June 24, 2021
Do you struggle with a million ideas at once? Do you feel like everything is a priority, all the ideas and passions you have MUST be done immediately? And you’re utterly lost as to how to find “balance” in your life? If so this episode is about to rock your freaking world. Today’s conversation is with the powerful Lara Casey.
Lara is a mom to three (one through the gift of adoption), a wife, and a believer in the impossible. As CEO of Cultivate What Matters, Lara is the creator of the best-selling PowerSheets® Intentional Goal Planner, the Write the Word™ Bible journals, and she’s authored two books: Make it Happen and Cultivate. Lara founded Southern Weddings magazine a decade ago and loves getting her hands dirty in the garden with her kiddos in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Lara is a multi-passionate powerhouse of a woman, and today’s conversation is all about prioritizing the things that matter most in your life amid a world or even your mind screaming that everything is a top priority. This interview is a breath of fresh air as we cover things like how to “make it all happen,” avoiding hustle mentality while also avoiding doing nothing out of fear, and how goal setting can change your life when it comes to cultivating what matters. Lara walks through this episode handing out permission slip after permission slip of truth, grace, and clarity. You’ll walk away inspired and clear on how to take your next steps to keep your focus clear and truly prioritize what’s going to matter in 60 years.
Lara wants to help women to live out the things that truly last by doing that through a process of understanding what matters to you in the big picture and then breaking that down into tiny little steps.
Her story starts in a place where she wasn’t doing those things. Many years and decades of feeling lost. Getting a degree in music and theater in New York City, she fell out of love with that business and decided to become a personal trainer in Manhattan. Lara loves getting to know someone, understanding their motivation, and then trying to help them get from one place to another.
Fast forward and she had an interest in event planning. Growing up with her mother as a french chef who entertained often, Lara found her heart for planning, which lead to the wedding industry. This then leads to her starting her wedding magazine called Southern Wedding Magazine that focused on couples and their stories.
Eventually fazing out the wedding planning and the personal training and then went full force on Southern Wedding Magazine. Four of five years into that, people started asking her for business advice. Having no formal training and only what she had from experience she decided to start a blog. From that people wanted to hear more from Lara regarding business and faith. She then started the Making Things Happen Conference, where they have just passed eleven years on.
Here she is now as the CEO of Cultivate What Matters, a company that houses all that Lara has grown and learned to do.
All of these things seemed disconnected, but at the heart of event planning is understanding someone’s story. Just like theater, using music, sound, lighting, and in this case a menu to bring someone’s story to life. Lara is passionate to help others tell their story and transform them from one place to another.
You don’t. There are seasons for everything. You have to let go and surrender to what has to happen for all of your lives to fully cultivate what matters. The word cultivates means “to dig up the soil and prepare it for new growth”. You can’t grow a million plants in a little 4×4 garden box. You can only grow maybe 5 different things, but then the next season you could try something new, and then the season after that you could try something different.
You have to spread it out. You have to make hard decisions, and you have to say no to people. You think from the outside that “successful” people are always pleasing people, but the people that are doing that are burning themselves out. It’s hard to disappoint people and say no to good things. You can’t do any of it alone either. Take it one step at a time if that is the right step for you.
Be diligent in evaluating each season of what you can do and what you can’t do.
We all have these experiences in our own lives where we are smacked in the face with what matters. It’s either a difficult or good experience that causes this. We all have a sense of what that is. It is all individual as it is not a copy-paste for everyone. Most of us would say it is more the former, we have harder experiences that jolt us into what truly matters.
Ask yourself these questions, “What are you going to be so grateful that you spent your time on when you say 80, 90, or 100 years old?” and the opposite, “What would you be so glad that you didn’t spend your time on?”.
What is going to matter to you in the big picture and what won’t? Your time is a currency that you use to invest in the things that matter or don’t. The little things that we do today have a ripple effect on two-three decades from now.
The Bible is clear about hard work, it says to do it, we are supposed to work hard for the things that matter in life. It also is clear about resting. We ignore those two basic things. We think there is some other formula we should be looking at. The Bible says that God rested on the seventh day so why shouldn’t we need rest also? That allows us in so many ways physically, emotionally, and spiritually to work hard the other six days of the week. That is the baseline. Start there.
A lot of what pushes us forward tends to be our egos. The biggest pitfall in some people’s careers will be pride. We all struggle with that.
There is nothing wrong with working hard for something, or success, or money but why? What is the reason that you would chase after those things? There are good reasons for those things and not so good reasons. It is the not-so-good reasons that can run us into the ground. When we practice living in that tension with a balance of real rest and real hard work that we know is going to add up, whether that is raising children or it is writing a book, etc. It is unique for each of us and those things are worth pursuing and then you got to rest.
Good things grow little by little they don’t happen overnight. That is one of the most wonderful things of just stepping outside, take notice to see all the lessons that we can learn from plants.
One in specific is pruning. Lara has a peach tree and one year there were so many baby peaches on there that the branches were touching the ground. She took her giant clippers and did the painful process of clipping off these massive branches full of fruit. The fruit wasn’t ripe, it was like cutting off potential. Things that could grow into something. This is like our lives in business or motherhood, there are times you have to prune things and say no to other things for better things to grow.
That next year they had over a hundred peaches and they were the most amazing ever. If Lara hadn’t pruned the tree and let them go, they could have been tasteless or not grown at all.
That is just like us, we can spread ourselves so thin. Being multi-passionate has that connotation of being spread thin, but that is not at the heart of it. Those things are the things that you are choosing to intentionally pour good nutrients into. Not all the things, just a few things that come from your heart, come from your soul.
We hesitate to take action on something that matters because we don’t know how or it feels too big. We don’t know where to start. We don’t know how to break a goal down.
Lara created what is now called PowerSheets Intentional Goal Planner because she needed it herself. A light bulb went off for her, and she realized she can make progress on all her things by tending to them little by little over time. We don’t have to do something every single day of our lives to make a dent in it.
Decide what you should be doing once a month, once a week, and what are the best things for you to cultivate as habits. First, uncover what matters, make an action plan, and then do something about it.
There are certain seasons of life where that can feel more acute. When you are in that season where you “can” hustle so hard. First, there are so many unique situations in life. You feel like you have to wash the laundry. You have to answer emails. There are seasons where you feel like you don’t have a choice.
Have grace, there are going to be times where it is okay for everything to fall apart. It won’t last forever. It foesn’t last forever, this too shall pass.
No matter what season you are in, that question of what matters is the big picture. Do you have to do it today? Could it be better to do it next week? Or better next year or two years from now?
Take some of the pressure off when you’re doing this big-picture planning. You can take steps in a specific outcome for a shorter term but often ten years is a target and not a goal. It will help take the pressure off to think everything is urgent.
The most important thing is to step away. Step away from your normal. Don’t sit at your desk or kitchen counter where you normally sit. Grab a piece of paper and write down all the things that are worries, fears, and stressors on your mind. You have a lot on your mind and you need to get it somewhere.
Make a list of the things you want to say yes to and the things you want to say no to. To figure out what matters. A part of this is asking that question, “Where do you want to be when you are 80, 90, or 100 years old?”. If it’s hard for you to ask yourself where you want to be in ten years, ask yourself the opposite. Where do you not want to be? What is not going to be important to you?
The next step is to make an action plan and break those goals down. Start with just this season. What is realistic within the bounds of your circumstances of life, within your capacity right now. What is realistic for you for the next 90 days. You have to break it down into tiny little steps, so small that it seems silly to write it down. That is the point. When you get down to that level, you have no choice but to act on it.
It is okay to grow slow. The small steps that you take will add up. It adds up over time.
We are not in charge. It is not ours. Every day Lara is reminded that she is not in control, her business is 100% God’s business, and when she loses sight of that, that is when things go awry.
She doesn’t have to make it happen, she has to do her part and steward well what God has entrusted her with and the people He’s entrusted to her. That carries with it a lot of responsibility and calls Lara higher to make sure she does it with excellence. Be grateful we are not in charge, because that means we don’t have to be perfect and get to rely on God for his goodness, grace, and wisdom. The Bible truly is the very best business book out there. You are not the boss.
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WASSUP FRIENDS. We’re Evie + Lindsey, co-founders of this wild partayyy called The Heart University. Our goal is to empower entrepreneurs to kick freaking BUTT in their businesses, dive down into the heart of their why and how, and serve you with all possible tools you’ll need to up-level your business game and CRUSH those goals of yours.
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