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Writing Goals That Won’t Scare You

Jan 1, 2018Real Life, Wholehearted

The Ghosts of Goals Past

I have never liked goals.  To be fair, I’ve also never set goals.

Oh, I’ve tried.  Sort of.

But the idea of writing down something that I could fail to accomplish scared the pants off of me.  I couldn’t imagine what to write because I really didn’t think I could have the tenacity and drive to pull it off.  And honestly, I couldn’t think of something that seemed worthy of being a goal.

It’s not that I didn’t know how to write a goal. I’ve even taught students to write down goals.  And yet…

Can you relate?

Do you look at all your friends sharing their resolutions and inside you’re silently laughing and shaking your head.  (Be honest now.)

When Words Make You Think Twice

And then I was talking to a friend at Hapkido class. He said that if I’m not setting goals, then I’m wandering aimlessly without direction.  I’m not really living.  I’m surviving, more like a boat cast adrift on the ocean than like a ship heading somewhere.


That was pretty powerful.  And he’s right.  This year I’ve felt like I’ve been drifting around, not particularly sure where I’m going or where I want to end up.  Because I felt so stuck, I had even stopped imagining what life could be like.

I believed the lie that if I couldn’t do it perfectly, I wouldn’t do it at all.

So, with his words ringing in my ears, and my discontent with the current state of things. With the unrest driving me forward, I decided that this would be the year.


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Finally, Something Less Scary

I don’t know where I found her book, but I started reading  Cultivate What Matters by Lara Casey.  And I think I cried through the entire first chapter because everything she was describing was me.  It sounds so corny and cliche, but regardless it hit me hard – I wasn’t alone in feeling this wavering, uncertain, directionless, itchy dissatisfaction with the status-quo.

Lara describes goals as cultivating what matters.  It’s planting seeds to make the things that matter happen – intentionally.

That I can do!

There are things that really do matter to me – my husband and boys, my faith, finding a creative (non-techy) outlet, creating margin in my life so I feel like I have a life…  and these are the things that get scheduled OUT of my life way too often.

Focus on Cultivating the Seeds That Matter

So, pen in hand I got messy, reflecting on who I am and where I am using her awesome Powersheets planner.  I thought back over what worked well and what didn’t work well, what went well and what didn’t, what things I liked, and what things I want to let go of.

And finally, I set about writing out a list of 10 things that I wanted to cultivate in the next year.

Some of these included things like:

  • Have a monthly date night with my husband
  • Do one creative (non-techy) thing, like painting or drawing, per month
  • Have a family dinner at the dining room table once a week (maybe even make it a family game night or something)

I worked through the various steps to  create starting steps – those first few things that need to happen to make my important things become a reality.  For example, in order to have a monthly date night with my husband, I need to sit down with him and a calendar and put it on the calendar first.  Before I put anything else on there.  Because, I know if it’s not there, then it won’t happen.

“Cultivators tend to what matters, embracing little-by-little progress.” – Lara Casey

There was space to consider why this matters to me, how I and/or others will benefit from my cultivating this seed.  There was even a place for me to write notes and a little encouragement – and a way to celebrate the seed’s growth and blossoming.

Finally, each month I’ll create a Tending List that has monthly, weekly, and daily actionable steps that I can be doing to begin to cultivate the seeds that I’m planting.

What Matters to You?

For the first time ever I feel like I’m setting a direction for my life. I’m daring to envision something different that what I see every day.  I’m choosing to concretely state what I want to tend and grow, and I want to truly cultivate what matters to me by being more intentional about what I say yes to and what goes on my calendar.

I have no illusions that this will be a cakewalk.  But, I’m going to take one day at a time.

Progress, not perfection.

And grace to be human and start fresh each day.

So, what about you?  Do goals freak you out a little bit?

Does it help to think of them like seeds of the things that matter, planted and cultivated, so that you harvest the good and the sweet and the important things?

“Little-by-little progress adds up. Good things grow over time.  It’s okay to grow slowly.” – Lara Casey

I highly recommend reading Lara Casey’s books (she has two: Cultivate What Matters, and Make It Happen) and her Powersheets planner.  I’m also trying out Emily Ley’s Simplified Planner this year (we’ll see how that goes – I’ve always done a sort-of bullet journal thing, but I’m tired of printing out my layouts and sticking them in a book).

What are your best resources for cultivating a life full of the things that matter?

Affiliate Link Note: Some of the links on this page are affiliate links. This means that when you click on the link and make a purchase, I get a small commission.  It doesn’t cost you anything, but it helps me keep things running here. Learn more here.

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