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In what areas of your life are you settling for less than you deserve? How would you feel if you were able to overcome fear and start living to your full potential? Don't give up now, you already have what you need to begin living the best life you can possibly imagine – all you need is to realize it!

Do you know someone who has settled for what they can get, instead of going for what would truly make them happy? Think of how many people you know who are just treading water in their jobs, settling for so-so relationships, or living in a place they hate. Why settle for just enough, when you can have what you really want?  

In our experience there are a few reasons why people often settle for less than what they truly want. Typically, people settle because they don’t know how to free themselves from their fear or because they have lost a connection with what’s most important to them.

When fear is what’s stopping someone from achieving what they want, they might be afraid of many different things: They might be afraid of failing, afraid of not being accepted, afraid of what they don't know, or afraid of disappointment. Fear is a powerful force that can create cynicism and doubt, which can keep us from pursuing the things we really want in life. The good news is that when we realize it’s our cynicism or self-doubt that is standing in our way, we can use it to reconnect with what’s truly important to us and choose a new direction.

“A cynical person is just a very passionate person who is trying to avoid being disappointed again.” ~ Benjamin Zander, The Art of Possibility

The thing about being cynical is that, behind all that skepticism and doubt, there is a whole lot of passion. On the flip side, if we simply didn't care about something, we would lack the energy that comes with being cynical. And without energy, we may never propel ourselves forward.

Fearful thinking and disconnecting from our core values is something that is learned very early in life. When we observe the people around us being cynical, disappointed and fearful we take these ideas on as the truth. These fears start to spread throughout our bodies, overtaking us, as we are told by others what to think, how to act, and what is correct and incorrect. Pretty soon, after being rewarded for "good" behavior and punished for "bad", our hopes and expectations are often smothered; and we are conditioned to settle for less and less.

We begin to adopt the "truths" that authority figures give to us, losing the will to challenge them, as we are trained to follow the rules.

It is not our intention to undermine societal wisdom or ritual in this article. But we do hope to point out some of the dangers of not teaching critical thinking and not staying connected to one's own personal values.  

It becomes difficult for us to harmonize our actions with our values when we lack the skill necessary to identify them for ourselves. This causes internal confusion within ourselves about what values truly matter to us in our daily lives and we lose the ability to live our best life right here, in this very moment.

It's easy for us to complain about our daily lives, “I hate my life!” “I hate my job, my wife, my husband..." But we've really never been taught how to identify what it is about our situation that conflicts with our values. We lack the skills to pause a minute and think, "What would truly make me happy in this certain situation?" or, "How can I change this situation to better align with my own values?"

Early in our lives we were told not to ask for what we want. We learned by example (from authority figures) that it is selfish to ask for what’s important to you. We may have even been explicitly told that asking for this was incorrect, wrong, or rude in some way.

There are plenty of clichés that teach us this: money doesn't grow on trees, don't rock the boat, don't be selfish, there's not enough to go around, you should just be thankful for what you have. We processed any number of these messages when we were young, and subsequently we learned that it was not right to ask for what we want.

But settling for less than what we truly want in life can lead to confusion, stress, and overall unhappiness. When we are dissatisfied, not only does it negatively affect us, but it can also affect the lives of the people around us. In order to stop settling and start living the life you really want, we suggest the following practices.

Uncovering Your True Values & Making the Connection

We believe that most of the internal distress people deal with on a regular basis stems from a misalignment between their behavior and their personal values.

We’ll use a hypothetical situation as an example. To really make this hit home for you and be useful in your own life, we encourage you to pick an area of your life that you are less than satisfied with at the present time; use your own example as we go through.

Pick an area such as: your relationship with your spouse, one of your children, your coworker or employer, or even the guy at the oil & lube shop. Or you can choose a scenario in your life such as your work, your home life, your automobile, or your financial situation. Any of these areas will work; just make sure it's an area you are not satisfied with.

If you're unsure that you've picked a good area for this exercise, you can double check by noting these red flag phrases in your life: "It's really not as horrible as I thought," "Maybe I don't need to change it after all..." "Come to think of it, I think this situation is good enough;" "It won't kill me to keep going along like this." Or any other statement that you tell yourself that may alert you that you are settling.

Now that you've picked an area, picture exactly how each part of our example applies to your life as we go along.

Remember that we discussed earlier how settling for what we can stand, instead of going for what we truly desire in life, can foster uncertainty, disappointment, and unhappiness.

Sally has been dealing with unmotivated employees in her coffee shop for months. There is one young lady in particular who just cannot seem to learn the proper way to make drinks; she is constantly getting orders wrong and she frequently shows up late to her shift. This employee is a very sweet girl, but is performing less than satisfactorily in her job. The only options Sally sees are either to fire this employee and feel guilty, or keep her on and have her business suffer.

Sally's situation at work not only affects her own life, but also impacts those around her. How do you think she might be perceived by her other employees? Is it possible that this situation at work might affect her family life as well?

Do you think her disappointment and uncertainty about the situation might have her grumbling about it to others? Has someone you know ever griped to you about their aggravation or unhappiness? How did you feel when they did this? As a person settles for less than what they really want, it impacts those around them, not just themselves.

So what is it that stands between Sally and her resolution of the situation with her less-than-satisfactory employee?

As we stated earlier, sometimes people settle for things they don't want because they are afraid; they fear failure, not being accepted, they're unsure of what might happen, or they're afraid of being let down. We also alluded to the fact that Sally's helplessness may be a result of a misalignment between her behavior and her deeply held values.

How do you think identifying her deeply held personal values might assist Sally in taking the steps toward getting what she truly wants? This brings us to the second practice...

Continuous Identification of your Personal Values  

Identifying our personal values gives us a starting point we can use to direct our behavior. Using this reference point, we can steer ourselves in the direction of what’s most important. This allows us to consciously choose our actions so that our behavior is consistent with our most deeply held values. In turn, we feel comfortable and confident about whom we are and the choices we make.

It is necessary to resolve any inconsistencies with our behavior and our values to create internal harmony within ourselves, and then with those around us.

The first step in creating that harmony is becoming aware of what your most deeply held personal values are.  

Once you know what you truly want in life, it becomes natural to uncover specific ways you can achieve those results.

When we refer to values, we're talking about any quality or experience that is fundamentally valuable to you. So according to this definition, you wouldn't value "always having dinner ready at six o'clock" or "keeping a clean work station" because these are specific actions; there are core values that would align with these behaviors, and those are the values you need to identify for yourself.

Let's take a closer look at Sally's situation and see if we can figure out what might be the underlying values that are causing her frustration. She might value dependability and predictability, but her employee doesn't get to work on time, nor does she make an effort to learn the preferred way of doing her job. Thus, Sally does not feel comfortable depending on her employee, nor does she get the predictability she desires.

By becoming aware of how much she values predictability and dependability, Sally has a new perspective on the situation with her employee. This change offers her a chance focus on her values instead of her complaints. And what you focus your attention on grows.

This opens the door for Sally to recognize what traits she values that might be missing in the situation. This will give Sally the ability to start focusing on ways her employee may be able to support these things, or Sally and the employee may decide together that this just isn’t the job for her, that her talents and desires are much better suited elsewhere.

We are not suggesting that Sally will experience everything she values in this situation with this employee or that she wouldn't still feel some discomfort in letting her go. But without identifying what she truly wants, she will never know how to ask for it.  

Becoming aware of her values is only the beginning though. Sally must continue to practice taking actions that are in harmony with her values and staying conscious of the results she seeks. With that said, what steps might Sally take to get what she wants in this particular situation?

To create more dependability, she might approach her employee and ask if she’d be willing to take a drink manual home and study three drink each evening and then make those drinks for Sally the next day. To experience more predictability, Sally could ask the employee what’s preventing her from showing up on time for work and then have a conversation about what she can do to start showing up on time.

As Sally gains clarity of her values, she can start to be in control of her own life and creating the things she wants. Having this kind of control may put her at ease and give her a sense of freedom. This brings us to the third practice...  

Creating Regular Alignment with Your Personal Values  

By becoming clear about what it is we truly want (defining our personal values), we give ourselves the opportunity of internal alignment. Once we are clear on our personal values, we can set out to share that vision with those around us; we can then create alignment with them about that vision. At this point we also find out whether they want the same things we do, and if they would also like to enhance their own experience in the situation.

By aligning ourselves with others at the beginning, we open the door for mutual values and it becomes much easier, and faster, to achieve what we both want. As you begin to align others with your vision, you will discover that it is possible to make everyone happy in almost every situation.

Sally, in our hypothetical situation, now has the power to free herself from a future of frustration and uncertainty. She has the ability and the knowledge she needs to overcome fear and start living her best life now.

Never quit striving for your best life. Keep in mind that what you focus your attention on grows. If you focus all your attention on what's wrong with your current situation, the fear will surely keep you settling for less than what you really want.

So shift your focus now! When you focus your attention on those things that make you happy – your values – and on what behaviors will make that happiness a reality for you, you'll soon find happiness in knowing that you can have a life you love.

Are you ready to take the next step toward happiness? Clarifying your values and grabbing hold of your power is the secret to letting go of the past and living a life you love. Sign up for our thought-provoking and motivational Weekly Action Tips eMail series and gain access to the [Link Removed] tools you need.

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