Surviving to Flourishing- Part 4: Making Plans


This is the day to make some solid, possibly drastic, plans to get out of survival mode! I’ve already done this and I can assure you that it’s worth it. I’m so excited for each of you! I really encourage you to get out a pen and paper and write down your answers for each step.

So far, we’ve looked at where we’ve been stuck, we’ve given ourselves a reality check and a vision, we’ve done the necessary prep work and now we’re going to make the plans that can get us where we want to be!

If you haven’t done those steps, you can find them here:

Your instinct is probably going to be that you feel like you have to keep doing every single thing you have been doing. Don’t do it. Rather than starting with the question of what you can cut out from your days, start with just those things that you absolute must do.

1. Bare-Bones, Must-do’s

We’re all in different seasons and circumstances, but I will share my own bare-bones, must-do list for my life right now as a wife and mama.

  • Feed my family
  • Homeschool my girls
  • Manage my home (laundry, kitchen and basic cleaning)
  • Feed and care for animals

Be ruthless. I’m talking bare-bones here. Pretend you have broken both legs and an arm and you’re going to have to hire somebody to do the absolute minimum until you recover. You’re on a tight budget, so no splurging.

For me, that’s food and shelter for the people and pets, plus basic homeschooling for my girls and the most basic cleaning. No extras. The food isn’t 100% from scratch like I’d love. The house isn’t completely spotless. School isn’t full of extra projects and crafts. I’m doing the minimal amount here.

Keep it simple. Ask your husband or a friend whether or not they see any “extras” that you should cut out. The items you do keep on your must-do list should be done as simply as possible.

2. What is Left? The Extras List

Now make a separate list of everything you normally do that isn’t on your must-do list. Here are some of the things on mine.

  • production and shipping for my store, Real Traditions
  • extra homeschool projects
  • days away from the house other than church and grocery shopping
  • home decor projects
  • Facebook/Instagram/Pinterest time
  • unnecessary cooking time

Anything you didn’t put on your must-do list that takes more than 5 minutes of your average day,  write it down. It may seem silly now, but this is an important list to go back to if you fall into old patterns. Maybe you’ll find yourself wasting a couple hours a day a few weeks from now because you’ve let Facebook and Instagram sneak back into your day. It’s helpful to be able to pull this list out if you feel like you aren’t making progress and go over it to see if  you’re spending time on your “extras” list instead of your “must-do” list.

3. What is Missing? The Add-on List

Going back to your “must-do” list, really look at it. What’s missing? Sleep? Exercise? Nutritious food? Those things are so important, but they usually never make it onto our must-do lists. Taking care of yourself probably hasn’t been happening. You can’t effectively care for your loved ones when you’re running on empty. What do you need to include in order to be healthy?

My add-on list included:

  • Sleep (goal of 9 hours in 24, to help recover from adrenal fatigue)
  • Exercise (gentle, to strengthen muscles to support back and joints)
  • Nutrition (easy nutrient-dense foods on hand)
  • Quiet/alone time (introvert recharge time)

Be specific here or you won’t take it seriously.

4. Plan Changes

Time to shuffle through and grab that “extras” list- the one with all the extra stuff that you can quit doing for awhile without the world coming to a halt. Some of the things listed will be easy to change, but some will take work up front. Here’s what that looked like on mine, so take your own list and come up with a plan to remove your extras from your life, either temporarily or permanently.

  • store production and shipping> my parents decided to take over 🙂
  • extra homeschool projects> I limited school to language and math for a few months
  • days away from the house other than church and grocery shopping> apart from a few special get-togethers with friends, we don’t have any outside commitments right now
  • home decor projects> all my projects got put on hold
  • Facebook/Instagram/Pinterest> I took apps off my phone, took breaks and/or limited my time to under 5 minutes a day (timed, because those things can run away with you!)
  • unnecessary cooking time> I have been setting aside a few days a month to do freezer meals (this book is my favorite or that!!) and it has saved me a ton of time in the kitchen every day!

What can you do to either delegate, quit or temporarily set aside your extras? They have to go, at least for  awhile, if you want to get out of survival mode. Don’t get guilted into keeping any of them, by yourself or other people. If something is that important to somebody else, let them know they are more than welcome to take it over. Stay open to the idea of never bringing back some of these things.

Now that you have freed up a bunch of your limited time and energy, plan how to add in the add-on’s. I’m still working on mine, but I’ve made progress and I don’t feel like I’m barely hanging on, anymore.

  • Sleep> with adrenal fatigue, if I don’t get a decent 8 hours, I make myself take at least 30 minutes to nap in the afternoon. It can be hard to do, but I feel so much better when I do.
  • Exercise> I have really “loose” joints (not a medical term, but two different physical therapists described them that way) and am prone to back and joint injuries, so I need to take the time to strengthen the muscles supporting my back and knees. As I write this, I am recovering from my second back injury in less than a year. As soon as I can, I’ll be doing the online workouts by my friend Beth at Fit2B. (*note: With adrenal fatigue, I don’t do strenuous exercise. Beth has so many online exercise videos to choose from that I’m able to keep it nice and gentle so I don’t overdo it.)
  • Nutrition> I am spending far less time in the kitchen by doing freezer meals for dinners, but I need to be intentional about the snacks and lunches we have. Prepping fruits and veggies a couple times a week so that they are quick and easy would be best.
  • Quiet/alone time> As an introvert, I am quickly overwhelmed and pushed into survival mode when I don’t get enough time to recharge. When my husband is home, I can take 20 minutes to read in the bedroom with headphones or earplugs. You introverts will understand how heavenly that sounds! 😉

Depending on where you are, you may be able to make all your changes at once and see a huge improvement. You might also be completely overwhelmed right now. If so, don’t panic. Take each of the changes you want to make and figure out at least one step you can take right away towards your goal.

Example: If survival mode for you has been a cluttered and overstuffed house that causes a ton of stress, extra work and it prevents you from living how you want to live, you will need to declutter. It’s not a quick fix and you’ll need some guidance and some chunks of time to commit to decluttering. You could use this book and commit to one day a week or one week a month to work on it until you’ve gotten your home out of survival mode. Put it on the calendar and make sure to prepare for those decluttering days. Have easy meals to eat, for example. Yes, decluttering may look like an “extra” that goes beyond the bare-bones list, but it is actually a way to lay the groundwork to be able to have an even smaller and easier bare-bones list!

The goal is to get out of survival mode, so keep your changes down to what you can add to your must-do’s without getting overwhelmed. Keep everything as simple as possible. You’ll figure out as you go when you are ready to add more or take the next step towards a goal. If you keep out all those extras and make sure every day to do your must-do’s and make progress on your add-on’s you’ll get there!

The next post is going to help you figure out how to make these new habits really last!


One thought on “Surviving to Flourishing- Part 4: Making Plans

  1. I have definitely been in survival mode before. I had some health problems that required simplicity and rest also. I had some underlying health challenges along with some other challenges that caused adrenal fatigue. I have written a post on the adrenals that might be helpful to you-( I am able to do lots more now than I used to do, and I just feel so much better!! It was a long journey, but God helped me to get well. I know this post was written a while ago, so I hope you are feeling even better now!

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