How Can I Thrive — Not Just Survive?

Woman jumping for joy above seashore rocks, silhouetted against a deep, rich orange sky.

There are 3 types of people in life: Victims, Survivors and Thrivers.
Victims allow bad experiences to define their life.
Survivors do just enough to “make it” from day to day.
But Thrivers realize they have a purpose and pursue it in spite of what has happened to them. 
– Pervis Taylor

Most of us have a little of each these three types in us. In some situations, we act like a Victim. In others, we act like a Survivor. And, sometimes, we act like a Thriver.

It can help to ask, “How do I usually act in the face of adversity?”

If you long to be the architect of your own life, but discover that you habitually react or respond to life’s challenges as problems, don’t despair.

By recognizing that pattern, you are halfway to success. You have the option to approach life’s messiness from a reactive, problem-solving stance, or from a results-focussed, creative stance. You can fight adversity or embrace it.

Knowing you have that choice greatly increases your power to influence the course and shape of your own life.

And thrive!

Woman in tailored grey suit and white blouse riding a unicycle with a small teacup in one hand, a brief case in the other, and headphones on her head.

Five Keys to Thriving

1. Do What You Love.

Align your day-to-day actions with your deepest dreams and highest aspirations. 

If you can’t do what you love, yet, do things that help you move toward doing what you love.

If, for example, you can’t be the writer you aspire to be, yet, write every day for an hour. Take writing courses. Join a writing group. Read tons of books.

See these actions as steps toward doing what you truly love. 

2. Create Visions Of Specific Results You Want To Create.

Often, our goals are too big and conceptual, or too small and process-focused. 

Focusing fuzzy conceptsinto clear, compelling visionsis key.

For example, if your goal is “be a writer'” get more specific: What kind of writer? Part time? Full time? Books, essays, articles, poems, screenplays or…? 

Clear (specific) visions generate strong motivation for you, and are easier to act on than fuzzy ones.

Also, frame your goals as nouns (things) not processes (verbs)

“Jog every day” is a process, an action.

“A sub-40 minute time in the 10k race,” is a thing, a noun, a result. 

Which statement would motivate you more (especially on a cold, rainy day, or when you feel crappy) “jog every day,” or “a sub-40 minute 10k time.”

3. Get On Good Terms With Reality.

“Reality is not your enemy,” my mentor, Robert Fritz, drummed into me.

Reality is just the way things are. Observe and describe reality as accurately and objectively as you can.

“My current 10k time is 50 minutes.”

Many victim feelings come from judging reality, i.e. others, the world, and ourselves. “I’m too slow. I’ll never do a sub-40 minute race.”

When you get past such judgments, and describe things as they are, it’s much easier to take effective action.

4. Be Easy With The Gap Between Vision and Reality

Too often we jump to a “Yeah, but…” conclusion about things we want.

“Yeah, I want to be a writer, BUT…” and then we list the reasons why we think we can’t. 

Whatever energy the “Yeah” generates is negated by the “BUT….” 

If you try to take action in a “Yeah, but…” structure, you’ll soon run out of steam, and quit.

In a “Yes, and…” structure, the “yes” energy is not negated by the “and.” 

Instead “and” connects vision and reality, and generates the energy of creative tension (a tendency to move) that you can use to take action.

 A “yes, and…” structure almost automatically leads to action. 

“Yes, I want that result AND thisis my reality. Where, then, should I start?”

5. Work The Learning Curve

Most people get the learning curve wrong. 

They think the steep part is the hard part. But it’s not. 

A B&W graphic showing how the learning curve starts with and progresses with few results, and then, at about 80% of the way on the curve, it accelerates and rises steeply.

The flat part is the hard part. It’s the “slog” where you put in time and energy (T&E), without getting much back in terms of results.

On a learning curve, the first 80% of T&E generates only 20% of your results. But the last 20% (the steep part) generates 80%.

Stay on the curve until it steepens. Then ride the upturn like a surfer rides a wave.

Take action. Learn from experience. Take better action, learn more, until you create the result you want. Persistence pays off as the curve rises to results.

Then celebrate, and use the energy of completion to start on your next result.

A pad of blank paper lies on a pinkish grey tabletop. In the upper left corner  sits a latte cup with a pattern drawn in on the surface. On the left a small paint pallet with abs of blue, red and green paint,  and a brush with yellow on its bristles


“A vision is not just a picture of what could be; it is an appeal to our better selves, a call to become something more.” 
— Rosabeth Moss Kanter

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes.
Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow.
Let reality be reality.” 
 — Lao Tzu

“If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is a compromise.” 
– Robert Fritz

“With every choice you create the life you’ll live; with every decision you design it.”
 — Mollie Marti