<< Back to News

How to Know If You’re Settling

I have a bit of a rebellious streak in my career as a life coach. I’ll admit that I actually prefer to work with clients who are unhappy.

There’s something really powerful about misery and other heavy feelings like anger, resentment, frustration, and resignation. When you’re down in the dumps, you’re typically motivated to not feel that way, preferably as soon as possible.

But it’s these people and these circumstances that can be the best to work with, because they’ve got everything to gain and a “why not?” kind of attitude.

Unfulfilled, unhappy, miserable people are usually the same clients who turn out fulfilled, happy, and bursting with energy after a few months, because they finally admitted how they didn’t want to feel and elected to change it.


Being miserable is actually a breeze compared to settling for a mediocre life.

In a weird way, it’s the people that are doing “just OK” that are much harder to help.

They’re the ones who don’t express much emotion, one way or another. When you ask about their job, you hear a “Eh, it’s OK” or, “It pays decently.”

They don’t really know what they want, and they might try to figure it out “one day;” but for right now they’re too “busy” (with tedious, busy-work kind of stuff) to bother.

They’re certainly not miserable, but they’re also not happy. You get the sense that they’re in the passenger seat of life, being driven from one milestone to another, not really questioning much about the journey (or even what the ultimate destination is).

They live in a perpetual comfort zone, and can’t work up the energy to take risks. The potential trouble of disrupting the status quo is too much to bother with. Things could be better, but they could also be worse, so why risk it?

I can’t help but cringe when I encounter people in this position.

I wish I could tell them, in no uncertain terms, that they should be terrified of living their entire life in a perpetual state of toleration and settling.

Unhappiness and misery light a fire under your butt; one that propels you to take action and go after what you really want–which is usually some variation of passion, fulfillment, and a life well lived.

When you’re feeling not great, but not bad, there’s very little to motivate you to go after what you might secretly want.

Years of your life can be spent settling, tolerating, and rationalizing, all of which slowly wears down into stagnation.

Settling leads to, “Eh, I’ll maybe go after that tomorrow.” Misery leads to, “I need to go after that today.”

And today is the best time (in fact it’s the only time you ever have) to go after something more.

I don’t often beg, but I’m imploring you now. If you’re not miserable, but you’re also not happy, then:

  1. Don’t be afraid to rock the boat, upset the status quo, or dip your toe outside of your comfort zone. Discomfort comes with the territory of change. You can’t avoid it, but you can accept it.
  2. Realise that fear and risk might feel big and overwhelming at the time, but they don’t last very long (and there’s a big reward at the other end).
  3. Know that the real risk is wasting years of your life settling for “good enough” and realizing at the end that there was no reward waiting for you.

So, over to you: Has this struck a chord, or made you think of your unhappiness in a different light?


Reinvent Your Career would like to thank Levo where this article first appeared.

Start typing and press Enter to search