Photo by The Half-Blood Prince
These are the words from Steve Jobs’ Stanford Commencement Speech that echo in my mind long after first having watched the video.
Have you settled for second best (or worse) in life?
This can be a difficult question to answer, as no one really wants to admit they have settled for less. I am a big believer, though, that telling the truth opens the door to change. But even then, what if you don’t know or are unsure if you have settled?
The following are 5 signs that may indicate that you have settled, whether it is in a relationship, a job or some other way in life.
1. You Wish The Time Away
Can’t wait until your lunch break? For work to finish? The weekend? If this is you, it is a probably a sign that you are bored with your present situation. If you love what you do, you don’t wish time away. If anything, you wish you had more time to get everything done.
2. You Find It Hard to Wake Up in the Morning
If you are chasing your dreams, waking up in the morning should be fairly easy. Why? Because you look forward to the day ahead. You are excited about the unlimited possibilities a new day brings. If all you want to do if go back to sleep when your alarm goes off, it could mean that you are settling for less than your true potential (or, you may just have had a big night…..).
3. You Dream of a Completely Different Life
When you allow your thoughts to drift off, do they ever arrive at a future completely different than your current reality? On the one hand, this may be a completely natural and insignificant experience. But on the other, our subconscious thoughts can often reveal what our hearts truly desire.
4. You Often Get Jealous
Do you ever find yourself getting jealous with what another person has? Perhaps you say to yourself, “I wish I had his car/ job/ partner/ etc”. Now, there is nothing wrong with striving to attain the nice things in life. But if you find yourself wishing you were living someone else’s life, it is not a good sign. Those who chase their dreams and haven’t settled don’t necessarily have everything they want yet. The difference is that they just get on with doing what needs to be done.
5. You Constantly Feel the Need to Escape
Alcohol, drugs, video games and television are often used by people as a means to escape. If these are a large part of your life, you may like to consider if it’s because you’re trying to escape from something.
What to Do If You Have Settled
So all this begs the question: what do you do if you have settled?
First, acknowledge what settling for less does to a person. When you settle for less, your true desires are not fulfilled. You may learn to accept where you are, but inside you will always have a longing for more and it will slowly eat away at your soul until you act on it.
Next, make a conscious decision not to settle for less. Don’t accept mediocrity. In fact, if you want to be truly happy don’t even accept “good”. There is a saying: “learn to say no to the good to allow room for the great.”
Finally, take the necessary actions to change your life. This means moving on from unfulfilling relationships, switching to a satisfying career, etc.
Of course these things are easier said than done. Certain changes, like ending an unfulfilling relationship, can be done quickly but may require enormous amounts of courage. Others, like switching careers, may require you to spend time and energy in a slow and deliberate effort to align who you are with what you do (see Stop Planning & Start Discovering Your Self).
Following your heart often involves taking risks and facing your fears. If this is what is holding you back, I suggest you consider what Robin Sharma once said: “the greatest risk in life is not taking risks. We never regret the risks we took on our deathbeds but the opportunities we didn’t seize.”
When taking risks, be prepared to fail. Failure is a good sign. It means you are stretching yourself.
And remember what Steve Jobs said: “don’t settle”.