Is your life sustainable?

Most of us are living at a pace that is unsustainable–what I would call an inhumane pace

Recently I met a woman who was the dean at a large medical school. She said they just added a class on Work-Life Balance & Resiliency to their medical school curriculum, but she wonders if her young doctors in training will see the value of this course for their patients–and themselves– as they navigate their intense pace.

Sustainability is often defined as the capacity to endure; the long-term maintenance of responsibility … and I would add, the long-term maintenance of self.

Most of us are living at a pace that is unsustainable–what I would call an inhumane pace. We throw our energy around like handfuls of rice grains at newlyweds. We’re overextended, over-scheduled and rarely pause before we say “Yes,” to requests. Our energy is precious. It’s the currency that allows us to do things in the world. But we rarely honor it or see it as sacred (which it is!).

As you consider your next request, project or invitation ask yourself:

  • Will this activity or relationship feed me or drain me?
  • Is my intuition saying “Yes” to this request, or “No”? (Pay attention to the sensation in your gut–the body never lies.)
  • Does being around this person, group or organization make me feel positive, negative or neutral?
  • “In this situation, what is uniquely mine to do in?” And know that more often than not–the answer is, “Nothing.”

During my twenties and thirties–perhaps like the medical students–I ran myself hard. I would push and push and then live for the weekends where I’d crawl to a yoga class, live for happy hour with friends or take in a massage– finally allowing myself to slow down and add a few cups of water to my dry-as-a-bone well.

But the chronic stress began to take its toll and in my late thirties, I became clear that I didn’t want to just “survive”– I wanted to thrive. I wanted to find a sustainable way of living that supported me in a) maintaining an unwavering allegiance to myself, b) making choices that left me feeling alive, whole and resilient and c) generating and building energy reserves for yet-to-be manifested dreams and desires.

Last week while leading a support call on Harnessing & Leveraging Your Energy I shared that even when I’m working on something big that is energy intensive–like a career change, launching a book or a nonprofit or changing a learned behavior–I want to land on the other side of the experience replenished and nourished. I want to feel like I have not abandoned myself and I have paused frequently to remind myself that, “Just because I can, doesn’t mean I should.”

Written by Renee Peterson Trudeau for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

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