004 | How to Cultivate an Intentional Year in 2021 Through Purposeful Goal Setting

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Welcome! It’s officially fall and we’re now three-quarters of the way through 2020. 

Can I get a hallelujah, AMEN?

I’m actually feeling more hopeful right now than I have in awhile. I’m not sure if it’s the formal shift into fall, the idea that we’re finally nearing the end of 2020, or my annual goal setting process that I’m about to kick off for 2021!

Either way, I hope this optimism sticks around, because gosh … it’s so needed.

I’m beyond ready for it, and I imagine you are too.

October is always one of my most productive months. I feel a sense of urgency before the holidays begin to finish as many open-ended tasks and projects as I can. And you may not know this about me, but I tend to have quite a handful of projects open at any given time. 

So this year … I’m aiming for no new squirrely, shiny object things that claim my time through the fall!

Priority is on finishing open projects.

My husband and I even successfully reached our No Spend Challenge goal in September and saved a healthy chunk of change, so that’s a big win over here on the goal setting front!

I resisted all urges to buy an at-home sauna in its place, so congratulations to me.

Jury’s still out on whether or not I’ll be able to withstand the continued urge. I mean, my doctor suggested it for detoxing, sooooo……we’ll see.

In any event, today I’m excited to share something that’s been a sweet spot for me for YEARS. One of my favorite topics.

To my OGs, some of you may remember when I ran a blog linkup in 2014 called “The 2014 Directive.” We set our word of the year, then each month we created a single focus goal to layer onto the last. It was tons of fun and I felt so accomplished at the end of 2014.

In October that year, we moved to Washington, then a few months later in March we bought a house, had a baby in December, and at that point, my goals were limited to surviving. 

In fact, I played around with bullet journaling at that point, but it never stuck.

Then, I found the PowerSheets® Goal Planner in late 2017. 

I was anxious and desperate to reset my approach to goals. To feel more purposeful and productive at the end of the day. I needed more direction.

And most importantly, to treat myself gently and with grace in my season of motherhood.

I haven’t always been successful with that last bit, but after plenty of years of setting goals in many different formats, today I want to dig into why PowerSheets® is my absolute favorite way to create, track and measure my goals. 

Yes, this is ultimately a product review, but the reasons PowerSheets® works for me can be applied to any old notebook, too. You don’t have to use a fancy tool to benefit from the process. A fancy tool just ends up making things quite a bit more fun and efficient.

So whether you’re interested in the PowerSheets® Goal Planner I’m sharing with you today, or you’re just interested in creating goals that matter as we wrap up one of the most uncertain and directionless years (or BOTH), then this episode is for you!

PowerSheets® Prep Work & Why It’s So Helpful

When it comes to setting goals, we all know about the old “SMART” framework for individual goals. This is a great, tried & true framework and in the absence of a more structured approach, this is a great way to set a goal.

There are many of those types of traditional goal setting processes and that’s just not what we’re going to talk about today.

It’s actually pretty easy to create a single goal, make sure it fits a framework, then roll with it. 

But that’s what those who set resolutions by January 1st do! And we all know how that ends up within about 3 weeks. 

But the PowerSheets® process approaches things differently.

It starts with vision. YOUR unique vision. 

Developing an overall plan that actually matters. Not one snipped from the pages of nice sounding generic goals.

The prep work is full of prompts leading you into what matters most to you.

It’s not even just a couple pages – it’s 21 super fascinating pages worth of brainstorming, reviewing past habits, assessing current states, and affirming who you are at your core. 

And yes, if you’ve used PowerSheets® in the past, the team has streamlined the prep work and reduced the number of pages. It looks absolutely incredible.

I like to think of it as a visit with a naturopath for goal setting. A holistic approach to goal setting.

You don’t even write any goals right away. Yes, there’s some brainstorming and brain dumping of ideas, but there’s nothing concrete established in the prep work.

Traditional goal setting likely has you comparing your goals to others. Such as “exercise daily for 30 minutes and lose 10 pounds in 10 weeks.”

That sounds pretty good, right? It sounds like a goal.

But it’s baseless. Why do YOU want to lose 10 pounds in 10 weeks? Why do you think 30 minutes a day will make that happen? 

The PowerSheets® prep work will help you get to the root of the goals that matter to YOU. 

And at the end of the day, there’s just no reason to set a goal at all if it doesn’t align to your unique purpose in life.

There may also be a faster, more effective way to get what you want in the grand scheme by approaching it in collaboration with other meaningful goals. The prep work will help you discover where this might be feasible.

One of my favorite aspects of the process is that I often uncover new ideas and thoughts that weren’t clear to me before. Even though I’ve done the prep work now 3 years in a row, I’m always finding new revelations.

And I also see super clear patterns in who I am. 

It’s been truly enlightening to see the progression over 3 years and I’m super excited to head into the 4th.

Why You Should Set Goals With Friends

PowerSheets® is more than just a goal planner notebook, too!

The past few years, the Cultivate What Matters team has held a week-long PowerSheets® prep week event in December that I’ve attended online to work through my Prep Work pages. 

There are over 20 pages as I mentioned, so having a coaching component has been super helpful. Lara Casey, CEO and creator of PowerSheets®, has done an excellent job of developing a coaching process to go along with them. 

Goal prompts within PowerSheets® and all of the online training she creates is the cherry on top of an already fantastic planner.

She’s such an outstanding visionary that she’s even included a membership called “Goal School” with each purchase of 2021 PowerSheets®! This is brand new this year and I can’t wait to see what she’s got behind the curtain there.

This year, the team is also hosting a paid virtual event called Cultivate Your Year and the idea is to get your prep work done in 1 day as a group of high-energy goal setters.

In the past, this event has been held in person, but … you know the drill by now.

So it’s really exciting to be able to attend this event online (and/or watch the replay later) for a fraction of the cost of the live event while rockin’ my pajamas.

In the future, I know that we’ll all be back in person once again, but for now, online learning and cultivating virtual friendships is where it’s at!

How I Create My Annual Plan

Now, while the prep work helps you uncover what matters most, the goals phase is just as helpful. 

What I love most about the way we set goals inside the PowerSheets® Goal Planner is that it’s flexible and gentle. The pressure is off. There are multiple opportunities to recalibrate if and when things in your life change in your life. 

Inside, there are spaces for 8 goals. That’s it.

I handle these spaces as containers for areas I want to cultivate, similar to my 2014 Directive. And that’s how the worksheets inside are structured too. 

In fact, I don’t think there’s any mention of the “SMART” framework anywhere inside PowerSheets®, which makes this goal setting process completely unique to them.

Instead, there are prompts to uncover the goal’s purpose, future results, and individual steps to make your goals a reality. 

Fresh and new for 2021 is a quarterly goal planning rhythm which is SUPER exciting. They recommend setting a main goal and one mini goal each quarter and they provide the space to refresh this plan for every one of your 8 main goals each quarter.

After the year we’ve had, this quarterly reset is, by far, the most exciting change they’ve made for 2021!

So, to recap, with PowerSheets®, we’re setting 8 main goals with one mini goal for each of the 4 quarters of the year. All of these goals are developed through intentional and thoughtful prep work. 

And I haven’t mentioned, but there’s a monthly tending list that has space to track all the steps in your mini goals on a daily, weekly & monthly basis. It’s just gold, my friend! They’ve thought of it all!

Why PowerSheets®?

Which leads me to … why PowerSheets®?

As if what I’ve just explained isn’t enough, there are 5 key reasons that I keep choosing PowerSheets® with zero interest in looking elsewhere right now. I actually wrote these reasons last year and can confirm that they still very much reign true.

The first reason is Coaching.

Lara Casey & her team do an amazing job of supporting us all year long through the blog, Podcasts & her Facebook group. And new for 2021, as I mentioned, is enrollment in “Goal School” with every purchase. 

Their goal coaching is second to none. I’m super excited to see what Goal School is like this year!

The next one is Innovation.

The Cultivate team is always innovating. Each year, something within the planner is made better. 

I love consistency, but they do such a great job of maintaining a product that stays consistent through their unique “bones” of goal setting, while making every year fresh and “brand new.” No groundhog day here!

For 2021, they improved the design, streamlined pages, freshened up and made the goal setting process better, and then added some beautiful new design features on the inside pages.

The third reason is their unique Goal-Setting Process.

The process of prep work to goal setting to quarterly resets to monthly, weekly and daily tending is so aligned with the way I intuitively formulate and set goals. 

I’m used to creating my own products to meet my needs, but PowerSheets® truly nails the structure that makes the most sense to me and makes such a beautiful product to support it. 

Fortunately, they leave plenty of margin to make it adaptable to anyone, so maybe that’s why it feels so completely aligned to ME.

Next up, Self-Awareness.

For my 2019 prep work, I spent a whole month at 8 months pregnant working on it because I used it as a tool to guide tons of self-awareness. I researched my personality types, including Myers-Briggs, StrengthsFinder and Enneagram. 

I dug really deep on how I wanted to spend my first year as a mama of two by seeking to really understand where I wanted to be and how I was supposed to get there within my own personality.

In 2020, I had even more clarity on who I am, what I want in my life, and how I want to reach my goals. It’s too bad that most of it got tossed in the 2020 swirl of uncertainty. But I SURE learned a lot despite.

Finally, PowerSheets is a great Time Capsule.

I use PowerSheets® (and my Emily Ley Simplified® planner!) to keep a record of my thoughts and memories day to day. 

It’s so fun to fill the blank pages up with photos and memories of the month too. It seriously lights me up every time I look at it. 

A long time ago I gave up traditional scrapbooking in favor of digital, but PowerSheets® allows me the space to do a little scrapbooking anyway, right alongside all the goals and intentions I set for myself in that same month.

So, What’s Next?

2021 PowerSheets® are released on Wednesday, October 14th at 10am Eastern. Set an alarm and get ready to snag your favorite cover choice.

There are four gorgeous covers – Clear Skies, which is the one I snatched up a few days ago as an affiliate, Sea Glass, Pink Sunrise and Citrus Garden.

You literally can’t go wrong with any of the choices.

I’ll also leave you with this – it’s OK to leave a little whitespace. I can tell you that while I’ve taken my participation very seriously here, there are plenty of pages, and even entire months, that are empty and incomplete. 

Progress, not perfection, is Lara Casey’s motto, and it’s one of the reasons I keep coming back. 

PowerSheets® keeps me grounded in my purpose. And no matter what it looks like at the end of the day, that’s all the reason I need to say “YES.”

Cheers to an amazing 2021!

Don’t forget to hit “subscribe” on Apple or Spotify Podcasts.

xo, Jessica


I'm Jessica!

I used to glorify "busy." If I wasn't busy, I wasn't doing enough. But when I became a mama, my entire outlook shifted.


The only way out involved a complete overhaul of my time, money & communication systems.


Today, I'm doing LESS and achieving more.

It's a productivity dream!

I'm still learning (and always will be!), but my purpose here is to help YOU achieve this level of space in your life too.


So grab your (hot) coffee & read on >>

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