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Making Things Happen is Happening in 2018

We're thrilled to be releasing tickets for our 2018 Spring Making Things Happen Conference in Chapel Hill, NC on March 19-20, 2018!

The Making Things Happen Conference is unlike any other conference. MTH is the work you do before investing in other conferences. Before you take action on what’s important to you, you have to know where you’re going. This intensive was created to give you a solid foundation and action plan. It was created to help you simplify and gain direction. One of the most tangible ways I can describe MTH to you is simply this: MTH is like PowerSheets in person.

I know there are many of you out there who weren't able to get a set of 2017 PowerSheets. While they're not exactly the same (obviously, the price point is quite different!), we truly believe that the experience of attending the Making Things Happen Intensive is similar to walking into a set of PowerSheets–but far, far better! We often describe PowerSheets as a guided coaching tool, but at MTH, you actually DO have a guide and a coach: Lara Casey herself and a group of accountability partners.

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Photo by Amy Nicole Photography

I know what you're thinking. "That sounds great and all, Jess, but March 2018 is months away and I can't afford to think that far ahead."

Allow me to politely respond with this: You simply can't afford NOT to think that far ahead.

MTH is about digging deep, establishing priorities, uncovering a purposeful vision for your life and business, and discovering how to make what matters most happen. Making Things Happen was founded on the idea that you have the choice to change your life. This time is an investment in you and your future. We prioritize what is important to us. Register for your seat today, add it to your calendar, and plan to be there with us!

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Our Encouragement Crew gives the best welcome hugs! Photo by Carrie Joy Photography

You can read much more about Making Things Happen, as well as testimonials from our most recent class of attendees, here. If you'd like to learn more, we'd also encourage you to watch the replay of a previous webinar with Lara and a few MTH alums from all different backgrounds to see if the experience might be right for you.

If you're on the fence, now is the time. We intentionally chose not to host a Fall 2017 MTH, which means we have friends who have been waiting upwards of a year to register for Spring 2018. I have a feeling this might be the quickest sell-out, so don't delay in registering. Payment plans are available.

Questions? Leave a comment below and we'll happily answer them!

P.S. We're giving away a scholarship seat in memory of one of our dear long-time friends, Yvette Price, who embodied all that we teach at MTH. She was courageous in her battle with cancer and made what matters happen despite great challenges. She grew what would last longer than her: a whole lot of love and joy in the lives of others. In her honor, we're excited to give away one seat to either an alum or new attendee. This scholarship is for the full ticket price not including travel or accommodations. Enter to win the Yvette Price Scholarship over on Lara's blog by July 31st!

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How To Enjoy Reading

If you've spent even just a few moments with me, you'll know that I'm quite a bookworm. My favorite summer memories involve participating in the summer reading program at my childhood library, and Belle was (still is) my spirit Disney Princess. She has me at the yellow ballgown and her heart-eyed face when she saw the Beast's library; it was meant to be.

Anytime I talk about my unashamed love for reading, I'm often met with rebuttals like "I wish I liked to read" or "I don't have time to read." I'm not an expert by any means–there are friends who read dozens of more books each year than I do–but these are some of my best tips to help you cultivate a love of reading. When I posed this question on Instagram stories, I got more than 70 responses with your favorite tips (many of them already favorites of mine!) Thank you for sharing, friends!

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Make time for it. Simply put, you make time for what's important to you. I could be in the busiest season of my year (looking at you PowerSheets launch season), but I'm still going to find time to talk to my boyfriend. Why? Because he's important to me. The same is true for the other things in my life. Reading is important to me, so I've made time for it. I've added it to my PowerSheets Tending List, and it's been a game changer. Set aside 20 minutes each day to dive into your book. It doesn't matter what time of day as long as you are making time for it.

Find the best way to consume your books for your lifestyle. Reading has evolved so much in the past decade, and there are a variety of ways to consume books nowadays. From audiobooks to e-books to hard copies, the possibilities are endless. Gone are the days where reading means curling up on your couch. I've listened to almost as many audiobooks in 2017 that I've read because I often find myself in the car for long drives.

Keep a list of what you want to read next. Keeping a list will eliminate decision paralysis when it comes time to choosing what to read. I take screenshots of recommendations, add books to my Amazon cart (but try not to buy them!) or library queue. Knowing I have a few places to go for suggestions when it's time to choose my next book is so helpful!

Find a buddy! One of my goals for the coming year is to start a book club! Because everything is better with a buddy, and wine :) The accountability of knowing you have a reading buddy or book club can often be the fire you need to finish whatever book you've been reading.

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Always keep a book with you. Download the Kindle app on your phone. Keep a book in your purse or car. Set yourself up for success and use the small pockets of time throughout your day efficiently. I never regret the moments I choose to read a book instead of mindlessly scrolling through social media.

Track what you've read. Tracking your progress is fun and motivating! It's one of the reasons we updated 2017 PowerSheets to have a progress bar! I keep a private Pinterest board for books I've read each year since 2015. I love having books in one spot (where I can see covers, too) when someone asks for a recommendation. Others mentioned Goodreads, which I've heard great things about, too!

Read what you love. Don't guilt or trick yourself into reading something you aren't excited about. If you like reading non-fiction, read it (more power to you!) If you're a fan of young adult novels, go for it (and let's talk!). You'll never be motivated to finish a book if you feel obligated to read it. With that said, give yourself permission to put a book down if you just aren't into it.

Now it's your turn! Leave a comment with some of your favorite books! I'd love to add some titles to my TBR (to be read) list!

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How to Track Your Spending

Earlier this month we tackled how to build a budget. For those of you who tried a budget for the first time, how has it been going? Budgeting is a skill that can take a while to perfect, so if you feel like you way overspent in one category while underspending in another, don't get discouraged - just look at the month of data you now have, and move forward with greater clarity in the months to come!

Once you have a budget (the amount you're planning to spend in each category, as well as amounts you'd like to give away, save, or invest), you need to figure out a system for tracking it (since that's the key to following it!). The good news is that there are many ways to do this, and almost certainly one that will be a good fit for you! I'm going to run down a few of my favorites today, but would love to hear from y'all in the comments.

A custom Google Doc | This is the system I use, and warning: it might seem a little insane on first glance. But if you use very little cash, don't mind a little upkeep, and LOVE data, it might be the right fit for you! The basic premise is that the amount in your budget accrues each day, which is a neat way of feeling like your budget is growing, not shrinking!

The envelope system | Dave Ramsey fans will be very familiar with this one! It's perfect for people who are worried about overspending, because almost everything is paid for in cash, and once the cash in each category's envelope is gone, it's gone. You can read more about this strategy on the Dave Ramsey site, and read about our friend Nancy Ray's envelope system experience here.

The EveryDollar app | EveryDollar is an online budget app created by the Dave Ramsey team and is basically a digital version of the envelope system. I haven't used it personally, but my sister is a recent convert who is loving it, and our Marketing Director Amber also uses it (see her PowerSheets above)! The app is free for 15 days then $99 for a year.

You Need a Budget | Another online budget app with rave reviews is You Need a Budget, or YNAB. I love that not only do they have a great tool for tracking your spending, but it's guided by a strong personal finance philosophy based on four rules (give every dollar a job, embrace your true expenses, roll with the punches, and age your money). YNAB is free for 34 days, then $50 for a year.

Mint.com | Mint promises to bring everything from budgeting to bills together - your financial life, in one place that's easy to understand. Mint has been around for awhile, and seems to be the most polarizing of the sites I've listed here - people either love it or hate it. When I used it for a few months, I felt like I was going in more often than I'd like to correct its auto-categorization. Mint is free.

I'd love to hear: Have you found a system of expense tracking that works for you? What do you use?

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Renew Breaks: what are they and why we do them

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How to Take Care of Yourself

A recurring theme I have seen pop up numerous times in your 2017 PowerSheets goals is self-care, and I must say, I love it! The Cultivate Team's word of the year last year was "well." Why? Because we knew that we needed to pour into our wells so that we could draw from them to create meaningful products to help women cultivate what matters, right where they are. A practical way we did this was by instituting "well breaks," which were pockets of the time during the day we were encouraged to stand up, walk away from our computers, and let our brains rest by doing something life-giving! It helps us clear our brains and feel refreshed so that we can continue to do good work.

That's why one of our best pieces of advice is to plan for intentional rest each month. I know what you're thinking: "Easier said than done, Jess."

This is a particularly ironic blog post for me to write because I am the farthest thing from an expert at self-care. I'm hoping to offer some encouragement for those of you that feel like you just don't have time to take care of yourself by sharing some tips that have worked for me over the past few years. As our Marketing Director Amber Housley says, "Self-care doesn't have to be a grand gesture. Little things along the way add up!"

Whether it's a specific goal you wrote in your PowerSheets or not, we know everyone can benefit from moments of self-care! Here are some of my favorite tips for making this happen in your own life in 2017!

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Amber's breakfast date and reflection on self-care

Make a list of activities that are refreshing to you, and keep it somewhere accessible. This might take a little bit of time if you haven't thought about it before, but we encourage you to sit down and make a list on pen and paper (perhaps on a blank page in your PowerSheets or on a sticky note) or on a note in your phone. Having a list makes it easier for you to find pockets of time when you feel yourself needing to recharge. Some favorites from the office: going for a hike, getting a pedicure, starting (and finishing!) an entire book, exploring a new place, taking a bubble bath, getting a massage, spending a night alone in a hotel room, an hour alone in a coffee shop, browsing the local antique mall. Try to include options for all budget ranges and time periods (you can't always take an overnight trip, but going on a neighborhood walk can be as quick as 30 minutes and it's free!) Here's the most important thing: do what is restful for YOU, not what you think you should be doing. If taking a bubble bath isn't your thing, then don't do force yourself to do it! Fill out your list with things that YOU enjoy!

Implement social-media free time! Whether it's the entire weekend, a single day, or pockets of time throughout your day, start incorporating moments to be social-media free into your routine. Social media isn't a bad thing when it is used purposefully, but we've found that taking moments to disconnect often makes us feel purposeful and connected to those around us! We posted some practical tips on how to implement social-media free weekends into your life (don't worry: you can start small!)

Set office hours! Here's the harder part, stick to them!! The Cultivate Team intentionally works Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm EST. Any emails or social media comments that come in after hours are saved for the next day. Why? We've found that working hard during those hours makes us more productive team members, and better wives, mothers, girlfriends and friends outside of work hours. A practical tip: if your work email comes to your phone, download an app that blocks it outside of office hours. I use the Gmail app, and it's easy for me to turn my work email account off after hours so I don't get notifications. Those emails will be there the next morning at 9am.

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Be active. Whether you're taking breaks from your desk throughout the day (laps in our office are becoming popular now that most of the team are FitBit owners) or scheduling time to head to the gym, make sure you get your heart rate up. The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of activity five times a week. Can't quite meet that time frame right now? That's okay! Something is better than nothing. Start small, and remember your little by little progress adds up. Lara posted some tips on her blog recently, and we've posted some simple ways to cultivate a healthy lifestyle.

Schedule your refreshment days! Our final tip is to open your iCal, Google calendar, or planner, and go ahead and schedule! Until it has a specific time, it's simply an idea and dream. Oftentimes, when I schedule my "rest" periods, I'm not entirely sure what I'll be doing during them; I just know that the first step is protecting that time on my calendar.

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We added REST stickers to our Cultivate What Matters Sticker Book to make it easy to incorporate this into your schedule. Sticker books will be back in stock in the coming months!

Remember, prioritizing self-care doesn't make your selfish. By loving yourself well, you are able to do that for others.

What are your favorite ways to recharge? I'd love to hear from you in the comments!

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