Settle. Settle is defined by Merriam-Webster as “to place so as to stay,” “to establish as in residence,” or “to establish or secure permanently.” When a rock settles in a river, for example, it falls permanently to the bottom and sinks into the mud in the river bed. It’s then stuck for all of eternity unless someone comes along and pulls it out.
Yes, I know this isn’t the most cheery way to start an article about pursuing your dreams, but it paints a picture of what happens to us when we settle for second-best. We become complacent and settle, causing us not to get better at whatever we’re doing, whether it’s work, relationships, sports, or anything else.
The reason we get complacent and lazy is because we aren’t doing what we actually love. If you’re not passionate about your job, for example, but it’s good enough to pay the bills and have enough left over for the occasional date or vacation, it’s easy to “settle” for it. You know that you’re never going to go scraping by or be out of work, which is good enough for you.
However, if you have a good job that you hate or simply don’t care about, you might not be scraping by financially, but you will be scraping by mentally and emotionally. Having a crappy job, no matter how well it pays, takes a toll on the soul and makes you feel beaten down.
This very thing has happened to me numerous times throughout my short life. I went from the flooring industry to heating and cooling, to plumbing, to a factory job that could have grossed six figures a year. However, no matter where I went or what I did, I dreaded going to work and lived for the weekend.
Was the problem with me? Was I simply a discontent person who couldn’t be pleased? Or was it another issue? Was I simply not actively pursuing my dreams and settling for whatever dropped in my lap?
A big part of why I was unhappy with my work life was because of the situation we were in. During this time in the lives of my wife and I, she was a full-time college student and would be for the first seven years of our marriage. Therefore, since we were a one-income home, I felt obligated to take whatever decent-paying job came my way.
I felt like my primary obligation was to support my wife financially and emotionally, which meant having a stable job that could provide for our needs. I also wanted to try to get her through school without taking out too many loans, which we were able to do for her undergrad.
However, taking menial jobs to provide for my wife, while being the right thing to do, was also keeping me from pursuing my own hopes and dreams. Sure, I was getting a ton of satisfaction out of helping her accomplish her dreams, but where did that leave mine?
While it was tough, my wife graduated with her bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science. However, her ultimate goal was to get a doctorate in Physical Therapy. In order to do that, we had to move to a different state, which meant taking yet another job I didn’t like.
Long story short, however, she eventually needed to do clinical rotations, which meant traveling to a new hospital in a new location every two months. Now, we were faced with a tough decision – should I stay behind at my stable job to ensure we were ok financially, or should I quit my job, go with her on her travels, and hope to find work as I went?
The idea of living apart for months on end didn’t sit well with either of us, so we opted for plan B. And, let me tell you, it was the best decision we’ve ever made. Having to quit my job and travel the country gave me the opportunity to do what I had always wanted to do – be self-employed.
It’s not like I don’t get along with my coworkers or employers. I was simply at the point where I wanted to do my own thing, make my own schedule, and, ideally, work from home.
Therefore, having to quit my job and think outside the box in terms of employment was as good a chance as I was likely going to get to pursue my goals.
As with most new gigs, it took me a while to find what I actually wanted to do in terms of being self-employed. I tried everything from recycling to food and grocery delivery services. While each of these jobs allowed for flexible hours and self-employment, I still wasn’t working remotely.
Then, almost by accident, I stumbled onto what would become the creme de la creme of ambitions. A friend of mine was helping me with some rudimentary website development stuff, which was not at all my forte when he mentioned that he was looking for someone to write for his blog.
Foolishly, I said that I would take a swing at it. After all, I was a decent writer in high school and college, and English is something I have always enjoyed.
Therefore, I figured, why not? He offered me a few bucks for the project, so it would be a good way to make an extra $40, if nothing else.
Little did I know that those two blogs were what would propel me to where I am now – a full-time content and copywriter.
All it took was putting my wife’s dreams first, which resulted in quitting my job, moving hundreds of miles away, and being forced to take a chance on myself.
Needless to say, becoming a full-time remote writer didn’t happen overnight. It took nearly six months of part-time work while I kept delivering food and groceries for Shipt and Doordash.
However, by sticking with it, I’ve been able to carve out a nice little freelance career for myself while making my own schedule, setting my own hours, and working from home in the process.
There are actually two morals to my story.
The first one is don’t wait as long as I did to pursue my dreams. While I was trying to do the right thing by providing for my family through stable employment, I regret every day not taking a chance on writing years earlier. Therefore, don’t be like me and wait to chase your dreams until it’s your only option.
The second one is that if you’re really passionate about something, life is too short not to take a chance on it. If it doesn’t work out, that’s fine! At least you tried and won’t find yourself looking back wishing you had.
So, let 2024 be the year that you put your fears and “it’s good enough” attitude aside and take a chance on yourself.
Jalin is a full time writer who enjoys writing about his own journey being a dad, husband, and someone deeply passionate about his work. His authenticity in what it means to be a stay at home Dad shines through in his story as he seeks to inspire other men to not only run after their dreams, but to do so in a way that is supporting and uplifting to the people most important in your life.