Then need for survival is built into all of us. That’s why we value our safety above all else and we're driven by the need to protect ourselves.
For early humans, surviving meant not getting killed, of course. But in the modern world, survival is intrinsically linked with having money. That's because money determines whether we have food, clothing, warmth and a safe place to sleep. It's why our job and income are so important to us.
However, the need for money goes beyond the need for survival. Having money also allows you to thrive and it’s when you thrive that your life becomes far more valuable and worthwhile.
Because when you thrive, you have dreams and aspirations. You’re inspired to go beyond looking after yourself and make a meaningful contribution to the world. Doing this raises your confidence so you have the resources to develop yourself as a person and fulfil your potential.
The truth is that survival isn’t much fun. Who wants to just survive? It’s not a great place to be at all.
Being in survival mode means you’re controlled by your limbic brain – the ancient, animal part of your brain that’s driven by fear. It kicks in when your survival's under threat and triggers a range of physical reactions, like the release of adrenaline, the flight or fight mode and the swift redirection of blood to your muscles.
If you’re in survival mode right now, you know it isn’t a great place to live your life. You’re constantly vigilant, looking for threats and fearing unexpected negative events. The constant release of adrenalin results in physical exhaustion. Your digestion's messed up and you crave sugar and caffeine to cope with the come-down after the adrenaline hit.
The other problem with being in survival mode is that it limits you in so many ways. You end up settling for what’s easy rather than what inspires. In fact, you probably feel as if you don’t have any dreams or aspirations at all. And you certainly don’t feel you’ve got any spare energy for making a positive contribution to society.
It’s not that you’re a selfish or a bad person. It’s just that you need all your energy to keep yourself going. So you become insular and suspicious, constantly worrying about what might go wrong next or what’s on the horizon to threaten your security.
The consequences of being in survival mode don’t end there.
All this worry and fear that you don’t have a purpose and that you’re not worthwhile means your confidence is constantly taking a battering. You’ll be drawn to selling yourself short. Your lack of confidence will leave you feeling convinced that you can’t do anything more challenging. You’ll also bend over backwards to please others so you don’t make enemies or feel at a disadvantage in relation to your peers.
All this running around trying to keep yourself going, worrying that you’re failing and not feeling as if you’re doing anything important means you’ve probably ended up in the wrong career, doing the wrong job or working for the wrong company.
Work is uncomfortable. Your career lacks direction. You’re unfulfilled and you feel as if you’re stuck in a giant vat of mud, unable to move. Nothing changes, everything is always the same and you’re only ever surviving.
Without the affirmation of your value from those around you, the only sign you’ll have that you’re doing okay is the state of your bank account. That’s why you feel on top of the world when you’ve got money and under threat when you don’t.
But money isn’t enough.
If this truly describes you, then you're at a critical point. You can’t keep going like this. You’re losing your cool at work and turning into a monster of a boss, you’re stuck doing a job you hate and you can’t see a future for yourself.
The only solution is to get out of survival mode and start building a new vision of your future. One where you’re making a valuable contribution through your work.
If you’re wondering how to get started, read the following five steps and start making some big changes to the way you work and live.
To get out of survival mode, you need a plan. It’s not going to happen by chance. Think about what you want -- or where you want to go -- in your career or business and work out how and when you’re going to achieve it. Make 1-, 3- and 5-year plans so you can focus on what you need to do now and ensure you’re working towards a long term goal. Design the plan from every angle. Look at how you want to work or do business, where you want to work, what hours you want to work and how much you want to earn. Finally, make sure you write down your plan so you can review and update it on a regular basis.
By now, you know that being in survival mode means you’re likely to be a people-pleaser. You find it hard to establish or retain your boundaries. It’s easier to let others take what they want than to say no. But if you want to take control of your life, you need to mark out your territory. Refuse to let other people take your power or put you down. Learn to deal with situations, people and events that upset, annoy or destroy you. Come back at your critics and refuse to be treated with anything other than respect.
Systemise your work or your core processes. The more you can do this, the more efficient you’ll become. This frees you up to develop new ideas or take on more interesting projects. If you get a reputation for being effective in your job, you’ll get noticed by project leaders and more senior managers. By learning how to duplicate yourself, you’ll start to achieve more in your day. Not only will that raise your confidence, you’ll feel more in control of yourself and your work. That makes it easier for you to stand your ground. You’ll feel emboldened to speak up in the face of unreasonable demands and criticism. And your efficiency and productivity will allow you start creating a positive trademark or brand for yourself.
This makes it easier for you to promote your skills – and get promoted for them.
When you’re in survival mode, the price you put on your efforts reflects what you need, not what you want or what you’re worth. It definitely doesn’t reflect the effort and energy you put into your work or the results you achieve. As you move from surviving to thriving, avoid underselling yourself or accepting less than you’re worth. When you’re offered a business opportunity, a new role or a pay increase, notice how you feel. Use that emotional response as a guide so you know what’s acceptable to you. If you’re in business, learn how to up-sell so you can increase your income quickly. If you’re in employment, decide to ask for a promotion so you can get out of the financial trap that's keeping you in survival mode. Be willing to take on new projects so you can prove yourself too. Just be sure to do so on your own terms and with your plan in mind.
Finally, if you truly want to thrive you need to step up and start to play a much bigger game. That might be scary at first, but to thrive you need to propel yourself out of survival mode as fast as possible. The best way to do this is to use every opportunity to showcase your skills and value. Don’t wait for others to notice how good you are, tell them. Go one step further and start producing assets that prove your value, such as your own book, website and social media platform. Build a following that leads to the next step forward in your career. Rather than getting lost in fear, aim to have fun getting visible. You’ll soon find you’re getting a kick out of carving out your own pathway and generating your own positive results. Enjoy the feelings of success and the positive energy that comes from being a thriver rather than a survivor.
Business is a game and if you’re going to thrive, you’ll need to learn how to play it well. Don’t wait for change, make it happen. Create the job and lifestyle you want and do it on your own terms. Have confidence in your ability to do more by being resourceful and building a sense of resilience.
Remember, the only person who can change your life is you. If you believe in yourself enough, you can do this and be the one who benefits.
If you want some help becoming one of life’s thrivers, reach out to Career Consultants for help. We’ll help you discover and create a new or better career path – and on your own terms.
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