Are You Surviving, Comfortable or Thriving?
After being in the trenches coaching thousands of people to get clear, focused and build momentum in their lives —I’ve noticed there are three possible stages you can find yourself in at any given moment: survival, comfort or thriving.
And in each of these stages, you’re going to have completely different mindsets, obstacles and ways of operating in your life. The problem, however —is each stage requires a specific prescription to breakthrough (or, if you’re thriving…to not lose your momentum.)
In this post, you’re going to discover which stage you’re currently in, what the key markers of being in it are from an internal and external view —and what you can do to make sure you break free.
Because you’re not meant to simply survive life, or be in a stage of comfort. You’re here to thrive and make sure you get to the end of this experience with a smile on your face —knowing you truly lived. Because when you’re thriving, life opens up for you and will provide a level of meaning and fulfillment that can’t be matched.
And you and I are designed to be in that place.
The Survival Stage
The markers of being in a survival stage are glaring: endless alarms, putting out fires and always in a frantic state of overwhelm. The feeling of burnout has become your new normal — and there never seems to be enough.
There’s never enough time, certainly not enough money or resources —and some of the dialogue happening here is short-sighted: “trying” to make it through the day, or at best, the current week so you can finally take a moment to exhale.
In survival, finances come and go and never last: there is always a drama designed to pull you back down. For example, you may have had tons of urgency to bring in money to make your monthly bills, when somehow you come across a larger sum of cash you didn’t previously have.
In survival, you’re attracting chaos: this is when an unexpected medical bill comes, or something seemingly “out of nowhere.”
Survival is exhausting, debilitating and makes you question yourself all the time. It leaves you scattered, some times broken and wondering if you’re ever going to make it out.
In survival, thinking about a big vision or setting targets and goals can actually do more harm than good: because you’re not in a state of being able to truly expand your mind. In one of my books, I call this the Homeless Paradox: you and I can pull up to our nearest street corner and tell someone in need the best wisdom on the planet —and it won’t strike a chord. Why? Because they’re thinking about their next sandwich and how they’re going to make it through the evening storm.
But it’s not all bad news: survival creates tremendous urgency (which comfort doesn’t) and can be a catalyst to get out once and for all.
How to Get Out of Survival
So, how do you get out? In survival mode, you must take a moment to examine the tremendous cost and pain being in this stage is causing you. Because often, it has become people’s identity —they don’t even feel comfortable in any other place, even if they say they want to get out of survival.
Step 1: Examine the cost of your life of being in survival: the exhaustion, stress and never feeling like it’s enough.
Step 2: Use Reverse Visualization (a technique I shared in the Leap Of Your Life) to amplify the future pain of regret to do something now.
Step 3: Set extremely short term goals (30 days or less) —and make incremental wins. Make them so small, yet important. This is how you’re going to build momentum.
Step 4: Train yourself away from scarcity thinking at least once a day. Practice habits of abundance, create a short morning routine —any space and time for “you” is helping you shift from scarcity to abundance. Stop saying you don’t have enough and remember: your circumstances are not who you are.
Because if you persist long enough with these steps, you’ll rise above the insanity of survival and come face to face with your next stage: the comfortable life.
Let’s examine what that looks and feels like.
The Comfortable Stage
“Things are…uh, good.”
“I’m fine. Everything is OK.”
“We should be grateful for what we have.”
Facepalm. This is often the language of a comfortable life: you’re no longer in a state of endless survival, and the 24/7 drama has been replaced by a feeling of comfort. Make no mistake, this is where around 75% of people are —and often wind up spending their entire lives in this place.
Now, if this is what you desire and what you authentically want: more power to you. Own it, and don’t waste your energy aspiring for more. But often, comfortable is not too comfortable. When we examine this stage a little closer —we see a ton of discomfort.
Specifically, in this stage —there’s something missing. The enthusiasm and life force for life has waned. Things seem dull, lacking color. There is nothing pulling you on the horizon, and if it does —it only lasts a little while. You’re finding yourself “stuck” but not knowing what to do. In this stage, lacking clarity, momentum and enthusiasm for something bigger and bolder is the status quo. You’re lacking a meaningful and purposeful challenge for your life.
The comfortable stage is by far the hardest to leave. Because you don’t have the buzzing alarms of survival —it’s hard to create urgency and focus for the next level. You’ve achieved a little bit —and because of this, you now have something to lose. Making bold decisions and taking on risks here seems irresponsible because of this. Especially because you’ve experienced survival —and never want to go back.
As I showed above with the language, “good”, “fine” and “OK” are markers of a comfortable life. Often, the technique of fake gratitude is used here: you talk yourself into saying you should be grateful, but deep down it doesn’t feel right. Something’s off and missing. In your quiet moments, you’re desperate for something new.
How to Get Out of Comfort
In my work with clients, this is often the stage they find themselves in. Long ago, I stopped working with clients in survival: I do deep and transformative work, and those in survival usually can’t grasp the concepts and mindsets required because of the endless urgency and lack of space.
If you’re in the comfortable stage, here’s how you can get out:
Step 1: Get radically honest and transparent about your life. Take inventory and allow the real feelings to come out.
Step 2: Examine the cost of not moving forward —and staying down this path. Again, the tool of Reverse Visualization is a great way to leverage future regret to make a decision right here, right now.
Step 3: Take on a mighty mission or challenge. In comfort, you’re able to think in bigger time horizons than survival: this is where setting aggressive, meaningful targets is crucial to leave your comfort zone. Find something that drives you…and scares you at the same time.
Step 4: Seek guidance and help from a mentor or coach. Again, leaving comfort is difficult —and going it alone may work for a little while…until it doesn’t. I’ve seen this play out many, may times: find a mentor, coach or program that won’t let you slide back into mediocrity and playing small.
Remember: comfort isn’t quite so comfortable.
Do you really want to spend your life in this stage —with no deeper purpose and meaning? Because the pain of untapped potential leads to destructive habits in your life.
The comfortable life loves to watch others play out their dreams on the television sets, the sports arenas and the Hollywood films. Because deep down, those in comfort know they’re meant for something bigger —but they’re stuck.
The next best thing is to watch someone else do it, but it never lasts. After the thrill of the football game is over —you’re left with yourself.
The Thriving Stage
The holy grail. The thriving stage is where you and I are designed to be: living this experience of life full tilt, full of incredible moments of meaning, purpose, inspiration and stepping into our highest selves.
Make no mistake: this is the life everyone deeply desires. It’s when you’re off the sidelines chasing impossible dreams…and making them real. It’s when you’re seeking the challenge — instead of it coming to find you. It’s when you push yourself every single day: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
Thriving doesn’t mean things are easy —you don’t want things to be easy. You want to be challenged, to brush up against your emotional edges and create transformation. In this stage, you think bold and big: setting 10-year visions is easy, and you tap deep into the rituals of morning routines, creating space, working on your skills and finding new ways to maximize every moment.
Does being in thriving mean you let loose and do nothing? Not at all. Because in a thriving stage, your desire to grow is much bigger than your desire to stay comfortable. In a state of thriving, you’ve achieved a baseline of results but also know there’s plenty more in the tank.
What Does Thriving Look and Feel Like?
When you’re thriving physically, no challenge is too big. You seek to push your body to new limits, in different ways —maybe it’s tackling a big race, the adventure of a mountain or even a deep yoga and spiritual practice.
When you’re thrving in your purpose and business, you’ve moved from selfish desires to selfless endeavors. Now, it’s not only about you: it’s about impact, service and touching lives. You’re pulled by what Tony Robbins calls a ‘magnificent obsession’ —a vivid picture of the future you can touch and feel.
When you’re thriving in your relationships, you’re constantly pouring into them. Your intimate relationship is connected and on fire, and people are always asking you for advice. You have a powerful social circle of inspired people who hold you to your greatest self. Most importantly, you have an incredible and inspired relationship with the person in the mirror.
Once you’ve experienced a state of thriving, you never want to retreat back to comfort —or worse, survival. But no matter where you find yourself today: we’ve all experienced thriving, which means you can get it back. When I surveyed my audience in a live webinar about what it feels like to thrive, they said:
Freedom, flow, presence, growth, fun, play, relax, abundance, energy, enthusiasm, intention and power.
You deserve to be in a state of thriving, but it’s not going to magically happen. It’s going to be a state of life of your choosing and creating. Every single day, you must start again. When you’re thriving, you love this challenge —it’s become who you are.
One Shift To Get To The Next Level
During this post, we went through the three common stages of life. This has been the best way for me to teach and help people identify where they currently find themselves…and what to do about it.
Make sure you identify which stage you’re in and at least one action step you can complete in the next 24 hours to create momentum towards the next stage. Or, if you’re thriving —to ensure you stay there and never retreat.
The Leap Of Your Life is Nearly Out!
If this post connected with you, then my brand new book, The Leap of Your Life: How to Redefine Risk, Quit Waiting For ‘Someday,’ and Live Boldly is definitely for you. This book is designed to get you clear on your next bold decision, stop putting your dreams off —and live in a state of thriving.