There’s a difference between settling for less and settling in.
I feel like I should say it one more time for the people in the back.
There is a difference between settling for less and settling in.
One is lowering your standards, the other is sticking around even when the magic wears off.
There’s a lot going around right now that tells us over and over NOT to settle, and I love that. There’s been way too many times between my Mondays and Sundays that I look at something in my life and in myself and just accept that “this is how it’s always going to be.” Thank the Lord there are plenty of people in my life who lovingly shout wake up calls into my mindsets and say things like:
EARTH TO MADS.
Are you calling this bad habit you have a “personality trait” of yours? That’s not true. Don’t settle for that. You are 100% better than that. Get. To. Work. On. It.
Are you content to be friends with someone who leaves you feeling walked all over every single time you talk to them? That’s not healthy. You’re not being mean if you start creating a lot of distance.
That job that doesn’t use any of your giftings or interests, consumes tons of your time, yet provides zero fulfillment? You can do something about that. You aren’t stuck here. You have options. (For the record, I love my current job. This was a while ago.)
You can choose to change your life for the better on this afternoon right here.
Bob Goff, one of my favorite authors, says in his first book (Love Does): “It’s Thursday. Quit something.”
Seriously. Quit something.
Being a quitter gets a lot of criticism, but if you are quitting the right things, it is a fantastic exercise.
Unhealthy people, jobs, habits, traits, mindsets, etc. will not just “find the door and use it” on their own. We have to go against the current on this. If we are not actively pursuing becoming better versions of ourselves, we will drift the other way. While there is no guarantee that we will each get career fulfillment, wonderful friendships, an amazing relationship, buckets of patience, excellent character, and a three-week vacation in the calendar, I can guarantee you that you won’t wake up one day with any of the above without an intentional, substantial amount of effort on your part. Preaching to myself.
I know it’s not Thursday, but you can take Bob Goff’s idea and use it on Tuesday too.
Quit complaining for a day, and then a week. Quit jumping to conclusions or assuming the worst about people before they’ve had a chance to explain their thought process. And then keep quitting it each and every day. Quit being impatient for 30 seconds at a time. And then add 30 more seconds. Quit thinking that you can’t quit. Don’t settle for being less than who you know you can be.
This coin has another side.
With “DON’T SETTLE” being shouted from the rooftops all day, every day, it can be easily misinterpreted to mean: “At the first sight of storm clouds on the horizon JUMP SHIP.” And as a result, we end up wandering souls, hopping from place to place, looking for the “perfect” job, the “perfect” city, the “perfect” church, the “perfect” friendship, or the “perfect” relationship so we don’t feel like we’re “settling.”
When we come to new places, new opportunities, and meet new people, we’re living out of a suitcase. Ready to move on at a moment’s notice with a whisper in our thoughts that says, “What if there is something better?”
It’s the ultimate disguise of our constant “fear of missing out”. That whisper? It asks, “What if there is something better?” But it’s a candy-coated deception. It’s actually asking me to consider if there is something easier. Something that will give me my way faster. “What if there is something better?”
This wouldn’t be such a deceptive question if we were always in our right minds when we heard this whisper. But most of the times I’m thinking that are the times I am frustrated. Impatient. Bored. Not feeling very admired and instead very ordinary. And that whisper asks me, “What if there is something better?” And in my mind, my definition of better is jumping to all kinds of things. Something that will always make me feel royal. Always avoid testing my patience. Always give me my way. Always make me happy.”
Do you see it? Do you hear it?
Do you see how subtle it is at first but how quickly you realize the selfishness in it when you voice what it is actually asking? There’s so much entitlement in this. It’s all about us, our convenience, and what makes life easier for us. It’s saying, “I shouldn’t have to deal with this.” As if we’re above it somehow.
Granted, there are plenty of things, like I talk about on the other side of the coin above, that we are better than. That we shouldn’t settle for. But most of the time, when I think, “Am I settling? Could there be something better?” I’m not thinking of what is actually better for me in the long run. I’m thinking of what will get me what I want the fastest and the easiest. Not healthy, but lazy. Not humble, but entitled.
When we jump ship with the “don’t settle” anthem, we are essentially saying, “They owe me [fill in the blank]. And I’m not getting it. So cya.”
We don’t exercise our ability to confront hard things. We don’t experience the character building involved in “staying put” when the weather gets a little drizzly and the magic of the new job starts to wear off and you remember that it really is work. When the rose-colored glasses that come with the 50 first dates slip off your nose for a moment and you realize that he is human just like you. When that city you moved to doesn’t automatically transform you into an organized, on-time, ultra-productive, multi-tasking guru with her own YouTube channel for her shopping hauls, evening skin routines, and cute golden retriever. (Still preaching to myself.)
Can we just take a second and imagine what it would be like if I treated cities this way because of the weather on a given day? Okay it’s been sunny for 6 days straight but now it’s raining. Raining doesn’t make me happy. I deserve sunshine and 73 degrees every single day. I’m leaving.
No. What’s the much more normal response to rain? We get ourselves inside the home that we’ve made where we gather with people we love. We settle in to wait out the rain, and in the meantime, we focus on other things we enjoy. Those things get us through until it’s sunny again.
Eventually, no matter who you’re with, or where you are, or what job you have, or which church you’re in, a rainy day or two is going to arrive. And we can’t arrange our lives around when the rainy days are because then our lives become all about what we get out of it.
How happy we are. How good we look. How successful we feel.
But we haven’t made a home there. We live out of a suitcase, waiting for anything “less than perfect” to show its face and give us an excuse to be on our way.
When we don’t settle in and let ourselves invest in places and people, we don’t have a place to turn to when the rains come.
It looks promising at the start because there’s pixie dust all over it, and then…we bump into a person or a scenario that brings out the part of us that we don’t like (again), even though we had hoped this new friend, job, city, church, or relationship was going to fix it for us.
And in the midst of seeing that doubt in ourselves, that messiness, that pride that says, “I deserve no less than royal treatment and a paycheck for every scroll through Instagram even though I’m only 22,” we get two options.
We can listen to the “Don’t Settle” anthem playing everywhere, make an excuse about the dangers of “Settling” and “What we’re missing out on”, zip up our unpacked bags, and go searching for the next thing that will make us temporarily forget our problems.
We can stare at whatever it is that is making us wanna run for it and think long and hard.
Is this job making me want to leave because it’s been a stressful month, it’s getting really hard, and I’m not liking the amount of effort it’s requiring of me now? Is it pointing to my laziness and my entitled mindset? –Or is this making me want to leave because it really is settling for something that won’t help me become a better version of myself?
Is this guy making me want to leave because he isn’t feeding my self esteem every single day with amazing compliments, planning surprise dates each weekend, or seeming as flawless as I thought he was with every habit and mindset that he has? Is this revealing my insecurity, control issues, and co-dependency? –Or is he making me want to leave because he treats me unkindly, speaks to me disrespectfully, and he is not consistently intentional about becoming a better version of himself and encouraging me to do the same?
Am I leaving because it’s easier than staying or am I leaving because it’s the healthy thing to do?
Am I settling for less because it’s the easy, lazy way (and I’m secretly afraid I won’t find something better than this) or am I settling in despite some cloudy days because I know this is where I’m meant to be right now?
Sometimes healthy looks like not settling, kicking the dust from your shoes and moving on. Other times healthy looks like settling in, making a home for myself here in this place with these people, letting my roots grow down deep for…however long it takes.
I’ve learned that living out of a suitcase keeps your roots above ground, and that sometimes “not settling” is just an excuse to justify my own fear, discomfort, and whatever is inconveniencing me that I don’t want to deal with.
I’ve learned that in the end, people who are truly settling in don’t care about the time involved. They don’t have to wonder if they will be around next month or next year. They just know they are meant to “be where their feet are” like Hannah Brencher says. And being where your feet are is a present tense presence. The important thing is: I’m adding another home to the geography of my lifetime. This place, this job, this church, these people I let myself love. And it’s all going to look well-lived in and well-loved and timeless.
This way, on those days when my glasses don’t have rosy lenses, I will have some roots, some cozy couches, some investments into these people and places, that will remind me once more why I chose to be here.