What is thriving?
Thriving is a state of feeling fulfilled and successful, but not stagnant within your life. Just because you’re thriving doesn’t mean you’re done growing. In fact, many psychological definitions of thriving include an aspect of learning, development, or enhancement.
Because thriving is based on your genuine aspirations and values as well as your individual growth, what thriving looks like to you will be highly personal. It won’t look like societal standards for “success” or even a friend’s version of fulfillment. Your definition of thriving will also change over the course of your life.
But don’t worry! Before we talk about how to thrive, we’re going to talk about figuring out your (authentic) version of thriving.
How to thrive
Here's how to create your own path toward thriving.
Step One: Get clear on your priorities
Before you can thrive, you’ll need to clarify your unique combination of strengths, values, and interests. We believe that creating an authentic life comes from finding a way to incorporate the intersection of these simultaneously—while keeping in mind what your top priorities are for the moment.
It’s inevitable that your life will change and your priorities will shift over time, so it’s never a bad idea to get clear on what matters most to you right now. For example, if you’ve just started a new job—or you’re looking to start one—your career might be your current priority. Or maybe you’ve recently had a child and you need to figure out a way to balance your new responsibilities as a parent with all your other work and life commitments.
So get out a piece of paper (or download our handy guide), and list out your top five priorities in each of these categories:
- Values: These are your core beliefs and guiding principles. These are the things you care about most right now. Maybe that’s family, health, and creativity. Or maybe financial security or charity. Think about what matters most to you.
- Interests: These are the things that get you excited and create energy and engagement in what you’re doing. So what gets you excited? What are you enthusiastic about? Be honest with yourself. Don’t list the things you feel you should be interested in or want to be interested in. Lean into what create a feeling in your body that's hard to deny.
- Strengths: These are the unique talents you bring to the table and that allow you to bring great impact to the world. What are you good at and confident in? What do you get compliments on and what comes easily to you? Think about the strengths that tap into your unique zone of genius, not just excellence or competence. Write down your top five.
If you want more guidance on this part, download our free authenticity guide. We’ve put together some exercises to help you build a framework of what’s most important to you and use it as your guiding light.
Step 2: Develop your own definition of thriving
Your next step is defining what it would mean for you to be thriving in each of the most important categories of your life. While there are many categories that you could choose from, we’ll focus on the most common top four:
We have found that when these categories aren’t aligned with your strengths, values, and/or interests, that’s when you might start to feel like something isn’t quite right in your life or career.
You’ll want to get clear on a vision statement for each category, if you were thriving (developing, growing, and successfully moving forward in this category) how would you define that?
Here’s an example of what that might look like:
- Career: Thriving in my career means making an impact in the individual lives of others, feeling like the work I’m doing on a daily basis is aligned with my core strengths and that I’m being financially compensated at a level that puts me on a path to wealth generation.
- Relationship: Thriving in my relationships mean that I have deep, genuine connections with family, friends, and colleagues, and am surrounded by people who inspire me, lift me up, and make me smarter.
- Wellness: Thriving in this category means that my mental, physical, and emotional health is always my first priority and everything else comes second.
- Fun: Thriving in the fun category means that I’m spending time on the interests that most energize and excite me, that I’m carving out ample time for fun outside of work, and that I’m creating memorable experiences with my family and friends.
Step 3: Evaluate where you are right now
Now that you’re clear on what your ideal vision looks like, it’s time to see how you’re doing in each category.
In this task, you will get honest with yourself on each category and get clear on which areas you want to start improving on that will have the biggest impact in your life right now.
For this task, you’ll use a simple dashboard. You can draw your own or download our 1-page worksheet.
Your dashboard will look something like this:
Look back at your vision statements for each category. With those as comparison points, write in where you think you currently are. Try to be honest with where you truly are, versus where you wish you were. You can ensure your next actions for progress are aligned if you have the awareness of where you truly stand.
Step 4: Plan and take your first steps
Now it’s time to connect the dots between where you are and where you want to be in each area of your life. Think about the steps that will take you there, and be reasonable with and kind to yourself. Then, choose one category to focus on first that will have the most tangible change in your life.
For example, if you want to prioritize your physical health, don’t make signing up for a marathon the first step. Instead, brainstorm smaller changes you can incorporate into your life. For example, you might write down: drink more water, exercise, do yoga, start strength training, perform daily mediation, make regular doctor visits, eat more healthily, or cook at home more often.
You’ll likely end up with a lot of vague ideas on how you can improve, so choose one to three and make them concrete. Continuing with the wellness example above, maybe your first goals become:
- Drink 6 to 8 glasses of water a day
- Exercise three times a week for 30 minutes
- Sign up for a meal kit service and use that to get in the habit of cooking at home at least 3 times a week.
Start with one goal to tackle for the next month. That doesn’t mean that you can’t add in additional tasks and goals over the next few weeks. It means that you start with one, get clear on what’s necessary to move it forward, and then start making small behavior changes and habits that move that goal forward before adding too much on to your plate.
Ways To Thrive
Need some more ideas for small goals that will start you on your way to thriving? Check out some more examples (divided into what area of your life they affect).
- Update your resume once a quarter with new accomplishments.
- Read one new article a day to expand your horizons.
- Set up a regular one on one meeting with your manager.
- Learn a new skill.
- Have coffee with a new coworker each week.
- Attend one networking event a month.
- Write out each day’s to-do list the night before.
- Block off certain times when you’ll answer emails.
- Stop regularly working late/on weekends.
- Set up an informational interview with somebody to learn about their job.
- Schedule at least one social activity a week.
- Have at least one date night with your partner per month.
- Go to at least one meetup/event where you can meet new people.
- Call a family member once a week.
- Answer non-work emails/messages within a few days.
- Volunteer at your child’s school/another activity they participate in.
- Plan a special activity with your kids once a month.
- Take a class with a friend/partner/relative.
- Set aside a few hours a week where you don’t have any plans or obligations.
- Schedule time to partake in a hobby or explore an interest.
- Go somewhere you’ve never been near where you live.
- Schedule and plan a vacation.
- Try a new hobby.
- Go see a new movie, concert, or play regularly.
- Read one book a month.
- Plan a fun group activity for your friends or family.
- Meditate for 10 minutes a day.
- Go for a walk after lunch.
- Make a doctor’s appointment you’ve been putting off.
- Find a therapist.
- Learn to cook at least one new healthy meal.
- Sign up for a physical activity.
- Set aside time each day to decompress.
- Do one thing just for yourself each day.
- Sign up for (and go to) a gym.
The first step to cultivating a life and career you love, one in which you’re thriving in all the areas that matter to you, is to get clear on where you are and where you want to go. And, with these steps you’re on the path there.
The activity above is the first activity in a series of 9 to help you clarify what it means to be thriving in all areas of your life, and create the behavior change and roadmap to make it a reality.
Learn more about The Authenticity Lab workshops and inspiring virtual community here.