“The minute you SETTLE for less than you deserve, you get even less than you settled for.” – Maureen Dowd
Have you been reasonable and responsible for so long, you habitually give up what calls you? What toll is SETTLING taking on your quality of life?
I was headed to Los Angeles to work with some consulting clients. As I scrolled through the hotel options on Expedia, I noticed a deep discount on the Jamaican Inn in Marina Del Ray, only ten minutes from LAX.
Let’s see. A box hotel by the airport or a boutique hotel on the water for the same price? What shall I do, what shall I do? Suffice it to say I went with the more innovative option.
While checking in, the front desk clerk asked, “Where you from?”
“I’m in the middle of my Year by the Water.”
She was so intrigued with my adventure, she spontaneously upgraded me to a waterfront suite. I walked into the magnificent room and straight out onto the balcony. It was golden hour, that magical time of day right before the sun sets. I looked out at the palm trees and the boats, breathed in the sea air and marveled at the pelicans doing majestic fly-bys.
In the middle of my reverie, a friend called for our monthly checkin. Glenna could tell from my voice how happy I was and asked, “What’s going on?” I told her how much I loved being in this stunning room with its thrilling view of the marina.
Glenna was puzzled. She said, “Sam, you’re on your Year by the Water. Don’t you normally stay on the water?”
I told her I was on a budget and often opted for less expensive back-of-the-property rooms instead of the higher-priced rooms with a view. She paused, then said, “Wouldn’t you rather spend six months overlooking the water than twelve months overlooking the parking lot?”
Yes I would, Glenna. Yes I would.
Think of this as a metaphor. It isn’t just about which hotel room we select.
The essence of Glenna’s insight was, “Have we been sensible and emotionally and fiscally frugal for so long, we no longer even ask for what would make us happy? Are we settling for parking lots when waterfront rooms are what we really want?”
I understand the importance of being responsible, realistic and reasonable. Yet many of us are doing this to a fault. We have become so accustomed to compromising what we want and settling for less, it has become our default.
Many of the people I met on my travels and interviewed for my SOMEDAY is Not a Day in the Week book told me it’s been so long since they’ve had the freedom to do what makes them happy, they no longer know what that is.
How about you? Have you been sacrificing what you want, or putting everyone else first for so long, you’ve forgotten what it feels like to do what calls you – even for an hour or a day?
At some level, do you think you can’t afford to do what makes you happy?
Janis Joplin said, “We are what we settle for.”
Notice, she didn’t say we GET what we settle for. She said we ARE what we settle for.
What are you settling for?
Granted, as leaders, parents and partners, we need to put other people’s needs first most of the time. However, we need to balance our service to others with service to ourselves.
Doing what we really want – once in a while – is a gift that keeps on giving.
I can hardly describe how happy it makes me to be in, on and around water. It makes my soul sing and my mind soar. It set up a happiness ripple effect that positively affects me, and everyone around me, for days.
What does that for you? What sets up a happiness ripple effect? One way to update the “settle default” and tap back into buried, compromised or sacrificed wants, needs and dreams is to ask yourself:
* What if I could play hooky for a day or an afternoon?
* What would I do, where would I go, if there were no repercussions and all my responsibilities would be taken care of?
* What would I do if I didn’t have to be sensible, if I didn’t have to settle?
* What would I do if I could afford it?
The answer(s) to those questions can reveal a “calling activity” that would lift your spirits and give you something joyful to look forward to.
Life isn’t supposed to be a drudge. We are meant to be happy. Doing what puts the light on in our eyes – making time for a calling activity – isn’t indulgent, it’s inspiring.
I am not suggesting we can – or should – do what we want ALL the time. We continue to take care of, and be financially and emotionally responsible to, the people counting on us.
Yet we also take care of ourselves. And that means doing what makes our soul sing and our mind soar every once in a while – without apology or guilt.
That means getting in, on or around water (or whatever lifts your spirits and makes your soul smile) instead of giving up what you really want and settling for the parking lot.
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Sam Horn, CEO of the Intrigue Agency and TEDx speaker – has the best of all worlds. Her work has been featured in NY Times and on NPR, taught to NASA, Intel, Boeing, YPO, Accenture, and she helps clients create one-of-a-kind books, TEDx talks, brands. Contact Cheri@intrigueAgency.com to work with Sam or arrange for her to speak to your group.