Stop settling for friends who won’t meet you halfway, friends who expect you to always be there for them but who can barely even lift a finger when you need them, too.
Stop settling for friends who make you feel like you can’t be yourself, or that you have to change a large part of who you are in order to be good enough for them.
Stop settling for a job you hate, because you’re convinced that this is as good as it’s going to get.
Stop settling for a life of sitting still, of watching other people go after what they want while you sit back because you’re too afraid to try.
Stop settling for a work environment in which you’re made to feel like you don’t matter, like your voice is ignored, or like you’re a disposable factor instead of a person.
But stop settling, also, for mediocre effort on your part. Stop telling yourself that all you need to do is show up to your job and run out the clock each day, and instead start working your ass off so that you feel proud to go home at 5 o’clock. If you can’t find that satisfaction and challenge in your current job, no matter how hard you try, then find a new one.
Stop settling for a life in which you are quiet about your mental struggles, be it depression or anxiety or OCD or anything else. Stop telling yourself that these are things to be ashamed about and that there’s nothing anyone can do to help you.
Stop settling for a body that feels bad all the time. If you’re unhealthy, change it. Eat less pizza. Not no pizza, just less. And substitute in some vegetables once in a while. Remind yourself that sometimes, one drink is enough. Take the stairs instead of the escalator. Walk when you can.
Stop settling for five hours of sleep. The time is there, you just have to find it. If you’re wasting an hour every night scrolling through your phone, leave it on your dresser. If you dilly dally for thirty minutes because you don’t feel like brushing your teeth and getting ready for bed, start an hour earlier than you think you need to.
Stop settling for toxic social environments. If you’re invited to a dinner outing with a group of gossipy and judgmental people, politely decline. If you have to go because it’s a work thing or because you need to support your partner, go for an hour and leave. Don’t ever give more of yourself and your energy than you need to.
Stop settling for being an ‘okay’ friend yourself. If a friend is going through a bad breakup, show up to their apartment with beer and cake and don’t leave until they’re ready for you to leave. If a friend is the one in the wrong and they’re lashing out at you, tell them you’ll speak to them again when they apologize, and forgive them when they do. Remember that most of the ways your friends have screwed you over, you’ve also done to others.
Stop settling for a bad attitude about things in your life that are not that bad. If your waiter is rude, tip them fairly and then forget about them – they were probably just having a bad day. If it’s raining out, remember that you get to sleep under a roof tonight. If traffic is bad, remember that this is one of the rare times where you have nothing to do but think.
Stop settling for wasting away your days off. Everybody needs some downtime every once in a while, and you absolutely deserve to relax and do nothing sometimes. But spending every single Saturday and every single Sunday of your life bingewatching shows that you’ve already seen a dozen times isn’t going to make you happy. It’s just going to make you feel empty.
Stop settling for the idea that fear is always something that should be avoided. In the right context, fear is actually our way of clueing us in when we really, secretly want to do something, but we’re just afraid of what people will say or how we will be perceived. If your heart starts pounding when you think about applying for that job or signing up for that acting class or trying to make amends with that one friend, listen to it. Embrace the fear.
Stop settling for excess. This doesn’t mean you need to feel bad for treating yourself to a massage or finally purchasing that dress you’ve been eyeing for months. But free yourself from buying more clothes you don’t need, or a phone upgrade you don’t really care about, or too much food at the grocery store that you’re going to end up throwing away and feeling awful about. Try living even just a little more simply this year than you did last year, and see if it has a positive effect. If you’re like every other person who has tried this, it will.
Stop settling for a life of being on autopilot. Of commuting to work like a zombie, of playing on your phone instead of being fully present for movie night with your friends, of thinking about what you’re going to say next when you’re talking to someone. Just let yourself relax, and be there. Something will always come afterwards, just trust.
Stop settling for the idea that happiness is a milestone to attain instead of a state of being . Remember that studies have shown that once you reach a certain salary level ($75,000), your happiness does not increase. That once you reach a certain level of power or fame or praise, it just becomes normal and ordinary. At some point, you must grasp that if you just keep chasing and chasing, there will always be something new to want. But if you start focusing on the joy of being, you’ll have a much easier time finding happiness. After all, it’s already there.