Let me tell you a secret…
Many companies and experts will try to sell you a complicated system of tricks and turns to guarantee you success at work, in your relationship or whatever it is you want to conquer.
But life doesn’t need to be that complicated.
Many of those so-called ‘solutions’ are just a way to plaster over bigger problems and are nothing without one key ingredient…
A personal refusal to settle.
Successful people are those who looked at their situation and thought: “I deserve more. I am capable of more.” With that attitude, they persevered to achieve the life they wanted to live whether it was a life full of travel, a large happy brood of kids or a successful company.
There is no quick-fix to your problems, but Expectation Therapy is a quick-fix for your attitude and lack of confidence. Once you decide that you’re no longer willing to settle, the world is your oyster.
Why do people settle?
The short answer – fear.
When we lower our expectations and settle for a life that’s far below our dreams, we are betraying ourselves and giving into fear. It’s easier and less scary to stick with what you know – that passive existence you fell into because you never took responsibility for your own life.
Self-doubt and a fear of failure stop you from levelling up. You settle for a life you’re not enjoying because you’re afraid of not reaching your goals and having to admit failure. It’s easier on your pride if you never try and therefore, never have to deal with failure.
But even if you do fail, failure equals growth. Successful people all failed at some point, but then they got back up and tried again after learning from the mistakes they made.
Uncertainty can be scary. Having no idea what the future holds as you stare into an empty space of possibility can frighten the pants off people. You tell yourself that while you may not like what you have, at least you know how to handle it.
But what if you leave your relationship and end up alone for a long time?
What if you launch a new business and end up losing money?
What if you go travelling and can’t find a new job when you get back?
Yes, all of these things COULD happen, but it’s doubtful they’ll be as bad as you imagine. And if they do happen, then you’ll pick yourself up and you try again. You’ll be happier working hard for your dreams than you’ll ever be settling for safety.
And that’s the secret to success. Successful people refuse to settle for less.
Busting the Myth of Success: It’s far more than money
The common myth is that successful people who never settle and also push themselves to achieve more are never happy. To them, the grass is always greener and none of their achievements will ever be enough to satisfy their desire for more.
This is just not true.
A miserly millionaire whose sole aim is to make more money isn’t a successful person. By putting so much emphasis on money, he has settled for less and measures his life’s worth by the size of his bank account, not his happiness.
There is a lot more to success than money – it’s about achieving the goals and dreams that make you a happy, well-rounded person.
Successful people recognise that success is a personal thing and can only be measured by how happy you are when you look at your life. For example:
- Success is a hard-working student who finally becomes the lawyer he dreamed of being.
- Success is the mother who stayed at home to take charge of child-rearing and now has three funny, happy and kind teenagers.
- Success is the man who loved to paint and took classes to improve. He doesn’t sell his work, but he loves spending hours working on his projects and is always proud to see how he constantly improves and pushes himself.
- Success is the woman who admitted she wasn’t happy in the career she’d spent years climbing the ladder for and then left to start her own business.
- Success is the man who worked hard to trust people again after a tough childhood and built a loving relationship with his soul mate.
- Success is the woman who managed to save up enough money to buy a car outright after struggling with a shopping addiction for years.
Of course, some of these things are based in the area of finance. Obviously a business’ success hinges on its ability to turn a profit, but it’s the success of the business and the freedom it brings that will make an entrepreneur truly happy, not the cash.
Money just isn’t enough on its own.
But it’s important to realise that even when you achieve your goals, there are always new mountains to climb. This doesn’t mean you’re greedy or not content with your current success – you’re just refusing to settle when you’re capable of doing more. Hitting goals is great for your self-esteem and empowers you to realise you can tackle a whole lot more than you ever thought.
The repercussions of settling
If you knew today was your last day on earth, would you do things differently?
That’s a rather extreme example and realistically, you’d probably spend the day hugging everyone you loved and telling them how special they are, which is lovely, but not particularly productive.
The point is … life is not as long as it seems.
Our time is limited and we should be doing our best to make the most of it. No one wants to look back on their life from their death bed and regret the time they wasted being afraid or hiding from their problems in front of a television.
Living passively because you’re afraid to take chances and follow your dreams is a dangerous path. Many people think it’s the easier option – going with the flow is simpler than swimming against the current – but living an unfulfilled life is more work in the long-term.
When you live passively, you’re telling your subconscious that you are helpless and have no control over your life. Not only does this mean you give others power over you, it means you’re more likely to settle for situations that make your soul unhappy.
This behaviour will eventually lead to depression.
On the other hand, if you live actively and believe you can shape your destiny, you’re going to be a much happier person. You’ll feel in control, so when bad things happen, you’ll know you have the power to process, learn and then overcome.
You’ll overcome it because you know you can do it with a little elbow grease and the right expectations in your abilities.
And this is what successful people do. They refuse to live passively and have no intention of succumbing to a bad situation. They say ‘no’ to settling and take action!
Having purpose and steering your life in the direction you want it results in a fulfilled existence, while settling for what others hand you will only end in unhappiness.
The difference between settling and slugging it out
Once you decide that you’re no longer going to settle, It’s important to recognise that there’s a big difference between the unhappiness caused by settling and the temporary unpleasantness caused by working towards a dream.
To do this you need to apply some realism to your situation – something that’s very important in Expectation Therapy. Finding a balance between your goals and the reality of your abilities is key.
For example, a young man may dream of becoming an NFL player. He wants to be the quarterback, but his coach recognises that while he can go pro with hard work and dedication, his personal talents and strengths mean he’s better suited to the Offensive Line. He can still be an NFL player – he just needs to take a different route.
And here is the important difference between settling and slugging it out – as that player pushes himself through gruelling practices and maybe even a few losses on the field, the path won’t always be rosy. It will take hard work and there will be moments when he asks himself if it’s worth it.
If he’s on the right path, the answer should always be yes.
Pushing yourself and experiencing unpleasant moments on an active path towards your goal is not settling. It’s slugging it out to achieve your dreams.
On the other hand, there’s a woman who wants to have kids, but feels she’s supposed to stop working and stay at home to raise them. She thinks this is what being a good mom means. So she spends every day at home, cooking, cleaning, refereeing, reasoning, fighting and entertaining her children, year in, year out.
And although she loves her kids, she hates every moment of it.
She misses having her own life. She misses the rush of deadlines. She misses chatting with her co-workers about projects. She doesn’t feel challenged and feels like she’s lost a part of herself. This is a person who has settled. She had a goal and took the route she was guilted into instead of taking one that makes her happy.
Yes, she’ll be tired and stressed trying to balance work with child rearing, but she’ll feel far more fulfilled and be a better mom for it.
If you refuse to settle, you’ll need to put in some hard work. It won’t necessarily be easy, but successful people keep their eye on their goal and let their passion fuel them.
13 tell-tale signs that you’re guilty of settling
#1. You’ve over-compromised yourself
Compromise is a part of life. The best marriages thrive because of it and great businesses are built on it – but there is a line. If you find yourself at a point where you’ve changed who you are, compromising everything from your values to your dreams, in order to make life smooth and bump-free, you’ve gone too far.
Some people sacrifice too much for partners, friends, family or business and end up losing themselves along the way. Yes, you may have achieved certain things because of it, but looking at the bigger picture, you’ve lost a lot more than you’ve gained.
#2. You have to work yourself up to feeling excited
When ‘technically’ good things happen or fun events come up, you actively need to psych yourself up while other people are naturally excited. When we genuinely love or feel passionate about something, joy is a natural occurrence. If your mantra has become ‘fake it ‘til you make it,’ and you never quite feel like you’re making it, something is wrong.
#3. You’re regularly comparing
Whether it’s your career, your business, your family or relationship, you constantly find yourself comparing these things to what other people have. Instead of being happy for a friend who gets a promotion, you tell yourself, “Well, I have two kids and she’s single,” as you feel jealousy rising.
A little bit of competition can keep you motivated and everyone has moments of envy, but these should be insignificant compared to the contentment you feel. If you find that instead of being happy for people’s successes, you have to find something they’re missing from life to make yourself feel better, you’re just masking the fact that you’re unhappy with your own achievements.
#4. You feel tied to your commitments
Whether it’s that you’ve invested years of work and education into a specific career path or time and energy into decorating your home, you feel like the commitments you’ve made are holding you back. “I’d love to move to X and set up a B&B, but the kids are in a good school here” – that is someone feeling like they can’t achieve their dreams because of commitments.
Often these commitments can be adjusted and it’s the fear of change rather that the commitment itself holding you back.
#5. You find yourself making excuses for why you shouldn’t change
“I really want to do A, but I can’t because of X, Y and Z.” If this is something you find yourself saying regularly, you’re guilty of settling. People who are settling for less, spend most of their time trying to convince themselves they’ve made the right choice by staying in the life they currently have. This takes the form of making excuses and allows them to once again ignore the responsibility they should have for making their own happiness.
A mortgage or kids shouldn’t stop you from reaching your goal – it just means you may have to take a different path.
#6. You feel constantly drained
People who spend their days living life in a way that truly makes them happy, whether it’s running their own business or raising a family are no strangers to tiredness. Hard work can leave you longing for your bed, but in a healthy way, like after a good workout.
People who settle feel regularly drained instead of tired. Dragging yourself through a life you secretly or not-so-secretly feel is mundane takes far more energy and spirit from you than a full, but happy life ever will.
#7. You’re defending yourself to others
Those closest to us often recognise problems in our lives before we do. If you find close family and friends gently prodding to see if you’re ok and your reaction is immediately defensive, this is a classic sign that you’ve settled for something you’re not happy with.
Similarly, if you find yourself making excuses for things in your life because you THINK other people are thinking negatively about you, it may be time to look deeper and realise that those are actually the things you’re thinking.
#8. You rip on successful people
It may be people you know, neighbours or even famous people, but if you find yourself tearing successful people down, it’s probably because you’ve settled. Instead of recognising an achievement, you start listing advantages they had over you, such as a wealthy background, sheer good luck or that they did things that society considers greedy or selfish. (eg: a woman putting her career ahead of starting a family or a businessman moving his family to a city where his new company has a better chance of succeeding.)
You try to convince yourself that you’d have the same success if you had their advantages or hadn’t been so selfless, when really you’d have the same success if you just got off your butt.
#9. You say things like, “Well, it could be worse” or “Better the devil you know”
If you find that you’re regularly trying to convince yourself that the life you’re living isn’t THAT terrible, then it’s probably not that great. Saying “It could be worse” when a bad thing happens is normal, but saying, “Yeah, I’m working in a job I don’t like and I’m not getting paid enough, but it could be worse…” is a problem.
Life will never be constant peaches and cream, but ask yourself this: would you need to think of situations that are much worse if you were genuinely satisfied with the life you’re living?
#10. You say things like, “It has to get better eventually…”
A broken leg, The Terrible Twos, a work experience internship to bolster your CV – these are temporary things that are unpleasant but are actively leading you to a life goal. You don’t enjoy them, but you recognise that perks will come because of them and that keeps you moving.
However, if you’re looking at a long-term job or a relationship in that way, you’re guilty of settling. Passivity is the enemy of success. Looking at something significant in your life such as a marriage or career and saying “It’s bound to get better soon” is a problem. If you’re hoping something will get better, it NEEDS to get better and it is your responsibility to do it.
#11. You blame other people
Watch documentaries or read biographies or articles about successful people and you’ll see that every single one of them had setbacks and obstacles to overcome. Blaming ‘the system,’ your family, office enemies or anyone else for things you’re unhappy with is a classic sign of settling.
“I could have been a doctor, but my parents couldn’t afford to send me to college.” Sure, this was an obstacle to you becoming a doctor in the same timeframe as wealthier students, but YOU were the reason you NEVER became one. You let an obstacle make you choose an easier path but less satisfying road and settled.
#12. You’re all thought and no action
We’re all guilty of daydreaming about what we’d buy if we won the Lotto – it’s harmless and more than a little fun. But if you’re consistently dreaming about being your own boss, following a new career path, pursuing a hobby or having kids and never following through, you have settled.
Those very realistic dreams are stuck in your head for a reason – you want to achieve them, so stop settling for less.
#13. Sloth is highlight of your day
Most of us look forward to nice moments in our day or week – Sunday brunch with friends, an evening meal with family, Friday night drinks with co-workers. These are bonding moments that make our lives fuller and more meaningful.
However, if you spend most days just wanting to be alone with a glass of wine or motionless on a couch, there’s a problem. You’re wasting chunks of your existence away wishing for something to help you escape your life. You are guilty of settling.
How to stop settling for less than you deserve
Once you accept that you’re living a life you’ve settled for, it’s time to ask yourself a few very honest questions.
- What steps did I take or not take to get to this point?
- What decisions did I make or let someone else make for me in order to end up here?
- What is it about my life that’s making me unhappy?
- In what areas of my life do I feel I’ve settled?
- What is it that I really want to do?
Being honest with yourself about your situation in life is the first major step in Expectation Therapy. Once you have identified what it is you’re unhappy with and what it is you want, you’re ready to begin empowering yourself and reaching for the stars.
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Author & Conscious Comedian
“Wow! Where to begin? I am so grateful for Art’s expression and generous sharing of what this work has done for him and those of us who have applied his concepts to our lives. What a remarkable read. So simple. So profound. It exceeded my initial EXPECTATIONS and has transformed my way of living forever!”