Settling for Less than We Want

The Grocery Bag Analogy

Have you noticed how a plastic grocery bag flies by the side of the road? The wind from passing cars tosses it into the air according to the direction the car is traveling. The bag has no control of its movements; it travels by the external forces of the air currents. It ends up where the wind determines.

We need not be subject to the winds of external forces. We have the freedom to choose our destinations. Don’t we?

Sometimes we do, and sometimes we don’t. We often allow ourselves to be swept along by life, rather than proactively choosing our paths. We need to passionately pursue what we want.

Early in our lives, we develop lofty dreams. Thoreau calls them “castles in the air.” We see ourselves becoming physicians, lawyers, famous authors, and we have many other beautiful dreams of happiness and achievement.

But, as life kicks us around a bit, we lower our expectations, and begin to settle for what we have become. We cede control like the plastic bag—tossed by the winds of adversity and challenge and deposited by the side of the road that would have led to our dreams.

Deliberate Living

Jim Rohn has said,

“If you don’t have a plan (goals) for what you want, then you will probably find yourself buying into someone else’s plan and later find out that wasn’t the direction you wanted to go. You’ve got to be the architect of your life.”

Before the builders of a massive office structure begin construction, architects spend months in designing every detail. They discuss functionality, beauty, local ordinances and make detailed plans for the building’s construction.

They produce blueprints that detail the physical structure, the ventilation and electrical systems. They consult with interior designers to create the finest arrangement for beauty and function possible.

Contrast that office building with a young boy building a tree house. He dreams of a place he can go to be alone-a secluded, secret place. He imagines a wonderful “castle in the air.” But, rarely do young men plan the details of such a structure. He may find a board and nail it up on a limb. Next, he finds some masonite, which he nails next to the board. As he finds materials, he adds them to his little structure. Without planning, his castle becomes less than a shack.

We do that with our lives. We take what comes, try to find a way to use it in our lives, and settle for what comes our way. Rather than planning what we will become, we settle for what comes to us.

We may have striven to reach our dreams and because of opposition and trial, chosen to give up on them.

Road Construction Analogy

If you were on your way to work and found barricades indicating that your usual route has been closed for construction, what would you do? Give up and go home? Go somewhere else? Of course not, you would find another route to your destination.

We will often find barricades blocking our way toward our dreams. But, too often we give up and find another destination. Rather than changing our dreams, I suggest that we should change our route to our dreams. Find another way to get there. Make a new plan. The blueprints may change, but the basis of our dreams need not.

Napoleon Hill, in his classic book, Think and Grow Rich, relates the story of R. U. Darby’s case of “gold fever.” Young Darby staked a claim in California’s gold fields, working hard with pick and shovel to discover a vein. After weeks of labor, he found what he sought. He needed machinery to bring the ore to the surface. He traveled back to the East and raised money from friends and relatives to purchase the needed equipment.

He excavated carloads of rich ore that proved he had hit pay dirt. However, shortly the vein of golden ore disappeared. He moved around his field, drilling and searching—to no avail.

Finally, he gave up, selling his machinery to a junk dealer. Now, the junk dealer called a mining engineer to study the abandoned mine and assess its value.

The engineer advised that the project had failed, because the Darby had quit too soon. He had stopped drilling just three feet from the true vein.

That junk man took millions of dollars in ore from Darby’s abandoned mine!

We need not settle. We can live our dreams. We need a plan.

Selected quotes:
“When you know what you want, and you want it badly enough, you’ll find a way to get it.” Jim Rohn

“I used to say, ‘I sure hope things will change.’ Then I learned that the only way things are going to change for me is when I change.” Jim Rohn

“Roger Bannister didn’t break the four minute mile one day when he was just out for a jog. He planned, prepared, and made it happen.” David DeFord

Excerpted from Ordinary People Can Achieve the Extraordinary by David DeFord

 

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