How do you know if you are truly content in life or settling for less because you’re scared to reach for more? In this post, we explore what it means to never settle for less and why staying within your comfort zone is settling for less than your best life possible.
To live a passionate, purposeful, and fulfilling life, it’s important to never settle for less than you truly desire.
But we often do settle for less in our romantic relationships, careers, and other life areas because human nature seeks to keep us safe within our comfort zones. As such, we choose comfort and often don’t realize that in doing so, we’re sacrificing true happiness and fulfillment.
I can attest to this in my own life –
In my early 20’s, I fell into a prestigious and fast-paced career in the fashion industry in NYC. You might imagine this to be really glamorous and exciting, but it didn’t particularly excite me. Nevertheless, I figured that I was content enough and was making good money so I stuck with it.
But the truth was that I was settling for less and often felt as if I was just going through the motions. This left me unfulfilled in my career and in life in general for much of my young adult years.
Instead of actively trying to figure out my passions in life, I had begun to let life happen and stayed stuck in my comfort zone for a long time before finally deciding that I was done settling for less in life.
The only way to change that was to take life by the horns and work to make the best possible version of it for myself.
How about you? Are you in the driver’s seat or are you letting life happen? If you feel like you’re settling for less than you truly want in life, know that it’s within your power to create a better life for yourself.
Let’s discuss what it means to never settle for less, how to know if you’re holding yourself back, and 8 tips to never settle for less than your best life possible.
What Does Never Settle for Less Mean?
We often hear the phrase “never settle for less” in reference to our romantic relationships, and while that’s important, in this post we’re going to focus more on what it means to never settle for less in your relationship with yourself and your potential for a fulfilling life.
Everything else flows from the relationship you have with yourself and how you view your self-worth. When we believe we cannot have what we desire in life because we’re not worthy of it or we fail to see the goodness in life, we settle for less.
Of course, it’s not a bad thing to feel content in life. I admire those who feel truly satisfied with the good things they have, but there is a monumental difference between true contentment and complacency, although the line may be fuzzy at times.
We often convince ourselves that we’re content in life when we’re really settling for less than we desire because we’ve become accustomed to staying in our comfort zones. We’re afraid of taking risks and thus learn to accept where we are without even trying to create the life we truly want.
If you are not living up to your greatest potential in any area of your life, you are settling for less. I know it can be hard to admit it to yourself, but when you finally do, and begin to seek what you want out of life, that is when you will find true happiness and contentment.
“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”– Nelson Mandela
It might seem obvious to point out that we all only get one shot at life. Life is what you make of it and when you never settle for less in life, you can enjoy and live your life to the fullest.
But if that’s not enough motivation, below are some additional reasons that may convince you to stop accepting comfortable compromise when it comes to what you want out of life and instead never settle for less than all of the great things that are possible for you.
1.) Never settle for less means fostering your personal growth
It’s easy to get complacent in life. Fear keeps us “safe” within our comfort zones, but comfort zones are meant to keep us in the same place and if we never step beyond them, we cannot experience any growth.
If you never strive for those things outside of your comfort zone, not only are you never challenged, but this also keeps your world and your life small. Life experiences, whether good or bad, are always opportunities for growth and learning.
Never settle for less so that you can grow and experience the best version of what life has to offer.
2.) Never settle for less means feeling truly fulfilled
Settling for less may meet your need for safety and certainty, but it often will fall short when it comes to igniting your passions and connecting with your soul and true self.
It also prevents you from exploring your curiosity and true happiness and connection with others. Ultimately you won’t feel fulfilled in life when you settle for less.
3.) Never settle for less means having no regrets
If you were to write a letter to your younger self, what would you say? I doubt you would tell yourself to accept a bad relationship, hold back from going after what you want, or take the easy way and settle for less than you truly desire in life.
No, you’d likely tell yourself to dream big every single day, go after your greatest desires, and live life with no regrets. Don’t wait until it’s too late to never settle for less. Start now.
4.) Never settle for less means honoring yourself
When you never settle for less and make choices that reflect what you truly want, you honor yourself and prove that you value yourself.
The opposite also holds true – settling for less means disavowing your self-worth and ultimately this can lead to self-esteem issues. If you don’t treat yourself as worthy of what you truly desire, it can hurt your confidence and this further keeps you from moving forward.
5.) Never settle for less means reaching your full potential
What a waste it would be if the world never got to see how amazing you are. What if you never got to prove it to yourself?
In doing the bare minimum, you’re not testing your limits or pushing yourself to be better so how will you ever know your true potential?
How Do You Know When You’re Settling For Less?
We often settle for less in our relationships with romantic partners and even with our best friends. We accept bad behaviors or accommodate people who take more from us than they give, rather than seeking out healthy relationships and real connection with the right person.
We settle for less when it comes to our goals in life too. We convince ourselves that the timing isn’t right to start a new business venture or make a career change or tell ourselves that we’ll focus on our health goals or self-care once our kids are a little older and don’t need as much from us in a few months, which turns into a few years.
Why? Because what is familiar feels safe and oftentimes we don’t believe we’re capable of reaching for more or don’t deserve more. We convince ourselves that what we have is good enough and fail to see that it could be better.
It can be hard to realize when you’re settling, but once you do, you can begin to make new choices that support your desires and start going after what you want out of life. But most importantly, you begin to believe that you can have it.
Below are signs that can tell you when you’re settling for less in life.
- You’re generally unhappy – Your outlook for the future is pessimistic and you have to work really hard at it in order to feel happiness.
- You feel unworthy – You bargain with yourself about what you can do without and feel that you don’t deserve what you already have.
- You give more than you get – Your focus is solely on the time and energy you’ve invested into something and it’s hard to see what you’re getting out of it.
- You make excuses – Self-doubt and limiting beliefs cause you to make excuses about why you’re not going after what you truly want.
- You’re envious of others – You feel envious of others’ relationships, accomplishments, endeavors, etc.
How do you never settle for less?
Oftentimes we settle for less in life because we’re scared. Fear is our brain’s way of protecting us and sometimes our fears are valid and we should listen. But more often than not, fear is simply trying to keep us stuck in place.
It can be hard to know the difference between valid fears and those that are holding us back in life. It takes practice and self-exploration to decipher if your feelings of fear are warning signs of actual danger or simply a natural reaction to something new that may have the potential to broaden your horizons and encourage your growth.
It’s important that we try to dissect our fears so that we don’t get stuck in complacency and in “what we know”. That’s where the importance of practice and self-exploration comes in.
The more you push yourself outside of your comfort zone, the closer you will get to the point where you might still feel afraid of something new, but you’re comfortable enough with what you know and who you are to understand that you should not listen to your fear.
Instead, you find the courage push past fear and take it upon yourself to explore a new opportunity or different choice, despite it feeling scary.
As we said earlier, you make your world small when you live solely in your comfort zone. The more you do the things that scare you, the more you learn about yourself and the easier it becomes to dissect your fears. Furthermore, as you explore things outside of your comfort zone, the parameters of your zone widen more and more.
So take on the new and different things that might frighten you and learn to never settle for less with these 8 tips below.
1.) Set goals that scare you
It will feel safer to set goals that are easily attainable, but one way to make sure you never settle for less is to ensure that the goals you set scare you.
If your goals don’t scare you, just a little bit, then you know you are staying within your comfort zone and not pushing yourself to your fullest potential.
2.) Act with intention
One of the most effective ways to make sure you never settle for less is to take ownership of your life and start making intentional choices that reflect what you truly want.
Don’t wait for things to come to you, start taking action that will lead you where you want to go. On a similar note, if you don’t like the direction you’re headed, examine the choices you’ve been making and ask yourself if they align with what you want for your life.
It’s important to always check in and remind yourself of your “why” or the reason you are doing the things you do. Make sure you are putting your time and energy into those things that matter most to you.
Take ownership of your choices and you will see that this is how you create positive change in your life.
3.) Identify limiting beliefs
A limiting belief is a belief or thought you have about yourself that holds you back in some way. These beliefs come from a place of negativity and fear and often keep you from experiencing and exploring new opportunities, thus causing you to settle for less than what is possible.
Thoughts like “I’m not good at public speaking”, “I don’t have enough experience to get that job”, or “I’m not interesting enough to attract a loving partner” are all examples of limiting beliefs that may cause you to settle for less than you truly desire.
The trick is to learn how to catch these types of beliefs as you’re thinking them and reframe them into something more positive. Also, ask yourself if they are really true and if they’re serving you (hint – they’re not!).
Once you’re able to stop your limiting beliefs in their tracks, you will find it easier to never settle for less in multiple areas of your life.
4.) Get comfortable with “failure”
When you start taking on new challenges and opportunities, it’s inevitable that you will not always have success. It may take a few tries before you get it right and it’s important to understand and accept that.
Get comfortable with failing at things and see your “failures” as opportunities for growth and learning. This growth mindset will help you to take more risks and push past your fear of failure to never settle for less than your potential.
5.) Raise your standards
Albert Einstein once said that “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”.
I’m not sure I agree with that as the definition of insanity, but there is truth to the latter part of the statement. You can’t expect to keep doing what you’ve always done and not get exactly the same results.
You must learn that if you want to achieve something more than the status quo, then you have to continuously raise your standards and set the bar higher.
Ask yourself, is this enough for me, or do I want more? If your answer is more, set your standards for more, strive for more, expect more, and never settle for less than that.
6.) Find a role model
We often think that jealousy is a poor character trait, but you can use that jealousy to positively impact your life. If you are envious of someone you view as a successful person who has what you want in life, use that person as your role model.
What exactly does that person have that you want? How does that person live? What do they do on a daily basis to support the life they have, the life that you want?
Then you can examine what improvements you need to make in your own life to achieve what you want and make sure you never settle for less than that.
7.) Hold yourself accountable
You have to be able to rely on yourself to keep the promises you make and do the things you say you’re going to do. With each small thing you hold yourself accountable to, you will find that your trust in yourself grows and you will build the confidence to tackle larger goals.
Holding yourself accountable will help you learn to expect the best from yourself and never settle for less.
8.) Support your vision
It is one thing to know what you want in life and another to go after it with purpose and intention. In order to never settle for less than all you desire, you need to create the structure and systems in your life to support your vision and the big goals you set.
This involves creating healthy habits and routines, systems and processes, as well as setting appropriate boundaries that will help you work towards your vision.
Make it as easy as possible for you to succeed in never settling for less than your best life possible.
Is there a better reason to never settle for less in life than the fact that we only have one life to live?
Being content with what you have in life is admirable and is what we all desire. That’s why it’s important to ask yourself from time to time if you are truly content or if you’re settling.
Never settle for less than true contentment and happiness so you can lead the life of joy and purpose that you deserve!
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Carly is a wife, mom, and former NYC fashion industry executive turned writer and life coach. Through her writings on littlevoicebigmatter.com, she shares practical advice, heartfelt insights, and actionable resources to inspire and support women in motherhood, relationships, wellness, and life. Carly also helps women create better balance in their lives and live with more joy, purpose, and connection every day through her coaching.