“I wish I had a different job.”
“I wish I lived somewhere else.”
“I wish my partner and I were closer.”
“I wish my body looked different.”
Each time I hear someone say “I wish”, I envision them standing in front of a wishing well tossing in a penny and hoping something will change. If you and I had a penny for every time we wished for something, we would have quite a big nest egg for retirement, wouldn’t we?
The truth is that life doesn’t have a wishing well, and things rarely change when we simply wish things were different. Unfortunately, many of us have settled for wishing instead of actually doing something to cultivate the type of life we long to have.
As I’ve coached people over the last 25 years, here are three primary reasons we are willing to settle for a mediocre life…
3 Reasons People Willingly Settle for a Mediocre Life
1. We often believe the lie that we can’t make a change
Have you heard the whispers in your mind that say, “Things will never change…”? It’s a voice of hopelessness that seeks to pull you deeper into the quicksand of life. I want you to know that it’s not your voice. It’s a voice that echoes from the negative experiences of the past. Perhaps it’s the voice of a parent or teacher or coach or friend. It’s not your voice, and it can be replaced by the truth that you are strong and courageous. You have the power to replace that lie with the truth of who you really are.
2. We can become comfortable in our discontent
Many of us have grown comfortable being dissatisfied. It gives us something to complain about. It gives us an excuse to lean on instead of leaning in to the change we desire. If you and I are going to make a shift in our lives, it means that we’ll have to exert effort. It will require us to think about things in a new way. We’ll be challenged to take ownership of our lives, and we may even need to have some challenging discussions with ourselves…and others.
3. We feel like we don’t know where to start
It can feel overwhelming to make a change in our lives, can’t it? Imagine someone asking you to drive to a major city 3,000 miles away, but you don’t have your phone or a paper map or even road signs. What would you do? I think that’s how many of us feel when we want to find a new job, start a side hustle, increase the intimacy in our marriage, or make a change in our health. It can feel so overwhelming, but you can do this. It’s not beyond you. In fact, you were made for this!
Unfortunately, many of us settle for less than what we truly want out of life. We settle for less than what we deserve. There’s one word that breaks through all these barriers and will empower you to take your life to the next level.
It’s called intention.
Until you and I become intentional about changing what we don’t like in our lives, we’ll continue to settle for mediocrity. I’m not talking about being intentional once or twice. That’s like showing up to the gym twice a year and wondering why I’m not fit. There must be a commitment to ongoing, intentional action in order to see the results we long for.
Becoming Intentional Before Hitting Rock Bottom
Over a decade ago, I was burned out and overwhelmed. I was a workaholic in a non-profit setting, and I was finding my identity in the size of the organization I had founded. Meanwhile, my relationships and mental health were both severely suffering. As a result, I made some unhealthy decisions that hurt those around me, and I ended up checking myself into a mental hospital for three days to get my head (and heart) straight.
It was utterly humiliating, but exactly what I desperately needed. Half of the people in there were professionals who had breakdowns, and the other half…are probably still there.
After my anxiety started to stabilize, I called a friend asking for a giant sheet of paper and a marker. I loved charting out organizational strategies on those oversized sticky notes, and I knew my life needed some serious reorganization.
I drew a line across the top and a line down the center. On the top left, I scribbled Old Life, and on the top right, New Life. I wrote down all the things I didn’t like about my old way of living, and I wrote the corresponding new way of living that I was desperate to experience.
- From being stressed out all the time…to peaceful in all situations.
- From being a workaholic…to resting and rejuvenating.
- From being disconnected from family…to enjoying the moment.
- From being roommates with my wife…to having an intimate partnership.
- From being driven by ego…to serving the people around me.
All those things in the right column seemed like a world away, but it’s what I wanted deep inside. It wasn’t until I had everything else stripped away from my life that I was able to see what truly mattered to me. I was starting to cultivate a new vision.
I don’t want you to get to that point. I don’t want you to have to hit rock bottom to pursue the life you truly want. I want you to have clarifying conversations now instead of wasting your life away or making a decision that you’ll later regret.
Here’s what I know to be true…
3 Powerful Reminders to Support You
1. You have the power to make a change
You must become aware of the lies that are being whispered in your mind. Instead of receiving those negative thoughts without question, you have the opportunity to slow down your thinking, recognize the lie, and replace it with the truth. You do have the power to make change. You are strong and courageous. You are loved by the Divine, family, and friends. You are beginning to take intentional action in your life.
2. You are not willing to settle for a mediocre life
Instead of being comfortable with the dissatisfaction in your life, you want something more and different. You want to live a healthy life, full of energy, and ready to pursue the things that matter to you. There’s no way you’ve come this far to stop now. You want a vibrant, meaningful life, and you’ll cultivate it through the power of intention.
3. You must be intentional…and not simply wish
What would it look like to start being intentional about making the change(s) you desire in your life? Set aside some time to sit down and get quiet. Ask yourself, “What do I truly want in this area of my life?” Write it down. Get clear about your desires, and then ask yourself, “What would it look like for me to intentionally cultivate that type of life?”
We both know that simply wishing doesn’t work.
We must be intentional about our thoughts, attitude, words, and actions in order to have the life we long for.
Next time you have a thought that begins with, “I wish…” － stop, take a deep breath, and ask yourself…
“How can I be intentional about creating this in my life?”