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Six Game Changers from 2018

It's hard to believe we're already approaching the start of another new year! If you're like me, you've had 2019 on the brain since about October 26th, and it's tempting to skip right to it. But one of my favorite things about this stretch of time between Christmas and New Year's Eve is the chance to reflect and prep for what's ahead.

The Cultivate What Matters PowerSheets have that built in, with lists of what worked and what didn't, and this year I was even more inspired by Lara Casey's list to look back and find the 5 biggest game changers from 2018. From daily habits to monthly appointments, here's what made the list.

1. Weekly Counseling Sessions
I first started thinking about counseling in 2014. I was in the thick of grad school, experiencing yet another major life transition in yet another new city, and my anxiety was wrecking havoc on my heart and my daily life. Time and money were my biggest excuses, so I shelved it. And I didn't think I'd gone through anything "bad enough" to need counseling.  Insert the same excuses and thought process going into my first job and next new city in 2016, only this time I looked up a counselor and bookmarked her name. Still, I did nothing. Then this summer I started experiencing weekly panic attacks and daily emotional breakdowns, feeling more stuck and lost than ever before. It was only then that I clicked the bookmark and sent this woman an e-mail.

It's been six months of meeting weekly and it has been worth every penny. Having a place to process through what I've experienced, what I'm feeling, and the thoughts that can rule and wreck my days has been so helpful. I've cried, I've sat quietly, I've worried about "getting it right", but I've kept going and I don't plan to stop any time soon. In the spring I'm switching to going every other week, but I hope to continue throughout 2019.

2. Bi-Weekly Budget Check-in
Getting my finances in order was one of my biggest goals (and challenges) in 2018. It was an area of a lot of stress and I typically operated under the "If I don't check my bank account and I don't get any alerts I'm sure I'm fine" mentality, and I swiped my credit card way too often. In August, after my summer of travels, I sat down with my mom for accountability and got a good look at everything. I now sit down and go over the budget and my account twice a month (once at each paycheck) to make sure everything is in order and taken care of.

When I ordered my 2019 GoldenCoil planner, I made sure to include monthly budget sheets to keep it all in one place. The goal is to be out of credit card debt by the end of 2019, and in order to make it happen these check-ins, too, will continue.

3. Monthly Massages
Self-care is an area of my life I all to often toss out the window to schedule in something else. Since my first year of teaching I'd talked about getting a massage after "my next show" but I never got around to scheduling it. But this summer, in the midst of a crazy season of travel and carrying the physical pain and tension of anxiety between my shoulders for too long, I scheduled one at my local Massage Envy. At the end, they talk you through their promotions and membership, and that's when I thought, "You know, I'm going to let you talk me into this" and I did.

It has been amazing! I worked it into my monthly budget and I get at least one per month, scheduling it often after a counseling session, and I try to take the night completely to myself (either at a bookstore or coffee shop afterwards). I go to the same two ladies and it's been so sweet to get to know them, sometimes we talk through it and sometimes we don't, and they are both so encouraging and AMAZING at what they do. They can tell when it's been a tougher month stress-wise and going consistently has helped the pain immensely. This is definitely a keeper!

4. Worship Music on 24/7
I listen to music ALL the time. I used to make monthly playlists on iTunes, and a single song can take me back to times in college and high school, hard heart places, too. I love country music and indie music and Broadway shows, but I came to a place early in the year where those things were no longer encouraging to my soul. I needed strength and was grasping for it wherever I could, so I made a playlist called "Rest Secure" that would fill my car, my classroom, my morning, or my breakdown with truth, even though I couldn't always sing it myself. It's still the playlist I go to again and again, and I've included it below for you, too.

5. Daily Adoration
I have been a long-time fan of Sara Hagerty, and her books Every Bitter Thing is Sweet and Unseen make the top 10 list of my favorite books with ease. She shares monthly downloads of Adoration, characteristics of God and a coordinating scripture. I use the printable in my prayer journal and sometimes when I sleep through my alarm or don't quite get my "full" quiet time, this is what I'll turn to. I've been using them for several years but most consistently in 2018.  I highly recommend them!

6. Qapital Saving App
Along with going through my budget at least twice a month, automating savings has also been super helpful! I've used the Qapital app for over a year now, and it's been great and even fun to set goals and rules for how savings increase. My favorites are the "set and forget" rule where I can tell the app to set aside $5, $10, or however much each week and the "guilty pleasure" rule where any time I go to Sonic or Chick-fil-a it moves $10 or $20 over into the designated account. So far I'm saving for a trip back to New York City, school supplies for next fall, and our family vacation this summer.  You can check it out HERE and if you set your first goal after using that link we'll both get $5 for it. :)

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A few other favorites from the year:

  • Podcasts. Lots of podcasts! Specifically That Sounds Fun, Proverbs 31, & Cultivate Your Life
  • The Enneagram! I'm a 9w1 and it's been so helpful to know! More to come on this.
  • Meal prepping my lunches. It's a small task on Sundays but saves time and money later. 
  • Using Cladwell to get dressed in the morning! It picks my clothes for me out of what I already own! More on this soon, too.

Looking ahead, each of these things will be on repeat for 2019. Some of them were small steps toward healing, and others were what felt like big risks that are leading to breakthrough. I cannot encourage you enough to make your list. Look back find what works. Look ahead and choose a few small changes to make 2019 your best year yet.

Now it's your turn. 
What was a game-changer for you this year?

Cultivating December Goals

Gone again, here again. Sounds about right, right? I'm all over the place this year with the blog and being online, but I think that's okay. I'm still trying to find the balance, and the trying is worth it. But for December, we're back in action, and it's time for some monthly goals, don't you think?

It's the end of the school semester and the start of the holiday season, and both of those things make my heart so happy! It's also time to prep for 2019, but that will come later.

We festivized the mantle for Christmas! 5 stocking for the 5 roommates!

This month has more events than to-do's, but I think that's the way it should be around the holiday season. Lots of celebrating and gathering with community and less trying to do-do-do, go-go-go. On that note, here we go!

December 2018 Goals

Monthly Goals:

  • Close It's a Wonderful Life well Ta-da and ta-DONE! This week we closed our Christmas play so I can check it off already! We performed a live radio play at the historic movie theatre in our little downtown, and it was delightful! 
  • Finish the fall semester with gusto. Only three weeks left until Christmas break, y'all! The goal is to finish strong and not check out too early. Lucky for me we're in the midst of our musical theatre unit and doing How the Grinch Stole Christmas in class. What fun!
  • Enjoy Christmas at Pemberley with friends! Remember when I talked about filling my creative tank? I'm headed to see a play called Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley with friends this weekend and I cannot wait!
  • Clear the Extra Christmas Decor. I finished a daily decluttering challenge in November, and I want to keep the momentum going by getting rid of the excess Christmas decor that I didn't use this year. 
  • Complete 2019 PowerSheets Prep! It's PowerSheets prep week with Cultivate What Matters! I've started my new set and plan to go slow this month.
  • Finish 2018 strong + with joy. This one pretty much speaks for itself. Only one month left to finish the year well and look for joy (my word of the year) before the new year begins. 
  • Read 5+ books. I've only got a few weeks and a couple of books left to reach my 52 books goal for the year! I want to read/finish these books this month (plus a couple more):
    • The Bear and the Nightingale *in progress*
    • A Portrait of Emily Price
    • Becoming Mrs. Lewis
    • Creativity, Inc.

Weekly Goals:

  • Sabbath on Sundays. Make time to rest, dig in the Word, and prepare my heart for the week. 
  • Get active 2x's. Planet Fitness a couple of times a week. 
  • Timesheet turned in. I'm working some extra events at school and can't miss this. 
  • Blog 2 times. Just trying to get back in the rhythm here!
  • Finish a book or 2! I need to finish 6 this month to complete the challenge.

Daily Goals:
  • Study the Word.
  • Daily prayer topic.
  • Get active.
  • Drink water.
  • Read for fun.
With Christmas break on the horizon, I know full well some of these will shift, but it doesn't hurt to plan well! Writing it out, keeping the list where I can see it on my desk at school and on the chalkboard in my room, I think 2018 will come to a solid close. Wish me luck!

What about y'all? What are you going to cultivate in December?