I am blessed to have a father who invests in me as his daughter. From the time that I turned 15 and started high school, he has taken me on “back to school dates,” where we sit down for  hours on end at a restaurant or a coffee shop and talk about my goals for the upcoming year. Even though now I've been out of college for over two years, we still go to our favorite Thai food restaurant and talk about my goals towards the end of every summer. And even now that I'm married, he does the same thing with my husband, too! Because of this, I've always thought of the beginning of fall as the time to set goals instead of January 1st, and sweet friends, it's around that time of year! So whatever your goal-setting traditions are (or lack thereof), consider this your quick guide to going from surviving to thriving in every area of life.

Before moving forward, allow me to say this one thing: Apply these concepts to your life right now, not your life once you graduate, get that job, find that special someone, join that community, move into that apartment, etc. One of my personal greatest temptations in life has been the temptation to believe the lie that my life will “start” when (fill in the blank). But the truth is that my life is happening right now! And your life is happening right now! Don't let Satan lead you to believe otherwise. Instead, let God lead you to believe that “this is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24). I truly believe that part of “rejoicing and being glad in it” means thriving in it and making the most of it. Not yesterday, not tomorrow, but today, for tomorrow is not even guaranteed.

To go back to my annual goal-setting tradition, my dad taught me to set goals in four different areas: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. He actually based this approach off of Luke 2:52, which says, “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and with people.” In other words, he increased in wisdom (mental) and stature (physical), and in favor with God (spiritual) and with people (emotional). I feel like this is such an overlooked verse, but it really shouldn't be because it is a summary of the first 30 years of Jesus's life!

I recently heard writer and speaker Rachel Hollis talk about “five to thrive,” which is the concept that you should have five habits that you do every single day that make you a happier and healthier person. And in this quick guide for going from surviving to thriving in every area of life, I want to combine this “five to thrive” concept with the four different areas found in Luke 2:52. My purpose in this is to help you make a plan for going from surviving in daily life to thriving in daily life, for as one of my favorite quotes goes, “Failing to plan is planning to fail!”

Thriving Physically
Girls, this is hard. There are few of us who find it easy to “thrive physically” every single day, especially if you are in school, have a full-time job, are a mom, etc. Thriving physically always costs time and often costs money, and many (if not all) of us feel like we lack one or both of these resources. While thriving physically means something different for everyone, the first things that I think of are nutrition, exercise, and sleep; specifically, getting enough nutrients, getting enough exercise and getting enough sleep. But what does thriving physically mean for you right now? What do you need more of? Or maybe, what do you need less of? And while you can of course set more than one physical goal, start with one thing that you will do every single day that will improve your health and wellness. And once you have that one daily habit defined, “budget” your time and/or money to accommodate it, even if it means researching alternatives.

Examples: Meal prep, take a multivitamin, drink 100 ounces of water, do 30 minutes of cardio, walk the dog, stretch in the morning and/or evening, get at least 7 hours of sleep, etc.

Thriving Mentally
To me, thriving mentally means engaging your mind in things that matter to you. So, if you're a student, really invest in your studies and make them interesting and applicable. If you're an employee take full advantage of trainings, mentors, and other learning opportunities. If you're a wife and/or mom, become a student of your husband and/or kids and learn how to best meet their needs. By now you might be asking, What if I'm a high school student and I find my classes so boring? Or, What if I'm currently stuck in a day job that I hate and have zero interest in? Well girl, I've been right there with you and in many ways I'm there right now, and still my answer is this: Make the most out of where you are right now (for God probably has you there for a reason), but also find an interest outside of that. With resources like the internet, podcasts, etc., there is no excuse not to study the things that get you excited!

Examples: Actually read your textbooks, work on writing a paper for at least thirty minutes, follow a daily blog or subscribe to a daily podcast, read a chapter of a book of choice, etc.

Thriving Emotionally
Thriving emotionally could mean many things, but I relate it to thriving relationally. To me, thriving emotionally is having a proper support system in place. If you're married and/or have kids, these relationships should take first priority. If you're close to your family, they might take second priority, and friends might take third. But as you can see, “relationships” is a broad category and it is one that changes depending on your season of life. For example, if you're at a college far from home, it is much more likely that friends would be first priority. Is is also one in which daily habits are harder to define because the “habit” might depend on the need at hand, and the need at hand might depend on the day. But regardless, what is one thing that you can do every single day to show someone that you care about them? It might be the same person every day (like your husband) or a different person every day (friend, classmate, coworker, etc.), but the important thing is that you invest in a relationship every single day, and hopefully, these relationships invest in you in return.

Examples: Encourage at least three people, write someone a note or send someone a text, eat a meal with a friend, do a chore in the house without being asked, kiss your husband when he leaves and when he comes home, pray with kids before bedtime, etc.

Thriving Spiritually
Without thriving spiritually – thriving physically, mentally, and emotionally mean nothing. Sure, they might make you a happier and healthier person for awhile, but they would have no eternal value. We are called to be healthy for the Kingdom, to work for the Kingdom, and to love for the Kingdom; not for our own selfish ambition. The obvious daily habits for thriving spiritually would be things like reading your Bible, praying, journaling, listening to worship music, and so on, but the most important thing is that you're connecting to the heart of God. If you're listening to worship music in the car on the way to work every morning, but it's not actually connecting you to the heart of God, then it's not helping you thrive spiritually; it might not be hurting you spiritually, but it's not helping you to thrive spiritually either and that's what we want. So, how do you best connect to the heart of God? Whatever it is, that is your most important habit of all.

Example: Read a chapter of the Bible, use your prayer journal, listen to worship music, listen to or watch a sermon, practice a spiritual discipline, etc.

Bonus Habit
So you may have noticed that we're talking about the concept of “five to thrive,” but that there are only four areas in Luke 2:52. You can make your fifth daily habit whatever you want, whether that's an additional physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual habit, or something totally different. That being said, I thought I would go ahead and share my own personal suggestion, or a little “bonus habit.” While there are seasons of life where I do this daily and other seasons of life where time gets the best of me, journaling has played a big part in my personal and spiritual growth. And not just journaling whatever comes to mind (although if that works for you, great!) but journaling off of a template that I came up with back in high school: a prayer for the day, a praise for the day and 3-5 things that I'm thankful for. This “template” is based off of Philippians 4:6-7, which says, “Don't worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” The command is difficult, but the promise is beautiful. And personally, I have found that journaling these prayers, praises, and thanksgivings daily makes the command much easier to follow!

And finally, I want to close on this note: I realize that not every girl grew up with a dad like mine, investing in the goals and dreams of his daughter. But regardless of what your own father-daughter relationship looks like, you do have a Heavenly Father who knows you and your dreams better than anyone on earth ever could, because He is the one that created you and He put those dreams in your heart. Take comfort in that truth and seek Him as you aim to thrive in the days on earth that he's given you. If you do this, you will thrive in all that He's called you to do!

Written By: Tiffany Butler

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