How to stop settling for less in life

I recently met an acquaintance from my old mountain town by the highway. She was clearing out her garden and had some perennials to share and was willing to stop on her way to Edmonton. With luck, I got a box. After thanking her, she said something profound to me, “I really admire you going after your dreams”.

This gets remarked to me often and each time it happens, I have more questions. It’s a huge red flag that you are playing it safe in your life – settling for what you think you should. It says that you are craving new experiences and want to go after your passion yet you’ve blocked yourself. If you’re sitting on the sidelines admiring me for going after my dreams, I would bet dollars to donuts that you are not going after yours. Or at least not how you truly want to.

This is the number one question people remark to me. And under it is the real questions –
How do you go after your dreams? Why aren’t you scared like me?

Acknowledging what causes us to settle

Change equals movement plus adventure.

Change is the transitions that happens in our lives, and it causes movement in our minds, bodies and spirits and then we embark on grand adventures. I like to think about change as an adventure because when I go for an adventure, I prepare the best I can, however I’m usually met with situations that I didn’t prepare for. Adventure is entering on to a new trail into with a cheerful attitude, a backpack full of tools & nourishment, and a willingness to explore and get curious. Adventure happens outside of your comfort zone.

Settling is the opposite – it’s playing it safe, staying put where you are, and refusing adventure on the grounds that you don’t know what will happen. It’s our default habit because it’s known, it’s already tangible to us. Settling means we don’t have to risk being vulnerable. We don’t have to show up with a good attitude, we don’t have to pack our backpacks with nourishment or tools we’ve refined. We can just float along with our current self-soothing (and self sabotaging) methods – food, alcohol, drugs, shopping. We are not curious at all – in fact, when we see different attitudes, ways or healthy adventure, we’re defensive. We lash out at the people who are creating change and doing things differently, because it’s safer to stay in our unawareness. Over time, this turns into unhealthy outcomes like depression, addiction, debt and weight gain.

When we settle, our dreams are suffocated. There’s no space for them to grow.

The true fear within settling is fear.

Digging deeper under settling is really just fear of the unknown.  Fear of the unknown means you’re afraid of anything that outside of your comfort zone, anything that might be perceived as strange or foreign. And well, that’s everything beyond what you’ve already done.

Needless to say, that means when we are going after our dreams, we are going to encounter this fear of the unknown. In Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic, she explains this as that on every adventure you’re embarking on – you have Fear & Creativity in the car with you. Fear is a part of the journey, and we can’t ignore the fact it’s coming along with us. But we can make sure that Fear is in the backseat and not driving!

The epiphany of things must change.

The power of making lasting change is always proceeded with awareness. There is this horrifying moment where you become aware of that you settled. You realize that what you’ve created simply is not line with you, your vision or your values. You may become angry, horrified or even down right disgusted with yourself. It’s okay to feel every single one of these feelings. It’s okay to admit to yourself that this is NOT what you want.

This place of epiphany is the place to start. It’s the birth place of real, sustainable and lasting change.

It’s the start of the Trail.