I understand that we are sometimes faced with times when we need to just do what needs to be done. This is true especially in hard times, and especially for many right now. While we need to prioritize things like keeping the lights on and food on our table, we cannot forget about what we want. What sets our soul on fire. What makes us happy. 

There have been times in my life where I have settled because I felt like it was what I should do, or because I convinced myself that it was what I needed to do. It’s not necessarily the settling that was so detrimental, but the amount of time I stayed and allowed it to continue. I kept jobs I didn’t like for longer than I needed to, and I allowed people to treat me a certain way because I convinced myself I was paying my dues instead of speaking up for myself. Having to do hard things is a part of life. Not liking every moment is a part of life, but staying in that situation because of fear of the unknown, or worse, because it’s the easy thing to do, is defeat. You will rob yourself of your happiness and you will wake up to wonder what may have been. 


No one’s trajectory is a straight line. We often encounter a ‘road closed’ sign in the form of a layoff, a rejected application or a missed promotion. But when we learn to embrace these detours, to see them not as defeat but as opportunities, we are often able to open ourselves up to possibilities we never saw coming. Take, for example, a client who was recently passed up for a promotion. She felt defeated, stuck and alone. She kept her head down and plodded along in a job that was below her skill set and below her pay grade. When she was again passed up for a better opportunity, she decided to see this one a little differently. She realized this company didn’t value what she had to offer, and she made a career shift into a completely new industry and is now doing something that fulfills her. She now laments the years she wasted, but is optimistic about the opportunity to not waste one more second. 

This feels more relevant now than ever. It’s a time of uncertainty for almost everyone. But that doesn’t mean it has to be a time of settling. It’s easy to want to cocoon into the familiar, and that’s ok for a while, but we need to remember that often the most learning comes from the detours. The only thing that really matters is that we keep going.


When we have a defined life plan in mind, it’s often hard to see different opportunities when they present themselves. Don’t get me wrong, having a plan is necessary, but when it becomes inflexible is when it becomes a problem. For example, if you had your sights set on the C-Suite at a company that is just not valuing your talents, then it’s helpful to maintain an open mind. See what else is out there. Understand that what’s to come may look different than we thought, but that doesn’t make it any less valuable. 


Most people, women in particular, think that if they just keep their heads down, don’t rock the boat, stick to the plan, then good things will happen. And sometimes, sure, that’s the case. But we need to understand when we’re working toward something, and how that looks different than when we’re settling for less than we deserve. 

Settling often starts as a nagging feeling in your gut. ‘Am I sure this is the right job?’ ‘Will this path really take me where I want to go.’ Those feelings are easily rationalized away, though. ‘Maybe if I just give it another year.’ Or ‘I just need a new boss, then it will change.’ But eventually, that feeling grows. It can take on the form of resentment, toward an organization or a person. Or it can blossom into a feeling of defeat, that no matter how hard you try, you can never get where you want. This. Is. Settling. 

Staying somewhere that’s ‘not always bad’ or ‘might get better’ isn’t any way to show up for yourself. Think about it, if a friend was in the same position, wouldn’t you tell them to leave? Wouldn’t you tell them they deserved more? Well, you do too. 


These steps are easier said than done. I know that from experience. But I also know that getting unstuck can be the most rewarding and fulfilling move you’ll ever make. And it’s not always a linear process, but it is worth the effort. If you want to get unstuck, first you have to find a cheerleader, coach or mentor. That can take the form of a spouse, a friend or a professional coach to help guide you. You need someone who respects you and believes in you to talk through the pros and cons of your options and challenge you to think in new ways. 

Next, you need a network. A group of connected and like-minded people who have opportunities and connections to help you on your path. This can be through a company like Avanti Alliance or a professional group, former coworkers, or family and friends. 

And finally, you need confidence. You need to believe that you’re worth this jump. That what you’re putting your mind to will turn out for the best. And if it doesn’t, that you have the resilience to try again. You need to have an unshakeable belief in yourself as someone who is worthy of happiness and fulfillment, and you need to be willing to do the hard and scary work to make it happen. 

Once you make the decision to stop settling, you’ll be surprised how the dominoes seem to fall into place. With the right attitude, you can stop settling, start thriving and live the life you know you were destined for. 

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