Settling versus yearning for more


As a fairly competitive person, the idea of ‘settling’ has always been not very appealing.

‘Settling’ in my mind, has always had a bit of a negative connotation.

I’ve always defined ‘settling’ (for any area of life) as the choice you make when you make the decision to give up seeking the more optimal outcome.

The problem, if you’re always thinking there’s a more ‘optimal outcome’, which there always is, you’ll never accept the idea of settling.

Starting a new job is always exciting. But in reality, you’ve ‘settled’ for this job and committed to working there and agreed to stop searching for a ‘more optimal’ job.

Get married, and you're agreeing (or in theory should be agreeing) to stop searching and auditioning other ‘more optimal’ candidates.

The same applies to everything - living in a city, buying or renting an apartment, investing, even choosing a bank.

Why settling is so hard

In the age we live in today, it’s more obvious than ever that there are potentially ‘more optimal’ choices available to us.

Just decided to accept that new job that you’re super excited about? In your first week you find out the guy next to your desk is a mouth breather and there is terrible traffic coming home each day. Then your conveniently LinkedIn starts showing you ‘jobs you may be interested in.’ Nothing like introducing a little doubt into your life, maybe that wasn’t the most ‘optimal’ choice in taking that job?

Just started dating someone new? Well there are now all these damn dating apps, meaning we are given nearly endless choices of who we can date. Instead of working through those arguments it's pretty darn easy to start swiping and seeing the other potentially ‘more optimal’ choices.

The problem is that the grass could always be greener on the other side, and technology makes that ever so present in our minds.

Even google docs  thinks the ‘grass WILL always be greener on the other side’

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That’s funny. And sad

Paradox of Choice

Ahh, the "paradox of choice."  It’s the paradox of choice that makes us always believe the grass is always greener on the other side. Or google docs, with this taunting red squiggly line, which makes ME think that the grass WILL be greener.

In the book, "The Paradox of Choice," the author Barry Schwartz describes this way of thinking as being a ‘maximizer’ or "maximising."

“For a maximizer, somewhere out there is the perfect lover, the perfect friends. Even though there is nothing wrong with the current relationship, who knows what's possible if you keep your eyes open."

Sound familiar? Sure does for me.

On the opposite side of the spectrum are ‘satisficers.’ These have the ability to ‘settle’ or more accurately know a good thing when they see it and stop obsessing over the ‘what ifs.’

Satisficers are not ‘setting’ for a bad option, as they still have high standards, it’s more about ignoring the temptation of continuously searching or yearning to see if the grass is, in fact, greener on the other side. Maybe the grass isn’t so much greener over there?

I get it. If you’re always yearning for the better options, there’s a good chance you’ll end up with nothing - nothing is every ‘perfect’ and there could always be a greener grass to pursue.

That balance

I don’t think it’s a bad thing to want ‘more’ or to improve. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a decision of living a life of ‘settling’ or one of ‘striving.’ It’s not that black and white.

Here’s some favorites from the book, “Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life” ― Jon Kabat-Zinn.

How often have you found yourself in a perfect situation – on holiday, say, in a wonderful city, enjoying the sights; or sunbathing on a beautiful beach; or walking through a picturesque forest. Wherever it is, it’s exactly where you want to be.

“Give yourself permission to allow this moment to be exactly as it is, and allow yourself to be exactly as you are.”

By being constantly on the move and cramming a crazy amount of activities into our daily schedules, we’re losing our ability to fully enjoy the present moment. Our minds are constantly focused on the past or the future, and we’re forgetting that the only time we really have is now. Fully appreciating the present is a matter of pausing and bringing our attention to it.


Life is always about searching for that elusive balance.

We’re always settling a little bit, which is fine, turn off the technology and get over it. The grass will always appear to be greener, it is what it is. Knowing when you need to push for more and when you need to accept what you have - it’s a tricky balance - either way you need to appreciate the little things and enjoy this crazy ride.