I AIN'T SETTLIN'! Poor Grammar but Pure Greatness!

A catchy tune with a funky beat grabbed my attention. Otherwise, I would have never stopped on that radio station.

Little did I know a country song was about to bring me a revelation!

With some good red wine and my brand new shoes
Gonna dance a blue streak around my living room
Take a chance on love and try how it feels
With my heart wide open yeah, you know I will
Find what it means to be the girl
Who changed her mind and changed the world

I ain’t settling for just getting by
I’ve had enough so so for the rest of my life
Tired of shooting too low, so raise the bar high
Just enough ain’t enough this time
I ain’t settling for just getting by
I’ve had enough so so for the rest of my life
Tired of shooting too low, so raise the bar high
I ain’t settling for anything less than everything!

I bet that’s happened to you at least once. Where a song grabbed you when you least expect it, and it moves something in you. I love those moments, although they don’t happen often enough!

It actually brought a whole new meaning to something Tony Robbins had said to me ten years before. I was at a “Date with Destiny” seminar in Fiji. He had asked for someone to volunteer who had some disappointments with their life so that he could teach all of us as coaches how to help others through the same situation.

I raised my hand and found myself sitting on a stool beside him. He is a giant of a man physically, but also a giant of a man with a heart bigger than Texas.

I was sharing some of my disappointments as he had requested, and with great curiosity and compassion, he leaned back in his chair as if he were musing over all I had just said. Then these powerful, life-altering words came out of his mouth, “So who taught you to settle for things in life?“

Before I could even bring my answer, he asked the second question, “Did you know that life will serve up what you are willing to settle for?”

I had thoughts whirling through my head at about 10,000 words a minute. I was doing my best to wrap my mind around what he just said. I don’t recall what he said for the next five minutes, but I distinctly remember the two-hour walk on the white sands of Fiji on the afternoon break.

Although by that time in my life I had become a high achiever, I became painfully aware of how many things I had “settled for.“ I had “settled“ in relationships, I had “settled“ in my finances, I had “settled“ in my influence. I had “settled“ for “all things ordinary.“

What about you? What have you settled for that has disappointed you? Often people tell me they don’t have any disappointments. They assume that I’m speaking of a broken heart, or a major disappointment. Certainly those count too.

But settling usually occurs across many things that are not traumatic at the moment.

When I ask my clients if they have disappointments, normally I get at least two or three. But unless they have a plethora of them, they are usually brought to light by questions such as these:

  • Are you pleased with what you see In the mirror when you step out of the shower? Or are you disappointed? Like many, you may find that you have “settled” for your body shape and size and blamed it on your genes. The problem is not what’s in your “genes,” but what’s in your “jeans!”
  • Are you pleased with what you notice about your energy levels throughout the day? Or are you disappointed at the lack of vibrancy and the fatigue? Like many, you may have blamed it on your stress or your age. The problem is not your stress or your age, but it’s in your level of self-care.
  • Are you pleased with your level of fulfillment when you place your head on the pillow each night? Or are you left disappointed with an endless and unfinished to-do list? That leaves no room for you to enjoy your life and to make a difference? Like many, you may point to your responsibilities and obligations. The truth is that you are likely too busy checking off your list to begin living your life with purpose and priority. 
  • Are you pleased with your job, your career, your business, or your financial status? Or are you disappointed that you have no idea how or when you’ll be able to retire? Or you hate going to work, spending most of your time doing something you don’t like?  Like many, you may blame the economy, your boss, your spouse. The truth is, you may have settled in all of those areas and have no real plan on how to get out of a rut.
  • Are you pleased as you look at the quality of your relationships? Or are you disappointed in the lack of connection? That friends and family don’t return your calls/texts? That you feel love and connections drifting away as you experience loneliness? Like most of us, you may be tempted to accuse the other people in your disappointing relationships.  When the truth is that you have trained them to only give what is acceptable to you.

It all comes back to the same thing. You will get in your life what you are willing to “settle for.“

Most people that come to me for relationship issues are miffed when they discover that we don’t start with “setting the partner straight.” Even if they have done unacceptable things.  Instead, the beginning of the journey is examining what each person has “settled for“ in their minds and in their hearts. It is very likely that this settled-for relationship is what has been served up to them by their partner.

 I ask again, what have you settled for?

Please understand that this is not about trying to turn people into overly empowered, entitled demanders! That is every bit as unhealthy as settling for less than you want, need, and deserve.

But if you are struggling with disappointments in one or more areas of your life, it’s likely that you are “settling.” And settling is often a self-spun web that’s hard to get out of.

After years of studying, I learned how to quit settling. I want to help you do the same. The truth is, it is an ongoing process. And I often find myself engaging in this process.

I struggled to find things to read and experts that I could ask about this issue. I even struggled to find YouTube videos on it. I rarely fail to find something on YouTube about whatever I’m looking for!

But I stayed with it until I put enough pieces together to free myself. 

Let me walk you through them.

1. Recognize your disappointments. Disappointments are a real key to identifying where you may be settling in your life. Recently, I realized I was disappointed in how I was using my time. I found myself watching TV more than I wanted to. I actually started tolerating News TV, which I do not believe is good for any of us. (Don’t misunderstand, I think we should be informed, but we can do that by reading headlines instead of watching hypnotic news, training our brains to feast on drama and focus on all things negative).

My first step was recognizing what the disappointment was: that my news habit was creating less than ideal progress on a project that’s very near and dear to my heart.

When you recognize your disappointment, it’s easier to examine your role in it. It’s so much easier not to blame, rationalize, or minimize. But more about that in step three.

 2.  Make note of what you tell yourself about those disappointments. We all have this innate desire to ignore disappointment. We actually hope it will get better on its own. That rarely happens.

To address the disappointment and take steps to resolve it, we must acknowledge what we are telling ourselves about it. We normally blame, minimize, make excuses, or do our best to ignore it.

In my situation, I have been making excuses. Significant family and friends enjoy watching news programs, and I wanted to spend time with them. (As if the only thing they ever did was watch news 24/7!) There were more, but you get the picture. 

Many people practice what I call a yo-yo pattern, particularly around weight loss. They get out of the shower in the morning, and they are horrified by their love handles and their belly. They vouch for themselves that they are going to eat right today. Until they go to lunch with everyone at the local burger joint and the hamburgers and fries are served up. Then they tell themselves they will begin tomorrow and resume their cookie eating, beer/wine drinking, and other carb adventures.

The next morning they step out of the shower and are again disappointed in what they see in the mirror. The cycle continues until there is some motivating event, like a family wedding or a black-tie event three months away. 

They do something drastic and lose 10 pounds and experience relief from the disappointment.

Then to reward themselves, they decide to have a special treat after dinner, like a death-by-chocolate brownie with ice cream. Then they tell themselves they have plenty of time before the event. They forget the disappointment from regaining the 10 pounds. In the end, they return to old habits.

Sound familiar?

Identifying what you’re telling yourself, how you minimize, or how you enter into the yo-yo cycle is critical to getting yourself out of your settling habit.. 

Stop agreeing with the negative thoughts and excuses!

I have a statement that I have adopted when walking through the steps. “I may not be the whole problem, but I am the only part of the problem that I can resolve. So I am willing to take ownership with myself so I can bust out of the sticky web of settling!”

Sometimes the negative thoughts that you have to combat are not your own. I was sharing my news-watching problem with someone who said to me, “That’s ridiculous, just settle back and enjoy the news! It won’t hurt you that much!“

I am well-versed in the research that points to something very different than this. So I was not willing to agree with that negative advice. (By the way, one of the mistakes we make when we get negative input is trying to fight it. I’ve learned to say thanks for the input, and leave it at that. I don’t need to fight the battle. I just need in my heart of hearts to refuse to agree with things that would keep me settling).

4. Decide what you REALLY want in that area of your life or the situation. This sounds simple, but all too often, one of the ways we keep ourselves settling is by never really being honest with ourselves about what we really want.

For some, that’s because they struggle with their worth. For others, it’s because they know that to resolve it will require them to change some things that may not be easy.

And yet for others, they may have been completely unaware that they have the right to choose! That they have the right to design the quality of their lives.

I will continue with the weight-loss situation because it’s one we can usually relate to. People want to lose 20 pounds. But when it seems daunting, they default to the yo-yo cycle.

For me, what I really wanted was to make significant progress on the project that is so near and dear to my heart. Although I can’t take responsibility for what anyone else watches on television, I can make decisions about whether or not that is contributing to my deepest desire on my project.

When you know what you truly want, even if it seems daunting, then you can move to the final step.

5. Raise your standards! Pick an area of your life where you are settling.  Then identify three behaviors you can do in the following week to combat the problem. Commit to practicing those new behaviors all week.

Repeat step 5 with three new behaviors weekly until you see disappointment begin to fade.

Let me say a bit about raising your standards. Raising our standards means what would I have to expect of myself and require of myself in order to address this situation. If we adopt lesser standards, we will perform at those. But if we raise our standards and hold them, we will naturally come into line with them.

One way to do that is selecting three behaviors over the following week that will get me closer to my deepest desire.

For weight loss, the three things could be:

  • Walk 20 minutes during my lunch break
  • Refrain from eating fried food
  • Drink water only after 11 AM

For me, I addressed my situation with three new steps weekly. This week they were:

  • Spend at least two hours daily on my project
  • Use the time when friends and family are watching news to go for a walk and get more steps in
  • Remove televisions from the common areas in my home

This is almost the end of my third week addressing the situation. I can tell you that I have made more progress than ever on my project!

You can do this! Stop settling! You were meant to have an extraordinary life. You were created for more!

Raise your standards, expect more from yourself. Instead of pecking around in the chicken yard, get ready to soar!

Join me in singing the lyrics to the song:

“I ain’t settling for just getting by

I’ve had enough so so for the rest of my life
Tired of shooting too low, so raise the bar high
Just enough ain’t enough this time
I ain’t settling for anything less than everything!”