“Don’t settle.” It’s an adage you’ve likely heard, or advice you’ve imparted on loved ones, but what does it mean besides dumping a dud date?
Chances are, if you’re questioning your happiness or regularly wishing particular elements of your life were different (read: better), you’re settling for an experience that is lacking in some way.
There needn’t be shame in it – sometimes we work jobs we hate for a regular pay-check; sometimes we stay with a partner because they’re our best friend and doesn’t the honeymoon phase end for everyone, anyway?
But if you want more, you can have more. You can live life without settling.
Clinical psychologist Dr Yuliya Richard says in order to push the pause button on settling, we first need to get very honest with ourselves – terrifying, yes, but worthwhile in the long run.
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“You need to be honest with yourself and self-reflective enough to know what you want,” she explains. “Think about what it is you truly desire. If you know what it is and you don’t try to achieve it, why not? Do you feel you’re not good enough, not smart enough, or young enough? What is your excuse for not trying?
“Sometimes we take risks that don’t pay off and we feel a lot of pain. This renders us too afraid to give ourselves another chance, so we play it safe. But doing so may rob us of great experiences.”
Life and business coach Lauren Trlin, agrees.
“Often when we’re settling, we’re making decisions from a place of fear instead of love,” she explains. “Ultimately we need to trust ourselves more, because if we did, we would know we’re capable of reaching the outcome we desire instead of settling.”
Which – let’s be honest, is often easier said than done! Thankfully, Trlin has some practical tips for not settling if you have a hard time with the whole “trusting yourself” thing.
Know what you want from a partner. Write a list of three to five “non-negotiables” and expect them in a future partner.
Don’t buy into mass hysteria that you’re running out of time. You’re not.
Look for examples of couples that are truly in love and have been for a long period of time; use those couples as your benchmark.
Trust your intuition – if you have a persistent suspicion the person you’re with isn’t right for you, you’re probably correct.
Understand your own self-worth. Know which unique strengths, skills and gifts you bring to the table.
Learn the art of saying no to situations that do not serve you.
Be strategic. Take ownership of your career; constantly invest in your own self-development and set monthly and yearly career goals.
Expect the best from yourself and step up to that challenge.
With your mental health
Know your mental health is just as important as your physical health.
Get a “personal trainer” for your brain – that may mean working with a psychologist, coach or mentor.
Constantly question your thought processes and become aware of the self-limiting talk that is encouraging you to settle.
Learn to identify the voice of the ego and the voice of your higher self. The voice of the ego is generally trying to keep you safe and encourage you to settle for less.
With your passions
Give yourself permission to follow your curiosity – who knows where it could lead!
Make a promise to yourself that every three months, you’ll acquire one new skill. Book this into your calendar.
Ignore what everyone else is doing. Your hobbies and passions are your safe space where you get to be completely yourself.