Habit Change Strategies

I do not do any house cleaning.

I make more than average dollars at my job – enough to pay for cleaners (although we do not have cleaners for another zillion reasons). I gain satisfaction (and sometimes anger management if I am being honest) from cleaning. But when given a choice on a weekend to read or clean, go to the pool or clean, nap or clean, ride my bike or clean, write or clean, etc., cleaning usually comes out on the short end of the wishbone.

Caveat – kitchen clean up is different. We have talked about this before – Bixby cooks, I clean. I do not consider this cleaning, per se. It is really more the end of dinner.

But alas, once a year I come out of cleaning retirement for one specific task. Cleaning the blinds.

I don’t know why that is my task, but it is. Sure I could hire it out, but I don’t. And yes, it should probably be done more often than annually (especially as an asthmatic with a dog). But alas, this is the season. Me cleaning the blinds annually is Sustainably Productive (SusPro).

Setting the Stage

This literally takes me all day. We have 26 windows in our house and most of them are 6 foot tall. This is 36 slats per window for a total of just under 1,000 slats.

Each slat is wiped individually.

Plus wiping the window sill and above the window, plus changing the water every 3 windows (dumping water in the outdoor plants to save Mother Earth), plus moving furniture and standing the whole time and standing is hard on my knees, hips, and back.

Have I complained enough yet?

What I mean to do here is to say it takes some trickery strategy to get myself to have bucket in hand.

Enter habit change strategy.

Habit Change Strategy

James Clear teaches his 2nd Law “Make It Attractive” in his book Atomic Habits. To get the blinds done, I need not only a big fat carrot, but I need that carrot to be dipped in the most delicious ranch dressing in the world. Here are some of the strategies I used.

  • Pairing. I do not buy books very often – definitely not audiobooks since I cannot share them when I am done. But I needed a little extra something to get through my cleaning chore. I decided I would buy an audiobook to pair with my unfun chore.

Once I made the decision to buy an audiobook, I was a little stumped as to what to buy from the 500+ books on my TBR. Then one of my book mentors, Laura Tremaine, posted a podcast about what she THOUGHT was going to happen in one of the buzziest books of the summer. Done and done.

Listening to Who Is Maud Dixon made the day much more enjoyable. I also was motivated to keep going because I wanted to hear what Laura thought the twist would be.

  • Partner. Often getting started on an unfun task can be a deal breaker. I recruited a partner for this step of habit change. Over breakfast on the big day, I enlisted Bixby in my efforts to get over my inertia. I knew he had some house cleaning to do (his usually weekend list – see previous, I do none) so I asked if we could hit the ground running on our individual cleaning chores. This felt like we were tackling a project together – us vs. Dirt, if you will.

Bonus was that he got me set up with my audiobook as well. It is nice when your housekeeper is also tech support. Setting up the tech is often a barrier to moving forward.

  • Powerful Rewards. By the end of the 6 hours of slats, I was wiped (get it – wiped, like the slats? Tired? Wiped?). I did not just want a reward, I wanted a powerful reward. By this time I wanted carrot cake, not just a carrot. Proverbial carrot cake to return to the point I was making. Real carrot cake is gross.

My original plan was a reward of ice cream sandwich at the pool while reading another book, but I took too long on the blinds and did not have time. So my reward took shape the next day. I had no shoulds all day. Sure, I did get some “chores” done, but it was all based on my wants and timeline. All day I bounced around from knitting to reading a magazine to pulling weeds to lunch prep for the week to reading at the pool.

The key to powerful rewards is that they take the shape of what is important to you in that moment. This is what separates rewards from powerful rewards. Puttering around would not have been a reward on cleaning day – I was too tired. Plus I did not have but a couple hours left in the day. But puttering around the whole next day was a true delight.

Your Turn

Do you have a chore or habit that you are trying to get some traction on? Maybe pairing, partner or powerful rewards would help you! Try it and let me know.

By |2021-09-06T10:13:28-04:00September 7th, 2021|Habit Change|0 Comments

Aaaaaaannd….ACTION!

I know we talk about about rest a lot around here. All of that is true.

And sometimes it is true that we need to take action.

“The Gambler” Approach

You know the Kenny Rogers song, “You got to know when to hold ’em; Know when to fold ’em; Know when to walk away; Know when to run.”

When you know you know.

Take time to get quiet enough to hear that voice in your gut – forget your head. Listen to your gut. It might be telling you….

  • To make that doctor appointment.
  • Just go walk for 10 minutes, you can quit after that.
  • Drinking like this is not healthy.
  • Sign up for that class already.
  • Quit.
  • Start.

Dealing with Barriers

What is keeping you from getting up and taking action? Are they true or are they just what you are telling yourself? Here are common barriers I hear about.

  1. Time. While it is true that time is finite, I wonder there are ways to refigure how time is spent to help you free up small amounts. If you scroll social media while watching TV as a way to connect with your partner, could that time be repurposed for a 10 minute walk together? A couple I know grocery shops together as their date night. Reimagine how time is spent.
  2. Money. If you don’t have money to spend on a class, could you create a list of YouTube videos to learn the same thing? No money for a piano – perhaps a used keyboard is in the budget.
  3. Ego. OK, no one actually says this out loud, but it is there. “What if I suck at this?” News flash – you will because you will be a beginner. When I recently started knitting, my project was supposed to have 30 rows. When I went back after a week of working on my own, I had 46 rows. I suck at knitting right now, but am getting better with practice.

What if people laugh?

One thing I have learned over the years is that the people who I may hear teasing from are often the people who are afraid to try something themselves. Those are not your people. Your people are the ones that feel the fear and do it anyway.

Your Turn

What have you been on the verge of? What wish is itching to get out? What is keeping you from taking action? Identify a few ways to chip away at that barrier so you can take action this week.

By |2021-08-29T10:38:30-04:00August 31st, 2021|Habit Change|0 Comments

Quit Again!

This week I am going back in the archives to bring you one of the posts I get the most comments on – QUITTING. If you were around for the “original airing” of this post, I would love to hear if your stance on quitting has changed in the last couple years. If this is new for you – let’s hear your words about quitting.

 


 

I often have people talk to me about abandoning books. I have no shame in my DNF (Did Not Finish) game. I am not afraid to abandon a book and encourage you to look at why you would not stop doing something that was not lighting you up. Life is too short to read books that do not put wind in your sails just as life is too short to stay friends with energy vampires and life is too short to wear jeans that are too tight.

Quit Abandoned Books

It is not that it is a bad book. Despite what James Joyce said, I do not believe there are bad books. I can appreciate how hard an author works on a book and to call it bad just seems like a big kick in the pants. I hope anyone reading what I write will give me grace when something I write doesn’t land with them.

It is hard to abandon books that critics and the public RAVE about. Sometimes I think it is the chapter of life I am in vs. where the author was when he was writing. More often I just decide I am different than everyone else and move onto the next book in the stack.

Let’s talk numbers though. I do believe in skipping the rating if I have not finished a book. I would not want to bring down the average rating for an author if I have not finished a book. I have a specific shelf in Goodreads for DNF books so that I can make sure they do not count in my annual book statistics.

Tell me all your thoughts and opinions about DNFing!

By |2021-08-03T07:58:36-04:00August 3rd, 2021|Habit Change|0 Comments

Edit or Eliminate?

It is OK to change your mind.

For several years I have had a calendar entry on the 1st of each month reminding me to send photos from my phone to Lightroom. But as life has changed, this calendar entry inevitably was closed instead of snoozed, or popped up when I thought I would have time so I dismissed it too early.

Edit or Eliminate?

The result was not productive – I still had photos on my phone that needed to be transferred.

This is not to say that if you leave photos on your phone in perpetuity you are not leading a Sustainably Productive (SusPro) life. Only you can decide that. I had decided what was SusPro for me was moving the photos on a monthly basis. The challenge was that my methods of reminder were no longer working.

Actual footage of my photos situation. This is about the max I can deal with and maintain Sustainable Productivity.

It was time for an edit.

Not time for elimination. See – I still needed the photos off of my phone. If I have thousands of images on my phone, I get overwhelmed (unsustainable), and I can’t find what I need (unproductive). I might take a screen shot of a book I want to add to my TBR or a recipe posted on a Facebook group. If I cannot retrieve it when needed, it is not useful for me.

Eliminating photos from my phone is not the SusPro way forward for me. Enter – the edit.

This one was simple for me. I made it a reminder on my phone instead of a calendar entry. Most phones have a native app for reminders. My iPhone allows me to make it recurring each month with no end time. Plus I can set the time for it to fire (i.e., not while I am working and have no time to move photos). Bonus points for being able to snooze it for certain windows of time (1 hour, until this evening or tomorrow).

Practical Application

Sometimes it is hard to figure out what edit to make. You know you cannot eliminate something, but the current practice is not working. Here are some real life examples from clients, divided into each Sustainable Productivity pillar.

Health & Fitness

Challenge: Changes in weather disrupts your exercise routine.

Potential Edits: Have a plan B in your pocket. If it is too hot to run outside, head to the treadmill. Take advantage of summer pool season by lap swimming and letting pilates slide for a few months.

Mental Well-being

Challenge: Summer camp drop off for the kids conflicts with a work meeting.

Potential Edits: Carpool and offer to do the afternoon pick up. Poll your colleagues to see if they could meet at another time.  Take the call from a nearby coffee shop or park after dropping off kids at camp.

Environmental Surroundings

Challenge: Your college student is home for the summer and clutter is taking over your house.

Potential Edits: Let her keep her room in the disastrous state, but close the door. Have a talk with her about how the clutter makes you feel and agree on boundaries (i.e., dishes go from her room into the dishwasher, not on the counter “for later”).

Your Turn

Sometimes when you are too close to the situation, it is hard to see the edits. Or you have lived with the challenge so long you get too frustrated to edit and you just eliminate. Let’s crowd source this on social media to see what edits you could make. Come over to Facebook and share challenges so we can all create the life we don’t need to escape.

By |2021-06-27T09:54:39-04:00June 28th, 2021|Habit Change|0 Comments

Making Adjustments

It is ok to change your mind – that is what making adjustments is all about. Sometimes your well-crafted plan to live a Sustainably Productive life does not work. There could be several reasons for this.

  1. Schedules change
  2. Priorities change
  3. Minds change

Whatever the reason – making adjustments is OK. In fact, making adjustments is encouraged. That is part of the Continuous Improvement work that is in the Sustainable You coursework.

At the start of 2021, I set a goal to do 90 minutes of yoga each week. I applied Sustainable Productivity principles and broke it down to do a 30 minute YouTube video 3 times each week.

This was great for the first 3 months of the year. Once the weather started getting nicer, I wanted to be outside and on my bike more. Now that I am vaccinated, I want to join my regular in person hot yoga class (exercising in a 100 degree room with a mask on sounds like a dream, doesn’t it?!).

But what about the original goal I set for 90 minutes a week? If I do 1 class in studio each week that is only 60 minutes. 2 classes in studio does not fit my budget or schedule right now. The YouTube video is not as inviting since I would have to be inside.

Non-Sustainable Productivity solution: Throw out the whole plan.

Sustainable Productivity solution: Make adjustments using the Continuous Improvement steps.

Step 1 – Record the result

This is an easy one if you have been using the Sustainable You Habit Tracker. If I look back at the last 2 weeks, I have a big ZERO for yoga.

Step 2 – Why this result

This step can take some tough love. A tool that can help to get to the root cause of the result is the 5 Whys. Start with the high level question: Why did I skip yoga over the last 2 weeks.

  1. I wanted to garden and ride my bike instead. Then ask why again (2nd why): Why did I want to garden and bike instead?
  2. A desire to be outside. Then ask why again (3rd why): Why did I want to be outside?
  3. The weather has gotten so nice. Ask why again (4th why): Why did I want to be out in warmer weather?
  4. It is pretty this time of year, so much to look at and do. The last (5th) why: Why is this different from yoga?
  5. I am bored doing the same routine and need a change of scenery. 

Once you get to that 5th question, you usually have a root cause that you can use to make your adjustment.

Step 3 – Adjustment

Throwing the baby out with the bathwater in not sustainable nor productive. Not doing yoga is not a productive way to improve my mental well-being or physical fitness. But continuing to “require” the 30-minute YouTube video 3 times per week is just going to make me crabby, which is not sustainable.

Enter the beauty of making adjustments. Here are a few that I am making for this week:

  • 1 yoga class in studio
  • 2 bike rides
  • Garden on breaks from work

Next weekend I can repeat these Continuous Improvement steps and see if any more adjustments need to be made.

Permission Slip

I can hear you thinking (or perhaps yelling at me through your device screen): BUT YOU SET A GOAL FOR THE YEAR FOR 90 MINUTES!!!

That is true. And you know what else is true? It is ok to change your mind.

If you go to the core of your WHY, then you can be true to your intention of creating a life you don’t want to numb out and escape from. HOW you create that life can change as you make adjustments.

Consider this post a permission slip to change your mind.

I want to create a life I don’t need to escape by calming my monkey mind and being physically active to reduce physical aches and pains. I can do that through yoga or time in the garden or in the bike saddle – or a combination of all three!

Your Turn

What isn’t working with your habits? What small adjustments can you make? I encourage you to try the 5 Why’s exercise to try to get to the root of the issue. If you need help walking through this or the Continuous Improvement steps, I would love to talk it through with you.

By |2021-05-18T08:48:07-04:00April 20th, 2021|Habit Change|0 Comments

3 Steps to Nail Your Goals

A couple months into the new year and if you are like most of us, it is becoming harder to nail your goals. One of the goals I set for myself in 2021 is to do 90 minutes of yoga each week. When I sat down to look at my progress at the end of January, I had not hit that once. Each week I did 60 minutes. Zero weeks I did 90 minutes.

It was time to make some adjustments.

Step One: Define what isn’t working

First define what was not working. What is the pain point that prevents you from meeting your goal. For example, what was keeping me from doing that 3rd day of yoga?

Inertia. That’s it. I identified my January pattern. Yoga on Monday and Tuesday, then wander off for the rest of the week, never coming back to that third day.

Once you identify what isn’t working, you can identify potential adjustments to course correct in order to nail your goals.

Step Two: Make adjustments

When considering what adjustments to make, I encourage you to make Sustainably Productive adjustments. Here is what that means:

  1. Make it Productive. The adjustment has to address the pain point – it has to have potential to solve the problem. There are so many demands on your time, if you are going to take the time to make an adjustment, it has to work for you. Otherwise, it is wasted time. You may not know for sure it will work, but it have to have the potential to work. For example, in order to hit 90 minutes of yoga per week, I could do 90 minutes of yoga on Monday morning. Boom, done – on with the week. This is not productive for me because the reason I am doing yoga in the first place is to reduce pain by increasing my flexibility and strength. Skipping 6 days of yoga does not help keep this tin man moving! Not productive.
  2. Make it Sustainable. The adjustment has to be something you could continue. If the adjustment is going to add more stress or lead to burnout, it is not sustainable. Don’t take it on. Back to the potential adjustment of 90 minutes all in 1 day. This is not sustainable with my schedule. I don’t want to reduce my sleep in order to jam a long yoga session in. I don’t want to lose my writing time or be late to my day job either. Not sustainable.

The adjustment I chose to make was to leverage that idea of inertia. A body in motion will stay in motion, etc. etc. In February I decided to do yoga on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday mornings.

How did that work out, you ask? Let’s move to step 3 – evaluate progress.

Step Three: Evaluate progress

Result? 100%. I hit 90 minutes all 4 weeks.

Using the Sustainable You Habit Tracker, I was able to look at each week and see progress. The last week of the month, I REALLY did not want to do yoga on Wednesday morning. But I saw all of those other weeks tallied up and knew if I skipped that day, it would ruin the streak. Classic peer pressure. But Sustainably Productive peer pressure – 30 minute a day for 3 days in a row is doable and it is working for me.

How can you use these steps to help you nail your goals?

By |2021-03-06T09:19:35-05:00March 9th, 2021|Habit Change|0 Comments

4 Steps to Get Started

Eventually the winter will end and it will be time to get started. Last week we talked about NOT setting goals and I could feel the hard charging goal getters cringing while quickly deleting the post.

There was a time in my life where I was Goal Getter going balls to the wall while ignoring my empty tank of energy. My spirit was limping along. I am choosing to do things differently now by taking the winter to rest. Maybe you are too.

But eventually spring will come and you will be rested and ready to tackle a project, learn something new, or go after a new goal or two. I want to invite you to consider a softer, gentler approach to get started.

1 – Start Anywhere

If you suffer from analysis paralysis this tip is for you. There is no perfect way to begin. The only way to fail is if you never start at all. Begin somewhere – even if it is in the middle. Laura Vanderkam talks about this on her Before Breakfast podcast from July 29th. There are all kinds of starting points – just pick one, just get started.

2 – Start Smaller

Do you think you have to be an expert before you can take up a new activity? Let’s take yoga for example. I often hear people say, “I can’t do yoga, I am not flexible.” First of all, there is more to yoga that who is most bendy. That aside, flexibility is not a pre-requisite to yoga. You are there to improve your flexibility (among other benefits). Start smaller than pro level.

Next I ask you to consider how you are defining “done.” You don’t have to do an hour of yoga each day to have a yoga practice. Start with 10 minutes once a week. Start with one pose each day. Think about what you want to do and cut that in half. You can build over time if what you are doing is working for you. Get started – small.

3 – Track Progress

What gets measured gets managed. While some of you may not love this tip (I am looking at you, Rebel Tendencies), tracking your progress can help you gain momentum when starting a new habit. If you have taken the Sustainable You course, you might use that tracker. You might have a tracker in your planner or as an app on your phone. It could be a tick mark on the back of the envelope your phone bill came in.

4 –  Be a Beginner

Have you ever watched a child experience something new for the first time? They are in awe of everything they experience with their senses, what their body can do, what the result of each action is. When do we become so fearful of being a beginner?

I was recently working on an embroidery project that I found in my mom’s sewing box after she died. It was a Family Circle pattern from the 70’s still in the envelope it was mailed in. There were some instructions that I just could not figure out – I skipped around in the pattern until I could not put it off any longer. I reached out to a craft group I am in on Facebook, and they didn’t know either. Paralyzed with not knowing the perfect next step, I decided to just embrace being a beginner with this step of the project and take a leap.

I think this flower turned out pretty great!

My perfectly imperfect first attempt at this stitch and interpreting crazy instructions from the 1970s.

Plus, this is art that did not exist in the world before I did it – imagine that! I could not be happier with the outcome. This might not be what the instructions intended, but it is my interpretation on it.
“The woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those who sang best.”
Henry Van Dyke
What are you holding back on? Is it fear of perfection keeping you from getting started? Pick somewhere to start – even if it is in the middle. If that still feels wrong, make the step smaller. Consider tracking your progress. Embrace being a beginner – we are all beginners at some point. What a gift to continue to be able to begin again.
By |2021-02-09T09:45:43-05:00February 9th, 2021|Habit Change|0 Comments

January is Terrible for Goal Setting

Except for the fact that it is the start of the calendar year, January is terrible for goal setting.

Consider how Mother Nature treats winter.

  • Plants are dormant.
  • Animals hibernate.
  • Sunrise is later and sunset is sooner.

      This is 6th grade Susan. I cannot tell you how shellacked those bangs are. I never did really get the hang of a curling iron. Some might say puberty is a type of winter.

Why, in the middle of this dormancy, would we insist on setting Big Hairy Goals and setting up schedules and requirements to fulfill them? It literally goes against nature to do so.

Winter is a time for rest and recuperation. Go back to the example of plants – that dormancy does not mean the plant is doing nothing. Deep in the ground the roots are growing stronger and extending their reach to support the growth that will happen in the spring and summer.

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.” Anne Bradstreet

In all of the Little House on the Prairie books, Laura talked about the cold winter days in Minnesota where nightfall came early. Sure they did what chores were required to survive, but in the winter, they hunkered down together reading, sewing or listening to Pa and Mr Edwards fiddle while they danced in front of the fireplace. They connected.

What if you also took that time to rest and recharge during winter in preparation for an active spring and productive summer and fall? Rest is so important that it is a component of each of the 3 pillars of Sustainable Productivity and is covered in each lesson in the Sustainable You course.

Here are a few ideas on how you can spend your winter differently since January is a terrible time for goal setting.

Health and Fitness

  1. Rest. This is not sleep, this is rest. Sitting without sleeping or distractions. Maybe all you can stand is 5 minutes. That is a good place to begin.
  2. Take breaks in your day. Because I work from home, I take a slow walk around the garden sometimes as a rest from work. My dad and I talked about this once when he was trying to quit smoking when he was still working as a school superintendent. He said he needed the timeout that smoking gave him. If he were to just go stand outside, people would look at him funny. But if he were standing there smoking, it was more socially acceptable. Let’s think about that – taking a moment to smoke is more socially acceptable that taking a moment to rest. Of course, some of that is our own perception, which is where my walk around the garden comes in. To someone else it might look like I am just surveying my plants, but I am not making my list of garden chores, I am just walking slowly in nature.

Mental Well-being

  1. Silence. When is the last time you sat in silence so quiet your ears almost hurt. The phrase deafening silence exists for a reason. I am not talking about meditation. Just sitting and listening to the quiet. Silence can satisfy a need for social, emotional, spiritual and creative rest.
  2. Rage. Imagine a mosh pit for one. This may feel counter intuitive to rest, but consider how heavy pent up anger is. Anger acts similar to stress. Having that rager can help your body physically process the cortisol and associated glucose so it doesn’t sit in your body.

Environmental Surroundings

  1. Create a restful space. I recently earned of the “Japandi” decorating trend and I am pinning and following it like crazy. This is the type of restful space I would love to have. I don’t have it now, but I can dream. Find what feels restful for you.
  2. Rest from screens. More than just turning screens off, help your eyes rest from those screens. Lower the brightness on your computer and mobile devices or experiment with blue-light-filter glasses to limit the blue light beaming from your screen.

Some of these suggestions might spur other ideas that resonate more with you. Maybe you need to make a list of how to rest. Get creative with your ideas and make them yours. Maybe your mosh pit is in your car. Maybe you sit in silence in your closet because it is more soundproof. Consider this a different type of goal setting – recharging and setting yourself up to tackle those Big Hairy Goals with a full tank.

I would love to hear how you rest. Comment below or send me a message on social media. In the meantime, rest up!

By |2021-01-29T08:49:19-05:00February 2nd, 2021|Habit Change|0 Comments

This is Sustainable Productivity

Sustainable Productivity is the backbone of the work you are doing to create a life you don’t need to escape. As you are deciding if the adjustment is the right next step for you, ask yourself this question: “Can I continue to do this lifelong?” Not that you must continue forever, but could you if you wanted to. It is ok to change your mind and of course, life changes around you. It is natural that internal and external factors impact our habits. Sometimes the answer to the Sustainable Productivity question (“Can I continue to do this lifelong?”) is no.

To gain more control over habit changes and adjustments, you can break down the Sustainable Productivity question (“Can I continue to do this lifelong?”) into 2 separate parts. This blog post will walk you through that.

Is this sustainable?

The beauty of the Sustainable Productivity questions is that they can apply to all aspects of life.

  • Habit change – is this change sustainable?
  • Time management – is this schedule sustainable?
  • Clothing – is this pinching waistline sustainable?
  • Chores – is this pace of mulch spreading sustainable?

What “sustainable” looks like will change as you make adjustments to your activities and as life changes around you. What feels manageable today? Is this something you can maintain lifelong? Not that you HAVE TO, but CAN YOU if you want to?

A habit can be sustainable but not productive. Anyone who has ever binged Netflix knows this. While it may sound fun in the beginning, eventually you find yourself wanting more. Wanting to contribute in a better way.

Which leads to the second Sustainable Productivity question.

Is this productive?

There are so many things that need your attention these days. If you are going to do take an action, that action needs to work for you. It needs to positively contribute toward your life, your goals, your purpose, your values.

In our world we have plenty of examples of non-productivity. We tend to relabel it as laziness or wasting time. I encourage you to define “productive” differently. According to Dictionary.com, productive is defined as achieving or producing a significant amount or result.

What if you redefined “productive” and what “counted” as a significant result in your life? Here are a few ideas:

  • Sleeping 7-9 hours each night is productive.
  • Blocking travel time into your day to create a realistic schedule is productive – even if that means you get less done.
  • Saying no to something that is not a HELL YES is productive.
  • Saying yes to an activity that puts wind in your sails is productive – even if that means you leave a chore undone.

You may need to stop and take a deep breath here. Are you uncomfortable just reading that list? Do you have a knot in your belly thinking about missing 1 bedtime tuck-in each month so you can take a pottery class? That is a sign that you are in the right place?

Keep reading.

Sustainable Productivity

The place where these Sustainable You questions intersect is your sweet spot.

But you have to be able to answer yes to BOTH questions.

A habit can be productive, but not sustainable. For example, getting up at 5:00 am to watch a MasterClass lecture is productivehobbies and learning are part of a sustainably productive life. But if you are not getting enough sleep and starting to resent that early alarm and hating your hobby, that is not sustainable. Therefore, this habit is not Sustainably Productive.

That sweet spot where sustainable overlaps productive is where Sustainable Productivity lives. This is where you can continue something lifelong if you want to.

You are allowed to change your mind when something is no longer Sustainably Productive for you. In the Sustainable You course you can learn about how to know something isn’t working and which change to make. You can also get dozens of suggestions for  adjustments in multiple aspects of life.

As you go through your daily activities and appointments in the upcoming weeks, ask yourself the Sustainable Productivity questions.

Is this sustainable?

Is this productive?

You don’t need to take action at this point, just observe what your intuition is telling you. If you have any reactions or aha moments, comment below. I would love to hear from you!

By |2021-01-18T09:01:56-05:00January 19th, 2021|Habit Change|0 Comments

Taking January by Storm

You cannot swing a dead cat without hitting announcements about taking January by storm.

Don’t let another day go by!

New Year New You!

Turn the calendar and turn your life around!

As a productivity coach, this is my prime business time. Resolutions are ready to be made. Change is ready to be had.

And Yet

I had grand plans. Campaigns and free resources. Blog posts filled with humor and touching anecdotes. Connections and outreach to spread the word about Sustainable Productivity.

I was going to fill the slow weeks of Christmas and New Years with time blocked planning in a schedule that would cause the military to wilt. I was going to Get Shit Done.

I just hit the wall. It felt like my creativity dried up, my mojo and energy bottomed out. My get up and go got up and went.  There would be no taking January by storm. It was neither productive nor sustainable.

I limped through hours of my day job, then read fiction and watched garbage TV while crafting. Long time readers know I have been alternating reading the Harry Potter books and listening to the Harry Potter and the Sacred Text (HPST) podcast chapter by chapter.

In the book Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, in what seems to be a throw away sentence in the almost 800 page book, Tonks says she is too tired to stand guard. She needs a break and asks for help. Instead of powering through and putting herself and Harry at risk, she leans on the Order to help her. The way Casper and Vanessa sum this up on the HPST podcast is succinct and spot on: Respite is viewed as a luxury, but it is a necessity. We need to lean on others to help carry the load.

Respite is viewed as a luxury, but it is a necessity.

I needed help for sure. Asking for help is not my strong suit either. I wonder if you might be able to relate? Let’s look at a few ways you might be able to lean on others so that you can get the respite you need.

Handling the Load

Leaning on others can look different depending on the load, the season, the person, the helper, and various other reasons. Here are a few examples of how you might ask for help carrying the load instead of powering through.

  1. Literally. It is asking your partner or kids to help bring in the groceries. Or going to the store to buy you cold medicine.
  2. Emotionally. This could look like unburdening your mind and heart into a journal or with a therapist.
  3. Oppositely. Sure you relax better in a tidy space, but what if your tank is empty at the end of the day? Would it be more restorative to sit down and read for 15 minutes or power through and clean out the closet just because it was on your to do list?

I tell you all this for a few reasons.

It is not too late for you.

It is not too late for you. Ever. Maybe looking back at the 2020 holiday season you realize you packed too much in and you are running on fumes now. It is not too late. Start again with today, right now when you are reading this. Put 10 minutes into your calendar to just sit down. Or take a walk down the block. Or hide in the closet with your book. Whatever might feel restorative to you.

Restorative – not numbing. Hide in the closet with your book, not a bottle. Walk down the block to notice nature and take it easy, not sprinting to see how far you can get in 10 minutes.

Good enough is both.

Good enough is both. Growing up I often heard that good enough is neither. But what if you flipped that around, “good enough is both”? Cleaning out one shelf is good enough for today. Doing the gentle yoga stretching class instead of power yoga is good enough.

Then you can check in with yourself tomorrow to see if there is more space to do more or if you need to continue to give yourself a respite. Maybe instead of taking January by storm, we take small, solid, comfortable steps that are consistent over time.

Before we wrap up, I want to share my 2021 theme with you. I take that end of year burnout seriously and am backing off. Instead of setting New Years Resolutions or picking a word, this year seems to be the year I need to back off a smidge. My 2021 theme is a paraphrasing of St Francis of Assisi:

Wear life as a loose garment.

I will refer back to this often in the hopes that it inspires you to do the same or to seek out a pace to life that matches the season you are in. In the meantime, remember that respite is viewed as a luxury, but it is a necessity. Resting helps create the space in our lives to mentally, physically, and emotionally have room to move.

What about you? Did you pick a 2021 word or phrase? Maybe you set some goals or resolutions. Let me know in the comments or Instagram.

By |2021-01-10T08:56:11-05:00January 12th, 2021|Habit Change, Mental Well-being|0 Comments

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