We have all settled, for relationships, clothes we buy but never wear and jobs that we don’t enjoy. A significant proportion of the women I talk to feel like they've settled in their careers. Not in a good way. I mean they've settled for less than they deserve. It's common and it often comes from a place of putting others first. Are you settling in your career?
How you might settle in your career
What I have found in my own life is that I sacrifice myself. I hear it a lot in my coaching conversations too. In career terms it might look like this:
- I took a salary drop (and/or changes roles) so that I could work around school hours
- I gave up my career to be at home with the kids
- My time is spent working and looking after everyone else, there is no time for me
- I can’t do everything and so I prioritise everyone else
These situations often come from trying to make the best choice we can. I didn’t go back to work after my second child as the financial implications of putting two kids into childcare meant there was no point in my working a 9-5. I chose to work in a more flexible way that meant I could spend more time with the kids when they were young (and save some money!)
Settling comes from good intentions
These are some of my choices but I hear them echoed in other people’s choices as I talk with other women. Most of the time they are well-intentioned choices. But they also can mean that we settle. We willingly and lovingly sacrifice our own careers for those we love. Then, as the kids grow up and need us less we start to wonder if we could be something more. But the confidence is gone. I hear things like: “Who would want to employ me when I have no skills? Or “I haven’t done anything for me in years, I wouldn’t know what to do”. In many cases, we feel like we have lost the validation and satisfaction of a career - especially if your job had measurable results.
When we lose faith in ourselves and believe that we cannot have what we wish for, we settle for less. We decide that whatever is in front of us is better than nothing. It’s hard to gauge when we’re settling; we tell ourselves we will be fine and we forget they could be better. We grow accustomed to things, they feel comfortable.
So how do you know when you’re settling?
- Whilst a job is unlikely to be super exciting all of the time, if you don’t feel a natural joy or passion, you are probably settling.
- When you bargain with yourself about what you can do rather than feeling grateful for what you have, you are probably settling.
- If you’re making excuses about why you should stay put rather than going for what you truly want, you’re probably settling.
The good news is that when we realise we’ve been settling, we can discover what we actually believe, and what we really want. Settling isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes it allows us freedom, allowing us space to use our energy wisely and to change the things we are settling for that we shouldn’t be. It gives us permission to create things. I certainly don’t think that ‘not settling’ should become the new ‘hustling’ because that just leads to burnout. As with everything, balance is key. The important thing is that we are able to stand in our truth and make new choices that support our goals.