a money plan.” You see, we get caught up wondering how much of our salary we should save for retirement, do we need a ROTH or a Traditional IRA, or what is an IRA anyhow? And while all of those are really good things to think about, there is only one essential thing you need–a PLAN.

This year as you sit down to make some really good goals, I encourage you to pull out your numbers and just take a look. I promise you, it’s not a fancy retirement portfolio that will get you where you want to go, it’s intentional planning and thoughtful spending.

Looking for more posts on how to practically cultivate your finances in 2018? Explore our vault of finance posts. This Friday, Emily will be sharing our Goal Action Plan Idea for Finances, and we hope it helps get your wheels spinning for those PowerSheets Tending Lists!

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Goal-Setting as a Business Owner with Kara from the Barn of Chapel Hill

One of our favorite things about our PowerSheets Goal Planners is how versatile they are! Whether you're a stay-at-home momma, a student, or an entrepreneur, the PowerSheets are for anyone who needs a grace-filled system that works.

That's why we're thrilled to introduce you to someone who has become a dear friend of the Cultivate team this year! Kara Brewer, Owner of the Barn at Chapel Hill, has welcomed us into her space with open arms and warm hospitality. When filling out our team's 2018 PowerSheets, we realized two of our favorite memories took place at the Barn: Lara's Cultivate Book Launch Party and the PowerSheets Photo Shoot! One of the reasons those two events shot to the top of our list was because of the beautiful and welcoming space Kara and her team have created.

I'm thrilled to have her share a bit more about how she got to where she is now, what her day-to-day looks like, and some of her goals for 2018! -Jess

Did you always want to own an event venue/farm?

Starting a small family farm has been a dream of mine for quite some time–my husband and I wanted to start a business that our kids (ages 8 and 10) could really be involved in. We wanted to get them away from computers, TVs, games, and have them spend most of their time outside, getting dirty, working hard, and learning about agriculture and basic business principals such as how to package, market and sell our products (we specialize in flowers, chestnuts, and honey). They do a little bit of everything: planting seeds and bulbs, weeding and harvesting, creating market bouquets, mowing the grass, roasting chestnuts and checking on our bees. It’s always all hands on deck, all the time!

What types of events do you host at the barn?

We host on-farm weddings, floral workshops, and children's educational programs, and I absolutely love interacting with all of our visitors. Nothing makes me happier than helping a child dig in the dirt to learn about the importance of healthy soil, or watching the joy of a bride on her wedding day, carrying a beautiful bouquet of flowers that we grew specifically for her.

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Tell us about your team:

My team is incredible, and I don't know what I would do without them! Jenn is our Creative Director and Florist, and her floral designs are simply stunning. She's been a floral designer for over 10 years, and she's just so incredibly talented. Gretchen is our Director of Agritourism and Educational Activities. She's a former elementary school teacher, and she's creating outstanding farm programs for kids from preschool through fourth grade–fun, innovative farm-based activities that you won't find anywhere else. Kelli is our Director of Operations (and my sister!), and she truly does it all. From spearheading our preschool story times with Gretchen, to taking care of our pumpkin patch, to helping me package our honey with her beautiful hand-lettered labels, Kelli keeps everything running smoothly. These three women inspire me daily with their talent and creativity, and I'm blessed to have the opportunity to work with them each day.

But I honestly couldn't do any of this without my husband, Chris. He operates all the heavy machinery, digs the trenches, hammers in the T-posts, spreads the compost, builds the deer fencing (and much, much more). Without a doubt, he's the glue the holds our little farm (and family!) together!

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Photo of Jenn, Gretchen, Kelli, and Kara by Danell Beede Photography

What was the most challenging lesson you learned as you started? How do you deal with setbacks?

When I first started out, I quickly learned that everything takes time and that it's ok to start small and grow things little by little. You don't have to farm 50 acres of crops to be successful–bigger is not always better. Don't let yourself become overwhelmed. Just get out there and do your best. I started our apiary with two hives in the spring of 2016, and I planted my first few flower beds soon after. It wasn't much, but it got me started. There's always going to be setbacks, but you just have to keep moving forward. Believe in yourself!

What has been your proudest moment as a business owner?

My proudest moment was when I started selling that first crop of flowers in 2016. The well hadn't been drilled yet, so for months, Chris and I would fill up a water tank and bring it over to the farm on the back of his truck, and we would water everything by hand. I was determined that those flowers would thrive, and I was so proud when they actually did!

How do you start organized? 

I know this is completely old-school, but in order to stay organized, I write things down in planners and notebooks. I'm always making notes and drawing diagrams, which helps keep me focused and on-track (which is why I love PowerSheets!).

I'm a very visual person, so back in 2015, I had an artist sketch out my vision for the barn, and about a year later I had someone else do a rendering of the farm layout. The illustrations beautifully captured what I was trying to achieve, and I put them on a bulletin board in my house as a daily reminder of my dreams and goals. Fast forward to this year, 2017. As I was going through actual photos of weddings that had taken place in our barn, I realized that my visions, those sketches, had become a reality!

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Photo by Kasey Poly Photography

What are big goals you have for 2018?

This is the time of the year when I start planning what we are going to grow for next season, and we have big plans for 2018! We just planted a large field of peonies, and we're getting ready to plant our tulips, ranunculus and anemones. I would really like to expand our u-pick offerings to include a larger selection of flowers, as well as blueberries and pumpkins. I'd also like to put up a high tunnel in 2018 so we can extend our growing season. And we are planning on having monthly flower workshops starting in April of next year.

What does a typical day look like for you as a business owner?

Each of my days are completely different, which is why I love what I do! Today we're digging up our dahlia tubers and storing them in crates, and in the spring we'll divide them and replant. In a few days, we'll clean up the barn, set up tables and chairs, and create flower arrangements for a holiday event. Being able to spread joy and happiness through our flowers and our on-farm events is the best part of my day!

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If you could go back and tell yourself starting out anything, what would it be?

I didn't realize that by stepping outside the box of what is seen as traditional farming---I grow flowers instead of vegetables, my farm is small and new, I don't come from a farming background, I open the farm up to visitors and special events, and I'm a woman in what is primarily viewed as a man's profession--that I would I face a barrage of hurtful criticism and backlash. My farm has been vandalized, I've been trolled on social media, and a county official told me that as a mom, I wouldn't have time to farm because I would be too busy taking my kids to and from soccer practice.

If I could, I would go back and warn myself to be better prepared for this, and to just keep moving forward, that it will all work out in the end. And, that yes, I can successfully run a farm, and still be able to take my kids to soccer practice! :)

Are you a business owner looking to set goals for your company? Join our Business Owners Cultivating What Matters Facebook group, and download our PowerSheets Business Owners Guide to use alongside your PowerSheets Goal Planner.

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How Embracing Imperfection Can Help You Get in the Best Shape of Your Life

Earlier this week, we shared some practical tips for cultivating a healthy lifestyle, and today I'm thrilled to introduce a friend and PowerSheets user, Robin Long, to each of you!

Robin lives and works in sunny Santa Barbara, CA. She obtained her comprehensive Pilates certification through Body Arts and Science International and her barre certification through Balanced Body. She is passionate about creating programs that empower, strengthen, restore, and rejuvenate her clients from the inside out. As a mom of two little ones, she knows what it’s like to have very little time for yourself. The Balanced Life was created to help women feel healthy, balanced and strong through at-home Pilates workouts, wellness resources, and a supportive community of like-minded women around the world.

I hope you're as encouraged by Robin's words as I am! Be sure to scroll to the bottom for an invitation to join a free 21-day Pilates Challenge!

View More: http://thebollmans.pass.us/thebalancedlifejan2017

Have you ever felt like you needed to go to the gym to work off the big, indulgent dinner you had the night before?

Or, have you ever rewarded yourself with extra sweet treats after a hard workout?

I certainly have. And to be honest, I was trapped in this cycle for a long time. The cycle looked something like this:

  • Over-indulge in a cheeseburger, fries, and beer at a restaurant (eating to the point of being way too full)
  • Feel guilty, over-stuffed, and bad about myself for not having more self-control
  • Exercise as a way to make up for the “damage" I’d done
  • Feel proud, accomplished and exhausted from said workout!
  • Reward myself with a large, sugar-filled latte with extra whipped cream (I earned it!)
  • Feel bad for having such a big treat
  • Exercise to make up for it
  • You can guess what comes next...

Although I didn’t know it at the time, I was trapped in a terrible cycle.

Essentially, exercise had become a form of punishment and indulgent food had become a reward.

I was caught in a cycle that was so mainstream I didn’t even realize it was wrong.

There was a constant battle going on in my head about how I “should" exercise more or I “shouldn’t" have eaten certain foods.

There was no room for mistakes, no room for grace and no room for imperfection.

After years of feeling frustrated and discouraged, I decided enough was enough. Something had to change. I needed to break free. I realized that while there was certainly room for improvement in my diet and exercise routine, it was my MINDSET that needed to change.

My relationship with exercise needed a makeover, and my beliefs about what it meant to be a fit and healthy woman needed an overhaul.

So, I made changes.

And one of the most important things I learned, is the value of embracing imperfection and giving myself grace.

If you can relate to an unhealthy (or simply burdensome) relationship with exercise, I encourage you to explore what it might look like to allow more room for imperfection and grace.

While it might seem counter-intuitive, giving yourself permission to NOT be perfect, to go off-track and to fall behind can (and most likely will) lead to better results.

Because when you embrace imperfection, it’s easier to stay consistent for long periods of time. One bump in the road (skipped workout, extra piece of cake, etc.) will no longer throw you off track. You will look at your progress and see the ways the little by little is adding up instead of the areas where you aren't enough.

This one change has helped me get into the best shape of my life, but more importantly, my healthiest state of mind.

View More: http://thebollmans.pass.us/thebalancedlifejan2017

Here are 4 practical ways to embrace imperfection on your fitness journey:

Choose grace over guilt. This has become our unofficial motto in my online community. When you miss a workout, eat more than you need to, or forget to drink water-choose grace over guilt. Wallowing in guilt leads to shame and a cycle of negative self-talk. Sometimes we think that guilt will motivate us to change and while it might work in the short-term, it will NOT work for the long-term. Ditch the guilt, choose grace, and move forward.

Treat every day as a fresh start. Every morning is a fresh start. Don’t worry about what happened yesterday. Just wake up, drink a big glass of water and start another day with the intention to nourish and care for your body the best you possibly can.

Ditch the “all or nothing" mentality. Have you ever skipped a workout because you didn’t have time to complete the whole thing? Me too. Or perhaps you don’t really exercise because you don’t have time for hour-long classes + a daily commute to the gym? As a mom of 2 toddlers who runs a business from home, I get it. Letting go of the “all or nothing" mentality will help you stay consistent and get moving on a daily basis. My daily mantra? Something is always better than nothing.

Embrace short workouts. Everyone can find 10 minutes per day, right? If you don’t have time to spend hours in the gym or train for marathons, try short daily workouts. I teach women to do 10 minutes of Pilates per day and the results are incredible. Why? Because 10 minutes is realistic. And because it’s realistic you can actually stay consistent. And when you’re consistent, you see results.

View More: http://thebollmans.pass.us/thebalancedlifejan2017

Changing thought patterns and your relationship with exercise can take time. But one of the best things you can do is learn to embrace imperfection on your journey. Remember that fitness is a long-term pursuit that will ebb and flow. There will be ups, downs, trials and errors. Embracing imperfection will help you release guilt, accept grace and live in freedom.

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Thank you so much for sharing, Robin! Need some workout inspiration? Robin will be hosting a free fitness challenge-21 Days of Pilates! Just 10 minutes per day, no equipment necessary, all levels welcome. The challenge will officially begin on March 6th but registration is now open! Sign up today (I already have!) and get your free Prep Kit!

What is one way you’re going to embrace imperfection when it comes to your fitness routine? Will you be joining Robin's 21-Day Pilate Challenge? We'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

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Christine’s PowerSheets – October Progress

Our goal for this community is to create a safe place for PowerSheets users to share their intentional goal-setting journeys. We're honored to have our Blog Contributor, Christine Dore, share about her October PowerSheets progress. Thank you, Christine, for taking the time to share your story with us! If you haven't yet, be sure to read Christine's introduction here. If you haven't purchased your 2017 PowerSheets yet, now is the chance! -Jess

When I chose my word for 2016—“change”—I had no idea just how powerful it would be. December of last year found me struggling. I was struggling at work, I was struggling with planning my wedding, struggling with anxiety, and struggling with who I wanted to be and where I wanted to go. At 27 years old, I joked I was having a quarter-life crisis.

After a little “come to Jesus” talk with my now-husband, I knew something had to change, because I had changed. I wasn’t my happy-go-lucky self anymore. I was turning down social plans, scared to go grocery shopping when I knew the store would be crowded, and becoming, honestly, a bit of a recluse. He was justifiably worried about me. I had allowed wedding planning stressors and a solo long car-ride commute and a not-very-collaborative job with people whose values clashed with mine and self-doubt cause me to draw in and hide.

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Image by French Press Mornings.

I prayed more that December than I ever did as a kid wishing for a special treat from Santa (in the way kids’ minds work, small-child Christine thought Santa was Jesus’ cousin or something, and He could put in a good word for me). I prayed for guidance. I prayed for help. I prayed in gratitude that He’d sent me such an astute, patient, loving man to spend my life with.

Then, I found the PowerSheets through Southern Weddings, and decided to give it a shot. That moment of, “alright, I’ll give it a whirl—why not?” was absolutely God speaking right to my heart, even if I was too mired in self-doubt to hear it for what it was. Something just had to change, and I figured it was as good a place as any to start. And so, “change” became my word for this year.

Fast-forward 10 months and my life has radically changed. I’m married and actively planning my dream future with my husband (I still get a thrill calling him that!), I have a new job with a much shorter commute and am learning new skills all the time, I’m writing for fun again, I landed my first creative content client, and I’m taking better care of myself. Out of all of those, that last one is the most important—and enables all the others.

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Taking care of yourself means something different for everyone. For me, it occasionally means letting go of guilt to enjoy something delicious and seasonal. Really appreciating the great days I’ve been blessed with helps me push through the hard days.

This last refresh of the year has me looking toward 2017, and thinking about what word I’ll choose when I receive my new set of PowerSheets I ordered on November 1st. Progress? Love? Creativity? I have no doubt in my mind that I will continue to change. Life is about change. But I’m ready for a more positive word. To look ahead with excitement and start digging into the good stuff to make things happen.

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Growing up in Florida, I never experienced picking pumpkins right from the vine! I loved putting “pumpkin picking” on my October Tending List and Fall Bucket List. How are you soaking up the end of this year, to fuel you into 2017?

What are you looking forward to for next year? What are you doing to take care of yourself during this busy time of year?

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Bailey’s PowerSheets – Summer Recap

Our goal for this community is to create a safe place for PowerSheets users to share their intentional goal-setting journeys. We're excited to share a PowerSheets progress update from our contributor, Bailey Robert. If you haven't yet, be sure to read Bailey's introduction here. Thank you, Bailey! - Jess

One of the things I have looked forward to the most in working through this year’s PowerSheets are the quarterly refresh pages. Setting goals in January is set up for success by the regular reassessing of those goals and refining of them to suit each season’s needs.

However, when the summer set rolled around, I froze.

A season change was approaching and I wasn’t ready.

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Grad school came to a close in May, and I moved back in with family for the summer. I had been applying and interviewing for teaching jobs since February, and by the end of June I was weary and honestly losing hope that something would fall into place before the fall. I’m typically a stickler for following the sheets in order, but I skipped over the Summer Refresh Sheets straight into July. I simply couldn’t find the vision to prep for the next season when I wasn’t satisfied with what it was going to look like.

But the PowerSheets are about making progress, not about being perfect.

Since I hadn’t worked through my goals at the end of June for the summer season, I decided to wait until my 25th birthday which would come mid-July, and use them to give vision for the coming year in that way. I love how Lara says there’s nothing magical about January 1st, and my birthday seemed like a great restart date in the middle of the year.

Coincidentally two days after my twenty-fifth birthday, I received the phone call I had been waiting for. I GOT A JOB! I finally found out where I would be moving and that I would be teaching high school theatre this fall. Needless to say life changed in a snap, and that transition is still a bit of a whirlwind.

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Back to the PowerSheets. With a new job in mind and a new year of life ahead of me, it was time to refresh those goals. The prep pages for the three-month refresh are full of GREAT questions to get you reflecting on what worked, what didn’t, and what needs to changed. In this waiting and worrying process, particularly about the job, I learned:

Worry gets you nowhere.
Choosing joy is always worth it.
Trust the Lord’s timing.
Fueling your soul is important.

It had been easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of finishing grad school and hunting for a job, taking care of my heart falling to the wayside beneath stress and striving. Boy, did I feel it. Physically, emotionally, and spiritually. My shoulders were tense, my back in pain. I was short with family and friends, complaining too much. My Bible lay untouched and prayer discarded because I wasn’t getting the answers I expected. This only amplified the struggle of that season.

Taking time to do what fired me up, fueling my soul with creative things, became a simple fix. Days before turning twenty-five, I set my PowerSheets aside and headed off to NYC for a week with a few of my best friends. We saw plays and musicals, shopped some sales, and took masterclasses at a teachers workshop. Being around other creatives (and getting a phone call in Times Square with the job offer!) made me SO excited to come home and dive into those refresh pages.

So when refreshing my goals, I chose very carefully what I would say yes to: intentionality, simplicity, risk, a new community, and more of what fires me up. Being intentional helps me say yes and no to the best things for my season. Simplicity reminds me that I don’t have to do it all or have it all. Risk infuses me with the umph I need to dive into a new city and job with gusto. Making community a priority will surround me with encouragers and family in a foreign place. Doing more of what fires me up will refuel me creatively so I can tackle my responsibilities with a full heart.

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From there I chose my word(s) for the next season: JUST GO.

I’m an introvert, y’all. I’m also a theatre girl and I’m going to be a teacher. It’s important to find alone time to recharge, but sometimes I use that as an excuse to stay home. In a new place, it’s important to JUST GO. Just go to the new Bible study, even if I don’t know anyone. Just go to church on Sunday, even if the show went late Saturday night. Just go and introduce yourself to the other teachers, even if they are already friends. Just go for it. I want to walk out confidently in this new season, and having clear goals will certainly help.

Some of the goals I set for my 25th year include:

-Get in the Word daily and intentionally.
-Get physical/active. Make it fun ;)
-Move to my new city!
-Budget & balance.
-Fill with creative fuel.
-Pour into my spheres with joy and Jesus.
-Continue 52 books in 52 weeks.

I also made use of the spectacular deal the Lara Casey Shop was running right in July and picked up a set of six month PowerSheets and a gold foil Make it Happen Binder to set goals specifically for my new job. I’ll share more about those next time.

The important takeaway here is to make the PowerSheets work for you. If you’re not ready for or don’t need a refresh when it falls in the sheets, skip it, adjust it, or come back to it later. Use it on your birthday or when that new job comes. These are to help YOU create YOUR most meaningful life.

Don’t forget to have fun along the way. It’s worth it, trust me.

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