Eight Steps to Embracing Mornings

We've all heard the saying "the early bird gets the worm", but my guess is the early bird likely wasn't managing a career, planning a wedding, preparing for marriage, building community in a new city, and moving all at the same time. Which means it was likely a little bit easier for him to get up early and get that worm :)

Before I start, I want to be careful not to fall into the trap of thinking there isn't enough time in the day, because it's simply not true. There is enough time in the day, but I have to be proactive in prioritizing and making sure my time and energy aligns with the things that matter most to me. My 2018 PowerSheets goals act as a compass for me, guiding me as I determine where and with whom to devote my time and energy.

If I learned anything in this season, it's this: When you feel like you don't have time in your day, you have to be proactive in making time. Whether you need a few extra hours in your week to work on a side hobby or want to prioritize time for taking care of your body, the easiest place to find time is in my mornings! I'm excited to share a few tips that have worked well for me below:


Photo by Marie L.

Ask yourself why. Take a few moments to ask yourself these questions: WHY do I want to wake up earlier? Will this goal get me closer to where I want to be when I'm 80? You'll feel much more motivated to stick to your goals when they are connected to a purpose. For me, waking up earlier gives me time to exercise and read, two of my goals for this year!

Set yourself up for success the night before. I once heard becoming a morning person starts in the evenings, and I couldn't agree more. Create an evening routine to prepare you for your morning ahead. Get your clothes out (exercise or work clothes). Set the timer on the coffeepot. Pack your lunch. Most importantly, honor your bedtime (and put the phone down!) Taking the time to create a routine for the evenings will help prepare you for a fresh start each morning.

Sleep with your shades open. I've found sleeping with my curtains pulled back makes it easier for me to wake up in the mornings. If you have a significant other who likes to be in pitch black, you can find lamps that mimic the sunrise to help your body wake up naturally!

Make a plan. In the same way that you created an evening routine, it's important to eliminate decision fatigue in the mornings as well. Creating a morning routine will help you know exactly how you want to spend your mornings. Whether you want to get your heart rate up by exercising or create more space for journaling or reflecting, a consistent routine will help keep you from climbing back into bed.

Make your bed (and stay out of it!) I've learned this the hard way: If you're reading in the mornings, move yourself to a different spot other than your bed. I'm positive I'm not the only that is guilty of climbing back into her bed in the mornings. Making my bed makes it a little less appealing for snoozing after you grab your warm cup of coffee and book.


Create room for the things you love. Mornings will be miserable if you fill them with the all dreaded tasks on your to-do lists.  Make room for something life-giving in your mornings so you have something to look forward to. It can be as simple as lighting a favorite candle or enjoying a warm cup of fresh-brewed coffee while you read through your current book. Maybe you want more time to have breakfast with your significant other before starting your days. Resist the urge to fill the extra space with tasks, and embrace activities that bring your joy, too.

Address the pain points. Ask yourself why mornings are so hard, and then fix it! If it's hard to get out of bed because it's cold in your home, invest in a space heater or warm slippers. If you don't enjoy showering in the morning, start showering in the evenings. Find your pain points, and eliminate them!

Take baby steps. We embrace growing slow, knowing that overnight results and quick fixes aren't the way to long-lasting success. Becoming a morning person isn't something I expect to happen overnight, and I've given myself lots of room for grace in my PowerSheets. Instead of adding "Wake Up at 6am" to my Daily Goals, I chose to add a weekly goal to exercise two mornings before work to my PowerSheets Tending List, I'm taking small steps and hope to work up to that consistent 6am wake-up time!

I'd love to hear from our early risers! What has helped you embrace the mornings? Leave your best tips, tricks, and resources in the comments below!

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Ten Ways to Use PowerSheets Tending Tape

The Cultivate Team was thrilled to announce our newest product we debuted our 2018 PowerSheets Collection last fall: our Tending Tape! We created our Tending Tape to remind you to tend to what matters in your PowerSheets! Since it's debut, hundreds of you have been using it for far more than your PowerSheets, and we wanted to share your creativity today by sharing ten ways to use your Tending Tape:

Mark off several days in your planner and decorate the blank spaces. Whether you're traveling for fun or work, using your Tending Tape is a great way to mark off those events to give you a visual reminder of when you'll be gone.

Use your Wildcard pages in your PowerSheets. One of my favorite additions in this year's PowerSheets is our brand new Wildcard library. We created 13 pages you can print and tape into your PowerSheets blank pages to help customize your PowerSheets Goal Planner. Use your Tending Tape to tape those pages in! Not sure where to find the Wildcard pages? Check out the link on page 68 of your PowerSheets.


Share it with your children! When we asked for suggestions on Instagram of how to use Tending Tape, one of our friends shared that her kids commandeered most of her tape for their art projects, and we love knowing there are tiny hands across the country using Tending Tape for their projects!

Send some happy mail! Sending happy mail is one of the easiest ways to encourage those you love, and our Tending Tape is a great way to add some color to your cards! Plus, it saves you from having to lick the envelope (and let's be honest, no one enjoys that part!)

Tape inspiration into your PowerSheets. Our friend Nicole printed a quote from a lady in our PowerSheets Facebook Group and taped it into her Encouraging Words section of her Goal Action Plan Pages What a great reminder that our words matter! Whether it's encouraging words, a photo, or a list, use the Tending Tape to add inspiration to your pages.


Photo from our friend, Nicole

Wrap your gifts. One of my favorite budget-savers is purchasing brown kraft paper for all my gift-wrapping needs. It's easy to store one roll for all occasions, and I can decorate gifts based on the occasion. I love wrapping presents using our bright Tending Tape! It adds a pop of color, while still being easy to store!

Tape Tending List somewhere visible. After working through the PowerSheets Prep Work, uncovering your goals for the year, and creating your monthly Tending List, it's important to make sure you see those goals so you can make progress on them! Use our Tending Tape to tape your Tending List on your bulletin board, bathroom mirror, refrigerator, or anywhere you'll check in regularly. Wherever you decide to hang it, make sure it's a place you see every day!

Create a tab to easily access your 2018 goals. Our new color-coding system in our Goal-Setting Sticker Book is a great way to track your goal progress, but it can get tedious flipping back to your 2018 PowerSheets goals while creating your Tending List. Use the Tending Tape to create a little flag at the top of your 2018 goals for easy access!


Tape your inspiration board into your Prep Work. You worked hard to compile all your images and words into a beautiful inspiration board on Pinterest for your year, so now's the time to print it out! Whether you tape it into your PowerSheets or on your refrigerator (or both!), put it somewhere where it will regularly encourage you to make progress on your goals!

Add some color to your Bible Journaling or Write the Word. Many of our PowerSheets users who are looking to cultivate their faith this year have been using their Tending Tape during their Bible Journaling or Write the Word time! What is Bible Journaling? It's a creative and fresh way to engage with Scripture by writing, painting, and creating in the margins of your Bible or Write the Word Journal.

Your turn! How are you using your Tending Tape? Leave us a comment with your favorite ways to use your Tending Tape! We'd love to hear your creativity!

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How to Make a Tending List

You've pushed through the PowerSheets Prep Work, created goals that are connected to what matters most to you, flip the page to your January Tending List... and you're stuck.

How in the world do you break down those big goals into smaller action steps for your Tending List? How do you decide what to focus on each month? How do you create a Tending List with action steps connected to your goals, and not just another to-do list?

We're here to share our best tips for taking a blank page and turning it into a Tending List you'll look at each day!

Don't try to do it all at once. I thought about calling this one "easy tiger" because I know how it feels to be roaring to go! You 're feeding off the momentum of setting your best goals, and you're ready to dive in and accomplish all the things!

Review your goals. Whether it's your first Tending List or your fiftieth, don't lost sight of what you're working towards! Look at action plan overview and your Goal Refresh sections (if applicable), and start from there.

Look at starting steps in Goal Action Overview Pages. Are there steps that you wrote out that fall into the current month or season? Great! Move those to the Brain Stream page in your monthly Tending section. Remember in the PowerSheets Prep Work when we asked you:which 3 areas of your life do you most want to cultivate moving forward? Pay extra attention to those goals!

Pay attention to what's ahead. The Prepare Well page in your Monthly Tending pages help you know what's on your calendar, important to-dos, and things you're excited about and want to celebrate in the coming months. Don't stop at your personal paper or digital calendar. Be sure to check your significant other's work calendar, your children's school calendar, and birthdays and anniversaries for loved ones.

Write all your ideas down. Write out all you want to cultivate or accomplish this month: goals you want to take action on, habits you want to grow, ways you'll rest or recharge, and relationships you want to cultivate.


Simplify. I know what you're thinking! "But Jess, you just told me to write them all down!" Once you've written everything you think you want to do this month on paper, it's time to cut it down and focus on the most important things! Don't be afraid to get messy–circle a priority, scratch things out, and highlight to your heart's content to help you start to get a visual for what's ahead. I find it particularly helpful to use different colors on my Brain Stream page to differentiate between monthly, weekly, and daily goals.

Start each action step with a verb. Once you've decided what's going on your Tending List, start filling it in! Starting each of your goals with an action verb makes it less passive, and will give you a kick in the pants each time you read it!

Color-code to stay focused. We're so excited our Goal-Setting Sticker Book includes color-coding tools to help you see progress on your yearly goals and remind you of where you're going each month. Are you a color-coding first timer like me? We have some great tips for you to get started!

Don't overthink it. No one expects you to have perfect goals each and every month. After all, this is different than traditional goal setting. It's grace-filled goal setting! Commit to daily tending. Our lives bloom through daily decisions and habits–not just the giant leaps made once in a while. Lean into the little by little progress, and be willing to celebrate all that you do accomplish in the coming weeks!

Put next month's PowerSheets Prep Day on your calendar! The Cultivate Team uses the last Friday of each month to do our PowerSheets Prep Work. , and we love sharing it on Instagram stories to encourage you! Whether you join us on that day or use a different one, go ahead and mark it in your calendar!


Were these tips helpful? What else would you add to this list? I'd love to hear from you in the comments!

We are so grateful that ALL of the dated One-Year 2018 PowerSheets are headed to happy homes! If you haven’t ordered your PowerSheets yet, we still have three beautiful color options for undated six-month sets that are shipping now! The Prep Work, Goal Action Plan pages, and Tending Lists are identical to the one-year sets. Get yours here.

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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:


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?


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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Seven Easy Ways to Cultivate a Heart of Gratitude

As we approach the holidays, I've noticed the shift in conversations towards gratitude, and it's one of my favorite parts of this season. Why? A content life happens when we cultivate gratitude, and I love being part of the intentional conversations about how far we've come and the things we're thankful for. These conversations and gratitude lists give me energy and momentum to continue to move forward, because gratitude is good for you. Not just mentally, but physically, too!

Today we're sharing seven easy ways to intentionally begin to cultivate gratitude in your own lives. The best part about these? You can start right now, because they are small, tangible steps to get your started today.

Create a marker of gratitude for your home. If you search "Gratitude Craft" on Pinterest, you'll see a plethora of options. Some of my favorites that I've seen are a thankful tree, a blessings jar, a thankful wall, or a gratitude wreath made from clothespins. The best part about these? They aren't elaborate or expensive, and they can be created from items you likely already have in your home. It's a great way to get any children in your home involved, too! Make this a dinnertime discussion, and add something new to your gratitude marker each evening.

Make it a habit. One of my favorite parts of the PowerSheets Tending List is the ability to list our daily goals for your month. If gratitude is something you want to cultivate, add it to your Tending List as a daily reminder!

Speak it out loud to others. Look for opportunities to thank others. It's one thing to think it, and it's another thing to speak it out loud. Thoughts are fleeting, but our words are permanent. A simple "thank you for taking the time to do that" can go a long way in encouraging others.

Write it down. The power of writing down things I'm grateful for in my Write the Word // Cultivate Gratitude journal cements them in my brain. Not only that, but it's also a tangible place for me to flip back through when I'm in a difficult season. You don't need a fancy journal (though I do love incorporating the Scripture from our WTW journal with a gratitude list). You can start with a notebook you already have lying around!

Put your phone down. Is it just me, or does it seem like this tip could go on every single blog post we write? Eyes up, phone down has been on my PowerSheets for the past few months as a reminder to pay attention to what's in front of me. Instead of scrolling through social media and focusing on what I lack, I'm able to enjoy the people and moments around me. Need some tips on putting your phone down? We recommend having a social media-free weekend!

Watch your words. One of the best pieces of advice I read earlier this year in an article is to only complain when you can offer a solution to the problem. You guys, this has been a game-changer for me. Complaining for complaining's sake ends up being counter-productive, and you end up feeding the negative thoughts. The author gives great examples: Is your internet connection too slow? Make a quick phone call to your provider to get it sorted out. Is traffic on the way to work terrible? Leave earlier or take a different route. Most problems can be easily remedied. In the same way that our negative words can be draining, training our hearts and minds towards gratitude can go leaps and bounds in cultivating our hearts, too.

Surround yourself with reminders of gratitude. For me, it's filling my refrigerator and frames with photos of my loved ones. I also love creating playlists for different moods, and my Believe playlist is one of the most-centering playlists I've created. I often listen to it when I need a good soul-reminder. Feel free to give it a listen, too!


I'd love to hear from you! How do you cultivate gratitude in your lives? What else would you add to this list?

PS. If you're looking to purchase a Write the Word journal, take a peek at our holiday sale beginning Tuesday, November 21st. It's a great time to snag a Write the Word for your collection!

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