If ever there was a year that sent most people into survival mode, it was 2020. We have been living with a constant threat to our lives from the Corona Virus, massive job losses, intense uncertainty, the loss of our sense of security, social unrest, political instability, and for some, the juggling act of working from home while simultaneously homeschooling our kids. All in isolation. If you aren’t in survival mode, I admire your resilience.

Survival mode is more than just a sentiment. It’s a real psychological state your body uses to adapt to threats. It puts us into a fight or flight mode, and it’s supposed to be temporary. We are not supposed to spend nine months of a year in survival mode. However, this year has demanded that response more times than I can count.

Here are some signs that you are in survival mode:

  1. You are just trying to get through the day.
  2. You can only focus on one task at a time, and even that takes significant concentration.
  3. Everything feels urgent.
  4. You cannot plan more than 24 hours if you can plan at all.
  5. You are always in a reactionary position and feel out of control.
  6. You are doing tasks as fast as you can, but never feel caught up.
  7. You are quick to snap at loved ones.
  8. You don’t have the energy for other people’s needs and want to retreat and be alone.

Do any of these sound familiar?

I know I’ve been in survival mode quite a bit this year. It’s impossible not to be when shocking events occur like losing a job, needing to quarantine and get tested for Covid-19, finding out a loved one is sick, or trying to decide if your child is going to go to school or stay home. There is no shame in experiencing survival mode. But we want to be able to break out of it when the immediate threat subsides.

Here’s the good news. You can regain your sense of purpose, control, and security. You are resilient. ’ve you made it this far, haven’t you? The key is to shift from being reactive to being proactive. To stop just surviving, you have to start designing the life you want. The best way to do this is to define or reflect on your core values and then set goals.  

Core Values

If you know what your core values are, take some time to reflect on them. Have you been living in those values lately? If so, when and how? Have they changed? How can you use your values to prioritize your time?

If you don’t know what your core values are, it’s time to figure it out. Knowing your core values is an essential step to living an intentional life. Knowing your values gives you a magnifying glass on your priorities. It makes decision making easier, work-life balance more manageable, I’ve even found it helps me parent, and it’s a great way to measure success.


Once you know what your core values are, you can start setting goals. Setting goals is a great way to shift from survival mode to thriving mode. I bet you do this at work all the time. You or your team work best when you have a clear goal, right? Once you know the destination, you can make a plan, implement it, and adjust it as needed. The secret to success is to do the same for yourself and your life.  

If you’re stuck right now, you can start simply. If family is a core value for you, a simple goal might be planning this week’s meals, so you don’t have to figure out every meal in the moment. If you’re out of work, it might be defining your ideal job and then creating a plan to get it.

Designing the life you want is the most likely way you’ll get it. Otherwise, you’re living your life up to chance. Do you want to take that risk? Working with a coach is a great way to get help in designing your life. A coach will help you define your values and goals, develop your plans, hold you accountable, and support you on your journey. If you’re ready to stop surviving and start thriving, contact me today, and I’ll help you design the life you want and achieve it.