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Goal Action Ideas for Cultivating Faith

If you've been in the Cultivate family for long, you know that the heart behind everything we do is rooted in equipping and encouraging you to cultivate what matters in your life. We also know that when it comes to setting goals that work for your lifestyle, everyone is different, and sometimes you need a little inspiration when it comes to filling out your monthly PowerSheets Tending List.

We started a new series earlier this month to begin sharing a collection of monthly, weekly, and daily goals that align with larger themes we see in our PowerSheets community. Our hope is that you use these guides as resources when you're looking to make progress on one of your goals and need some inspiration to fill out the lines of your Tending List. Remember, these are simply suggestions to help get your wheels turning, and we welcome any additional suggestions in the comments!

Next up, goals to help you cultivate your faith! Whether you're new to this faith thing or you've been at it for years, the list below will give you some ideas for your Tending List if you're looking to cultivate a fresh faith.

Monthly Goals

  • Choose and purchase a Bible
  • Join a church
  • Find an accountability buddy
  • Create a faith playlist
  • Choose a Bible reading plan
  • Join a volunteer team at church
  • Memorize a passage of Scripture
  • Order a prayer journal
  • Join a small group
  • Order a Write the Word journal
  • Read a book that grows your faith
  • Download First5 App
  • Choose a SheReadsTruth study
  • Fill in prayer journal
  • Invite coworker to church

Weekly Goals

  • Attend service
  • Write the Word*
  • Attend small group
  • Serve at church
  • Tithe
  • Sabbath rest
  • Be generous

Daily Goals

  • Pray before reaching for phone
  • Read the Bible
  • Write the Word*
  • Pray with spouse
  • Memorize Scripture
  • Write in gratitude journal
  • Love someone

*Did you notice that some of these goals can be weekly or daily goals? That's the great thing about our goal guides; we give you ideas, and you decide where they fit into your Tending List. It might change each month, too!

These are just a few suggestions of tangible goals you can add to your Tending List each month to make progress on your faith goals for the year.

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

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Using PowerSheets in College

When Jess asked me to write about how to use PowerSheets as a student, I jumped on the opportunity because I benefitted from using them during my senior year! I am a proud University of Kentucky alum, and I’ll take any chance to relive the glory days.

One of my favorite thing about PowerSheets is that they aren't limited to a certain season of life, but they grow with you! PowerSheets can be used by anyone, anytime. I started my 2017 PowerSheets as a college student, and looking back at graduation in May, I can see how although my goals have changed quite a bit, my PowerSheets are still working.

One important thing to note is that my PowerSheets weren’t a homework, studying, and project to-do list.

While those things are important for success in college, I used PowerSheets as a means of uncovering what mattered to me whether that be inside or outside of the classroom. College is a great time to grow in areas of your life that will last beyond student life, this could be community involvement, relationships, finances, healthy habits, etc. I'm delighted to share what I learned using PowerSheets as a student, and I'd love to hear from you!

1. Keep your Tending List visible.

PowerSheets only work if you use them. And to use them, you have to see them! I kept my backpack pretty much packed with the same items: my planner, a binder (that I used for all classes), a calculator, and a snack for the day, so there wasn’t a whole lot of space to bring my PowerSheets.

That's where the perforated Tending List comes in handy! Simply tear out your Tending List and tape it to the inside of your class binder or planner. You can consistently check in on a weekly basis and make adjustments without having to add another book to your school bag.

2. Use semester breaks to complete the PowerSheets Prep Work.

I received my 2017 PowerSheets as a gift over the holidays, and balancing family and friend time over the holiday break made it hard for me to start the Prep Work before my spring semester. Whether you’ll be using a Dated One-Year Workbook or a Six-Month Undated Workbook for 2018, I highly recommend starting as soon as you can leading up to winter break. This gives you enough time to enjoy the break and thoughtfully work through the Prep Work before filling out your January Tending List.

3. Focus on what matters to you.

Being a college student doesn’t mean life outside of class is put on pause. As I completed the Prep Work, I found that a lot of my focus for 2017 included uncovering what I wanted to do post-graduation, cultivating relationships I had built, and spending valuable time outside of class in a way that refreshed my soul. If you were to look at my Tending Lists from the beginning of the year, you will find a lot of goals focused on the student organizations I had leadership positions in and my community in Lexington, and that was a good thing! I chose the most important things, and I prioritized them on my Tending List each month.

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Many of my favorite college memories came from serving on the DanceBlue leadership team and planning #DB17, which showed up often on my PowerSheets. Marc was a great mentor for the year leading up to the 24-hour no sitting, no sleeping, dance marathon and now, post-graduation!

4. Be specific.

This tip can actually apply to anyone, and it’s been a game changer in how I write out my Tending List each month. For example, instead of “start saving", I added “open a Roth IRA and invest". The more specific my action steps were, the easier it was for me to make progress on them. It also made it easier to me to translate goals into my daily planner! To learn more about using your PowerSheets alongside your planner, join Lara and Emily Ley for a live class on How to Create a Cultivated Calendar!

5. Set aside time on your lightest class day to do your Tending List each month.

Try to keep your monthly check-ins consistent and mark it on your calendar. Maybe it’s during your Tuesday or Thursday break between classes, or maybe it's during homework break on your Monday afternoon library stints. Either way, consistency is key! One important thing to remember is that you don’t have to wait until the day before to do your Tending List for the upcoming month. I used to try to do it on the last day of each month, and when something came up I would feel guilty about not getting it done. Now, I start my PowerSheets the same time each month (the last Friday of the month), and it's been a game changer! This is why we give you a PowerSheets Prep Day sticker in our sticker book!

6. Give yourself margin during exam seasons.

Is it just me, or does it always seem like your professors met together and decided to give exams all on the same day? I found myself have one week with little projects or assignments due, and then another week with all my exams! Even if you aren't a student, I'm sure you can relate. In the “What’s Ahead" section, be sure to note if you have a busy month ahead in your classes and include dates. Writing out dates will help you see if certain weeks are heavier than others, and it will allow you to build in margin and avoid trying to do too much. In this case, feel the freedom to leave some of the lines on your Tending List blank!

7. Find inspiration from others! It was always helpful for me to see what goals other students were setting, so I flipped back through my PowerSheets to pull some examples for you below:

Monthly

  • Create a list of prospective companies I would like to work for (and why)
  • Research and open a Roth IRA + deposit summer savings
  • Create study plan for Finals week
  • Submit application for school organization leadership team

Weekly

  • Attend office hours for (insert your most difficult class here)
  • Encourage girls in bible study
  • Meet with career mentor/professor
  • Prepare well for DanceBlue meeting
  • Work on homework from a coffee shop - Breaking up my homework routine was so refreshing each week!

Daily

  • Pack a snack
  • Encourage a friend
  • Charge laptop
  • Pack backpack
  • Skip the bus and walk

Are you a student? Do you use PowerSheets? I'd love to hear any others tips you might below in the comments!

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Goal Action Ideas for Fitness Goals

We've talked quite a bit in the past about how to get fit and how imperfection can help you get in the best shape of your life, and we firmly believe those posts are full of encouragement and practical advice for you. We also know that when it comes to setting goals that work for your lifestyle, everyone is different, and sometimes you need a little inspiration when it comes to filling out your monthly PowerSheets Tending List.

We're starting a new series where we're going to be sharing a collection of monthly, weekly, and daily goals that align with larger themes we see in our PowerSheets community. Our hope is that you use these guides as resources when you're looking to make progress on one of your goals and need some inspiration to fill out the lines of your Tending List. Remember, these are simply suggestions to help get your wheels turning, and we welcome any additional suggestions in the comments!

First up, fitness goals! Whether you're a triathlete or you hate running with every bone in your body (I certainly lean more towards one of those than the other), the list below will give you some ideas for your Tending List if you're looking to prioritize your health and fitness this year!

Monthly Goals

  • Download Couch to 5K
  • Find a personal trainer
  • Join a running club
  • Sign up for barre membership
  • Choose an exercise plan
  • Join the local YMCA
  • Buy a pair of running shoes
  • Purchase a Fitbit
  • Find an exercise buddy for accountability
  • Create a workout Spotify playlist

Weekly Goals

  • Exercise 3 times a week
  • Run 10 miles
  • Track weight and measurements

Daily Goals

  • Be active
  • Take the stairs
  • Park far away
  • Hit 10,000 steps
  • Go on a walk after dinner
  • Lay out workout clothes before bed

These are just a few suggestions of tangible goals you can add to your Tending List each month to make progress on your fitness goals for the year!

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

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Your Go-To Guide for Meal Planning

Let me set the scene: It's 5:30 pm, and you're leaving work. You're hungry, but you have no idea what's for dinner (or if you even have food at home at all!) I've been there. You think "A quick stop by Chipotle will give me dinner AND lunch for tomorrow. surely that makes more sense than going to the store and then cooking." I completely get it. But once you start adding up those Chipotle and Panera runs, your wallet thins out pretty quickly!

Meal planning and prepping often gets a bad wrap because it seems overwhelming, but I'm here to share my best tips and tricks for those of you who are looking to make progress on your nutrition goals this year. I'm calling this a go-to, grace-filled guide to meal planning. So what's the point of meal planning? It's two-fold, not only will planning and prepping your meals give you control over what you're putting in your body (goodbye weekly Chick-fil-a trips!), but it is also much more economical. I'm sharing my best tips below, but it isn't an exhaustive list. I'd love to hear from you in the comments.

how-to-meal-plan-and-prep
If you follow my #TendingListTuesday updates, you'll know that "Plan and Prep Meals" has been a weekly goal for months!

Set realistic expectations. It wouldn't feel fair to write this post without starting with this tip. One of my best pieces of advice is to set realistic expectations as you start meal planning and prepping. There are going to be times when you rock your week-you'll do all the organizing, prepping, cooking, and come in under budget to boot! But there will also be times you eat an entire pizza instead of saving some for lunch and you find yourself at Food Lion the next morning buying Spaghettio's for lunch... Give yourself grace, and remind yourself that you can and will make progress each week.

Invest in the right containers. I've found that having the right containers and tools is essential to meal planning and prepping. There is nothing worse than making a batch of quinoa, putting it into a Tupperware container, and then ransacking your kitchen looking for the lid. I used my recent move as an opportunity to throw out my old plastic containers and invest in some new glass containers. I'm able to easily divide leftovers into lunch or dinner portions for the upcoming weeks. I recommend starting with a set to see which sizes you use most frequently, then buying a few extras individually. My favorites are from Ikea (here, here, and here), but there plenty of other options out there, too! Budget tip: Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals are a great time to stock up!

Create a bank of easy, go-to meals. Pinterest and your favorite blogs are a great starting point, but I like the idea of crowd-sourcing, too! Use your social feeds to ask for your friends' favorite meals, and ACTUALLY RECORD THEM SOMEWHERE. Whether it's a cute recipe box or digitally on your Pinterest board or Google Drive, make sure these are all aggregated in one spot so that when it comes time to choose recipes you can be efficient. If you aren't a recipe follower (ahem, me!), then create a typical shopping list for the week, and bookmark it somewhere. This is my favorite shopping list template, and I use it week after week to avoid overbuying.

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Here's this week's meals for me. You'll see that it's pretty simple and there are a lot of leftovers. I didn't add breakfast since I'm eating the same thing-yogurt, homemade granola, and berries.

Know yourself, your family situation, and your lifestyle. I'm a notorious meal-repeater. I typically eat the same breakfast and lunch for two reasons. It saves me from decision fatigue, and it saves me money because I'm only cooking for one person. If I want to mix things up, I'll split a Hello Fresh delivery with my boyfriend for some variety. Depending on your family situation, your meals will likely look very different than mine, and that's okay! Budget Tip: Email me if you want to try Hello Fresh, and I'll share my referral code for $40 off your first Hello Fresh box.

Schedule a weekly meal planning session. Take 30 minutes one day per week to plan your meals and shopping list. I spend time Sunday afternoon planning my meals, and it's a breeze and prepares me to go grocery shopping. My typical agenda is below, and while it might seem long, it rarely takes more than 30 minutes:

  • Look at your calendar or planner and decide how many meals you need for the week. Consult with your spouse, a roommate, or children's calendars to make sure you on the same page. For example, some weeks I have my book club and won't need to plan for dinner. I typically write out my weekly meals in my Simplified Planner, and from there I can see any gaps. Tip: don't forget about snacks here! I plan for two snacks during each workday.
  • Check your freezer and pantry. Are you out of staples? Do you have food that is about to expire and you want to use? Figure those things out now so you can choose your meals accordingly.
  • See if there are any sales at your typical grocery stores. I do all of my shopping at Trader Joe's (there are no sales), but this can inform your meal planning for the week. Tip: You can easily view your local flyer for most stores online.
  • Plan out your meals. Using the recipe bank you created above and starting with breakfast (it's the easiest!), plan your meals and snacks for the week and write them down. Whether it's in your planner or on a notepad on your fridge or in your calendar app, make sure you can see what's on the menu.
  • Make your shopping list from the meals. Write down everything you need for the week, and be sure to stick to it. Tip: If you're prone to forget your list or aren't heading to the grocery store until later, go ahead and take a photo of it, too.

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Head to the grocery store. Grab a snack, your reusable shopping bags, and get to shopping! This isn't required, but I like to add a rough estimate of prices beside each item so I don't have sticker shock when I head to the register. When I get home, I immediately unpack my groceries and start chopping, prepping, or roasting things as necessary.

Incorporate these steps into your PowerSheetsIf you're starting from scratch, add "Create a bank of recipes" to your monthly goals next month. Maybe you add "Meal plan and prep" to your weekly goals. Whatever it is, writing it down will help keep you accountable! Tip: Use the grocery cart sticker from our sticker book to add some color to your PowerSheets!

Whew! That was a long post, but I hope it was helpful. Now it's your turn; I'd love to hear from you! Leave a comment and share any tips or favorite recipes you have! I don't claim to be an expert in meal planning and prepping, and I'd love to learn from you!

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How to Use Your “On My Heart” Section

If you're anything like me, sometimes guided journals can feel a bit too overwhelming. What if I don't want to answer specific questions on that day? What if I simply need a place to pause, reflect, and record what's been on my mind and heart. One of our favorite parts of the Write the Word journal is how the "On My Heart" section can be used in a variety of ways! We're sharing some of our favorite way below, but don't let these ideas limit you!

WTW_Gratitude

Photo from my personal Write the Word Journal

Keep track of gratitudes. Many of our PowerSheets users have some form gratitude on their daily goals, and your Write the Word journal is a great place to track those in the same spot. I do something similar in my WTW-each day, I answer the question "What God has done for me?" or "What is God in the process of doing for me?" It gives me the opportunity to reflect on things big and small in my life, and it reminds me that moving towards gratitude and contentment is often a journey.

Capture memories. Your "On My Heart" section is a great place to capture memories or moments from your day. As I've gotten older, I've realized I have a tendency to remember the big moments, but I have to work harder to remember the smaller ones. I love the idea of intentionally recording the seemingly small but beautiful moments in your day.

ChildrenLetter_WTW

Photo from Rhiannon Bosse by Samantha James Photography

Write letters to those you love. Our friend Rhiannon Bosse wrote a blog post about how she uses her Write the Word journal as someone who doesn't particularly love journaling. She's started writing letters to her son to give him one day. Our Customer Delight and Shop Manager uses her Write the Word journal to write letters to her future husband. Both intend to give the journals to their intended recipients one day, but we love the idea of writing letters to a variety of different people, too.

Reflect on the passage from the previous page. Use this space to reflect on the Scripture from the coordinating page, perhaps rewriting pieces of it in your own words or pulling out certain phrases. If the scripture on the coordinating page was particularly powerful I also record that there as well. Record the things you are learning!

WTW_HusbandLetter

Photo by our Customer Delight and Shop Manager, Kaylee

Write out your prayers. Maybe you simply need a place to write out your prayers or long-form journal? That's great! We love the idea of writing prayers about worries or fears you might be experiencing because it'll give you the opportunity to flip back to these pages to reflect when prayers are answered.

We're thrilled to be restocking all five editions of our Write the Word journals in our shop on Wednesday, August 23rd. In the meantime, download our free Cultivating Faith guide and start writing the Word today. We've included a selection of 10 passages for you to practice writing the Word right where you are!

We'd love to hear from you! Are you a journaler? If so, what types of things do you record? Do you use a notebook or a prompted journal? Leave a comment and share!

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