I've been thinking about sustainable performance a lot lately.
After you over-work yourself and burn out a couple times, or see core areas of your life get neglected, eventually you wise up and start thinking about sustainability.
But it's always been very, very hard to define. What's "sustainable"? You can keep doing it without things going wrong?
Well, okay, but that's not particularly insightful.
Some people will say it's about having a balance, but I certainly know people who have lives that are out of balance -- but sustainably so, and they enjoy it that way.
Health? Sure, that's a huge part of it, but not the only part.
Tonight I maybe nailed down a definition.
"The trajectory I'm on, I can stay on and my life will keep getting better."
It's still not quite right, but it gets at a big part of it -- trajectory.
If your trajectory ever spirals off a cliff, what you're doing isn't sustainable. This is the classic business that, as it grows, it demands more of the owner's time. So you get golden-handcuffed to your business while losing recovery, relaxation, leisure, time with family and friends, hobbies, learning, reading, fitness, etc, etc, etc.
It takes some perspective to understand trajectory, because often, things are quite bad once you realize they're bad. The signs that the trajectory is no good is like a single cloud faintly on the horizon which announces the gathering storm.
Look at the trajectory. The cost of the same level of success should be going down.
Discretionary choice over how you spend your time should be going up.
Mental and physical wellness should be going up.
Knowledge should be going fun.
Fun should be going up.
If any of these aren't true -- or look they won't be true as more time passes and you go further down the spiral -- it's time to reflect. When a single cloud is on the horizon, there's still 10,000 options of what to do to stay warm and dry.