2019 Goal Setting, Pt. 1


2019 Goal Setting

With Lara Casey's Powersheets

I’ve been using Lara Casey’s Powersheets for my goal planning the past few years. I love Powersheets because before you even begin to set your goals, there’s an entire section dedicated to walking you through a process of looking back over the past year at what worked, what didn’t work, what your big dreams are, and also asks you big questions like where do you want to be when you’re 80 (talk about perspective!), and more!

Today I want to share a bit about my personal reflection of 2018 and tomorrow I’ll come back to share what some of my goals look like for 2019. I love to document my annual goal setting process here on the blog because it’s really cool to be able to reflect years later and read how far I’ve come.

Getting Started

I have to be honest, this year has been a little more challenging than I expected while working through the goal setting process. My brain just wasn’t quiet enough and I was having trouble thinking clearly and focusing on reflection. I think that’s because I was still trying to catch up from the insanity that was my fall workload for 2018. Don’t get me wrong, I am always SO grateful for all of the work I am able to do, but it was a very FULL year. It took me weeks to allow my brain to rest and have the space necessary to accurately reflect on all that happened and all that I learned throughout 2018.

I’ve been working through this same goal setting process for a few years now and I have to admit that this is the first year it just didn’t seem FUN for me. As I worked through the steps it really felt like a chore. My responses to the goal setting process were the same as previous years and as I tried to dig into NEW lessons, it all just felt so repetitive… as if I am still learning the same lessons over and over. Which, as you can imagine, felt a bit discouraging.

Regardless, I continued plugging through the process as much as I could, but here we are about to enter February and I still don’t have all of my big goals written out. But no matter — I am sticking to my tradition and sharing the process here with you all, even if it’s not complete or doesn’t look as good as I wish it could. Maybe next year will be better!

So, let’s dive in!

Cultivated Life Evaluation

Starting with one of my favorite spreads in the Powersheets this year, the Cultivated Life Evaluation walks us through rating ourselves in eight areas of life: Health, Friends, Spouse, Family Finances, Spiritual + Personal Growth, Work, and Recreation.

To my pleasant surprise, my highest rating came in the Health category. For the first time that I can remember, I am consistently showing up at the gym and moving my body on a regular basis. I’ve done this before in short seasons: training for a triathlon, enjoying Crossfit, etc. But this is, so far, the most long-term commitment I’ve kept in regards to exercise. That’s pretty encouraging!! (If you are looking for a great gym community, I encourage you to check out Burn Boot Camp - Lynchburg!! We are a fun crowd and we will help hold you accountable if you want!)

My lowest rating this year was Recreation and Finances. In the notes area of recreation I wrote “What is this?” Ha! I think, honestly, my whole life is a well-rounded collaboration of recreation. I love my job, I love my volunteer work, I love spending time with my family. All of the pieces of my life bring me recreation in their own way. Quality time with my family often looks like a trip to the trampoline park or an evening swimming, while friendships and relationships are often nurtured by game nights, cook-outs, or double dates.

Finances, however, that’s just a bad grade altogether. I really want to grow in discipline in this area. I’d like to cram more money into savings instead of into amazon purchases. Anyone else with me?!

I love the Cultivated Life Evaluation because it’s the perfect way to kick-off the goal setting process by taking an overall pictures of all the areas of your life.  


What Matters Most To Me

After working through a series of pages and answering a variety of questions, I was brought to this spread which points to one simple question: What Matters Most To Me?

Honestly, I just copied over what I wrote in 2018 because it still applies: A healthy and happy marriage, healthy children (mentally and physically), a business that brings a steady income and healthy routine to our family while adding quality to our community, a core group of friends to love and support, and connection with our extended family.

These Powersheets continuously bring me back to what matters most — and I love that about them. This process unfolds by a series of prompts like “Where do you want to be when you are 80?” “What matters most to you today?” Ultimately, this is the good stuff.

What Did and Did Not Work?

Okay, so here we are at one of my favorite parts of the Powersheets prep work. Looking back at what DID and DID NOT work over the past year. I always open my calendar and look back at every appointment, photo session, family adventure, and any other activity I participated in to get the most accurate perspective. As I did this exercise and my lists grew and grew, I got really excited! What amazing lessons I learned!!

A few of the things that DID work for me were:

  • hiring a studio manager (more on this soon!)

  • monthly power sheets accountability meetings with my friend LaShonda (HUGE win here!)

  • Sunday meal planning & prep with Tommy (and receiving daily-harvest deliveries!)

  • planning the full year of sessions and special dates at the studio in january

  • creating and following a morning ritual

  • joining burn boot camp - lynchburg, va

  • so much self care! massages, gym, counseling appointments, eating well

  • giving up coffee (this was unexpected but HUGE, I may share more later!)

  • a getaway anniversary trip with tommy to celebrate 10 years!

  • planning and executing two separate mini business retreats for myself

  • purchasing pens in the weight and color that I prefer to write in (this has surprisingly added a lot of joy to my everyday life! I wish I hadn’t waited 35 years to do it!)

And a few things that did NOT work for me were:

  • over-filling my work calendar (per usual)

  • not keeping up with self-care during busy seasons of work

  • not having as many date nights with Tommy (we started slacking here)

  • purchasing a new lens without first renting it to see if i would like it

  • delaying equipment upgrades far too long

  • being on-call for births during busy event weekends

  • using mean words when frustrated (this never works)

Some of my biggest lessons I see as I look through the items above are:

  • planning ahead pays off!!!

  • even though I do outsource some areas of my business, it is always good to continuously reevaluate and consider outsourcing more

  • endorphins are NOT overrated!

  • having the right perspective can change everything

  • simple joys add up and have a great impact


Turning the page brings me to the “Choose a Word” page. I honestly chose my word for the year before even beginning to work through the goal setting process. I chose it out of desperation to truly find a calm and peace in my life.

My word for 2019 is SLOW.

My challenge to myself in 2019 is: now is the time to finally take control of my life and slow down

Tomorrow I will share Part II of my Goal Setting Process: the goals I’ve come up with and the steps I plan to take to make them happen! If you’ve read this far, Thank You!!!

Liz Cook is a motherhood, baby and wedding photographer in Central Virginia. She loves to photograph emotional and storytelling portraits, the details of parenthood, and fun and easygoing couples in love.

Liz Cook

Liz Cook is a wedding, birth, and motherhood photographer based in Central Virginia. Her intuition and creative perspective allow her to connect both professionally and personally with her subjects, and thus, her portfolio is saturated with authentic emotion. Whether she's sharing her story with fellow entrepreneurs or enjoying quality time with her husband and two daughters, Liz is both present and passionate about capturing and celebrating life. Her work has been featured by O "Oprah" Magazine, The Huffington Post, The Glitter Guide, Essence Magazine, domino, Rue Magazine, among others.