Right now, you’re already organizing what your future will look like. – Seth Godin

There’s nothing wrong with the hustle. There is something wrong with staying in the hustle forever. You may say, “but I’m not in the hustle!” As your coach, I would ask, “Well, what’s your exit plan?”  I’m not talking about the one where you sell the company. I’m specifically talking about the one where you are prepared to step out of the constant day-to-day demands and into a new rhythm with work/life balance.  Your body is changing.  Your mind is changing.  Are you preparing for these changes?  The wise leader starts this process earlier than later.  It’s a humbling admission that leads to a tremendous opportunity in the end.

Bringing this long-range personal planning idea into sharper focus, think about not just your ability to work and plan, but your sustainability to work now and plan for the future when you are no longer working. What have you set yourself up for? What have you set your family, your business, or your company up for?

Does the future as you see it now require you to work forever?

This is a critical question.

Planning for your working future will require you to see yourself as not working forever, or certainly not working forever in the same capacity that you are working now. This may mean exploring what your family will need or require, their expectations and how you can set everyone up to anticipate your shared future. Will they expect the same level of expenditures on travel, clothes, purchases, or experiences?  Are you willing to face the possibility that their expectations may be unrealistic?

In the same way that businesses use strategies for people management, productivity, and profitability, using a strategy for future planning will help you build the guardrails necessary for future sustainability – emotionally, mentally, and physically. This framework coupled with your deepest values will help to guide you forward.

What are your deepest values?

Some values are about integrity, family, contributions, or leaving a legacy. Take a moment to jot down your top five values and keep them close as you explore the Sustain-Ability™ framework.

The Sustain-Ability™ framework:

The Sustain-Ability™ approach supports finding the best solution by looking at three drivers. While this framework was created to guide business decisions, it will help to support your future planning work:

1. Clarity: Your lens through which you view the people, problems, opportunities, resources, and such. If the lens is dirty, blurry, or cracked, you won’t see very clearly.

Think about what you want or need to be clear about when it comes to the idea of working forever or working toward a hopeful outcome? What barriers or obstacles are in the way of gaining clarity and how can they be removed (Essentialism, Greg McKeown)?

2. Conviction: Your compass, powered and directed by your values and those things that matter most to you – the important things as S. Truett Cathy said. Lose sight of those important things, your compass is no longer calibrated properly, and you’ll find you quickly get lost and wonder why.

What is your deep conviction for your future planning? Will you live in the same place, change spending habits, and saving habits or shift the direction you follow on your compass?

3. Courage: Your stamina or staying power when things get rough, as they will. The difference between one who fails and one who succeeds is commitment. That takes guts.

What are you committed to looking at now, that you couldn’t or wouldn’t look at before? Where is courage calling you?

Pause for a moment and think about the Sustain-Ability™ framework. What does this make possible for you?

“I will work forever” is a default position.  It could even be seen as negligent because your future, your good future, won’t just magically happen.

Yes, the future will come, but will it be one that can sustain you and your family?

What do you want to create now that will appropriately challenge the lurking “I will just work forever” mindset?

A profession, a business, or a company is only half built if you are not thinking or planning for the next phase. This is a sign of true personal and professional leadership and a preserver of your dedication and hard work.

Instead of working forever by going to the office every day, what if working forever meant hours in the garden, time with family, and deepening connections to the things outside of work that is are important to you? What if?

A Transformative Vision

Your transformative vision emerges from your values, your purpose, and your intentional cultivation. If you don’t have “creating an intentional outcome” on your planning list, consider adding it. As Seth Godin says, “you’re already organizing what your future will look like.”

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