The Blog


Nov 24, 2008

What To Do When You Decide To Stop Settling For Less In Your Life

If you’re dissatisfied with an area of your life, what are you going to do about it today?

On any given day you wake up, rub the sleep from your eyes, and make a decision to do one of two things:

  • You decide to live passively, doing the things that keep you exactly in the same place you are now, reinforce a victim mentality, and leave you wishing for more, or,
  • You decide to live purposefully, taking multiple actions during the day that make you a stronger person, advance your goals, and make you happier.

Every day, you choose one of these options, whether you do it consciously or unconsciously (in which case you’ve chosen the first option by default).  You don’t get “not to choose” – you’re part of the game whether you like it or not.

The only question is, whose rules have you decided to play by?  Rules someone else is making you follow, simply because you think there aren’t any options, or that you don’t have the power to do more, be more, and experience more? Or have you decided that you’re going to make your own rules, live life on your own terms, and create the circumstances that you want in your life?

That’s the question you need to ask yourself right now.  How are you going to live out the rest of your day?

  • Passively, crying “I’m a victim,” and staying right where you are?  Or
  • Purposefully, declaring “I’m worth more than this,” and taking action today to move even one step forward, no matter the odds?

What are you going to do today? I hope you’ve decided.  Otherwise, you get the default choice of letting life, the world in general, and people who don’t have your best interests at heart decide just how much life you’re allowed to have today (and it’s unlikely to be a generous portion).

What are you going to do today? If you haven’t made a decision for today, you need to do it now.

Living Passively Leads To Depression

We’ve all experienced what it’s like to live passively, to tread water and feel like there’s no clawing our way out of the hole we’re in.  Maybe you’re feeling that way right now, and it makes you feel weak or stupid or somehow “less than.”  It’s important to be aware of how living passively feeds those feelings of inadequacy, and how it’s actually making you depressed.

If you honestly feel that life isn’t going to get any better and that you have no real power to change your situation, it’s perfectly natural to feel depressed. It’s the logical progression.  It’s not something to feel stupid about any more than you should feel emotionally responsible for the house getting cold in winter if the fireplace is neglected.  If there’s no fuel being added to the fire, those warm embers will turn to cold ash.

You’re not stupid or weak because the fire’s going out.  It’s just happening, because on some level, you’re allowing it to happen either from inaction or taking actions that aren’t the right ones to get that fire going.  You may be putting in 100% of your best effort hauling the heavy, wet logs you have around you into the fire, but that damp tinder isn’t going to burn.  You’re not stupid or weak, you’re just in a spot where what you’re doing isn’t working.

Maybe that’s how you’re feeling.  Let’s talk about adding the right kind of fuel to that fire.

Living Purposefully Leads To Relief

Living purposefully is like adding fresh, dry wood onto the fire and watching it burn.  It takes some work, but you get to enjoy the results of that flame, warming your sense of self and having your eyes reflect each satisfying spark.

When you live purposefully, you decide to rise above what life seems to be giving you and you decide you’re going to take more out of it, either from stepping out and simply experiencing more or by beginning to build the circumstances you want.  And both of those actions begin feeding your sense of personal power, of self-worth, and of hope for the future. Even if you’re only taking the smallest of actions to change things, if you’re taking them on a daily basis it’s like adding kindling to the fire and keeping it active.

Taking action creates a massive power shift where control shifts to your hands, and when you’re in control, you feel better about your situation.  You feel that blessed relief you’ve been looking for.  You know what you want in life, what you want to be all about, and you have a clear finish line to start working from.  Having a purpose – a true, motivating, energizing purpose – is a game-changing advantage which opens the door to the richly satisfying life you’re really after.

So the question is, what do you have worth living for? What is it that you’ve consciously decided will drive you on a daily basis to shake off the shackles, fight against the habits that hold you back and demand more out of this life you’ve been given?

I don’t expect you to answer that now.  Most of us don’t think about purpose much – or maybe we do, but we think about what we wish our purpose was, “if only things were different.” Instead, we should be focusing on how we’re not willing to settle for less than living that purpose, that meaningful life, no matter how much internal or external resistance we’re facing.

What To Do When You Decide To Stop Settling

When you’ve made the decision to live a life that’s more than what you’re experiencing now, you’ve got an uphill climb ahead of you – but the view from up there is nothing short of amazing.  I’m going to lay out some ideas that will help make that climb easier and help make sure you’re going in the right direction, but you’ve got to pay attention if you want to come along for the ride.

Your first step is coming in the next post, where you’ll hear about a 15-minute exercise that can help you get incredible clarity about what will make you happy and lead to a more satisfying life.  There will be a worksheet you can download and a full set of instructions, and it will be free.  But you’ve got to pay attention so that this doesn’t fall to the wayside or get put on the back burner.

And the way to pay attention is to subscribe to my newsletter, which will be making the shift this week from a time-management/success tips newsletter to a full-out, kick your ass on a weekly basis newsletter that doesn’t pull a single punch.  If you’re already subscribed, no worries – you’re all set.  If you’re not, now’s the time to subscribe.

I hope you’re ready to stop settling.  I’ve been focused on this all year and the results have been incredible.  I’ve still got quite a climb ahead of me, but the going’s always easier when you have some friends along.  Join me and the 1,000+ people subscribed to my newsletter and let’s get started on creating the circumstances you really want.

Thanks for reading, and here’s to making the decision to stop settling for less, and to start changing your life.


21 Responses to “What To Do When You Decide To Stop Settling For Less In Your Life”

  • Nov 24, 2008 Justin

    I woke up two hours early this morning overwhelmed with depression at the several things I want to accomplish. Really started questioning this feeling as I pulled the blankets closer.

    Discovered that my depression, as you so ably put it, is a result of passivity. Discovered my passivity is a result of impatience-driven laziness. Began asking myself how badly I want my goals, and if I want them that badly, why am I lying around whimpering like a child when I could be taking action to get closer to The Life? No kicking myself for feeling the wuss immediately upon awakening, but one must drive the darkness away, so I chided myself and tossed the covers aside.

    Got up, logged on, found this post in my reader. Thanks for the reinforcement. You rock, Dave.

    Justin’s last blog post..Humanists and Skeptics

  • Nov 24, 2008 Kathy @ Virtual Impax

    You’re so right – “You don’t get “not to choose” – you’re part of the game whether you like it or not.”

    Every day is filled with decisions – and deciding not to decide is a decision!

    Great post! You rock- as always!

    Kathy @ Virtual Impax’s last blog post..When You Hear Hemp, Do you Think “Rope” or “Dope”?

  • Nov 24, 2008 Rick Falls

    Thanks for kicking us in the pants Dave.

    Whenever I feel a little off track in the morning (before another fantastic day) I use whatever I can to get things back on my best wavelength.

    WINNER beats whiner hands down.

    You Rock !

  • Nov 24, 2008 Giovanna Garcia

    I totally agree with you. Things happen in life, it is what we choose to do about it. Yes, we cry! But we cannot cry forever, at some point we must get up and do something.

    Thank you,

    Giovanna Garcia

    Giovanna Garcia’s last blog post..Don’t be so hard on yourself!

  • Nov 24, 2008 Maebl Iam


  • Nov 24, 2008 Mabel Iam


  • Nov 24, 2008 Lisa Hoffmann

    “Living purposefully is like adding fresh, dry wood onto the fire and watching it burn.” Love that! Respecting yourself and others enough to do the work it takes to live the truth is liberating and invigorating.

    Being in the moment, exerting the effort to do for yourself and others is like an elixir that washes away the blues.

    Thanks for putting this down in pixels for us Dave.

    Lisa Hoffmann’s last blog post..Don’t make me stop this car: Why your boss rejects social media

  • Nov 24, 2008 We

    Thoughtful and thought-provoking words, Dave. And I *do* appreciate some serious ass-kicking (today was day 4 of my “getting up at 5:30 every day” plan, and my willpower nearly failed me — I may have to check out the Early Riser program!).

    I think it’s important to note that “taking action” doesn’t necessarily mean completely changing your life all at once. That would be a bit like attempting a triathlon with no training: Ouch! In fact, some things that appear at first glance to be “living passively” can be inspired, important actions to take (meditation, say, or even listening to audio downloads). As someone who has suffered from serious depression, I totally get your point about inaction, passivity, and victim mentality. I think the biggest shift is internal, the “taking back control” you speak of, and it can translate into all sorts of wildly differing external actions.

    I don’t think I’m disagreeing with you at all, btw. Just an observation and my own emphasis. I definitely want to stick around for what’s next!

    Thank you for expressing yourself and inviting us on this journey with you.

    We’s last blog post..What is Fear?

  • Nov 25, 2008 Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome

    Woot! Woot!

    The idea of conscious choice is, for me, the only way to cure Someday Syndrome. Thank you for addressing this issue in such a strong, kick-ass way!


    Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome’s last blog post..Breaking Free of Fear-Inspired Paralysis: Amy Derby Interview

  • Nov 25, 2008 Jean Gogolin

    I’m trying to live purposefully while running my biz and caring for a husband with Alzheimer’s Not easy, but it can be done. Even with some vim. Thanks for the boost, Dave. Always welcome.

    Jean Gogolin’s last blog post..How Most of Us Are Like GM

  • Nov 25, 2008 Dim Sum

    Exactly, why settle for pizza when you can have Dim Sum. A tasty shrimp dumpling to start your day is just the ticket.

  • Nov 30, 2008 J.D. Meier

    You’re point on “…living passively leads to depression” … reminds me of learned helplessness.

    I’m a fan of leading a life of action, simply because life’s not static and it really is a numbers game. You can’t bat .300 if you don’t get up to bat.

    J.D. Meier’s last blog post..Lessons Learned from Per

  • Nov 30, 2008 Monica Ricci

    Awesome and accurate! I always tell my clients (and blog readers) that DECISIVE ACTION is the ultimate cure of fear, and depression is in many ways, paralyzing fear. Even if your action isn’t perfect, at least your DOING something and not just swirling around in your own head, stuck in the mire of inaction and passive thought.

    Great post!

  • Nov 30, 2008 chris Zydel

    Great post! Very inspirational! Taking purposeful action is always the best antidote against those feelings of depression and powerlessness. And there is nothing more deeply satisfying than living an awake and alive meaningful life.

    Looking forward to the clarity exercise!

  • Nov 30, 2008 chris Zydel

    And I greatly appreciate your enthusiasm and your leadership around learning how to create a life worth living……

    chris Zydel’s last blog post..PAIN FREE CREATIVITY

  • Dec 2, 2008 ShortcutSleuth

    Great article! Life takes on a new focus when you’re being proactive and are in control, rather than just sitting back and waiting for things to happen to you. You control your own destiny, so when you don’t like the way things are going, it’s important to realize that you have the ability to change things.

    ShortcutSleuth’s last blog post..Home Organization Tips – Organizing Without Torture

  • Dec 4, 2008 Stephen Hopson

    Basically what this entire post boils down to is:

    You have to make a decision first before you can make some changes.

    A firm decision made in your heart. Once that’s made, opportunities, ideas, people and circumstances will appear, helping you along the way.

    But until that decision is firmly made, you won’t go anywhere!

    Stephen Hopson’s last blog post..Stephen Hopson Interview with Himself….Again

  • Dec 5, 2008 Timmy

    My first post was similar. It was off of a piece of work that I did my sophomore year in high school(16). I’m 19 now, not much older, but I put it up as the first post on my blog. :]

  • Jun 20, 2010 zephaniah


    taking action,

    making a decision;

    living purposefully……

    interesting philosophy…

    there is a better WAY though.

Comments are closed.