You Cannot Thrive in Survival Mode

It’s 7:30am. The Chaos

You slept through your alarm, which means no one in the house woke up on time either. The whole house is in chaos. There’s yelling, there’s rushing. Someone’s hogging the shower. Someone’s not getting dressed and the bus is going to be outside in ten minutes. You realize that you forgot to print your presentation for the 9am meeting and proofreading is no longer an option. You’ll just have to live with whatever typos it has.

You suck down a coffee and danish, stressing out in traffic on the way to work. You arrive and head straight to the conference room with your presentation… that’s still sitting on the printer at home.

You muddle through the meeting, mortified at how unimpressed the department head is by your lack of preparation. Humiliated, you drown your sorrows in a burger, fries and chocolate shake at lunch. The thing that’s really hard to swallow is that your house wasn’t in chaos this morning because you woke up late. It’s always in chaos. Always out of balance. Always rushing, yelling, missing deadlines, missing details, missing opportunities to get ahead.


Because you’re living in survival mode.

Forget thriving – you can’t even think straight or clearly enough to remember the little and OH SO IMPORTANT details, like printouts on printers. How can you possibly take care of yourself – get the sleep you need, make the right food choices, exercise effectively? How can you create the life you dream about if you are always running, running, running?

What Does “Thrive” Mean?

By definition, the word ‘thrive’ means to prosper and flourish, to grow vigorously. But when you ask yourself ‘What does thrive mean’, what comes to mind? It’s hard to define, isn’t it… When is the last time you felt like you were flourishing?


I think the problem lies in the lack of boundaries – for ourselves and for those around us. We don’t want to disappoint anyone when we’re asked for help, even if we really don’t have time to give. We overcommit ourselves and our kids, and constantly find ourselves giving in to ‘Please, just do one more thing’. And the second the schedule gets knocked off course – and it ALWAYS gets knocked off course – we scramble to catch back up again. ‘Me’ time becomes sitting on the toilet or jumping into the shower. Don’t get me wrong – that can be precious ‘me’ time, especially if you get to do either without the door swinging wide open with a little one that DESPERATELY needs something RIGHT NOW. But, can’t we do better than that?

I’m not telling you anything you don’t know. I bet you’re really tired of surviving. I bet you go on vacation and spend the first five days feeling uncomfortable because your body is holding on to the stress it’s so used to now, starving for endorphins that you’ve depleted. I’ve been there. I know that feeling. When is your thrival going to be more important than your survival?

“NO” is the Hardest Part

I make it sound so easy, don’t I? “Just” Stop Surviving and Start Thriving. Before you can thrive you have to be able to think straight. If you can’t think straight enough to remember the most important presentation of your current career – how can you possibly figure out what would make you thrive, much less start to create the plan around doing it? I KNOW it’s not easy. When you’ve been putting your entire world first, ahead of your own needs, how do you start putting yourself first?

One word is at the heart of this and is the very hardest part: NO. We’re taught to only say ‘yes’ from the time we’re tiny. Saying ‘no’ that first time may send you into a minor and very temporary panic attack. Your mind will race with how the kids will hate you, how the PTA will hate you, how your friends will never invite you to go out again.

“NO” is NOT the End of the World

None of the horrible stories you tell yourself, that keep you saying ‘yes’, are going to happen. You’re not saying ‘no’ to be a jerk. You’re saying it to take care of you. To be a better version of you. Remember that when you say it that first time. It’s not spite, it’s self love. Make that your mantra:

“I’m taking care of me, to be a better version of me.” @sirmarita (Click to Tweet!)

What you’ll notice is that thing you said no to is now not your responsibility and just that one thing off your to-do list will make you feel less stressed. Say ‘no’ a couple more times and you may even find people will stop asking YOU every time they need something. Don’t be offended!! They’re getting the message – and that’s GOOD!

Use “NO” Time Wisely

Now, don’t go filling the space you created with ‘no’ with Angry Birds and Game of Thrones. The idea is to create space, time for your brain to slow down, to open up your creative channels and let that energy build. What is the thing you’ve wanted to do since you were a child – that you did as a child that made you spin with joy? Playing an instrument? Writing? Painting? Reading? Opening a coffee shop? What was it? Fill that space with the things that speak to your heart. Your heart is the seed from which YOU grow. Give your seed, your heart, the nourishment, the sunlight, the energy it needs to grow so that you don’t just survive, but that you THRIVE!!




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