Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Don't Settle.

Last post focused on an important question one needs to ask, “Does this *choice* diminish me, or enlarge me?”… and by *choice* it could mean anything – a job, a relationship… any choice in your life.  It’s a critical question.  As time goes on, if you haven’t asked and actively sought out the answer, that answer will still eventually reveal itself.  Then, if the answer is that the choice does diminish you, it will be very sad if years have gone by, and also if commitments and responsibilities have locked you into a situation such as a marriage, where you can’t get out easily.

Life only gives a certain number of passes for a big "do-over", and those always involve a lot of investment in time and effort, courage, and usually plenty of sacrifices and suffering.  Still, they are there, they are possible.  My new path, and my hope for you, is to continually ask this question of all those key choices in life on a weekly basis, and reflect on those.  It’s easy to not do this and let weeks, months, years just fly by.  Again whenever it does reveal itself, hopefully by your active reflection, if a key choice does in fact leave you feeling diminished, I hope you can find your way to either make a change for the better, or go through and/or out of that situation.  Give it a try.

Today I would like to talk about settling.  Most of you will know exactly what I’m talking about.  I settled over the years in far too many ways, but primarily in love and marriage, and also in my job.  Both were very good and rewarding, especially from the perspective of others, and I can’t tell you how many times others had said that I should be happy with what I had.  Still, I knew I had settled.  I tried for years to improve both, changing many different things, tried all the normal routes everyone takes, but the end result was that I knew neither were healthy for me, and I had become a very sad, depressed person.

Sometimes when you work very hard and make deep investments in something, it’s hard to admit to oneself that you’re actually not going in the right direction.  As I’ve heard it said, one can spend so much effort climbing a ladder (job), only to find it was leaning entirely against the wrong wall.  Change is not easy, we only have so much energy in a day, and it’s especially hard later in life.  Still, one knows how suffering and dissatisfaction feels, and it’s an important clue letting us know that we went down the wrong path and potentially settled.

I’ll expand on this more another time, but I want to now give you two excellent resources for reflection.  One is a great article that’s been online for a while and which I like to re-read.  The other is a classic address given by Steve Jobs.  I hope they help you think about your situation, so that you will not settle, and if you find (like I did) that you have settled somewhere, that you can begin to seek ways to make changes that will help you to be happier.

First, a great article on settling, which lays it out nicely:

Second, a classic passage from Steve Jobs where he talks about his life and perseverance.  The whole Stanford commencement address is worth reading / listening to:

“Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did.  You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.

Steve Jobs, 2005 Stanford Commencement Address, June 12, 2005.  

I like that:  “Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it.”

Here’s to all of us accepting the challenge of the hero’s journey, to continue to seek, and to strive to understand ourselves and our needs… until we know when we truly have found them.  I wish you the best on that journey.  Don't settle.

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