How many times have you looked at something, said “well, it’s not great, but I guess it’ll work,” and run with it? Maybe that’s how you feel about your house, your car, your kitchen towels? All those little things that you just don’t really think about, so you just settle for whatever is, even if it is not the best or not what you really want. It’s not just physical things either — maybe it’s the morning grog every single day, that keeps you only half awake for a period of time after waking up. It could be your social group, full of people that aren’t really good friends, but they talk to you sometimes, so you work with it. You might be settling for thoughts that are not serving you, filling your head with doubt, insecurity, or bitterness. All of this feeds into your mindset, and whether you are content with misery, mediocrity, or excellence.
I refuse to live my life filled with anything less than things (and people) that I love. Plain and simple, I won’t settle and I don’t have time for a less-than anything, and definitely not a less-than mindset.
No, I won’t get the scratchy, kind of sort of okay towels for the bathroom. There are softer, more comfortable, machine wash ones for the same price an aisle over. No brainer! Yeah, I’m going to skip on that degree, even though it might “make more money” according to whatever website you’re on this week. I’m getting one that I have a passion for and experience with, and will continue to plan my career around that passion. I am not going to get those bookshelves that would work but are ugly, there are better shelves out there! (By the way, there were — mediocre were $25-$65 a piece, the ones we found are gorgeous, sturdy, and were $20 a piece.)
Now, you may be noticing a theme here: things tend to work out so that I find something I love, and usually it is a better deal. I got better towels for the same price, better bookshelves for cheaper, and my career is in its baby stage but is definitely progressing. From the smallest to the largest, when I refuse to settle for a less-than mindset, more-than has a way of showing up!
For me, this seems like a pretty straightforward approach to life. I’ve always been the “go big or go home” type, and my mom jokes that I may as well have that written across my forehead. The thing is, this world is full of people settling for less-than. People who are settling for disorganized and last-minute panic at deadlines, settling for miserable mornings or evenings because they’re tired, for a crappy diet because eating healthy is “too expensive” or “too time-consuming.” So many incredible people are buried underneath this mindset of mediocrity, not willing to risk losing less-than to chase after more.
These thoughts have been brewing in my mind since late July, when Nick and I finished up our car shopping adventure.
We bought our vehicle on July 31 of this year, and that day we visited two local dealerships. The first had a Chevrolet Spark, the second had a Ford Fiesta. The two are essentially the same model made by two different brands, and the plan was to try them both out and pick a favorite, or if neither stood out, try something else at one of the locations. The first location had the Spark, and it was more than a little dinged up. In the 3 years it had been off the lot, there were easily 40 noticeable dings across the vehicle, and a massive spot in the back where the metal had clearly bent in and then been popped back out. We took it for a test drive, and it was mediocre. It didn’t handle well, the engine struggled on the hill, the alignment was slightly off, and the speakers weren’t even very good. On the way back to the dealership, I wondered what could have made it so worn out in such a short time, and then noticed all the scratches around the ignition. “Drunk driver,” I immediately thought. That explained it all.
When we got to the dealership, the salesman was quick to try to get us to buy. “What if I get you a fob that works? What about two fobs? Okay, you don’t want that price, what price would you feel comfortable with?” I made a lowball offer to try to appease him before we left, and he said “Well, that’s low, but it’s a start.” I’m sorry, it’s a start? No, that’s now how I play. We quickly left, and basically said “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.” The car was not a great fit, and I was certainly not giving a big chunk of my hard-earned money for a less-than car. So, off we went to the next dealership, where we met the Fiesta.
Now this was what we had been looking for! There were a few light scratches on the outside, but nothing that wasn’t normal wear and tear. We took it for a test drive, and it was infinitely better. Alignment was on point, the engine ran like a dream, the AC and speakers were amazing (crucial for our long drives in unknown territory), and it even had heated seats and bluetooth! Everything from big to small was a great fit. It was a used car, of course, but it was gently used and perfect for us. I made an offer, we bartered, and in the end we got it down more than 10% below list price. I payed in cash, we drove it home, and we had our own little dream car.
So, why do I tell you this long story? Simple: it’s a real life event where I had the option to settle. The first car was cheaper, and the full list price was less than we payed for the car we bought. It technically would have worked, probably, and there was nothing absolutely horrid about it. We could have settled, after all, it would’ve been easier. Instead, we decided to wait to find a car we loved, that was perfect for us, and stick with the mindset of nothing less than “I love it!”
Of course, not every day is vehicle shopping, but every day we make hundreds and hundreds of little decisions about what we are going to accept as our normal. We choose what we make our lives into, whether they are full of excellence, mediocrity, or misery. You do not have to settle for a less-than anything, period. We may not all be millionaires yet (I’m certainly not), but that doesn’t mean we can’t take control of what we do have and make it into the best possible.
Bottom line: are you settling for mediocre or miserable, or are you ready to start pursuing excellence, and choosing nothing less than “I love it!”? What will your mindset be?