Procrastination, Part 2 – A SusPro Case Study

Sometimes procrastination happens because the goal feels (and often is) insurmountable to accomplish in 1 step. You cannot leap from point A to point B, but you can take 10 small steps to get you from point A to point B. This is the power of small steps.

This is part 2 about procrastination. You can read part 1 here, although it is not necessary to understand part 2. But with all things, starting with why is usually your best bet. Part 1 deconstructs some of the why behind procrastination.

Sometimes procrastination happens because it feels overwhelming to have to stop and figure out how to break the goal into smaller steps. This is the power of a Sustainable Productivity (SusPro) case study!

Non-SusPro Scenario
In March of this year I completed my employee health screening for my day job. The results were poor – my blood pressure, blood sugar and weight were each at an all time high. This information about my weight made sense considering how my joints were feeling – especially my knees and hips.

This was not the result I wanted and this was not something I could continue lifelong. This was not a SusPro lifestyle.

These days you cannot swing a dead cat without hitting ads for weight loss. I have a Masters degree in Exercise Physiology and have coached enough people to know one of the least SusPro goals you can set is, “LOSE WEIGHT.” This often leads to short term, unhealthy fixes

Sure it is productive – you get the weight loss result you want. But it is not sustainable – you cannot continue it long term. Eventually the unhealthy fix catches up to you.

So I looked at what was not working – food, exercise and stress – and made a few adjustments to each.

Adjustment 1 – Eat more fruits and veggies. This alone is not a SMART goal, but applying the small, sustainable steps idea made it so.

In March I was not eating much if any fruits and vegetables. So in March my goal was 1 serving per day. I tracked this in the MyFitnessPal app. In April I upped it to 2 servings per day. May’s goal was 3 servings per day, but by then I had started my breakfast smoothie routine which gets my 5 servings per day – before I even wake up enough to remember I don’t really like fruits and vegetables!

Adjustment 2 – Move more. Same situation here – “more” is not really a SMART goal, but I started where I was and made small adjustments each week, tracking on my daily habit tracker.

I was mostly just doing my daily dog walk in March. Luckily this is the time of year where I live that the weather starts to improve. I started road biking more often (increasing by 10% longer time per week). And I got back in the hot yoga room.

Adjustment 3 – Have more fun. This one was a head scratcher for a bit. How do you quantify “fun?” How do you know when you get more of it?

I took the SusPro approach to see what was NOT working. Around this time I had a bit of a meltdown with Bixby where I was whining (perhaps shouting) about how much I hated the time we lost to the TV. I felt like a sloth every night collapsing into the couch for a couple hours with my phone and the remote.

Not productive. Not sustainable. Not fun.

But it sure was time I could count on. Different people might leave the house after dinner to conquer the world, but not us. I decided to work with where I was and use this brain suck time to boost my fun.

I started to designate a craft as TV time craft. Knitting, painting, hand sewing are my current favorites. I might be able to take that knitting project in the car on a road trip, but nope – it is my TV time craft.

So far it is working and I have lots of scarves to donate or gift.

Yarn from a trip to Black Mountain, NC wound and ready for TV Time Crafting!

Results and Readjustments
Although this message is more about the process of breaking goals into small steps, not telling you the result would be like a Choose Your Own Adventure Book without which page to turn to.

I had my annual physical with my doctor a few weeks ago (about 4 months after my work screening). My weight, blood pressure, and blood sugar are all down significantly. And you already know about the scarf pile from Tv time crafts. Fun increase for sure.

I talked about a few adjustments in the Summer Status Update and will be making a few more as we move into Fall. Notice these are adjustments – not just doing MORE MORE MORE or eating LESS LESS LESS. For example, as the weather turns colder, what adjustments will be made with biking. Stay tuned!

Sustainable You Questions
1. Is there an area of Health, Happiness, or Home that is not working for you right now or that feels unsustainable?
2. Where do you want to be in 4 months?
3. What small step could at least lean you in that direction?

By |2022-08-27T08:49:09-04:00August 30th, 2022|Habit Change|0 Comments

Making Extremism Sustainably Productive

Recently my cohost and I unpacked Extremism on the Conscious Contact podcast. Extremism is the idea of choosing a side and believing the other side is garbage. It is black and white thinking that often dismisses the whole other argument, not even considering there could be a thread of value. 

This was not a super comfortable discussion for me, and I was not looking forward to it as the day of recording approached. 

For decades my MO was to skim along the surface of a discussion long enough to be socially acceptable, then bolt. Ironically those are also the decades where I had no opinions of my own. In all of my relationships (as a daughter, employee, partner, friend) I liked what you liked. I believed what you believed.

Spoiler Alert: This is not the sign of a functional relationship. 

“When we avoid difficult conversations, we trade short-term discomfort for long-term dysfunction.” Peter Bromberg

Difficult conversations and disagreements are a natural part of healthy relationships. And healthy relationships are a component of the Mental Well-being dimension of Sustainable Productivity. When we return to our basic definition of Sustainable Productivity, this tracks. Take for example, 20 to 40 year old Sue and her go along to get along attitude. 

Is it Productive: Are you getting the result you want?

Is it Sustainable: Can you continue lifelong if you want?

Along the surface, sure – being agreeable was getting people to like me. But they were really just liking the Sue that agreed with them – not necessarily the real me. Taking it a step further, today I believe that not knowing the real me is also not sustainable.

That is how this whole writing and podcasting thing was born. I started making small adjustments to live a life I did not need to escape. One of those is having hard conversations with people who I trust and feel safe with.

Here are a few things that help me have these difficult conversations. Maybe they will help you too.

1 – Acknowledge out loud the conversation is hard for you. Verbalizing that the words are stuck in my throat helps the other person understand what the pauses mean and why my words are coming slowly.

2 – Breathe. Often my first thought is wrong. Breathing gives me a chance to respond using my second (or third) thought instead of reacting. Breathing also loosens the words stuck in my throat. Bonus if I am in a setting where I don’t feel ok to cry. Breathing will even out my voice to avoid the crack that always comes when I am emotional. 

3 – Set a time limit. If you don’t think ahead to set a certain amount of time to talk and you find yourself needing a break, voice that. I have said, “I need to take a break here. I want to hear more of what you have to say, can we come back together at 5pm to talk about this again?”

Now it is your turn. Take a few minutes to answer the following questions – either in your journal, in your mind on your daily dog walk, email me at or on social media. The more we talk about the hard things, the less extreme they will feel. 

Sustainable Productivity Questions

1 – Are there topics in your life where you trend toward Extremism?

2 – After listening to the podcast (Season 2, Episode 13), is there one small adjustment you can take to your relationships to make them more work for you in a way you can continue?

Click the icon above to go to listen to the Extremism episode.
By |2022-08-22T10:53:04-04:00August 23rd, 2022|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

The Power of Words

As part of the on ramp to my days, I read a couple daily devotion books, meditate, then read a non-fiction book for 5-10 minutes. I was recently struck by how powerful these words were that described an individual’s spiritual awakening. Perhaps this landed so strongly with me because I fancy myself a gardener and love all things nature. But the phrasing and imagery expressed was so beautiful, I had to share it.

“He was on different footing. His roots grasped a new soil.”

Think about transplanting the treasures from the plastic store pots to our gardens. We amend the soil and make the most hospitable home for our newly found plant friends to thrive and grow. This is the analogy described here, “…grasped a new soil.” When we make those Sustainably Productive (Sus Pro) small adjustments, we allow ourselves to grasp new soil, to take root inch by inch in a new way of living.

“It melted the icy intellectual mountain in whose shadow I had lived and shivered many years. I stood in the sunlight at last.”

I don’t know about you, but I am often too smart for my own good. While I am full of righteous indignation, I am on the mountain top alone. And it is cold up there. By giving up what we must, we can melt that icy exterior of our protective walls and step into the sunlight.

And we can do this as many times as it takes.

“I ruthlessly faced my sins and became willing to have my new-found Friend take them away, root and branch.”

Source: photo by József Koller on Unsplash 

Please tell me I am not the only one whose weed pulling never ends. Pruning branches, removing volunteer plants, weeding, weeding weeding – it does not end. But we do have a better chance at removing the offender if we take the time to dig to get to the bottom of the root. We may not get as many weeds, but if we ruthlessly get to the bottom of one at a time, we will slowly make a difference.

The same can be said for the things that do not serve us anymore. Do we have attitudes that are no longer productive? What about habits that are not sustainable? In order to get rid of them and make way for more Sus Pro habits, we need to remove them root and branch. With thorough interrogation as to why they took root there in the first place. Perhaps you were raised to believe you could not take a rest and always had to be busy. Maybe being perceived as overweight was shamed in your family growing up. Some people feel an expectation to never say I don’t know. Get to the root of the issue to eradicate it.

“I felt lifted up, as though the great clean wind of a mountain top blew through and through.”

As much as I love summer, the cold bracing air of a winter wind does feel cleansing. Especially when it is accompanied by a piercing blue sky and a fresh dumping of snow. That is the image I can see and feel – almost even smell! – when I read about the “great clean wind of a mountain top”.

Source: photo by Hendrik Morkel on Unsplash 

Imagine being in the sunlight of the spirit having cleared out your side of the street and feeling that cleansing wind on your face.

Sustainable Productivity Questions

1 – When is the last time you read something that resonated with your senses, not just your mind?

2 – What was it that connected with you and how can you get more of it?

3 – If you have not felt connected like that in some time, where can you make some changes to seek out authentic connection?

By |2022-09-18T10:00:32-04:00August 16th, 2022|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Summer Status Update

We have about 1 month left of summer so I want to do a short check in to help us finish the season strong as we intend to. It does not have to be strong. This is not Coach Sue yelling, “Sprint through the finish line!!”

I want to encourage you to check in with what you intended this summer season to be and see if it is Sustainably Productive.

1 – Is it productive? Are you getting the result you want?

2 – Is it sustainable? Can you continue lifelong if you want?

If the answer to either of these questions is no, then it is time to consider mall adjustments you can make to improve the outcome. Here is my summer status update broken down by each dimension on Sustainable Productivity (SusPro) to encourage you to do a check in on your season.

Health and Fitness

I set a goal to eat 5 fruits and vegetables each day. I am definitely hitting this average. More days than not I start the day with a smoothie that has all 5 servings in it. Adding in a couple more fruit servings as a snack puts me over the top and boosts that average for days I skip the smoothie. There is really not a recipe, but here is what I put in the blender this morning:

  • 1 banana
  • 1/4 frozen raspberries
  • 1 frozen peach, quartered
  • 2 fist fulls of baby spinach
  • 1/3 cup vanilla yogurt
  • 2 T flax seed
  • 1/2 cup OJ

One adjustment I would like to make is related to exercise. I swim laps at our neighborhood pool in the summer. I would like to increase my lap swimming since the pool will only be open for about 6 more weeks.

Mental Well-being

Hobbies have been on fire this summer. Knitting, sewing, quilting, reading, and gardening have all served me well. Relationships component doing well as I got to spend a week with my sister and nieces, quality time with my daughter as she is home for the summer from college, had a great dinner with my in laws and have a date planned with my mother in law next week. I started a new volunteer gig this summer as well.

Career wise I am loving the new opportunity to podcast as cohost of the Conscious Contact Podcast. It is helping to churn lots of creative ideas for the future of Sustainable Sue as well.

The adjustment I would like to start now in the summer and continue to work on in the fall is with my day job. I am not sure how to monitor progress here, but I need to untie my self-worth from the job’s outcome.

Environmental Surroundings

Ironically here is where I have shoved unsuccessful attempts in the proverbial closet to hide. I was targeting to clear a certain amount of digital clutter each week. I am carrying a big fat 10% success rate in this area. I am not really mad about it – there just have been more interesting things to do and the clutter is not on fire. I imagine that in the fall and winter when I am not outside as much this will improve.

I do want to make an intentional effort in the last few weeks of the summer season to do some cleaning. A little late for spring cleaning, but …. here we are. Seems reasonable that in the next 4 weeks I can purge and deep clean 2 freezers, the pantry, and the coat closet. I will check back in to let you know how it goes.

Sustainable You Questions

  1. What about your summer is SusPro – working for you and sustainable?
  2. As the summer is winding down, what adjustments do you want to make?
By |2022-09-18T10:00:43-04:00August 9th, 2022|Habit Change|0 Comments

Procrastination, part 1

This is part 1 of 2 exploring the why and the what next of not getting things done. 

It is no coincidence that writing about procrastination is harder than talking about it. 

Writing feels so much more permanent so I want it to be perfect. 

If you have not heard my issues with perfectionism, you can listen by clicking here or on the podcast logo below. It is a wild ride into Susan’s Brain. Take some popcorn, friends. 

Season 2, Episode 12 is all about Perfectionism

As I was drafting this column, I wanted to have a magic turn of phrase that will help you break out of procrastination, and when I could not find it I just didn’t write about it at all. But it kept nagging at me and rolling around in the back of my mind at inconvenient times – like 3:00 am.

How many of us are walking around in the world like this? Putting off taking action because we are frozen in time. Or fighting the wrong fight. Or fleeing from taking action by burying ourselves in busy.

I love this list from Emily Sanders (no relation) about why people may tell you they are ok – and I believe it also applies to procrastination. 

At least for me, it is a list of what I tell myself about whatever it is I am procrastinating on. Let me give you a few examples.

Why Example One

One of the goals I have for my 48th year of life is to draft a book proposal. It may be a big fat SFD that sits in a drawer. Or it might be acceptable but not submitted anywhere. Or it might be submitted and rejected by every publishing house in North America.

But these 365 days will pass (AGAIN) so why not draft the proposal during those days and see what a year brings. 

This was decided approximately 39 days ago and I have done exactly nothing to push this peanut forward. When I look at Emily’s list what jumps out to me is this:


I am not really sure what to do with these feelings besides sit with them. Which feels SUUUUUPER weird. It’s sort of like sharing a bench in silence with a stranger while you wait. Just awkward.

Why Example Two

I am sure I am not the first writer to feel like no one cares about what I write. Perhaps I could reach out to other authors to find out how they dealt with this. 

Seems like sound advice. Enter Emily’s list:






What Next

This is the part of the post where I tell you how to fix it. Or give an uplifting, humorous anecdote about resolving this quagmire. 

But this is not TV where we get resolution in 30 minutes minus the Applebees commercials. I am wrestling this 800 pound gorilla called procrastination right along side you. 

I do think that being aware of the gorilla at the dinner table is part of the battle though. By being aware of what could be causing the procrastination, we can truly excavate the infection instead of just slapping a bandage of time management over it and letting the actual wound fester. 

I am mixing my metaphors here, but I think you get it. There are reasons for procrastination, and none of them are because you are a worthless person.

Let’s digest this piece first before we dive into other side of the issue. This is just part 1 of 2 exploring the why and the what next of not getting things done. 

Sustainable You Questions 

Avoiding what is really going on is not going to get you the result you want and it is hardly sustainable. Ignoring these types of signals is what drives us to numb out and want to escape our lives. Here are a few questions you can use to dig a little deeper to get to the root cause of procrastination.

1 – What would happen if you set aside judgement and tried to work with that 800 pound gorilla instead of ignoring her. 

2 – What is keeping you from taking a good look at that wound, cutting out the infection and really working on keeping it clean? 

3 – What would happen if you were afraid and did it anyway?

By |2022-09-18T10:01:12-04:00August 2nd, 2022|Habit Change|0 Comments


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