Is your pace sustainable?

work-life balance

This past weekend at my Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health New Way of Being Women’s Self-Renewal Retreat I met a woman who was the dean at a large medical school. She said they just added a class on Self-Care & Resiliency to their medical school curriculum, but she wonders if her young doctors in training will see how important this course really is? Not just for their patients, but for 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. We throw our energy around like handfuls of rice grains at newlyweds. We’re overextended, overscheduled and rarely pause before we say “Yes,” to requests. (Read 9 Ways to Say No here.)

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? (Thank you, Claudia.)
  • “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.

Today, 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.”

I’D LOVE TO SUPPORT YOU: I lead workshops and do presentations around the U.S. on Stress & Resiliency, Creating Work-Life Alignment and Finding Balance in a 24/7 World–I’d love to create a custom presentation for your leadership team, employees, organization or women’s group. Learn more here or email me at info at reneetrudeau dot com.

Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by work-life balance teacher/author and Career Strategists president, Renée Peterson Trudeau. Offering speaking, custom workshops/retreats, training, books/telecourses and individual coaching focusing on self-renewal, her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, Spirituality & Health and more. Thousands of women in ten countries are becoming RTA-Certified Facilitators and leading/joining self-care groups based on her award-winning curriculum.  She is the author of The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal and Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 13 year-old son. More on her background here.




  1. I love this, Renee. Goodness knows I’ve over-committed so much in my life, and finally my body made me quit 🙂 But I can sure still fall into it.
    I simply love: “In this situation, what is uniquely mine to do in?” Doesn’t that just put it all into perspective!
    As always, Thank You!