Goals Habits

Nov Goals & Balance (or not)

November 2, 2022

My categories aren’t balanced!

. . . And that’s okay 🙂

I typically divide my goals lists into 4 sublists: WORK / PERSONAL / FAM / BLOG&POD. I should probably change the names because I feel like I can officially call BLOG&POD stuff work now, but the general categories will probably remain the same.

Usually they are somewhat equal – like 4-5 items in each. (Though obviously since item size and scope can vary greatly, that doesn’t guarantee any sort of real equality. “Launch podcast” does not equal “make eye appointment”, for example. It looks balanced, though!).

Anyway, I am not even close to balanced this month and that’s okay! Since I’m deep in development and prep mode for BLPA, I know it is going to take up a bit more of my goals energy. I actually have far more clinical days this month so it’s not like I won’t be focused on patient care; it’s just that I don’t really have specific items to accomplish in that realm right now.

You might also notice that I am hoping to knock out holiday cards already! I made a preliminary list yesterday and will start confirming addresses ASAP. Because we moved in 2022, Josh and I are planning on sending Thanksgiving cards so that those who send holiday cards will have our updated address. (Plus – who doesn’t enjoy celebrating gratitude?)

I still need to look at/review/triage my Quintile 4 goals and create my Quintile 5 master list – which will include many of the above because let’s face it – I like checking things off, so why not have them on all relevant lists? Ha.

Reading Plan Update

Many of you recoiled in horror when I mused about an idea to try to read at least 1/14 of a nonfiction book and 1/10 of a novel every day.

Trust me, I get it.

BUT. For me, right now? I totally love this little ‘reading training plan’. Here’s the thing: like most of my other personal goals, I hold it gently.

Each day, I try to hit the above marks, and many times if the book is good (especially the novel!) I will actually blow past them.

And some days I will be otherwise occupied and will miss a day. Totally okay – just as long as I get back on the horse when I can. For me it helps to have this benchmark to shoot for in my head, because it’s the nudge I need to pick up a book (or my kindle paperwhite, or my kindle app) and read rather than scroll. And I’m almost always happy with that choice!

I read 6 books in October and am halfway through 2 more right now, so I can definitely say I’ve picked up the pace since thinking up this scheme, and I am truly enjoying it.

(An additional feature of this plan: if I am reading a book and I am dreading reading my daily quotas, time for a new book. I have struggled with abandoning books in the past but I think making this a completely acceptable – let’s go as far as to say encouraged – feature of my plan will help!).

Finally, I am absolutely not suggesting everyone (or even most people) try this plan. Especially if it sounds horrifying! Just sharing what I have found helpful and fun recently.


I am off to the dentist where I will invariably get in trouble for not brushing some side of some obscure back teeth in my mouth, even though I floss every day, use an electric toothbrush, and REALLY do try my best! (Are there shame-free dentist offices out there? Actually my NC dentist was pretty close. I miss them!)

PS: November newsletter coming your way tomorrow!


  • Reply Grateful Kae November 2, 2022 at 9:44 am

    So, like how many pages are we talking each day? What happens if you can’t fit all the nonfiction reading in in the morning? Do you like, take it to work for your lunch break or something? Or just roll it to the next day? Because I presume come evening time you’ll be busy with the fiction read… (Sorry, you know I always need all.the.details on logistics.)

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger November 2, 2022 at 10:22 am

      If I can’t fit it in? I skip it! Or maybe just read at lunch. For reference 21 pages is 1/14 of my current non fiction book and 10% I have no idea how many pages bc I’m on kindle, but let’s say for your average novel that’s 30-35?

      I’m a fairly fast-ish reader but not super fast.

    • Reply Marcia Francois November 2, 2022 at 11:50 am

      I have a similar non-fiction goal but I say “20 minutes a day”. That means in a dense book (Dare to Lead – Brene Brown – took me a full month) it might only be 10 pages but in something with lots of white space, quotes, etc. it might be 20 pages. Either way I’m making progress but still expending the same amount of effort.

      • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger November 2, 2022 at 12:38 pm

        Marcia yours is process based and mine is outcome based! Neither is better, just interesting! Process based probably better for those who hate not not meeting goals (Lisa!)

        • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns November 2, 2022 at 3:46 pm

          This is a good distinction, Sarah! Process-based goals are much much better for a perfectionist like me!

          I saw the dentist today, too, and there was no shaming. I use a soft-bristle tooth brush and floss every other day. Both the hygienist and dentist were positive/complimentary. Sounds like your dentist is too harsh maybe? My sort of funny story is that I tried changing dentist practices within the same company to get away from an excessively chatty hygienist – well turns out she moved to this location this summer so I had her anyways… I guess it’s the universe’s way of saying she is supposed to clean my teeth. She did jokingly say, “I hope you didn’t change practices to get away from me!” to which I probably awkwardly laughed and said of course not! Ha.

  • Reply Chelsea November 2, 2022 at 10:01 am

    I always think the semantics around goals are interesting – specifically what makes something a “goal” vs. a “to-do”. Maybe that would be an interesting BLP topic if you haven’t covered it.

    I’ve always thought about a goal as being something that you work towards, but a successful outcome is uncertain. So – for example – getting a specific high-profile guest to come on BLP would be a goal, but scheduling a tax meeting is just a “to-do”. I mean, you’re not going to not pay your taxes, you just have to *do* it. But obviously different people are going to have different approaches to how they draw that line.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger November 2, 2022 at 10:23 am

      To be honest I lump them all together! Anything outside of my normal routine or work responsibilities that I want to accomplish.

      • Reply Coree November 2, 2022 at 10:49 am

        That makes sense. I made my November list and didn’t put teaching on there, b/c I go and teach every Monday/Tuesday afternoon, it’s just a thing that happens. I do have a bit lecture chart in my office though where I cross things off though, not b/c it won’t happen but because emotionally I need to see the end of term coming closer.

  • Reply Keren November 2, 2022 at 10:10 am

    I was thinking the same thing when I read your list,it would be an interesting podcast subject.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger November 2, 2022 at 10:34 am

      Good idea!

  • Reply Sarah H. November 2, 2022 at 11:13 am

    I have always felt the same shame in going to the dentist. I was a kid who got a few cavities and so I was never featured on the “Crest Cavity-Free Wall of Fame.” It always felt like a judgement of me as a person and that I had failed if I missed a spot brushing (typical people-pleaser). It’s gotten better now that I’m an adult and realize I actually don’t need my dentist’s approval, but to take their feedback/recommendations and put them into practice. I do believe dentists have gotten a lot better at being less stern over time because they know many people dread going. Still, I’m sure this varies! Hope your visit was as pleasant as it can be.

  • Reply JCL21 November 2, 2022 at 11:28 am

    Can I just second the part about shame at the dentist? Like, I’ve often wondered, if my dentist (and really, its the hygienist, right) made a concerted effort to just celebrate the wins, and stayed mum about the deficiencies or used motivational coaching to help me improve, would my ultimate outcomes be better? Like, I feel like I’m following all their recommendations on oral hygiene, and I never get kudos, just critiques.

    Similarly, if you and I follow all the recommendations, and our outcomes are mediocre, then why doesn’t that raise the possibility that the recommendations are lacking, rather than my effort in achieving them?

    I’m sure our current food and lifestyle environment is horrible for teeth — so why not acknowledge that instead of implying that any shortcomings are just due to the patient not trying hard enough.

  • Reply Nelle November 2, 2022 at 12:45 pm

    I really like my dentist and I don’t feel shamed by him! I fired my last dentist because he wouldn’t stop trying to sell me veneers (for cosmetic reasons—I have surface damage to my teeth from a childhood illness but they are healthy, just not movie star pretty). I just got tired of being shamed AND sold from the chair every time.

    These sound like surface details but if you are thinking about switching, I recommend looking for one that primarily serves families and doesn’t have a lot of splashy marketing. I have found that the more the ads the more the pressure to make you feel like what you’re doing isn’t enough. My dentist has ~8 locations throughout the city and they’re not glamorous but I know they take good care of me!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger November 2, 2022 at 5:49 pm

      of course somehow today was the least shaming visit i’ve had in a while. (they must read the blog, lol).

  • Reply Elissa November 2, 2022 at 8:50 pm

    Imagine how you feel as a parent when you KNOW you’re going above and beyond of what you can to be diligent with your child’s teeth, and you get in trouble for poor teeth health. Hello, genetics. So I feel that!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger November 3, 2022 at 9:52 am

      100% feel you on that as well!!!

  • Reply Jjiraffe November 3, 2022 at 10:11 am

    My poor son was just shamed at the dentist even though he uses a waterpick twice a day in addition to flouride rinse as well as an electric toothbrush and flossing! I was not having it and told the dentist he does more than 99% of kids in America and give him a break!! Sorry, rant over. You hit a nerve, lol.

  • Reply Stacey November 3, 2022 at 10:37 am

    I had to laugh at people thinking your reading plan was too structured…they should see mine. Reading, to be fair, is my #1 hobby and I really prioritize it in my life. But I am always reading 4-6 books at once, and I have a whole spreadsheet to track what I “need” to read each day from each book, mostly driven by book clubs and buddy reads. It brings me so much joy.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger November 3, 2022 at 11:54 am

      oooh I would love to see that spreadsheet!

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