How Do I Thrive; Not Just Survive?

A thriving field of yellow daffoidils

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 they care to believe in a dream and pursue it in spite of what has happened to them. 
Life happens from you! Dare to thrive. BE GREAT!

— Pervis Taylor

Which Type Of Person Do You Want To Be? 

Victim? Survivor? Thriver?

Seems like a no-brainer question, don’t you think?

Maybe. But I think you have to ask yourself another question. 

How do I act? How I spend my days?

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days.

— Annie Dillard

Most of us have a little of each of these types in us. In some situations, we act like a victim. In others, we act like a survivor.
And, probably less than we’d truly want, we act like a Thriver.

So how do we act, i.e. spend our hours and days the way Thrivers do?

A graphic of a yellow daffodil thriving on a bare rock. Beside it, the words "I want to thrive not just survive." Background is blue sky and wispy white clouds
Thrivers design their lives to support their highest values and truest dreams

Five Keys to Thriving—Creating Success On Your Terms

1. Do what you love.

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

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

If you can’t be the writer you aspire to be, yet, write every day for an hour. Take writing courses. Join a writing group. Volunteer to write for your parents’ group, or a community newsletter or your church. 

See these smaller actions as steps toward doing what you truly love. Doing so will help you love what you do!

2. Create visions of specific results you want to create.

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

Creating power comes from focusing big, fuzzy concepts into clear, compelling visions of specific results.

For example, if your goal is “be a writer'” get more specific. What kind of writer? Fiction. Non-fiction. Poetry. Would you do it full time? Would you focus on books, essays, articles, screenplays or …? 

The more specific (to a point) that you make your vision the more power it will have to motivate you. And the easier it will be to act on.

Also, it is critically important to frame goals as nouns (things) not just processes (verbs). 

For example, “jog every day for 5 miles” is a process, an action. But “A sub-40 minute time in the 10k (6 mile) race,” is a thing, a noun, a result.

While verbs and processes imply work, nouns imply results, and rewards. Visualizing the work you have to do can enervate you. Visualizing results energizes and motivates.

Finally, organize your actions to support your desired results. Don’t let yourself be set back if reality is not as smooth as you want it to be. Try again. Practice. Learn. Do. Repeat.

The Structure of Successs

One of the great benefits of Life Design Coaching is that it helps you navigate the wiggly path to success. It helps you untangle the knots in your process, clarify vision and reality, and take action to create the result you want. It helps you follow you’re own self-created path of least resistance from where you are to where you want to be.

3. Get on good terms with reality.

“Reality is not your enemy,” Robert Fritz drummed into me when I trained with him. Reality is the way things are, observed and described as accurately and objectively as we can. 

Many of our victim feelings arise when we judge reality—when we judge ourselves, others and the world.

If you can get past judgments and describe things as you see them—without filters, biases, and habitual reactions—it’ll be easier to take things as they are and as they come.

When you do, your world and your life will get a lot easier. You’ll thrive.

4. Be easy with the gap between your vision and your reality.

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

“Yeah, I want to complete a 10k race, but … (insert excuses here.)

The ‘Yeah, but…’ structure creates no energy. Whatever energy the “Yeah” generates is negated by the “but.” If you try to do things in a “yeah, but…” structure, you’ll find that you soon run out of steam and quit. Or oscillating between the “yea” and the “but.”

Better to adopt a “yes, and…” structure to organize your actions. 

In it, the energy of the “yes” is not negated by the “and”. The two (vision and reality) are joined together. The gap between vision and reality generates creative tension that you can use to take action.

 The “Yes, and…” structure i almost automatically leads to action. “Yes, I want that AND this is my reality. What can I do to get started?” It’s the structure of success.

A graphic depicting the learning curve and the relationship between time and energy expended and results produced. On a graph a bold black line rises slowly for about 80% of its curve, then accelerates steeply
Working the learning curve leads to desired results

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. The flat part is the hard part. It’s where you put in time and effort without getting much back.

 If you think of the learning curve as a hockey stick lying on its side, with the blade turned up, the first 80% of time and effort you put in (the flat part) only generates 20% of your results. But the last 20% of time and effort (the steep part) generates 80% of your results.

So a key to thriving is staying on the curve until it starts to steepen. Then ride that steep upturn in results like a surfer rides a wave. 

To summarize: move beyond the victim and/or survivor stages and thrive, by doing at least these five things:

  • Do what you love. 
  • Focus on creating specific results. 
  • Be objective about reality.
  • Embrace the gap between your vision and reality.
  • Put in the time and effort needed to reach the steep part of the learning curve—and reap the rewards that come so easily on the rising curve. 

If you do these things consistently, you greatly increase your chances of thriving, not just surviving. And reap the rewards that come with creating success.

Here’s what a satisfied client says about my coaching approach:

“I wasn’t sure about coaching when I started, but it’s much more than I expected. I really like the tools you helped me develop and using those tools to create results. Without  my practice of them, I wouldn’t have a created a job I love, an affordable cottage and garden that overflows with goodness. This is a very powerful approach!”

— Ama Valgardsen, Wellness Business Owner, Seattle, WA, USA

For more info on how to thrive not just survive, check out my free ebook, THRIVE! Create What Matters Most — In Challenging Times and Beyond