In my experience, most people are GREAT at settling for things in their lives and careers that are "good enough" Not terrible, but not great, either. The problem is, if your life is filled with all sorts of "good enough" things, there's no room left over for "great."
Picture your life as a vase filled with stones. Each stone represents something about your life--your work, your relationships, your family, your hobbies and interests, etc. If you're like most people, that vase is full, probably up to the top with no room for additional stones. But if each of these stones represents something that is only OK, then how are you going to make room for "great" when it comes along?
Recognizing Good Enough
How do you know if you're settling for "good enough"? This article on the 5 Signs that You Have Settled has some good clues:
- You wish the time away
- You find it hard to wake up and get going in the morning
- You dream of a completely different life
- You often feel jealous
- You constantly feel the need to escape
I also believe that if you sit back and reflect on the different aspects of your life, you often know in your heart where you're settling for less than what you need or want. The trick is being willing to admit it.
Why Do We Settle?
That's a good question. I've heard many people give different answers to this question, including:
- What if there isn't anything better out there, so I'm left with nothing?
- You're dreaming if you think that everything in your life can be great. Life is about having to make compromises. You can't have it all.
- I don't even know what "great" would look like!
Each of these beliefs of course limits our ability to either see where we're settling or, if we see it, to do something about it. But if we don't get rid of "good enough," then there really is no room for things that could be even better.
I can tell you from personal experience that getting rid of "good enough" definitely works. Over 10 years ago I quit a job that was OK to start working for myself. I had no job prospects or options at that point. I just knew that if I kept working in my current situation, I wasn't going to leave myself any room for anything better. Within 3 months I had work coming in and have been able to support myself as a freelancer ever since. There have been some scary times, certainly, but overall, getting rid of that "good enough" job was one of the best decisions of my life. It gave me the space to find "great" in my life.
Where are you settling for "good enough"? Where would you like to make room for "great"? Tomorrow we'll take a look at what you can do to deal with "good enough" syndrome.