I recently read Necessary Endings: The Employees, Businesses, & Relationships that all of us Have to Give up in Order to Move Forward by Henry Cloud. He had a great list of questions to help someone determine if the life they are living, whether in work, pace or a relationship is sustainable for a long period of time. Here they are:
- Are you in an emotional state right now that is not sustainable? I am not talking about just a “hard time” or a time that you would not want to continue forever. Life is full of difficulties, but with proper support and other resources, we can endure them if we have to and if we have a good reason to. What I am referring to is a hard time that is truly not sustainable and often continues for no good reason. Are you in a state that is eating your heart, mind, soul, or energy in such a way that you are headed for some sort of crash or burnout?
- Are you in a physical state right now that is not sustainable? Too much travel? Too little sleep? Too much “on the go”? Too much taxing of your physical system? For a prolonged period of time with no end in sight? Too little exercise? Too much junk food?
- Are you in a state right now in your relationships that is not sustainable? Is there some relationship that is depleting or damaging you? Is there a context in which you feel compromised or forced to adapt to another person’s needs and demands out of fear? Are you in a situation where someone has power over you and is slowly diminishing you?
- Are you in a professional state right now that is not sustainable? In your work, is something going on in the culture or in your relationship with your boss that you cannot continue long-term without some sort of damage to your drive, talents, or passion? This does not include all difficult cultures or bosses, as most people have some period of time in a setting like that, which really builds them or equips them over time, even if it is hard. What I am referring to is something that is not equipping you or causing you to grow but is slowly wearing you down or killing something inside of you.
- Are you in a spiritual state right now that is not sustainable? In your spirit, is something causing you to be diminished? Is hope being deferred in some way that is causing a sickness of spirit? Are you losing a sense of meaning in life? Is something happening that is causing you to feel depleted of a sense of purpose, mission, transcendence, love, or other spiritual dimensions? A diminished belief in humanity or diminished faith? Is your ability to hope being affected?
- Are you in a financial state right now that is not sustainable? In your business or personal finances, are your expenses greater than what’s coming in, with no end in sight? Is the curve between investment and certain returns way out of whack? Do you not know how your real, fixed, non-negotiable expenses are going to be covered in the current path that you are on? Said another way, if something does not change, are you going to run out of money and have no options? If “cash equals options,” are you on a path of diminishing options?
- Are your energy reserves being depleted in a way that is not sustainable? Is there something so draining to your energy that you have to make yourself keep going? Do you have to drag yourself in a particular path continually? Is there a clear drain that is causing that? • Are you letting your strengths fall into disuse in a way that is not sustainable? Are you on a course where your strengths are not available to you? Are you being cornered, at work or elsewhere, in a way that requires you to be “not you” most of the time? Is the real you slowly going to sleep? Do you fear that it may not be able to be reawakened?
- Do you find yourself in a situation where you are overextended in some way, one that began as an anomaly but now has become a pattern? Many times this happens with a person’s schedule or workload. What they thought was going to be a lot of work or extra hours or effort for a while has now become what is required to keep it all going, as the entity or enterprise has become shaped and formed around exactly that ingredient, all that effort from just one source—you. So what was supposed to be a season has now become a pattern, the new normal.