“The biggest human temptation is to settle for too little.”
“At any given point you have the power to say, this is not how the story is going to end.”
I sometimes believe one of the toughest games we play in life is the tug of war between reaching and settling.
Ponder. We do it in business all the time.
“What is our reach goal? … okay … let’s make it a little more realistic.”
Uhm. Is that a reach goal … or a settling goal?
Every day and in almost every situation not only are you mentally, as an individual, assessing ‘reach’ versus ‘more certain attainment’ , but everyone around you is sending conflicting signals – “we want to reach a little farther than we think we are capable of … oh … but not too far“.
WTF. This is enough to confuse anyone. You either reach far or you don’t. You either set a settling goal or you don’t.
But, for fuck’s sake, don’t make my head hurt more than it has to on some decisions and choices because you want to feel like ‘we have pushed the limits’ in some false way.
Look. I’m not suggesting this is easy. Our natural temptation is to settle for a little less than a true reach because then we are more likely to meet expectations and less likely to be disappointed. I would guess we settle in some form or fashion 90% of the time. I really cannot argue with doing shit this way.
It is simply a tactic to maintain our sanity as we attempt, in reaching our desires & dreams, to limit the roll of the dice between chance & choice. We do so because we know disappointment lurks around every corner of every choice we ever make. And, let’s be honest, the disappointment can show up in so many frickin’ ways it almost seems like meeting a reach expectation comes only in black & white … while disappointments can show up in a myriad of colors .
I would like to note here that it really doesn’t help that we constantly get crap advice like this: ‘I encourage people to create something that ONLY you understand. That ONLY you get, because that can make you feel like you have some sort of purpose.’ Look. I absolutely buy the fact a reach goal should be personal or at least contain some aspect of personal so that it just isn’t some bland milestone objective someone else has pointed you at.
But. Well. If you are gonna reach for something, truly reach, part of the prize at the end of the reaching isn’t holding something that only you ‘get’, but rather something you gain that others also see value in. In poetic terms … you want something that covers you in colors that others can see.
“And now I’m covered in the colors”
And maybe that is where settling really screws us.
We don’t reach far enough to access the true colors to cover our achievements in to make it worth looking at over and over again.
Regardless. We live in a black & white achievement and outcomes world, not a color world.
While we talk a good game with regard to good character and humanity and ‘purpose driven’ passions almost within the first 5 minutes of any discussion you are gonna get “what do you do” and “what have you done.” If all you can do is talk about “reaching shit” then … well … you are useless as a non-achieving dreamer.
But. If you can point out a string of specific outcomes and achievements most people don’t ask or wonder if they were easily attainable or the fact you attained them was because you had ‘settled for something less than a reach’ … all they do is think of you as a useful achieving productive person.
And therein lies the horrible fate of ‘reaching.’ While we hate the fact that meeting the expectations of others means something, well, it means something. We can try to live a Life not worrying about other people and their expectations but unless our ‘doing compass’ miraculously always points us in the right direction and unless our ‘reach’ is impeccably judged correctly every time and unless the cat’s cradle web of choice & chance happens to fall into perfect symmetry we are doomed to have to face someone’s expectations at some point.
“It’s time for you to live your own life without worrying about the expectations of others.”
Every day we get tugged side to side … reach or settle.
Here is what I know. If you settle for everything, your story will be illustrated in the blacks & whites of certainties, achievements and outcomes. You will try and color the black & whites in some odd colors to spruce them up but (sigh), they are black & white.
If you never reach for anything, you will end you story with chapters of regrets and ‘’what ifs.’ You will have touched only grays and your access to ‘colors’ will be limited. If you reach for something and fall short, your story will have two key chapters:
the first is one filled with the failure to reach & the disappointments
the second is written by how you react to the reach disappointment – avoid future disappointment or seek to try & do better.
If you reach for something, and get it, you will never be the same again. You will have touched colors and seen that life is much more than black and white.
Please. Don’t anyone read anything too much into the ‘what I know’ portion because while the last one I wrote sounds exactly like what everyone wants … there are no guarantees in Life.
Reaching comes with a cost.
Settling comes with a cost.
And sometimes the cost is not dictated by you but rather by some choice & chance metric . And sometimes the prize, the benefit, can only be seen by you .
I imagine all I really know for sure is that, in general, we settle for far too little far too often.
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This post was previously published ion Enlightened conflict and is reprinted with the permission of the author.
Photo courtesy Pixabay.