Among Americans there is perhaps no greater personal affront than “settling for less than I deserve.” “Go for the Gold” is our clarion cry! If we are to believe the media, we hate “settling” for everything from Formica counter tops in a new home, to automobiles with anemic horsepower, to imperfect spouses.
Settling for less implies that we are doing ourselves an injustice. In many cases this may be true in dealing with certain relationships or when we allow ourselves to be manipulated by others or by our own poor decisions and choices. We also know that no athlete can get up a proper head of steam if he or she is casually settling for a silver or bronze medal. Yet even the Olympics value the play over the reward.
When we condition ourselves never to settle for less under any circumstances, we risk judging ourselves. This posture may invite our saboteurs to do their dirty work. Those inner voices tell us that if we don’t get what we want in life, or always achieve our highest goals, we are failures and our lives don’t have value.
Yet achieving something less than the perfect ideal in a graceful manner is often the smart thing to do. Most of the time, we are in competition only with ourselves; and it’s a heated battle between our inner judge and our wiser, more centered self.
Knowing that we ought to accept imperfection, that we may need to break down our exalted goals into bite-sized pieces, that we should focus more on what we need than what we want, is actually a very intelligent position most of the time. In this moment how are you framing the major goals of your life? What are the steps you need to establish even though you may not reach your ultimate goal? What is your backup plan in case your first goals cannot be achieved? Are you willing to work with yourself and with new strategies, without judging yourself or others? After all, you are not your goals.
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