Why Staying in Survival Mode Might Sink Your Ship

It’s easy for busy professionals to switch into survival mode without fully realizing it. Your plate starts overflowing, and your focus shifts from growing your business to getting through the day. While we all have days like this from time to time, when survival mode becomes your norm, it can create a cycle that not only limits growth but that also pushes you backward. Rather than giving all of our focus to dealing with the stress of the day-to-day, we want to put ourselves in a position where we can thrive. Sure, we’ll still have to deal with the day-to-day challenges, but we’ll have time and energy left over to direct towards progress. So, what does survival mode look like, why is it so dangerous to success, and how can we get out of it? Let’s dive in:


A great indicator of whether you’re thriving or surviving is your goals. Do you have mid to long-term goals that you work towards on a regular basis? Or are your goals more along the lines of leaving the office by 8pm, getting paperwork in on time, and having time to rest on weekends? When you’re in survival mode, you don’t have the capacity to think very far into the future. If you’ve been in this state for a while, it can take some time to climb your way out. Setting just one or two longer-term goals can be a great stepping stool. It doesn’t need to be something majorly ambitious, just give yourself a future point to focus on that can help you break out of the daily frenzy.


When you’re in survival mode, you’re likely feeling exhausted more often than not. And unfortunately, you’re probably getting less done than if you were in thrive mode. When we’re in survival mode, it tends to feel like an uphill battle or struggling against the flow. If this becomes chronic, you might need a significant period of time to recharge. If you find yourself regularly skipping breaks and work continues to encroach on your personal time, you might need to take some counter-intuitive steps to make a shift. Even if it feels like you don’t have time for it, allowing yourself a few short breaks throughout the day and maintaining the boundary between your work and personal life is necessary if you want to get out of survival mode.


Survival mode is fielding everything as it comes with no strategy or framework to take charge of your day. Professionals need to design the systems and routines that will allow them to work more productively and conserve their time and energy. These create a foundation to break out of survival mode and give you the tools to thrive. Again, this is a time investment, and it can be challenging to do when the daily workload is overwhelming. But if you want to make a change, creating these tools needs to make your priority list.


Survival mode is about getting through the day. It’s as if at the end of one day, we press a reset and do it all over again the next. Real progress can be painstakingly slow. When we’re thriving, however, we see the cumulative effect of our actions. Each day builds on the one before it. We have goals in the future that we can measure our progress towards. Setting up some small points in the future can help you build motivation as you see yourself progress.


Professionals who want to grow a successful business need to do more than get through the day. They need to create an environment in which they can thrive. This means creating an environment where they can set goals for the future and maintain the energy and efficiency to work towards them. How do you differentiate between surviving and thriving? I’d love to hear your thoughts.