Five steps to thriving vs surviving at work

Jack was drowning at work. It all felt very familiar. The long hours during the week and working on weekends. Work seemed to be with him everywhere he went, occupying his attention even when he wasn’t in the office.

Jack liked his job but enough was enough.

As he reflected on what changes he could make, Jack could see a path to freeing up his weekends and having more time for himself. Pleased he set to work to make it happen.

Thriving vs Surviving

Are you like Jack? Do you love your job but sometimes wish it didn’t take up so much of your life?

How you respond to that challenge is the difference between thriving and surviving.

You are thriving at work when you have as much energy, or more, at the end of the day as you did at the beginning.

You are surviving when you go home satisfied but ready to crash.

What makes the difference?

Surprisingly, it is not what you do at work, it is how you feel about what you do at work.

Negative emotions are draining. Positive emotions are energising.

When you enjoy what you do, you’re recharging your battery as you go.

When you’ve lost all enthusiasm for what you do, it takes effort, reducing the energy in your battery.

Too many routine tasks, too many long, boring meetings, not enough time to catch up on lost sleep, all amount to your battery getting drained quickly.

On the other hand, focusing your efforts where you add the most value, feeling like you are making a difference, can leave you with a real buzz, even when you’re working really hard.

The difference between thriving and surviving is knowing what builds your energy, and what depletes your energy. Knowing how to increase the number of energy deposits in your day, having a strategy to minimise energy withdrawals, managing the balance between the two.

How to thrive


Commit to keeping an energy journal for the next month. Yes, a month is a long time, and purposefully so. We’re talking about changing habits here and focusing on your energy for a month will enable you to change your trajectory permanently vs completing the exercise and defaulting back to your old ways.

Step 2 – Collect some data

Week One, write down your three biggest energy deposits and your three biggest energy drains every day. These can be people, tasks, situations, emotions, at work or at home. Relive your energy deposits; note, but don’t dwell on, your drains.

At the end of Week One, make a note of any trends in the data. Come up with some strategies to incorporate more energy deposits and to reduce the number, or limit the impact, of energy drains.

Week Two, continue to record your three biggest energy deposits and your three biggest energy drains every day and also start to score your energy out of ten at the same time every day.

Complete the end of week exercise, making a note of any trends in the data.

Repeat this exercise for Week Three and Week Four.

Step 3 - Analyse the data

At the end of the month, take all the data you have and analyse it. Identify the tasks, people, situations, belief systems, emotions that make large deposits and withdrawals.

Maybe you realise that projects and meetings with Jason always go well – you’re on the same wavelength, you challenge each other really effectively and get the best result for the client. Maybe you notice that the days when Bill is in the office are more light-hearted and fun. Perhaps you’ll realise that you spend a lot of your time doing administrative tasks that aren’t really your responsibility, or begin to wonder if you really need to attend all the meetings that are in your calendar. Surely, you must be able to delegate some of these meetings to your direct reports?

Look out also for the small and easy, but habitual, energy deposits that make a difference. What happens on the days when you take the stairs versus the lift? Or when you make healthy lunch choices? What are the small, but habitual, energy drains? Do you wish Annie could keep her voice down when she is on the phone? Does Chris always seem to interrupt when you are right in the middle of something? Do you need to have some conversations and contract with your team about how they use your time?

At the end of the month, with some new routines established and some courageous conversations behind you, you should be more attuned to your own energy levels, and better able to keep it in positive territory.

Step 4 – Monitor your performance

To maintain your thriving trajectory, keep scoring your energy every day for the next month.

Then, repeat the exercise for a week.

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Step 5 - Welcome to the new world of thriving

Sometimes it’s easier to do this kind of task with someone else. You can ask a friend to do it alongside you, or you might want to work on this together with a coach.

Do contact me if you have any questions or want to have a chat about how we can help transform your everyday from surviving to thriving.

Thriving vs Surviving