Often times in life we have to settle. As we grow older it slowly dawns on us that we can’t have it all. You won’t fulfill all your dreams, life will be far from perfect, and as the Rolling Stones famously put “you can’t always get what you want.”
We live in a time where we are given more freedoms and choices then any other point in history. We have the freedom to do, say, and pursue almost anything we want. However, it’s just not possible to have it all. There are simply too many things and not enough time, so we learn to pick our battles. What is worth fighting for? What is worth our time and efforts and, just as important, what isn’t? What areas in life will you settle for less then best or even average and what won’t you settle for?
There are lots of areas and things in life where I don’t mind settling. For me, most of them are materialistic. House/apartment, car, clothes, shoes, electronics, furniture etc. This doesn’t mean I don’t want these things to be nice or that I don’t care about them. I’d love for them all to be awesome and nice, but if I have to, I’ll settle for something less then the best because they aren’t the most important things in my life.
However, there are some areas and things in life (three in particular) that I will never simply settle for anything then less then what I, in my opinion, deem the best. And I strongly believe you shouldn’t either.
Keep in mind as you read this that everyone has their own definition of what settling means to them, as well as, what they would deem ideal or the best. It’s not a fine line.
1. Your girlfriend/boyfriend, husband/wife
Why on earth would you ever settle for anyone other then someone that makes you absolutely head over fucking heels happier than a person on ecstasy in a pillow pit full of puppies?
This girl knows what I’m talking about
But seriously, think about this for a second. In the traditional sense, who you choose to be with and eventually marry is who you are deciding to be with for the rest of your life.
To spend the majority of your time with, to constantly be by your side. They will be there to pick you up, be there in the morning when you wake up, at night before you sleep, be there when you’re sad, happy, angry, depressed, when a family member or friend dies, when you get fired, when you get promoted, when you grow old. They will have your kids and raise a family with you. They will fight for you, with you, and even at times, fight against you. They will laugh with you, cry with you, and potentially die with you. So ill ask again. Why on earth would you ever settle for someone who you aren’t completely 100% Fuck Yes about?
Now everything I just said is somewhat obvious. There’s almost no one alive that doesn’t want that ideal someone. No one goes into finding a significant other thinking “ehhh ill take whoever, doesn’t really matter.” No we all ideally want the person I described above, but then why, why do so many people just settle for someone less?
Now again, everyone’s idea of their ideal partner is different because, obviously, everyone is different. There are people that you or I may consider as settling, that would be a dream partner for someone else. And my ideal girlfriend could be vastly different from yours.
Why most people settle in relationships:
There are many reasons, but if you boiled almost all of them down, they mostly all reveal around 3 main things. Fear, lack of personal boundaries, and conditional relationships.
Relationships based on fear
Some people are terrified at the thought of being single, going out to meet strangers, being vulnerable, going on dates, getting rejected, and getting heartbroken. The fear of leaving someone they are already comfortable with, someone they know and trust.
It’s not easy and that’s why people often stick with relationships that they sometimes even know are toxic. By ending a relationship you are voluntarily abandoning someone that is probably very close to, knows you, trusts you (ideally), and maybe has even built a life with you and become part of your identity, in order to go back out into the big scary world, alone, full of strangers, creeps, and unknowns, in the hopes that one of the strangers you met will eventually be someone you can trust, love, and be with, with the constant thought in the back of your mind “Omg what if I’m single forever.”
But unfortunately, this is what it takes. It’s hard work, it’s uncomfortable, it’s awkward, it’s facing unknowns, lonely nights, and countless rejections.
But would you rather work through it now to build a life with a partner you’re 100% fuck yes about or would you rather stay comfortable and settle for meh?
There’s one fear I didn’t address that I only really understood recently when talking to a really close girl friend of mine. She admitted to me that she actually felt ugly and worthless if she didn’t have a boyfriend. As if her self-worth and level of attractiveness could only be validated by her having a boyfriend. And that’s a very sad and fucked up way to think and act.
Even more sad as I probed into this, is that this is not at all uncommon. So many people get their sense or self-worth, attraction, and identity validated through their boyfriend or girlfriend. So by being single they feel worthless and ugly. There are people, that are never single for more then what seems like 5 minutes because they constantly need to feel validated by being in a relationship. And that’s a scary and sad reality.
The question you should ask yourself is “would I be less of a person without my girlfriend/boyfriend?, would I be less without them, would my self worth be lowered by not being in a relationship?” The answer should be of course not. Your sense of self worth, attractiveness, or who you are as a person should having nothing to do with whether or not you’re in a relationship with someone else, but everything to do with your relationship with yourself, and only yourself.
Having Strong Personal Boundaries
“Okay Chris, I get it, but are you telling me that I need to find someone perfect, because nobody’s perfect?”
No, I’m not telling you to find someone perfect. Everyone is rough around the edges, has imperfections, and things they need to work on. So the question isn’t what perfections are you looking for, because those should hopefully be something you already know, but rather what imperfections are you willing to accept. The question is what imperfections are you willing to tolerate and accept, and what imperfections are you unwilling to put up with?
A lot of it stems from having strong personal boundaries. Strong personal boundaries comes from your relationship with yourself. What kind of person are you? What will you fight for not fight for? What you will tolerate and accept and won’t you put up with? Where will you draw the line and walk away?
People often settle because they don’t have strong boundaries. They allow a lot of shit into their life and into their relationships because they don’t have a strong sense of self, esteem, or identity, so they, usually without realizing it, let someone else dictate that for them.
If you don’t have strong boundaries, you are letting someone else dictate what kind of person you are, what is acceptable and not acceptable. Having strong boundaries is to know yourself and stick up for who you are and what you believe in. To take control, to take charge, and when necessary put your foot down.
It’s saying and doing what you want because it’s what you want, not because you are trying to please someone or scared of upsetting someone. And sometimes that will drive people away or piss people off. But really, that’s a good thing. This is how you filter who you spend your time with, resulting in more quality relationships.
I’m not saying you need to be some pretentious prick about it, that says “this is how it’s going to be, I’ll accept nothing else.” You can respect, understand, empathize, and agree to disagree. There’s nothing wrong with conflict and disagreement, in fact it’s necessary. Imagine being around someone who agrees with everything you say and do all the time? It’d be so boring.
I once went on a date with a girl and I strongly disagreed with a point she was making, so I told her. I felt the weight of the room tense up and get quiet for what felt like minutes, but then she smiled, and actually thanked me. Confused as hell, I asked why she was thanking me. She told me how all guys she talks to, just sit there and nod in agreement with everything she says and does, and it drives her insane.
An easy way to understand conditional relationships is to understand one of the greatest examples of unconditional love, and that is dogs unconditional love for man. A dog’s relationship with man is unconditional. Dogs just fucking love you for you. They wag their tails and go absolutely bezerk at times just seeing you with no expectation of anything in return. You could lose everything and your life could be in total shambles, but that dog will love you non the less.
For those counting, this is the third puppy used in this post
And that is what a true unconditional relationship is. Love without conditions, without looking for or expecting anything in return. But many relationships are based around conditions. You provide this for me and I’ll provide this for you. And if that condition isn’t met, the relationship usually falls apart.
These conditions are not necessarily tangible and often aren’t. Conditions like dating someone that’s hot to impress your friends, dating because they have a lot of money, dating someone who has a high social status or career that makes you feel important or special.
Sometimes even seemingly innocent and caring relationships are conditional, like if you only date someone because they are emotionally distressed, need emotional help and support. These are not relationships with the other person, they are relationships with the condition. A person who is dating someone based around wealth, doesn’t have a relationship with that person, but rather with wealth. Take away the condition and you’ve taken away the relationship.
An unconditional relationship is being with someone without any expectation of anything in return. You care, support, and respect each other, and while you will still often give each other things, you don’t need or expect it from them as a basis for the relationship.
“You are the average of the 5 closest people you surround yourself with.”
The biggest psychological human need is the feeling of being important. This is the single biggest driving factor of almost everything we do. We constantly are looking to be validated, liked, loved, cared about, and for someone to just give a fuck about us.
Just look at Instagram. That app wouldn’t even exist if it wasn’t for people’s need to feel important and liked. Sitting idly by your phone after you’ve posted a picture, feeling sense of worth and social validation rise or fall as people like or don’t like your photo.
Unfortunately, its because of this that people will waste their time around a lot of shitty people, they call friends. Because those friends, although shitty, give them a feeling of importance (conditional relationship).
It’s a bit of a corny saying, but I fully believe in “friends are the family that you choose.”
A large majority of what I explained in my first point can also be said for friends. In that, these are people we are choosing to spend a large majority of our time with, will be by our sides (not in the exact same ways as #1), and also a lot of people settle on this for very similar reasons.
Fear of being alone and not having friends, so we accept and settle for friends that aren’t great to us. Not having strong personal boundaries, so we basically let our friends choose us, and decide what you do, think, and feel, whether or not you actually agree.
And that some friendships are conditional. They are solely based around a single commonality or condition and nothing further. If you are only hanging out with a group of friends because they make you feel like you have a higher social status, they have money and provide you with a wealthy lifestyle or solely around a group of people who want to party together and nothing further, those are conditional.
That’s not a relationship with friends, but with social status, money, or partying. If your friends stopped partying, would there still be a friendship?
It’s fine for friends to start from a single conditional commonality as it often does, like friends from a sports team or a club you belong too. But true unconditional friendship comes from a deeper level of respect and support that club or no club, sports or no sports, partying or no partying, money or dead fucking broke, you’re equally as close.
When areas 1 and 3 fall apart in your life, these are the people that are going to help put you back together, so they better be people you choose and truly want.
“When we finally got down to something which the individual said he really wants to do. I will say to him, you do that. And forgot the money. Because if you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you will spend your life completely wasting your time. You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing, in order to go on living, that is to go on doing things you don’t like doing, which is stupid.”
Okay, let’s face reality here. By this point in your life (unless you’re under the age of 13, in which case, what are you doing on this website, this is not for kids, get off now or I’m telling your parents) you’ve probably realized you aren’t going to be a rockstar, celebrity, or professional athlete like you grew up hoping and dreaming, and that’s okay.
The movie stars, actors, athletes, rock stars, celebrities, glamorous live’s we grew up hoping and dreaming about, just aren’t realistic to the 99.99% of us. If you didn’t know that by now, then you probably still believe in Santa, unicorns, and a game thrones where your favorite character doesn’t die.
BUT, does that mean you shouldn’t love your job? Absofuckinglutley not. Now before I even begin to get into this, there is a BIG misconception I need to clear up. The misconception is that living your dream job means a job where you wake up every single day and love what you do. That’s just not realistic or true.
I’ve spoken with, listened to, and read about countless entrepreneurs or people who are living their dream job, but still say that some days just plain suck. The rule of thumb most of them say is that you should love your job about 80% of the time. No matter what, there will be tough days that are rough and shitty.
One of my favorite entrepreneurs spends his career traveling the world as a life/dating coach for men, works where he wants when he wants, and spends most of his time on tropical islands with gorgeous women, and incredible people, but even he admits about 20% of the time, it sucks. So stop thinking you can’t be happy at your job unless you’re happy there all the time, because if that’s your thought process you will always be disappointed.
Now that we’ve cleared that up. WHAT ARE YOU DOING SETTLING FOR A SHITTY CAREER?! eh hem *throat clear* sorry about that. But seriously.
Now again, everyone’s interpretation of a great career vs settling is different. There are some people that truly love a job sitting in a cubicle with a steady pay check (haven’t met one yet, but who’s to judge), and that’s completely fine.
Time after time I’d see people post on facebook “I GOT A JOBBBB! 🙂 🙂 :)” then I’d follow up with them, congratulate them, and ask them how they like it. And I get responses like meh, it’s okay or even that they hate it. In fact, it’s usually not even remotely close to the type of job they want. But they’ll shrug and say “eh, its steady money, I’ll find something I like later.” WHAT?! Are you high?
Okay, okay, I’ll step back a bit. Finding a job you love isn’t easy, it’s damn hard work. What can be equally as hard is actually figuring out what you really want to do.
Again, we live in a time where we have so much freedom of choice its ridiculous. In fact, it can actually be overwhelming. We literally have the potential to do almost anything we want and work in whatever field and pursue whatever company we want. And most of this know and understand this.
But because of this, because of how much freedom we have, we often don’t really know what we want. And that’s okay, in fact that’s more then okay, its great. But what’s not okay is not going after something because of uncertainty.
People say “yeah it sounds interesting, but what if I don’t like it, I’m just not sure, what if I do it and then find out it’s not really what I want.” Yeah and what if you love it? The only way to know is to try it, go for it.
Like anything in life, you can’t sit there wondering what if, what will happen or if you’ll love it, because unless you do it, there’s no way of actually knowing. It’s also not permanent, so why would you not try it? The beautiful thing about our freedom is that we have the freedom to quit whenever the fuck we want. There’s no job offer that says “by signing this you are forever working at this company.”
Identifying a job you love is a life long process that can constantly change
The job you love now you may decide you don’t want to do 5 years down the line, and 20 years down the line you may get sick of the job you got 5 years down the line.
A lot of people act like they need to find out this dream career right fucking now that they will be tied to forever. As if any later then now and it will be too late. But this is a life long process and can always change no matter what age.
I met an american in Thailand who was in his 60s. He spent 15 years of his life pursuing to be a lawyer because at the time, that’s what he loved. In his early 40s, he got tired of it, quit, and pursued a new passion of opening a yoga studio (talk about a 180). After years of loving that, he got tired of it, left that, and moved to Thailand and is now a scuba instructor.
My mom in her early 50s went back to pursue a dream as a teacher. Years after, she wanted to be an occupational therapist, had to back to college to get her masters, and pursued a whole new ideal career in her late 50s.
The process of identifying your next job/career
So what career do you think you want to try right now? Great, what are the steps needed to get there? Do you need more schooling, some internships or more experience? Good, do it.
Now that you are there, you’re working the job you think you want comes the most important part. How do you feel? Pay attention every day, are you happy with the work you are doing? Do you like it? Do you like the people you are working with? Is the money sufficient? (still important) Are you learning and growing? Is this really what you want? Write about how you feel as you go, which is very important so you can remember and reflect on how you felt through out the job. Constantly question and elevate what you are doing and why? If 80% of the time you love what you do, great! Stick with it until you no longer feel that way. If you don’t love it the majority of the time, leave. Simple as that. Now that you’ve left, what’s next? What would you like to try this time? Good, repeat the cycle.
Finding a job you love involves Ready, Fire, Aim. Do what you need to get your foot in the door and just do it. And as you’re there be mindful and honest with how you feel about it. Love it? Great, stay with it. Hate it? Great, cross it off the list and try another.
What’s holding you back?
“Chris that sounds great and all, but I can’t afford to do that now, I have student loans, bills, rent, debts” Guess what, so does everyone else. I’m sorry, but this is a shitty fucking excuse.
When I got back from traveling, I was unemployed, paying rent in midtown manhattan, along with bills, paying for food, various debts and expenses (still going out in NYC as if I had money like a degenerate idiot). I was digging myself into a deep financial hole and the need for a job quickly became crucial.
But with my back against the wall, I promised myself I still wouldn’t take an offer from any company I wasn’t really excited about. And I almost broke that promise several times over the course of two months when it was looking like I was truly fucked. But I decided I’d rather get kicked out of my apartment and move back home with my parents before ever accepting something I wasn’t really excited about. So I kept going until I found that job, that as of today, so far I love.
My story there isn’t meant to impress you, but to impress upon you that your excuses are nothing more then just that, excuses.
It may seem scary to walk away from a stable paycheck with bills, debts, and loans weighing you down to the point that you feel like you are financially drawing, but I promise you it’ll be far scarier to look back on years of spending time at a company you didn’t like doing something you didn’t like. Bills, expenses and rent will always be there, so why not take time to figure a way to enjoy the way in which you pay them off.