Episode 48: Goal Setting 101

The close of one year and start of another often makes us reflective and in a goal setting frame of mind. Where did we spend our time, how do we feel about that, and where do we want to go. While dreaming is of course part of goal setting, it does not end there. Goal setting does not have to be a cold, remote robotic process. Learn what questions to ask to improve your chances to creating that life you really want.

Here is what you can expect to hear on the episode:

  1. Quarterly check in on Susan’s goals – including specific questions you can ask yourself about your progress
  2. Goal setting 101 – less about SMART goals and more about practical steps to get where you want to be
  3. Repeatable action steps that apply to any goal you can dream

Download a free guide at this link to follow along with the goal setting steps.

Listen at the link below or search for “Sustainable Productivity with Susan Sanders” everywhere podcasts are available.

Links to Learn More

Links mentioned in this episode of the Sustainable Productivity podcast:

We would love to hear from you. Send your feedback on the episode, suggestions for future show topics or guests, and anything else to Susan@SustainableSue.com or in a DM on Instagram.

By |2024-01-01T10:33:19-05:00January 1st, 2024|Show Notes|0 Comments

Recalibration Before Quitting

While I do believe in the power of quitting, I want to suggest recalibration before quitting as a path to explore instead. I encounter this when working with women who want to be more fit and start running. They hate it. It feels terrible. The magical endorphins of a runner’s high never appears. Races are just full of uber-runner gristle sticks taking it all too seriously.

And they quit declaring exercise to not be for them.  

What I encourage instead is recalibration before quitting. Small, sustainable adjustments to habit change to make it something that does work for you. There are paths to recalibration depending on the person, the habit change, and the reasons it is not currently working. 

Let’s take a look at a few.

Too Much Too Soon

Sometimes a habit change or project is just too big to tackle all at once. I mentioned on a recent Sustainable Productivity Podcast episode that I was working on a photo clean up project that I avoided for about two years because of the size and complexity. There are about 180,000 photos on our server, but at least a third of those (maybe even closer to half) are garbage or duplicates. I made a mistake when transferring files from our old server resulting in 180,000 photo mess. 

“Fixing Lightroom” has been on my to do list for over 700 days. But that was too much so I quit before I got started. Recalibration with this effort looks like small, repeatable bites at the 180,000 photos. 

My original goal was 1 hour of editing most days of the week. This is just the right amount for me right now.

I Keep Forgetting

It is hard to remember that you want to start or change a habit. It sounds weird, but it is hard to put something where nothing existed before. A friend and I agreed to exchange gratitude lists at the end of each day. It was important to me. I committed to her. I thought about different things throughout the day that I wanted to send. Then turned on Netflix and promptly forgot. 

Instead of me throwing up my hands and declaring this to be a failed experiment, enter recalibration. I set a reminder on my phone to go off each night at the same time. The voice in your head saying you would remember if it was important is a liar. Your brain is full and just needs help. Here are a few ways you can help your brain help you.

  1. Add a recurring appointment to your calendar to do your new/revised habit.
  2. Set a reminder on your phone for the same time each day to do your new/revised habit. 
  3. Put a post it note in your planner to remind you of your new habit. Once you complete it that day, move the post it to the next planned day for your new / revised habit.

I Don’t Know Where to Start

Part of wanting to grow the Sustainable Sue business is showing up consistently. For myself, other creative business owners, and for my readers/listeners. When I first started writing here, I did not know what it meant to show up consistently in all of those areas. I was all over the place. Sure each week I got an essay put up, but I felt like I was spending a lot of time on the process instead of the creative stuff. 

I decided to make a checklist of what I wanted to do each day. It started as a brain dump something like this:

  • Write weekly essay
  • Write, record podcast
  • Connect with other creatives
  • Research freelance writing opportunities
  • Social media outreach for Sustainable Sue
  • Learn how to be an entrepreneur

Then I split things out based on the rhythms of my personal energy, my day job and personal schedules, and spreading out the content. For example, I do podcast activities on Mondays while I am fired up and rested from the weekend. Fridays tend to be lower key on the fixed schedule stuff so I use it as a catch up Sustainable Sue day.

This is really helpful when I am tired and generally out of sorts. I only have 1 hour each morning before my day job starts to get Sustainable Sue work done. Late last year I took a week off from Sustainable Sue work. When I sat down after a week off, I did not know what to do. It was just brain fog from being out of routine (and lots of candy and cookies during that break). Because I had my list of what I do on a Monday, I could recalibrate my brain fog into my routine. 

Lack of Motivation

Tell me if this sounds true: The Sue that comes up with these plans is seldom the Sue who shows up to execute them. Please tell me I am not alone in this. Once a week I do a specific set of physical therapy exercises. Each Friday I put “PT exercises” on a day for the following week. 

This week when that day came it seemed much more important to find out what happened to Igor from Season 9 of Alone than to do the pushups and clam shells. I wanted to quit before I got started. But you know what – the work does not need to be liked. It needs to be done. I promised myself 10 minutes of Igor between each set instead of just barreling through it all. No set? No Igor. 

I pulled up my PT checklist and worked my way through the exercises. If I asked myself in the moment, what exercises I wanted to do? 

Yep, none. Don’t rely on motivation, you will quit more often than not. Have a plan that you can use for recalibration. 

Sustainable You Reflections

  1. When is the last time you wanted to quit? Whether you did or did not, how did it feel?
  2. Where can you use calendars, timers, or reminders to support habit change?
  3. What carrots (or Igors) can you use to motivate you to recalibrate the next time you want to quit?

Until next time remember to create productive results in a way that you can sustain and that work for you. 

By |2023-08-01T10:19:18-04:00August 8th, 2023|Habit Change|0 Comments

Word of the Year

Remember equanimity, my word of the year? How is your 2023 word or theme or goal going these days? We are almost halfway through the year, but it is never too late to commit – or recommit making life better for yourself. 

I had somewhat let my focus on equanimity slide in recent months. While I was reminded of the importance of it while in Italy where I could not speak the language or understand public transportation or time zones, when I returned home I wanted to return to the homeostasis of my routine. 


A book I was reading brought my word of the year back into focus. That Phil Jackson has a way of doing that, I mean it worked for Michael Jordan so it can work for me too, right? 

In his book, 11 Rings: The Soul of Success, Jackson talks about a story he shared with the Bulls about a Zen teacher speaking to a group about Buddhism. Here is how Jackson translated it to his team: Everything is always in flux. Until you accept this, you won’t be able to find true equanimity. 


I have found that lack of acceptance just prolongs the pain. Accepting a situation for what it is can provide that equanimity. That does not mean you have to co-sign some nonsense. You can accept a person is going to act like a fool without having to change that person. A job may no longer be the right fit for you, and you can accept that while you decide if that means you should stay or find a new role. You can accept that you have time constraints that prevent you from fully immersing in a new hobby and decide what small part of it you could engage in.

Notice none of this is just lying down and being helpless, it is making small adjustments – sometimes the adjustment is in your attitude and mindset instead of massive actions or broad proclamations. 

It is ok to not take action, but to acknowledge that something is not working and you are aware. 

You don’t have to do it perfectly. In fact, because everything is always in flux, there is no way to do it perfectly. But you need to keep shifting and changing to stay true to yourself. 

To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. 

Not to dare is to lose oneself. 

Soren Kierkegaard 

Sustainable You Reflections

  • How is your 2023 word / theme / goal going?
  • Where do you need to apply more acceptance to your life?
  • What small adjustment can you apply to your attitude or situation to facilitate this acceptance?
By |2023-05-30T08:19:32-04:00June 13th, 2023|Habit Change|0 Comments

How to Get What You Want

Assuming you already know what you want, I want to tell you how to now get what you want. 

Ask for it.

Ask for what you want. It is unreasonable to be angry with someone for not doing something you did not tell them you expected them to do. Expectations are pre-meditated resentments. Here is an example from my life. I expected my kids to put their dishes in the dishwasher after dinner. I never asked them to do this – I just expected it. Every time we got up from dinner, they put their plates on the kitchen counter and I put my anger into slamming the kitchen cabinets. See, I had an expectation – an unvoiced request. Once I say my expectation, if they agree – then we have an agreement. If they agree to put their plate in the dishwasher and don’t, then we can have a discussion. But if you don’t ask for what you want, how can you expect people to give it to you?

Ask for it – that is how you get what you want. It is that easy. And yet.

Surface Level Example

I was recently felt like I wanted a little more attention from Bixby and requested a bouquet of flowers from him. Of course I did this in a very efficient, Enneagram 1 manner – I put it on the grocery list before he went to the store. I was very specific in my ask. Here is my verbatim entry on our grocery list app:

Bouquet of flowers for Susan – include sunflowers, but not just sunflowers. 

Lordy we are romantic, aren’t we? But check it out – it worked! It helped me to get what I want!  

<<flower pic>>

A Layer Deeper

I have a three strike rule. When something comes to my attention three times, I do it if at all humanly possible. 

  • After a movie or TV show comes to my awareness three times, I add it to the queue. 
  • If I needed a certain fabric or thread three times, I break down and buy it instead of looking for a different project. 
  • When I was on the fence about whether or not a Subaru was the right car for me, I saw it everywhere – way more than three times. 
  • If a book is discussed in something I am listening to or reading on three different occasions, I add it to my TBR. 

I think this is the way the universe says, OK, Sue, let me help you get what you want. 

This happened to a quote recently. The main character in a fiction book read the quote in his school textbook, then I saw it on social media, then it was the quote of the day in one of my daily devotionals. I give in! I accept this sign that action is needed to get what you want. 

Here is the quote:

And then the day came

when the risk to remain

tight in a bud was

more painful than the

risk to bloom.

Anais Nin  

 It takes courage to make the ask. But that ask is how you get what you want. Which leads me to my next ask. 

The Ask

I want to bloom. Specifically, I want to grow the Sustainable Sue business. I have been afraid to swing for the fences and I believe the universe has sent me this message so I can acknowledge that if I stay tight in this small space, it will keep being not what I want. So here I go:

I want to double my podcast listeners by August 1st and my email subscribers by September 1st. I need your help to do that. 

Will you share the Sustainable Productivity podcast and the Sustainable Sue weekly essay with a friend? Here are a couple ways this could look:

  1. Hey – you know how I was struggling with cleaning the kitchen? I heard this great episode of a podcast my friend hosts. Here is the link – maybe it will help with your garage project?!
    • Link: https://sustainablesue.com/14-2/
  2. A friend of mine is trying to grow her small business. Here is the link to her podcast and blog. Check it out and subscribe if you think it is helpful for you. 
    • Podcast link: https://sustainablesue.com/podcast/
    • Essay link: https://sustainablesue.com/blog/
  3. Maybe this bad thing in your life is actually an opportunity to take advantage of extra time to help recover from the burnout you have. Running on empty, burning the candle at both ends is not something you can continue long term. Check out my friend’s website – she has great messages and resources that can help you. 
    • Website link: https://sustainablesue.com

Thank you for being a supporter of the Sustainable Sue business. Now let’s go get what we want – a life we don’t need to escape!

By |2023-05-16T10:09:14-04:00May 23rd, 2023|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Episode 5: A Non-Goal Consideration for You

Let’s talk about a non-goal for a second. People are surprised to learn that Susan doesn’t track phone usage. Getting rid of your phone is often one of the first strategies articles about productivity offer.  We are bombarded with messages that we need to change just about everything about our lives in order to become a better person, starting with detaching our phone from our lives. This episode is about how Susan came to that decision and why it may or may not be a Sustainably Productive goal for you too.

Links mentioned in the Sustainable Productivity episode about the non-goal of not tracking phone use:

By |2023-03-06T07:10:01-05:00March 6th, 2023|Show Notes|0 Comments
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