For too many years, I settled for less. I lost hope. I was in my 30’s and single. I spoke negative thoughts into my life like:
You’re not good enough….You’re not man enough.
What girl would want to be with you?
What do you have to offer?
You’re too old…Your time has passed.
I even had a pastor of a church tell me, “You’re aiming for a Bugatti, but you’re a Toyota.”
I believed it all. I drank the bitterness. I became depressed. I couldn’t get out of bed in the mornings. I had zero motivation. I settled for less. My life was handicapped by mediocrity. I now know I wasn’t alone. I’ve talk to too many good guys who’ve accepted less because they felt unworthy. It’s a condition.
Are you settling for a lesser life?
Over the past fifty years, obesity rates have soared in the US. In 1960, the obesity rate was 13% for adults and has increased to 33%. At the same time, innovation rates have settled too. One economist, Tyler Cowen, recently termed it the “Great Stagnation.” It’s the failure of a generation to dream. The American Dream has been replaced with the American Comfort. Everything is about now. If it’s not easy, it’s not worth doing.
Have you heard of a BHAG? It stands for Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal, and this term is transforming the corporate world. Why? Because business plans have traditionally been shortsighted, focusing only on 3-month results. A BHAG is a visionary goal. It might take 10-30 years to reach. Short-term goals are important, but they should always support the long-term goal. The BHAG is one that shoots for the stars. Martin Luther King Jr. had a BHAG:
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
In their book Built to Last (1994), Jim Collins and Jerry Porras said a BHAG has four qualities:
- Aligned: your goals should be aligned to your passions
- Audacious: if it causes you to fear, you got it! Step by step, though. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Do one thing every day that scares you.”
- Articulate: make sure your goals follow the SMART criteria (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound).
- Arduous: if you’re truly passionate about it, you will lose sleep over it. You are willing to work your butt off. Every cell within you wants to see this dream come to fruition.
Last year, I had the privilege of attending Invisible Children’s Fourth Estate Leadership Conference. I was inspired by a group of guys who had an MTV show called The Buried Life. The premise of the show was to complete their own audacious bucket lists, and help others achieve their lists as well. One key thing I took away from their presentation is that when you settle for easier goals, the level of competition is actually higher. Because there are so few who reach for the stars, there is greater opportunity when you aim high.
Are you settling in relationships? If you’re a Toyota, then go for that Bugatti. That’s audacious! I didn’t dream of marrying Miss USA, but I was aiming for an amazing woman on every level, and that’s what I got. I was arduous in making incremental self-improvements for a few years before I met her. I might’ve looked like a Toyota on the outside, but I was replacing my engine with a Ferrari engine piece by piece.
If you enter relationships because they are comfortable, easy, you’re lonely, you don’t believe you deserve more, sex, etc., then you are settling.
The truth is, if you don’t settle in your personal life, you are far less likely to settle in your relationships. First and foremost, work on yourself. When you believe in and have confidence in yourself, you wont accept anything less than.
Think beyond what you know. Did you dream of having a desk job when you were little? Kids dream big until disappointment and shame diminish and kill hope. That’s why we settle. The truth is, you are meant for more. When did it become cool to not care? It’s an act everyone tries to put on, but deep down, there is a dream aching to be redeemed. This is not a generation of mediocrity. This is the generation with the ability at its fingertips to change the world.