You don't have to settle for less than you want. Lowering of one's standards is more common than striving to boost results. Reducing expectations obviously requires less effort. But if you want less and get less, will you really be content?
All too often we hear discouraging comments such as, "stop dreaming," "that's not realistic," "you're expecting too much," or "that's just not possible." Believing these statements cause us to lower our expectations. Our measure of acceptability is then reduced accordingly.
Taking this approach leads to a life of mediocrity. You accept what is rather than expecting what could be. Excuses are used to justify where you are. When you settle, absence of pain is interpreted as happiness. Lack of sadness becomes happiness.
Lowering the bar to accommodate mediocrity causes a decline in results. A case in point is the approach used by school districts in response to worsening student test scores. In order give the illusion of more successful students, the minimum passing grade is lowered. This approach effectively sanctions mediocrity instead of boosting performance.
Are you taking the same approach in your life? Do you settle by lowering your standards to make circumstances feel better than they actually are? The trap is comparing one situation to another one which is even worse. In so doing, the better situation can be justified in comparison to how bad things were or could be.
Jon always had a vision of what he wanted in an ideal personal relationship. He felt it should be one of mutual caring and sharing, where each was an equal partner concerned about the wellbeing of the other. The reality of Jon’s relationship with Mary was much different than what he imagined it should be. They’re interaction fluctuated a great deal. There were constant ups and extreme downs. Jon never knew what would be transpiring next.
The low points were complete agony for Jon. During those periods, he felt frustrated, sad, and depressed. As much as he suffered, Jon was hesitant to end the relationship. He had been together with Mary for several years and didn’t have a lot of self-confidence that he would be able to find another relationship. Furthermore, when things were calm, Jon felt good.
Even though the relationship on the best days was clearly not what he used to hope for, compared to the worst days, they seemed outstanding. Jon was settling for less than what he really wanted. He made excuses to justify remaining where he was instead of working to achieve his ideal situation. Jon was settling for, “It’s the best I can do.”
This is just one example. The same scenario plays out with jobs, living situations, friends, recreation, etc. It’s not an issue of who is right and who is wrong. The important focus is whether or not you are achieving what you really want.
Waiting for circumstances to improve is not an effective strategy. Deliberate action is required to either transform your situation into what you were hoping for or change to a more desirable path.
Achieving your dreams takes persistence. Not everything works out as planned. Don’t become discouraged. Don’t give up. It takes as much effort to suffer and settle as it does to achieve what you want.
You don’t have to settle for less than you actually want. Set your standards to reflect what you truly want in life. You never need to feel guilty for having high goals. Don’t formulate standards based on comparison to other people or situations. Remember that true joy is much more than absence of sadness.
NOW AVAILABLE: "Dare to Live Without Limits," the book. Visit www.BryanGolden.com or your bookstore. Bryan is a management consultant, motivational speaker, author, and adjunct professor. E-mail Bryan at firstname.lastname@example.org or write him c/o this paper. 2014 Bryan Golden