Is What You Are Doing Sustainable?
What’s sustainable today won’t be sustainable tomorrow. Life is always changing and new responsibilities are continuously being added to your list of things to accomplish both personally and professionally. And eliminating responsibilities – that rarely happens! It doesn’t take long before what’s on your plate feels burdensome and overwhelming.
One of the many beautiful aspects of living in Chattanooga, TN is that I get to enjoy seasons. Having grown up a California girl, that’s a delightful switch!
In Spring everything comes to life – daffodils bloom, leaves form on the empty branches, and it’s full of beauty.
Summer is hot and humid – some feel it’s a bit intense if they aren’t used to it, but I am happy in the heat!
Fall brings cooler temps and spectacular color. It’s a season of letting go as the many leaves whirl and swirl in the breeze.
Winter is typically cold, sometimes wet, and now and the we get snow. Plants go dormant and it’s a time of rest. Cozying up!
It’s a rhythm – a natural cycle.
Life and work also have seasons. It’s important to know which season you are in. And unlike the weather seasons, life seasons don’t always follow a consistent pattern. That’s why it’s important to be honest with yourself about the season you are in.
Are you in an exciting growing, chase your goals and dreams season?
Or are you in a challenging, really feel the heat and the pressure kind of season, requiring you to step up and work hard for a minute?
Perhaps you are in a season of letting go – saying goodbye to some responsibilities. Paring down and simplifying.
Or perhaps right now is a time of rest, reflection, and turning your focus inward.
Knowing which season you are in makes a difference and changes how you go about life and work. And unless you do it in a sustainable way, you will find yourself frustrated, overwhelmed, and ready to give up.
Your Version of Sustainable
There’s no one else just like you. What you are capable of accomplishing might be more or it might be less than what those around you are able to do. That’s OK. It’s your life. You are the only one who able to decide the right amount of activity and responsibility for you, the right balance between life and work. The best combination of energy going out and activities that energize you.
Putting all your efforts into your work is counterproductive and so is putting all your efforts in your life. God designed you to work, but He didn’t design you to only work. He also created you for relationship. He made you creative and with interests that make you come a life!
Sustainable isn’t just something you want in your work. You want a sustainable life and that happens when you have a happy dose of both work and life. One aspect energizes the other.
When it comes to sustainability, keep the following in mind:
1. Maintain Your Balance
Your efforts toward a worthy goal or dream may infringe on your time with God, your relationships, or even taking care of yourself. Before you know it, you are skipping meals, not getting enough sleep, and failing to exercise. Sadly, the idea of being still, enjoying margin, or allowing yourself the time to do what you love to do is a thing of the past! And those are the very activities that increase your creativity and enable you to experience flow. You’ve become a human doing! Do you relate?
You are an integrated creature! Neglecting key areas of your life has a negative impact on your work, goals, and dreams. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you don’t have time to slow down and invest in life. The truth is, if you don’t maintain balance, it may actually prevent you from experiencing success!
2. Honor Your Values
Whatever you are pursuing, it’s helpful to understand how those pursuits link back to your values. And it’s also important to make sure you are not compromising your values along the way.
When you aren’t honoring your values that’s a big clue that something in your life is out of order and operating in an out of order way is not sustainable. You will feel the rub!
Don’t know what your Top 5 Values are? Here’s more on that plus an exercise to help.
3. Respect Your Resources
Your time, money, and talents are limited. You need to steward them well. That means facing some tough choices on how you will allocate your resources. It requires you to set boundaries and to prioritize again and again!
If you want to maximize your resources, taking the time to create systems and processes upfront is well worth the effort. While it takes more time initially, it saves you a whole lot of time down the road!
4. Enjoy the Journey
A journey is long and to navigate it successfully you have plan and prepare – strategize. You need a few bits of key info and the flexibility to adapt as you go. What you don’t need is all the gory details up front so don’t let that keep you from beginning the journey.
Trying to get too far too fast is counterproductive. Remember, the journey is LONG so pace yourself.
The journey s more enjoyable when you know what the consistent every day action steps are that will enable you to arrive where you are going with energy leftover.
The journey to successfully reaching your goal doesn’t happen overnight, so why not enjoy the process.
5. Regularly Evaluate
Along the way, you may need to make some course corrections. That’s why you want to be regularly evaluate your progress by determining…
- What’s working? What isn’t working?
- What do you need to do more of? Less of?
- And what needs to change?
These simple questions prompt you to make changes that make your efforts more effective and more sustainable.
And along the way, when your responsibilities begin to stack up as more tasks are added, it’s worth taking the time to determine what you can…
- Delegate – what can you give to someone else to do because it is not the best use of your time, gifting, or strengths? I know – not easy, but necessary!
- Drop – what doesn’t make sense to keep doing anymore? I know – it‘s painful to let go!
- Delay – what are you doing now that can wait? I know – in our microwave culture, we want to do it all now!
6. Avoid Common Mistakes
What new adventure you are you pursuing in the coming year? New adventures are exciting, and that excitement often leads to making some mistakes you don’t want to make! In your enthusiasm you…
- Set out with frantic gusto and that gusto is not sustainable! It doesn’t take long before you wear yourself out and give up.
- Try to chase way too many goals simultaneously and essentially dilute your efforts for all of them. Attempting to much at one time is also unsustainable.
- Approach the process minus a strategic plan – it’s all hit and miss which rarely leads to the results you desire.
- Set goals that are in competition with each other making them unrealistic to pursue simultaneously.
- Keep working harder and harder to reach your goal or get the results you are after neglecting the energizing areas of your life which ultimately leads to burnout.
Your big goals and dreams hinge on whether or pursue them in a sustainable way. Of course, you must systematically engage in actions that will enable you to reach your goals, but they must be sustainable actions. And they must be the actions that actually lead to results.
Operating in a sustainable way also means relying more on God and less on you.
Pay attention to what causes you to take on more than you are able to handle and the impact it has on you personally and professionally.
How sustainable is the way you are doing life and work?