Don’t Settle

Reader Contribution by Lois Hoffman
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You know that little voice in the back of your head that nags you to do something. You ignore it, push it back, but it just stays there until you finally bring it up front and deal with it. OK, I’m finally dealing with my little voice that has accompanied me all week.

This is a little off the beaten path from what I usually write about, but it is one of my passions. I believe you only get one chance at life so you may as well go for all the gusto you can. That’s why it irritates me so when I see people settling for less, whether it be in their jobs, marriage or their dreams. I have always believed there is a happy medium between wanting too much and settling for too little.

When Derek Jeter, shortstop for the New York Yankees for the past 20 years, retired this year, his comment was, “All I ever wanted to do was to win.” Whether you are a Yankees fan or not, you have to appreciate his career. All through high school, his goal was to play in the major leagues; not just in the major leagues, but for the Yankees. Andot just for the Yankees, but as the shortstop for the Yankees. He knew what he wanted and never lost sight of the goal. So, he did win, not only in the ballpark, but in life.

Do you ever see a married couple that, sadly enough, would be better off not being a couple? They just seem like they are together because it is convenient, not because they really want to be. I am not a proponent of divorce, but if the magic is gone between two people, why do they “settle” for a mediocre life together instead of either trying to make it better or finding something better altogether?

I knew from the get-go that I had so many things I wanted to do with my life that I wanted a partner who wanted the same things. Everybody wants to do it right the first time, but I was adamant about not messing with the hassles of a divorce. When I was 29 years old, the oldest one in the family and on the verge of being labeled “an old maid,” I began to wonder if my goals were too stringent, but I never wavered. I could have “settled” for just someone to be with so I wouldn’t be alone, but I would have missed out on the best. Good thing I didn’t because, even though I had to wait longer than most, God provided me with my soul mate and it has been an awesome 27 years together.

When two people are in tune and really enjoy each other, the little annoyances don’t seem so important and are easier to overlook. Does it annoy me when my hubby leaves his clothes exactly where he takes them off? Yep. Will I always be annoyed when he does this? Yep. Do I stress over this until it becomes a big issue between us? Nope, there are just so many other, better things to focus on.

This past week brought it all into perspective concerning people not settling for less than their potential. Our granddaughter Kami who has four children, three of whom are 4-year-old triplets, has always set her sights on being a nurse. This past September she was accepted into nursing school. Somehow she is figuring it out as she goes. It would be so much easier for her to get a mundane job and not put in all the study time at this point in her life, but she is choosing not to settle for the easy way out and to go for her dream.

When this all took place, her mother, Missy, decided to quit her job as a lead person in a manufacturing plant and give up her home to move 40 miles to help with the children. We begged her to reconsider not quitting her job until she had another one lined up. Although she has always been in manufacturing, she had set her sights on going into the health field and getting a job at Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo. You just don’t get a job in a whole other field overnight! This past week she was offered a job at Bronson Hospital. She didn’t settle either.

Perhaps the most shining example of not settling has been our 10-year-old grandson Wade. He has always lived and breathed baseball since the time he picked up his first ball. Even in the off season, he takes pitching and hitting lessons. For some odd reason, this fall he decided to play football, but it was short-lived. Football took too much time away from baseball and, at only 10, he decided not to settle for anything less than what he wants for himself. Could he be another Jeter in the wings?

Of course, on the other end of the spectrum, you can’t set your dreams so high that you’ll never be able to realize them. That only sets a person up for disaster and misery. It never fails to amaze me that this is what we do with our high-school graduates. One day they are children out tee-peeing their teachers’ yards and the next day when they graduate they are supposed to have their whole life figured out.

It doesn’t work like that. Sometimes doing a little settling along the way is the only way a person can figure out where they really want to be. The important thing is they don’t get stuck in a rut along the way and stay there. I have tried a lot of different things through the years but none have brought me more satisfaction than writing these articles. I am so thankful I didn’t “settle” for something else along the way.

So, how do you know if you are settling? If your bucket list doesn’t keep getting longer instead of shorter, you are settling.

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