When we were kids, my mom made citrus juice. She added brown sugar to a jug of water and stirred with a big wooden spoon. She squeezed the citrus into the sugary water – pulp, seeds and all – and mixed vigorously.
I loved to watch the ingredients swirl and gradually become still. The pulp and seeds floated to the top while the undissolved sugar settled at the bottom of the jug. From this I learned an invaluable lesson – Settling is for Dregs.
As I grew older, these became my watchwords. I often ask myself, “Am I settling?”
At the beginning, in the swirl of the newness, I enjoy the flow but as the novelty wears off I step back and assess where I am. “Am I floating at the top with the pulp and the seeds or am I like the sugar at the bottom of the jug?” Let me confess that the residue at the bottom of the jug – the sweet, gooeyness with a small hint of citrus – can be the most delectable part of the juice.
But, just as I knew when I was ten, that the dregs were not the healthiest bits of juice, I know as an adult that settling is not healthy for me regardless of how sweet it may be.
Don’t get me wrong Settling is not the same as Settled. When you are settled there is a sense of satisfaction, that where you are is exactly where you should be. Even though all is not perfect you stand in the decision that you make and you don’t have to defend or justify your position. You’re generally happy with where you are and happy for others who are doing their thing. You are willing and have the energy to do what you need to do.
On the other hand, you are settling when you are pretending that where you are is where you want to be. When dreams are compromised because for whatever reason you are afraid or unwilling to float to your top ( whatever that top may be) – that’s settling. Settling is when you know that you are at the bottom, stuck in the sweet stuff and you feel badly about it. Settling is when you don’t think that there is anything else for you, so you sink to the bottom and accept that this is what you deserve.
I know that I am settling when:
- I’m frustrated that I’m not doing something else
- Every day I complain about my present lot
- I can’t look at myself in the mirror
- I look on with envy at other people who are doing what I want to do
- I’m lying to myself / inner circle about the truth of the present situation
- I have no energy for what I am doing
- I am not proud of myself in the current situation
- I feel a sense of shame because I know I deserve better
Time to decide. Are you sugar or pulp? What are you settling for?
Maxine Attong is the author of two business books – Change or Die – The Business Process Improvement Manual and Lead your Team to Win. She is a speaker, coach, Organisational Development consultant and of course an accountant.