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How to Thrive and Not Just Survive


In September 2017 most of us got a firsthand look at what it means to “survive”, whether we wanted to or not. In the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, we were thrown into survival mode.

It didn’t matter how much money you had in the bank, how many cars you had, how big your house was, or any of that other stuff. Survival was the goal of the day.

Food, water, shelter – the bare necessities.
It’s amazing how a disaster can do that.

But apart from the extreme example of post-disaster life, you might be surprised to find that you’re more familiar with survival mode than you think.

In this instance, I’m talking about survival mode in the figurative sense. You don’t need to experience a disaster to know what I’m talking about.

If you’re not sure what I mean, read on.

You might be in survival mode, if…

• You don’t have time for fun anymore – in fact, just getting through the day has become your new goal.
• You’re on auto-pilot – you don’t have the mental space to think, create or do anything other than what’s comfortable or easy.
• You’re stressed out and everyone knows it – and to make it worse, you really don’t care if it shows.
• Good enough is good enough – you can’t be bothered with doing anything with excellence, you’re satisfied with simply getting by.
• You’re playing catch up in more than one area of your life.
• You’ve dropped the ball. Again. In fact, this has become your new norm.
• You feel stuck. Plain and simple.

If you found yourself nodding with each sentence, you know what that means, right?

Yep, survival mode.

Don’t get me wrong. Survival mode is sometimes helpful and even necessary.

For example, when you’re going through a difficult season you might sense the need to scale back and focus on only the necessities of life. There are times when, quite frankly, we simply don’t have the bandwidth for all the extra niceties.

The key is to make sure that survival mode isn’t the norm*.

But when you’re ready to move from surviving to thriving, your first question might be ‘how’.

If you’ve been stuck in survival mode for a while, it might feel difficult or near impossible to get moving. But have no fear, these ideas will give you the momentum you need to make that first step and then another one.

Choose as many as you like to spark a change. Then keep adding as you go.

7 ways to move from surviving to thriving

1. Take stock – this is the first place I recommend you start. Take some time to step back and evaluate where you are. Are you happy with your life at the moment? If not, what areas would you change?

2. Seek God’s guidance – the fact that you’re in survival mode is one thing, how you get out of it is another. When you don’t have the answer, you can turn to the One who does.

3. Get outside – there’s nothing like some fresh air to clear your mind. And did you know that studies show that being near the ocean and inhaling the salt air is good for your physical and mental wellbeing? So, while you’re outside you might as well head to the beach!

4. Talk about it – sometimes just being able to verbalise what you’re feeling can help. Share your thoughts with a trusted friend, pastor, coach, or mentor. They don’t need to have the answers, just a willingness to listen.

5. Practise gratitude – giving thanks is a sure way to unlock the possibilities in your life. Willie Nelson is quoted as saying, “when I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.”

6. Change up your routines – start doing things a little differently and out of the norm. Shake things up a little bit and see how that works for you.

7. Try a new exercise routine or sport – being in survival mode often means you feel stuck and an easy way to get unstuck is to get moving. Plus, the physical activity is good for your body and your mind.

Survival mode might work for a short period of time, but chances are you’re ready to get moving and thriving again. Give these tips a try and let me know how they work for you.

If you have more tips you’d like to add to the list, get in touch and let me know. I’m all ears.

*Here’s a word of caution, if you’ve been stuck in survival mode for an exceedingly long time, or you feel increasingly overwhelmed with life, please seek the advice of a mental health professional.

Marva Titley-Smith, Certified Life Coach
Marva is a work and life coach with a passion for helping women thrive in all areas of life. She’s the BVI’s first local female architect and former Chief Planner. In 2012, after 26 years in the Public Service, she successfully transitioned careers and founded the management consultancy firm MatrixSpark specializing in strategic management training and coaching. She continues to welcome reinvention and is always on the lookout for what God is doing next.
You can find her writing about her life and faith on her website SunSparkleShine.com.

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