Don’t settle for less than you deserve

The last few years I’ve often been frustrated listening to people complain about the same things about their unfulfilling jobs or relationships. I’m including myself as being one of those people sometimes.

When I finally noticed how much I was complaining to my friend about the same issues, I realized I had two choices: stay in the same situation and keep complaining, or taking control of the situation to get out of an unhealthy environment. This doesn’t mean running away from a problem by any means. Usually if I have a problem, I will do what I can to change it to improve the situation or speak up to the right people. But if the person in charge isn’t willing to change, then at that point it’s up to me if I choose to stay in the same cycle.

A big barrier I see people often creating for themselves is they don’t believe that they deserve the better job, a better partner, a better lifestyle, a better school, whatever! So they settle. And I hate settling or when people believe you should just take what you can get because I know I deserve better, and so do you.

I’ve grown up so independently and made my own decisions to do what I want, whether it’s choosing jobs or choosing to take a year and a half off to explore the world just because I want to. So when I meet people, particularly in places where women do not have full independence to make their own decisions, it is very frustrating to listen to how restricted they are. And hearing these stories often used to make me even more irritated that some people I know who have the full freedom to get a better job or partner don’t do so.

Settling for unhealthy relationships

I’ve seen and heard too many stories of people sacrificing their own interests or careers because they lose their identity with the people they are dating. Some people have stopped doing their hobbies because their partner would make fun of them while others have completely lost touch with their closest friends who know them best when they have a new relationship with an inadequate person. So they settle.

Some people fear being single and literally don’t know how to be a single person. It’s dangerous to rely on someone else’s approval to feel validated because people can be easily manipulated without realizing it. Your opinion of yourself is ultimately the only one that matters. It can take a long time,  but embracing and accepting yourself is extremely important.

Yes, I’m totally going to do it; I’m going to quote a professional whom I watched on Oprah years ago. What she said really stuck out to me when she was commenting on people in abusive relationships. She said, “A relationship is not about one person filling the gap of another. A strong relationship is two whole people coming together.”

Settling for unfulfilling jobs

People often treat their jobs like they treat their relationships: They settle for a job that is mundane and just good enough because they know it will be there, the other party is confident the person won’t leave because they think they don’t have any other choice, and simply because they have been in that relationship for a long time. So quitting may not seem like the most logical thing because they’ll have to start over and fear the unfamiliar future. It’s like taking driving the same route all the time because you know how to get there and you won’t get lost in an unfamiliar path.

But if you explore and take a different road, you will discover all the beautiful things that exist on different paths that have been waiting for you the whole time. Even if you get lost, it’s part of an unpredictable and exciting experience that you deserve to enjoy.

Unless you are one of the few people in the world who knows what you are passionate about, trying anything and everything that interests you is the best way to discover what drives you. It’s taken me about eight job roles the past 10 years to realize how much I love training and educating people. I never imagined myself being some kind of teacher but I find it very rewarding when someone learns a new skill. The more experience you get from volunteering, working, trying new courses or exploring new hobbies, the more tools you will have in your belt to get different jobs.

Our generation is very different from our parents. Both my parents were lifers in their jobs and I’m exactly the opposite. My mom was with the same company for 36 years while my dad worked as a nurse his whole life. As for me, I haven’t been in the same role for more than a year and a half the past 10 years. I’m constantly looking for something that is challenging, changing, rewarding and fulfilling.

When I was watching an interview from one of the owners of the quickly growing and very successful company Stella and Dot , the owner remortgaged her house when she had two kids and made other sacrifices to make the company even bigger. The interviewer said, “You’re quite the risk-taker.” And she replied, “I’m a risk lover. I’m more afraid of feeling trapped in a job that I don’t like.” Read more on these smart, savvy and centered women who built a business now worth 450 million dollars from the ground up.

“With Stella & Dot I have found my calling. I’ve done other things that have been commercially successful, but it’s not enough. It left me wanting more, and that feeling of wanting more led me down this path. What we do really matters. We empower women.”—Jessica Herrin

A healthy foundation

Like a building, people need to have a strong foundation in order to rise up  and reach their goals. Having a strong foundation includes having confidence in yourself, having a solid group of people who will support you and knowing what you deserve. When you have a strong foundation and get knocked down by a negative person, you can easily rebuild in time.

But if you don’t have a strong base, negative people will build to their own vision, not yours. And before you know it, you won’t even realized that you’re in a one-way system. Do what you need to do to explore your own interests, pursue your goals and build the vision for yourself.

Getting over the fear

Friendly girls we met in Bali, Indonesia

I came across a good quote that said, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” It may feel easier to stay in the boring job or unfulfilling relationship because it’s comfortable. There is a routine, you get something out of it, but at your mental and emotional expense in the long run. We have one life to live, so live it.

I really believe that people grow when they put themselves in challenging situations, face it, and do it again. Staying in our comfort bubble won’t allow us to do what we really want.

One of the most challenging things I had to get over was shyness when I was growing up. People who know me now wouldn’t believe how socially awkward and quiet I was as a child and a teenager. But at 16 years old, I pushed myself to speak after having such little confidence in my ability to make friends. When I discovered I didn’t completely repel people, I started talking more and kept pushing myself to speak until I got more comfortable with people. Now I’m 28 years old and can make friends easily wherever I am in the world.

But I could have easily stayed in my bubble, taken the same road and simply avoid people wherever I could. You know that quote that says do one thing that scares you a day? It’s not a bad exercise.

Read the story of Choan Sambat, an inspiring Cambodian man who overcame many obstacles to get an education and use what he earned to open up a school to educate children in his community. He had a vision for himself to get an education, become self-sufficient and give back to his community. If he can accomplish what he did with few resources, we all have the ability to pursue our goals.

Next steps

If you have a part of your life that you want to improve, do the following:

  1. Go to a quiet place and really think about what you would like to improve in your life: your job, a skill, your relationship, your hobbies. Or write down must-have qualities that you want from your partner or future partner.
  2. What vision do you have for those parts of your life?
  3. Tell yourself why you deserve it
  4. Brainstorm your next steps to pursue it and find good friends who will support you in reaching your goals and hold you accountable to take your next move

“If you cry because the sun has gone out of your life, your tears will prevent you from seeing the stars.”― Rabindranath Tagore

Don’t settle for less than you deserve! If people say you can’t do it, you can say, “Watch me.”