I loved it when I first heard the speech of Steve Jobs during the graduation rites at Stanford University in 2005. It’s because I adhere to the principles he mentioned, particularly this one about not settling.
What does “don’t settle” really mean? It means you will not accept something that is less than what you want. A very common Filipino expression is the “puede na” mentality, which accepts something that is knowingly mediocre. Somehow, this does not appeal to me as a standard way of doing things, of living my life.
But let’s face it, to not settle in all aspects of life all the time can be quite a challenge! I think this is even the basis of the have-it-all illusion that we propagate to others. Remember that sometimes, we let go of our usual standards on something not because we are less than the next person, but because that thing is not as important to us.
So how do we balance between not settling and not being exhausted? In my experience, I choose what is important to me. Let me share with you some of these chosen fields – the fields in which I don’t settle for anything less.
To me, this is the most important contract I’ve ever signed up for in my life! Early on, I’ve always known that I wanted to have a great marriage and that I was willing to give it my best shot to make it work.
I remember a conversation I had with my husband Marvin in the early part of our marriage, he said, “Hon, don’t expect that we’d always be so in love as we are now ha? I just don’t want you to be disappointed.” But I countered him with, “But do you want us to become less loving in the future? I want us to be this in love, if not more, when we’re old and gray.” I was not referring to us always being on cloud 9, but I was referring to the quality of our relationship. We had an interesting discussion that led to an agreement that we could actually not settle for what is “normal” or what he was expecting to be normal at that time. And we knew that this kind of relationship was not something we could get overnight. It was something that we had to work on and take seriously yet with a big dose of humor, and respect.
Fortunately, after 25 years, we still profess to each other a love deeper and stronger than it was in the beginning, driven by the same (if not more) dose of romance, which we consciously and regularly put in our day-to-day encounters. It has not always been easy, but it has always been worth it. It has not been that difficult either, because the love has been there in the first place.
To all couples out there– if you want a happily ever after, don’t settle!
Bringing a child to this world is the most serious endeavor a person could ever get into. If you choose to bring a life into this world, you better make sure you’re bringing someone who will make this world a better place. You have to be fair to the child you’re giving life to and the people he/she will affect in the future so, for me, parenting is something to be taken seriously.
My heart bleeds when I see street children begging for food and I can’t help but hate the people who brought them to life for neglecting their serious and even divine obligation. This is one of the reasons why I forego my investment banking career. Bringing up a person involves constant presence of care and attention. It so happened that my job then, which I enjoyed and was proud of, didn’t allow me to be with them in a meaningful way on a daily basis. I decided then that I wouldn’t settle for anything less than the best parenting I could give. Despite all the sacrifices and what-ifs, I celebrated that decision of not settling on my parenting as I saw my children growing up. I can’t help but feel that they are not just God’s best gifts to us as parents, but also our best gifts to this world!
My original vision of myself was that of a successful career woman, but then parenting made me take a detour. Nonetheless, I made sure I didn’t settle for a less version of me. I continued to read and attend workshops. I even studied Art and Photography. I avoided teleseryes so as not to be melodramatic. I vowed to be a student of life. I continued to keep that vision of a great person even without an impressive calling card– and it has been fun! Today, I find myself busy with advocacies that allow me to affect others by sharing what I know and in the process, allow me to continue developing as a person. Isn’t that great?
So the next time you find yourself settling for something less than what you want, ask yourself: “Does this mean a lot to me? Does it stay true to my core values?” If the answer is yes, then don’t settle. Keep searching, keep doing more until you achieve what you really want. You will know. Your heart will tell you.