At FindMyWhy we believe that, given a choice (and most of us have one), everyone should ‘choose happy’. Our latest blog explores some common reasons behind why human nature so often allows us to settle for second best, when there should be very few barriers in the way of complete fulfillment.
Do you have a pipe dream, a vision that you imagine during those long days at work or when pouring over revision notes, something that makes it all seem worthwhile? A vision of you in your happy place, successful, proud, having achieved what you set out to do. Rarely does this picture of contentment centre on the mediocre, in the way that few people would ever proclaim that they are really hell bent on being average. In fact it’s not often that we embark on anything with the aim of achieving second best. So why is it then that in our life and career goals, so many of us are content to stop short of achieving our ultimate aims? What is it that makes us stop short of living out our dreams?
Here we explore some common reasons behind settling for second best, and what they really may be hiding.
The Reality Check
You may start out on a path to glory and realise, for a multitude of reasons, that that path is not an ideal choice for you, like deciding to be an astronaut when you were seven but with little idea of the phenomenal commitment that kind of career requires. Perhaps your skill set doesn’t quite match up or your results make it difficult to pursue your ideal career without retraining. Perhaps you’ve tried out that job and it didn’t live up to your expectations. There’s no shame in changing your mind, just be sure that you are making a conscious choice to change paths, rather than giving up on what you want to achieve. And beyond that, do it with a sense of purpose, not resignation, so that the path you do choose is one you can gain fulfilment from, not merely settle for.
Fear is a major driving factor in decision-making, primarily a fear of failure. This fear is an ingrained form of self-protection, reflecting our historical learnings as a species in terms of self-preservation. But nowadays, our decisions are rarely a matter of life or death. Our modern day fear is of the potential humiliation of not making it, of having a go and failing. But what’s the biggest danger here; taking a risk that might not pan out or never taking one at all? Have a look at any successful entrepreneur/billionaire/business idol and you’ll see that they have all had a taste of not making it but have used this as a learning experience and gone on to achieve greatness. As we all know, ground breaking events do not happen without taking a risk along the way and jumping over a few unexpected hurdles. Ask yourself, what’s the worst that can happen?
We all know the story, you start out taking a ‘temporary’ job to fill some time before you move onto bigger and better things and before you know it you’ve fallen into a more permanent career than you ever intended. You may feel trapped and unable to move on, fear losing that regular salary that you’ve come to rely on, be unwilling to leave the comfort and ease of your surroundings and colleagues. It’s become a ‘better the devil you know’ scenario. The time just keeps ticking by and all the while you continue on in a career that you never actively chose to be in. Beware, settling in a job or career that you didn’t want in the first place can lead to resentment and regret. The longer you remain, the harder it will be to leave. Fate has its place in leading you to explore options you hadn’t considered before, but don’t get too comfortable if your heart belongs elsewhere.
There is a big difference between living your life and allowing life to happen to you. Living your life is a conscious state, one in which you make proactive decisions to steer your direction. You are in control of your destiny and know that your success is due to your own choices. By contrast, drifters coast along through life dreaming (sometimes even talking) of better things but never quite take decisive action to make them happen. A month turns into a year, which then becomes two and before you know it you’ve spent the last 5 years doing something that doesn’t make you happy and that you never envisioned doing. To achieve a fulfilling life, you need to be the protagonist in your own life, the captain of the ship, the person in the driving seat… there’s a reason there are so many analogies for this.
Settling on something can mean many things, whether it’s accepting that your first choice isn’t an option for you in the short or long term, or compromising on your own preference to accommodate someone else’s wishes. If you’re in a serious relationship with another person, this could mean moving to a new town or sacrificing a career move to start a family. There are a myriad of situations that may require you to put someone else’s needs first. What’s important is that this doesn’t become an excuse to side-line your own dreams, or a chance to relinquish control of your life and live by somebody else’s choices. The compromise itself should be an active decision, a conscious move to try and accommodate everyone’s needs, rather than an enforced decision that could leave you feeling a victim of circumstance.
You are uniquely placed to know what makes you happy. It’s impossible to follow someone else’s path and hope that it will offer you the same end happiness because it’s their path, not yours. Fulfillment in your life comes from making positive, proactive choices to lead your life in a certain direction, based, of course, upon the prevailing circumstances. Personal fulfillment gives your life depth and meaning. You’re not just existing, you’re living, making conscious choices using that amazing brain capacity that you have as a human being, the immense emotional and social capacity we have as standard.
At FindMyWhy we firmly believe in finding your true self sooner rather than later, so that you can build your career and your life choices around achieving fulfillment and creating a life you love. Our free online psychological selfie will help unwrap your personal skill set, your unique strengths and abilities, helping you to shine as an individual. It will give you purpose and direction, delving into your core value set and helping you to plot a path that will leverage your natural skills and live out your personal values and priorities. It won’t cost you a penny, and there are no hidden catches or caveats.
Developed by our expert team of psychologists, FindMyWhy starts with a free online psychological test which produces bespoke reports that reveal the real you, in a work and social context, your value system, your core strengths and how to best represent them. It will challenge you with questions about your strength areas (and provide you with some great interview material at the same time). You will receive complementary bespoke reports tailored specifically to you, offering guidance and insight to help you to fulfil your true potential in both your personal and professional lives.
If you think this could be just the ticket to helping you achieve the success you are capable of, visit our website to have a closer look at FindMyWhy and see testimonials from others that have tried it and loved it.