Are you living in "survival mode?" Whether it's a break-up, unemployment, or another kind of loss, you can overcome the struggles they cause.
Depending on where you are in life, these survival tips may seem ridiculously basic or absurdly out of reach. If any of these Successful Survival tips are beneath your current status, skip it. If any are out of your current reach, come back to it. We have included tips for people who are presently in desperate situations. If you don’t happen to be desperate, be thankful, and be careful not to judge those who are. Most people are just doing what they have to do to survive.
Pre-requisite to successfully surviving
The pre-requisite to successfully surviving (as opposed to merely existing) is to believe that there is a brighter future available to you. People who find themselves in the depth of dire circumstances are vulnerable to depression or even despair. Successfully surviving involves living moment by moment, and in each moment daring to believe that despite our situation, things can get better. Even if it feels like fantasy in the moment, choosing to be optimistic gives us the hope and energy to take the steps necessary to survive each day, and ultimately to have successfully survived right up out of those circumstances. I know because I’ve been there.
I’ve been homeless, hungry, and very alone. I’ve gone days without eating. I’ve done jobs that I didn’t want to do because it was the only path I saw to surviving in that moment. Ultimately, I started my own business, and built it along with a real estate and investment portfolio, into a multi-million dollar balance sheet. I don't share these things to brag, but to let you know that I know from personal experience that what I’m about to share with you works.
If you will do these things, you will not only survive your present circumstances, but you will be stepping up an invisible ladder that will support your climb to survivng, and ultimately to thriving. When you are thriving, your successful life wil set the example for others for how it's done.
1. Believe that things will get better
This isn’t pie-in-the-sky stuff...this is you believing the truth that you have the ability the change your circumstances for the better. We typically have no problem believing that we can do something that will change our circumstances for the worst, for example, committing a crime that results in us getting arrested.
If we have the capacity to believe that we can make our situations worse, we also have the capacity to believe that we can do things that improve our situation.
We are always one phone call or meeting away from something good happening. We are capable of developing optimism and positivity. Changing your attitude to believing that you have the personal power to improve your situation is a choice.
It doesn’t matter how many times life has beaten you down. You can lift yourself up with the knowledge that YOU have the ability to change your life. As you make this mindset shift, do the following very practical tips. As you begin to end your days with small but measurable successes, you will begin to believe that you can successfully survive and ultimately thrive.
2. Know and clearly communicate your authentic identity
You are unique in all the world in all of human history! Pause and think about that. It's scientifically true. Your DNA and all of the things that combine to make you who you are has never happened before and will never appear again. Your authentic identity is the key to finding and fulfilling the unique purpose for which you were born!
So, think about all the good things about yourself. (It's OK! It's not arrogant to recognize and celebrate YOU!) Now write down your three favorite personality traits, such as being a good listener, being kind, or having a great sense of humor. Write your best three character traits, such as being honest, loyal and brave. Make a list of the things you know how to do, for example, bookkeeping, customer service, cooking, sewing, etc. The clearer you are on your strengths, talents, abilities, personality, character, etc., the more likely you will be to effectively promote yourself to potential employers, business partners, and individuals you would like to have in your life.
3. Visualize living your best life
The best way to prepare for your successful life is by creating a picture in your mind of what success will look like. What do you think would be the most awesome way to spend your days? How would you feel? What would your attitude be? How would you be helping others? What would you do throughout your day? Where do you see yourself living? Who are you with? The clearer the picture of your successful life, the more likely it will become your reality.
If this doesn't come easily, try to recall a time when you were happy and truly enjoying yourself. If you can't recall a time like that, imagine yourself in a scenario where you're having the time of your life. It may help to close your eyes and envision yourself in a setting that makes you smile. Or try writing a story where you are the main character living the best life you can imagine.
How ever you arrive at this vivid picture in your imagination, hold on to it and think of it daily. Think of it first thing when you wake up and last thing before you go to bed. It might help to create a poster board with pictures from magazines or drawings or your own photographs that help remind you of your imagined best life.
The more clearly and naturally you can envision this life, the more likely you are to take the steps that will ultimately create it.
4. Be willing to do whatever honest work is available to you
So many people miss opportunities to take a step toward improving their lives because they don’t want to “lower themselves” to doing work that they consider beneath them. Many people accustomed to earning a certain amount of money are unwilling to work for less than that amount. Our egos often prevent us from starting in a new field or doing something we’re passionate about because it doesn’t pay as much as we think we’re worth. Therein lies the challenge--attaching our worth and value to an amount of money.
You are a unique combination of skills, talents, abilities, attitudes, character, intelligences, perspective and personality in all the world. You are invaluable. Your worth is not connected in any way to the money you earn. If you doubt me, consider the money that drug cartels generate. You may find that a seemingly “menial” job is tremendously fulfilling to you, so always be willing to try something new. You just might find your calling!
5. Write down every dollar you spend
Write down everything you spend either on paper and pen that you carry with you or on the calendar or note section of your phone. At the end of the month, look at how much you’ve spent and what you spent it on.
Chances are you work hard for the money you have. You need more of it. You can't waste it. When you look back on what you spent over the past month, you will likely find that much of what you traded your precious money for is already gone and forgotten. 3 weeks later, that dinner out or $4 cup of coffee or lottery ticket seems like what it is: wasted money.
6. If you don’t use it, sell it or give it
Garage sales are good, eBay or Etsy is better. Whatever you have, there is someone somewhere who wants or needs it. If you sell online, you broaden your exposure to potential buyers exponentially. You may be surprised at how much money you can generate from just cleaning out your closet.
Once you become proficient at online sales, offer to help others in exchange for a percentage of the profit. There are lots of people who would be delighted to let you sell the gently used items in their closets and garages in exchange for a split of the profit. You can do this at all hours of the day or night.
7. Sell your services
There is someone who will pay for whatever you can do. Companions are needed for the elderly. Working families need reliable babysitters. Single moms need help around the house and getting kids safely to and from activities. Many people need landscaping, window cleaning, and housekeeping services done.
If you have the feeling that any of this is beneath you, consider that every industry mentioned here is a multi-million dollar industry in the US! When you have to start (or re-start) somewhere, try helping others by doing what you know how to do. When we help others, we literally feel better about ourselves and our circumstances while earning the money we need.
8. Sell your products
Selling products that you can create is how Mrs. Field’s began selling Cookies, and how Colonel Sanders got started in selling his "original recipe" chicken, and how Tom Monaghan, billionaire founder of Dominoes Pizza, got started.
Selling sandwiches, chips, and drinks in office buildings or other work sites at lunchtime or homemade tamales once a month can generate a few hundred extra dollars a month. Baking cute cupcakes or custom cakes for birthdays and parties can generate a good income.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you have a create the next new jarred salsa sold at Costco in order to succeed. Start on a scale that you can afford with products that people need or want.
9. Buy low and sell high
When I was barely making it from one paycheck to the next, I created a purchasing group to buy vehicles from wrecking yards, fix them up and sell them. We bought vehicles that had been recovered by the police after having been stolen. One member of the purchasing group was a mechanic, one was an automotive paint and body guy, and then there was me--I found the vehicles and I sold them when they were ready. We bought cars for a fraction of what they were worth, fixed them up, and sold them for a profit. And the people who bought those vehicles were getting great deals--everyone won!
If you need money to get started, consider finding a partner, investor, or set up a crowd-funding page to raise the money you need to get started.
You can make this a family effort because learning to buy low and sell high teaches negotiation skills, work ethic, resourcefulness, merchandising, cooperation, and the essentials of how a successful business works.
You can do the same thing with just about anything by buying at garage sales, flea markets, and online. Don’t think that houses are the only things that can be “flipped.”
10. Learn to multiply
What wealthy people know that others don’t is how to multiply their money. For example, if you buy something for $1 and sell it for $2, then buy something else for $2 and sell it for $4, and so on, you can turn that original $1 into thousands!
Many people who live near discount stores or outlets can buy marked down items (especially at the end of a season) and sell them online for a little higher.
You may have opportunities to sell things to co-workers or neighbors. For example, one friend of mine found bags of peanuts at a 99 cent store, and sold them in the lunchroom at his workplace for $3 each, thereby tripling his money. Others sell cookies, cupcakes or donuts for a slight markup, thereby generating needed income.
11. Learn to eat for $10 per week
Even if you don’t have to, this can be a terrific exercise in getting back to basics. It’s also a great lesson for teaching kids to appreciate what they have.
Consider the meals that can be made with rice, pasta, Top Ramen, peanut butter, beans, eggs, and bread. You can make a game out of this!
If you happen to be homeless, couch-surfing, or staying in a place where you don't have a refrigerator, remember that peanut butter and bread, canned beans and vegetables, etc. do not have to be refrigerated.
12. Grow a garden
Fresh fruits and vegetables are healthy and taste terrific. Growing a garden can be a fun and fulfilling project, can instill a sense of pride, and can be given or sold to neighbors or at famers markets.
Planting seeds and watching them grow is a terrific thing to do with the children in our lives as it is a low-risk way of teaching patience, diligence, and responsibility. Of all the life lessons in the garden, the most important is that we each harvest what we sow.
If you don't have a place for a garden outside of where you live, start with a pot in a windowsill where your little garden of herbs or small vegetables (ex radishes) will get plenty of light.
13. Personalize your gifts
This is easier now than ever before. Create customized books of photographs to share memories with others, or write family stories, history or recipes. Blankets, mugs, bags, calendars, and just about anything else can be customized to create gifts that mean so much more than generic, store bought items.
Books that are made up of photos of fun memories and/or notes from friends and family saying what they like best about a person can become the most treasured of gifts.
14. Learn to sew or fix things
If you learn to sew, you can purchase clothing that has been damaged at deep discounts, make the repair and use or re-sell the items for much more than you paid.
For those who are mechanically inclined, learn how to do oil changes and other minor automotive repairs and earn extra money by helping others with these necessary maintenance items.
You can learn to replace heels or resole shoes, replace air conditioner / heater filters, or any of the other things that others need to have done. All of these things can be especially helpful to our older or disabled neighbors.
15. ACT happy
You never know when even the most menial job will lead to tremendous opportunity or a meaningful friendship.
Successful people want to work with people who have good attitudes. Conversely, people who appear unhappy, negative or who act like the world owes them something, literally repel opportunities. So, even when you least feel like, put on your best Academy Award worthy act of being happy. Eventually, it won't be an act--it will be your reality.
16. Market yourself through social networking
Regardless of where you are in your quest for success, create and guard your reputation by deliberately putting your best foot forward online. Keep in mind that inappropriate photos or controversial opinions can eliminate opportunities for you that you never know you’ve lost.
Instead of negative or questionable social media posts, share recipes, advice, helpful tips, something funny or whatever will uplift others. Along with positive posts, share what you make, fix or are available to do for others. You never know where your posts may lead. Make the most of the totally free platforms for connecting with people who you might otherwise never meet.
17. Learn a new skill
If you know someone who is proficient at something you are interested in, ask that person to teach or mentor you. Every new thing you learn makes you more employable or more valuable in the workplace. Decide to become a perpetual student, and do your best to learn something new every month. You may be tapping into an undiscovered strength or talent you never knew you had.
Most people enjoy sharing what they know, but if you ask someone who isn't willing to help, don't be discouraged. Keep asking until you find someone who is willing to help. If you can't find anyone who can personally help you, go online and search for instructional videos or the many free or inexpensive online courses that teach things that you are interested in.
18. Quit hurting yourself
Many people make the mistake of medicating their pain with cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, porn, food, shopping, etc. We can be our own worst enemies. Stop hurting yourself with harmful distractions to your success. Replace bad distractions with your visualization of your amazing, successful future.
Think of potentially harmful things that could be holding you back. For example, if you want to be a successful business person, eliminate foul language or crude behaviors that are unacceptable in a business environment. If you've used unhealthy coping skills to get by, find healthy replacements, such as exercise, painting (or other creative expression), or getting together with a friend.
It costs absolutely nothing to launch a program of self-improvement! Begin by making a list of the things that you can change right here, right now. These are things like drinking more water, taking more steps throughout your day than you normally do, breathing more deeply (which brings oxygen to your brain and muscles, which literally makes you feel better and think more clearly), smiling more, determining to do one kind thing every day, and so on.
19. Find mentors
These can be people you know or those who you've never met who have shared their best advice in books, podcasts, videos or online courses. Make sure that the people you choose as mentors are successful in their areas of achievement. For example, if you want to learn how to rebuild the engine in your car, you wouldn't ask a hairdresser (unless it's the "unemployed hairdresser" from the movie, My Cousin Vinny)
Be careful about the character of the person from whom you take advice. For example, are they joyful, grateful, patient, caring, etc.? Adopt as mentors only those people who have created true success in life. Measure their success by assessing (as best you can) the person’s peace, positivity, healthy relationships, wellness (or stress level) and financial stability, as well as their achievements or worldly success.
20. What’s your million dollar idea?
Ordinary people have achieved extraordinary success by finding solutions to problems and then sharing them with others. For example, Sara Blakely created Spanks to eliminate panty lines...now she’s a billionaire. What problems do you see? What ideas do you have for fixing them? We've all seen people's lives change dramatically after successfully pitching their ideas on Shark Tank.
Humans are the only species with the gift of imagination and the power to make the things that we imagine reality. Don't be afraid to use your imagination and take steps to make it a reality.
21. Take control!
Do at least one thing today to improve your health, your attitude, and your finances. Do this every day, and day by day your life will improve in meaningful, measurable ways.
Some simple, free, examples are to drink water instead of soda. Force yourself to smile. Submit 3 resumes. Send your business proposal to 3 potential partners or funders. Call, text, email, write, message or tag someone on social media every day. You never know where heartfelt outreaches and inquiries can go! It costs nothing and can yield remarkable results.
22. Offer to help local small businesses
Many small businesses are afraid to hire new employees because of the expenses of payroll taxes, providing benefits, and uncertainty of results for their business. Rather than asking an employer to make the commitment of hiring you, consider offering your services on a consulting basis, giving the employer the opportunity to pay for your services as needed.
Think about your areas of expertise. Do you know how to resolve conflict? How to create work / life balance? How to streamline expenses? Can you negotiate great prices on products or services that are necessary to the business? Whatever you know how to do, you can consult or train others on how to do them. Helping a business owner reach his or her goals can help you reach yours.
23. Make positive statements and predictions about your life
If the bumps and bruises of life have left you with a negative attitude, make he decision to be a positive person who expects things to get better. (Yes, you have control of your attitude and mindset!)
Many of us have heard negative comments or predictions about ourselves from a teacher, family member or neighbor saying things like, "she's not that bright," or "he'll never amount to any good." Those types of things can get stuck in us in a way that leads us to see ourselves through a negative lens. This can hold us back and keep us down.
The good news is that we can undo the damage of these kinds of statements or predictions by making our own positive statements and predictions about ourselves and our lives. Don’t underestimate the power of your own positive words over yourself and your life. The power of words is greater than we know. Don’t wait for someone else to do this for you. Do this every day, starting today!
24. Eliminate negative words
It’s tempting to state the obvious when you’re unemployed, broke, overweight, etc., but DON’T. Learn how to speak of a positive future in the midst of a negative present. For example, instead of saying things like, "I can't afford that,' say, "I don’t have money for that now, but one of these days I’m going to walk in and pay cash for a car."
Many wealthy people have looked back to the time before they had all that they have now, and can say that their positive words about themselves and their future were spoken before they became a reality.
25. Surround yourself with positive people
People who believe in you and your bright future will encourage you and lift you up when you’re down. They aren’t threatened by your success. When you’re in survival mode, it helps to spend time with positive people.
If you don't have anyone like that in your life, visit local churches that have men's groups, women's groups, teens or young adult groups, etc. You can also look for various affinity groups or activity clubs where you might find your tribe.
26. Avoid negative people
While finding your positive, encouraging people, do your best to avoid negative people.
When things aren’t going well for you, the last thing you need is to spend time with negative people. They’ll destroy your good future by pulling you down and keeping you there. You can love these people while minimizing your time with them until your situation begins to turn around. When you have created your positive life, you may be able to help them trade negativity for a positive mental attitude.
27. Get up. Get ready. Get going
The most talented person in the world will get nowhere if he or she doesn’t get up out of bed. Simply refuse to give in to depression. You are stronger than that. Depression is not the boss of you. GET UP.
Depression is real, and it can be really hard to live with it. The point of this survival tips is to let you know that you don't have to let depression run you over and keep you down. YOU HAVE THE POWER TO ACTIVELY FIGHT DEPRESSION. Use it. Here are 30 practical ways to do it.
28. Get out of debt as soon as possible
Debt holds you back. You become a slave to it, not free to make decisions about opening your own business or moving to another area to accept a job opportunity because you are tied to bills.
The only time it makes sense to take on debt is when you are buying something that will make money for you or will empower you to make money. For example, a cell phone helps you communicate with potential employers. A car helps you get to and from work. But when we pay for dinners out on a credit card, or buy that third pair of black shoes or the outfit we just HAD to have on a credit card, we're often paying for those things long after the enjoyment of those things is over. Don’t let debt hold you back. Avoid it like it's a flesh eating disease.
29. Downsize before you have to
If you're living beyond your means, downsize your life before you need to. By doing this, you will avoid or reduce the discomfort that accompanies being forced to downsize.
Many of us have justified unnecessary spending with thoughts that we deserve it, we work hard, we’ll put it on credit and figure out how to pay for it later, and so on. Having a lifestyle that you struggle to maintain can harm your health and your relationships. It's not worth it. We all know that financial success without the good health and relationships to enjoy it isn't real success.
There are lots of ways that you can downsize your life without bruising your ego. For example, you can learn to cook and eat at home for a fraction of what you would pay to eat out. You can learn how to sew and make clothes. You can make customized gifts for loved ones rather than spending money that you don't have on things that often aren't needed or appreciated. Most of us have things in closets that we really don't need that cost money that we wish we had back in our accounts.
I really hope these 29 survival tips help you. They helped me. I did every one of these things, and each contributed to my going from foster care to millionaire, from lonely and alone to a life filled with beautiful relationships with good people, from constant worry and stress to peace and joy and a sense of wellness and contentedness that I can't fully articulate. I want to hear about your surviving, thriving, and ultimately your success. Please message me here or on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter or Pinterest.
Rhonda Sciortino was homeless when she was 8 years old. She emancipated from the child welfare system at the age of 16 and learned how to survive on minimum wage and every side gig she could find. She bought her first house at 19, her first rental at 21, and started her first business at 27. Rhonda founded Successful Survivors Foundation to help other survivors of childhood trauma to go from victim to survivor and ultimately to successful survivors who help those who are where they used to be.
Proceeds of all sales support Successful Survivors Foundation, an educational non profit organization that exists to help victims of trauma (especially childhood trauma) become successful survivors.
This podcast will help you find and live your purpose and enjoy the peace and joy that accompanies it. Subscribe now and share this with a friend. Find Your Purpose Now is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Iheartradio, Amazon music, Overcast, Castbox, Pocket Casts, Radio Public, and right here at www.rhonda.org/podcast.