Career Magazine

What Happens When You Settle for Second Best

By Rebecca_sands @Rebecca_Sands

Daily Inspiration Board

A little lesson from yoga class

This was a theme from one of our yoga classes this week. The teacher asked us, what happens when you go to the same place in this pose that you do every time? What happens when you don’t allow yourself to reach your full limits, your full potential, and seek a little bit more of yourself? That’s called settling. I realised at that moment that in a lot of ways, I’ve been settling in my life when it comes to my own actions. Often I do hold the yoga pose at the same old spot because it’s where I know I can go; it’s where I’m comfortable. (Well, at the edge of my comfort zone at least). I probably could go further, and sweat a little more, but I’m not in the practice of consistently pushing the needle to get more. After all – why? Then the teacher said something interesting. She said that not going for something more, and settling, actually feels worse than the discomfort that you have to experience in that moment, to get yourself to the next level. And I realised that what she was saying was certainly true for me.

I think it’s fine to ‘settle’ at times, but there needs to be a balance of reaching for more. Staying stuck in the same old patterns of thinking and behavior can drive one crazy after a while. Particularly if these patterns are at best, self-limiting and at worst, destructive.

What would happen if you held yourself to a higher standard for everything that you do?

I wondered what would happen if I held myself to a higher standard for everything that I do. Just a little. Whether this be food choices, or yoga, or how I spend my spare time. (We hold ourselves to higher standards at work religiously – why not for ourselves?). Even if I don’t go as far as I’d like (I have a tendency towards perfectionism, which is completely unattainable, I know), then how about I just push the needle a tiny bit further with every choice, every action. How would that affect my life? It’s certainly more realistic than trying to achieve perfection.

According to Anthony Robbins in his book, Awaken the Giant Within, the reason why a lot of people don’t set goals is due to a fear of failure. This is also a form of perfectionism. I’ve struggled with fear of failure a lot in my life. Although there’s no easy way around it, the best way is through the practice of self-love and self-compassion. Like anything, you just have to work at this consistently to become efficient. You don’t ever arrive at self-love – it is a constant work in progress. There’s also no such thing as an overnight fix for a fear of failure – you just have to continue to inch your way forward. Feel the feeling of fear, and go ahead with it anyway.

What stops us from stretching ourselves and holding ourselves to higher standards?

I find that it’s similarly a fear of failure that prevents us from stretching ourselves further and making ourselves accountable to higher standards.

For me, I think that it’s realistic, feasible and actually very compassionate towards myself to hold myself to a slightly higher level of standards for each and everything. For example, sure I can have a coffee in the morning, but do I really need a second one? Or third? Instead, perhaps I could make the decision to stick with the one.

The exhausting decision-making process

While we’re on the topic of decisions, I find the whole process of decision-making can be draining. I love being the master of my own life; I love making bigger decisions; but I find that the exhaustive amount of decisions we’re faced with on a daily basis can wear you down slowly, chipping away at you until you feel cracked and sore and more than a little confused. Which coffee? Which snack? What’s for breakfast? Should I go to the gym today? What’s for dinner? Should I watch TV tonight or write? Should I spend time this weekend working on my course or should I spend time with friends? Should I drink soy milk or almond milk? Which type of soy? Which type of almond milk? Which type of almonds? Should I be cutting out bread? If so, can I still eat soy and linseed organic loaf from the bakery?

You get my drift. Don’t get me wrong – this is obviously a great problem to have; to be faced with too many choices, rather than a lack of choice. However, it can wear you out in time and I actually find that it can push me towards wrong decisions in the end because I just get so sick of all of the choices, and the choices within the choices, that I just go with whatever I’ve had in the past.

The best way to eliminate too many decisions from your life

The best way to free yourself from decision-making is to form habits and routines. This is the way I’ve achieved my goals in the past. Create a repetitive action around what it is that you decide you do want to do, and you will free yourself largely from decision making. Don’t even give yourself the choice. Being relieved of having to make constant tiny choices about every single little thing that you do actually frees your mind up to focus on the bigger and more important decisions in life.

When has setting higher standards worked in your life?

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