I shared last time about what the last 9 years of living in survival mode has looked like for me. Obviously, I didn’t share every little thing, just the highlights and nothing too personal or private. You get the idea, though. I understand the hanging-on-by-my-fingernails feeling. It’s not just you!
If you’ve realized that you’re living your life in survival mode, where do you start to make real changes? If you’re so used to just pushing through your days, it can be hard to even imagine anything different.
Step One: Give Yourself a Reality Check
In survival mode, everything can seem to be absolutely necessary. It can seem like we ought to be able to just get it all done. Often, though, the amount of things we’re trying to cram into our days isn’t anywhere close to reasonable- especially in survival mode!
Take a few minutes to do this exercise that was incredibly eye-opening for me. Sit down with a pen and paper and actually write it all out. If you try to do it in your head, you’re more likely to fool yourself into thinking whatever you have been thinking all along.
- Starting with sleep, write down each category of daily activities (sleep, work, housework, homeschooling, cooking, cleaning, etc.) that you do regularly and how long you want to/try to devote to each one. *DO NOT* do the math as you go. Just list it all and put the amount of time next to each.
- Add up the total number of hours.
When I did this exercise, I ended up finding out I was trying to cram 32 hours of stuff into my 24 hour day!!!! Seriously. That was a little over a year ago. No wonder I was so exhausted. How many hours are you trying to fit into the 24 hours we all get?
Step Two: Picture the Life You Want
When an athlete is preparing to do a difficult event, they will stop everything and visualize what they are trying to accomplish. They have a vision for their path. In survival mode, it’s all about making it through the next challenge, but what if we have something more to look forward to that just scraping by in life?
Let me just say, I’m not talking about not being content. Discontentment isn’t going to help and it isn’t what you’re going for here. Be content in the moment, but don’t be content to stay desperate when you don’t have to be. Have hope that things can be better!
The picture you want to paint should be within the reality of the life you have. If you have no husband and six kids, don’t imagine living on a beachside cottage without your babies and with the perfect man. 😉 What could your life look like, if you were thriving in it, instead of surviving? Are you drawing a blank? Try answering some questions to help get going. Be sure to write this all down and keep it somewhere that you can refer back to it.
- What relationships do you want to nourish?
- What activities feed your soul?
- What would your perfect “normal” day look like?
- Is there anything consuming your life that you’d love to see gone?
- Is there anything you’d love to add to your daily life?
Be completely honest with yourself. If “time with my kids” is at the top of your priority list, but you are the only source of income, then “providing shelter, food and clothing” may need to take the top position. Remember, though, that this is the time to consider that there may be options that haven’t even crossed your mind that would allow for both! Have you tried to find a way to work at home? Could you move to a smaller (less expensive) place so that you could work less hours? Those are possibilities in any single mamas life, so don’t rule them out!
Your “perfect” life isn’t about “should” and “have to.” Yes, we all have things that we must do, but we also usually have a long list of “should do’s” that can take over. Or maybe you’ve been deceiving yourself about what really is important to you. Remind yourself to keep it real while still dreaming. You may have to face some hard truths about where your heart really is. Maybe you work full-time because you want to, but you’ve been telling yourself you “have to” work. Spending time with your kids is what you say your priority is, but you really could downsize, cook meals rather than eating out and buy less expensive cars/clothes/furniture/etc. and get by just fine if you quit working and lived on your hubby’s income. My struggle happened when we subtly shifted from truly needing the income from my store to being able to do without it. Face that and work through it with God and your husband. Just make sure that at the end, whatever is on the page where you put all of your dreams really is what your life would be if you were flourishing instead of surviving.
For me, I wanted to give my relationships with my family and friends far more time and energy. I wanted to bake bread, garden, hike, research fun topics, read books, declutter my house, renovate and decorate. I wanted a slower pace, a more peaceful home and time to be creative. I also desperately didn’t want to devote most of my waking hours to running my store. It had grown far beyond what one homeschooling mama could handle and it had taken over my life and was sapping all my energy. The money I brought in had been necessary… until it wasn’t. Facing that we didn’t need my income to survive was a game-changer for me.
The vision I began to create was something that saw me through a lot of changes and many parts of it are now a reality for me! I our next post, I’ll share what I did to get ready to make some huge changes.