The Cultivated Life

I like Lara Casey because she’s a driven, ambitious woman who’s living an unconventional balance of work/life/parenting. Her frameworks for goal setting are right on, and I’ve used her PowerSheets product for the past several years.

Casey’s first book, Make it Happen, is terrific, and would give you a good overview of her approach. Her more recent book, Cultivate, looks at how to apply that framework when you’re at the point of not being able to do it all.

Throughout the book, Casey uses a gardening metaphor. Yes, it’s a little bit of a stretch to extend a metaphor throughout an entire book, but it’s short and worthwhile if you like motivational reading. I liked the idea of looking at life like cultivating your garden, though. Different people like different styles of gardens–from very formal to wildflowers–and we can choose the types of growth we want to cultivate in our lives as long as we’re being purposeful and owning our choices.

Casey doesn’t go into this in the book, but the garden idea reminded me that I get to choose where I say yes. Just because other people like ornamental cabbages doesn’t mean I have to have them in my flowerbeds. And just because most people think Queen Anne’s Lace is a weed doesn’t mean I couldn’t have it in my wildflower mix (assuming I were able to get anything to grow in my flower beds, which is sadly not often the case. I can even kill zucchini and mint.) It’s a helpful idea to remember that we curate according to our own gifts and callings, not just what everyone else does.

I particularly appreciated the section of Cultivate that talks about complaining as clues. I hadn’t previously considered how the things I complain about might be revealing areas where I’m lacking faith or trying to be too self-reliant. Lots to think about there.

If you’re into productivity literature, Cultivate is a solid choice worth your time. If you’ve read Make It Happen, you won’t find Cultivate life-altering, but it’s a good reminder to be thoughtful about your time.


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