Meet Carol, Elena and Darcy. They are three women who share nothing save for the same zip code.
Single, sensational and savvy, Carol is your atypical career driven woman with her sights set on world domination, or at least domination at the publishing house she works at.
Elena is a graphic designer in a 6-year relationship with a man whom she thinks is ‘the one’.
Finally meet Darcy, a stay-at-home mother with a spouse and two kids. Oh yes, and a dog.
Three very different lives striving to achieve three very different goals. However, there is one thing that these women have in common: a deep rooted fear that ruthlessly makes them question if they are settling for less when they can have so much more.
Are you settling for less when you can have so much more?
In a world that barely gives us time to breathe, who is to say that what you are doing is truly the right thing for you? We have consulted three women with three different mindsets on the things that make them question their journey in life. Whether it is a combination of all three women, or just one whose issues hit close to home, you will undoubtedly see yourself in Carol, Elena and Darcy.
The burning question of whether you should settle for less when you think you can have so much more is something faced by everyone in today’s fast paced world. No matter how great everything is going at the moment, there is no denying that questions involving “what ifs” tend to crop up now and then. Here are some of the major catechisms faced by these ladies and some tips on what they can do to combat them.
Carol: Is my career all that I have?
Upon graduating with honors from law school, Carol clawed her way up to associate at a prestigious law firm before deciding that dealing with corporate disputes and acquisitions just wasn’t her thing. In a twist of fate, she hopped on board one of her client’s ships and quickly settled into her newly minted position of Marketing Information Manager at a publishing house.
The bump in salary and prestige gave Carol the push she was yearning for to make her mark in the competitive world of book publishing. Her hard work and effort paid off and after celebrating promotion after promotion, Carol found herself playing one of the most pivotal roles in the company, that of Chief Operating Officer. However her success did not come without a price. The long hours, endless conference calls, ceaseless emails, countless meetings, dealing with demanding authors, and everything else took its toll on her personal life. [Read: Love or career – How to make the right choice for yourself]
As padded as her bank account was, Carol was lonely. After weeks of neglect at a time, even her houseplants chose to forsake her company by dying off one by one. Looking around, Carol could not help but feel like something was missing in her life. The kicker was when her trusty assistant asked for a day off to celebrate her daughter’s birthday, something Carol could not fathom. A heated argument ensued and Carol fired her for insubordination.
It was then that Carol realized she was all alone in the world with no one to blame but herself. The fact that she could not relate to her employee made her open her eyes to the vile reason behind it all: she had no one in the world she cared for and thus could not understand the significance of a work-life balance.
All the wealth and power in the world could not hide the fact that she had no one to pamper, love and trust. She could not help but wonder if she had made a mistake focusing on her career instead of on personal relationships. Is the grass truly greener on the other side? Would a life with a less powerful position career-wise but with the presence of a family be more fulfilling?
If you find familiarity in Carol’s tale, then here are some things that you can do to kick loneliness to the curb and focus on reinvigorating personal relationships. [Read: 25 memorable life lessons to perfect your life]
#1 Cut back on work
As impossible as it may seem right now, you need to cut back on work. Whether it is slicing down the hours or taking some time off, you need to take a deep breath and center yourself. The demands that come with holding an enviable position at work are not to be scoffed at but you have to realize that free time for yourself is more important.
Whether it is packing up and taking a trip to the seaside, or signing up for a yoga retreat in Bali, find something that gives you a sense of peace and just do it. If taking a vacation is not an option, start by leaving work on time. Once you walk out that office door, leave everything work-related behind you and take it from there. You will find that those few extra hours that you set aside for yourself will give you the much needed perspective to figure out what to do next.
#2 Spend time with family and friends
Take baby steps when it comes to spending time with people. Start with those who are already in your life. Whether it is your parents, siblings, or core group of friends, make the effort to spend time with them.
Schedule a family dinner to catch up, or make a reservation to get your nails done with some girlfriends. Try not to talk about work and just focus on reconnecting with the people who are important to you. [Read: 13 happy things you need for a perfectly happy life]
#3 Say ‘Yes’ to social events
With the few extra hours that you are giving yourself each day, you will find that you have time to be social again. Do not decline invitations to parties if you can help it. Attend them when you can and make an effort to socialize. This will give you the chance to meet and greet people whom you would not usually cross paths with.
Agree to blind dates, try online or speed dating, or just strike up a conversation with the person behind you while you are getting coffee. You will be surprised at the myriad of friendly faces and brilliant conversations out there just waiting for you to enjoy. [Read: How to make new friends when you just can’t find any friends]
Elena: Is he really ‘The One’?
Elena is a fun-loving freelance graphic designer who works out of the two bedroom apartment that she shares with her long term boyfriend. She enjoys hipster cafés, art deco buildings and has made it her mission in life to watch every one of Cirque du Soleil’s shows.
On the outside, Elena has the perfect life of a 32-year-old, a career that puts enough food on the table, a loving boyfriend and a sweet crib. Although Elena realizes that many would kill to be in her position, she cannot help but wonder if she is truly happy with the man she is with. Sure he is sweet, worships the ground she walks on, never picks a fight, always leaves the toilet seat down, and surprises her with flowers.
However, Elena can tell that the passion has fizzled out of their relationship and the sex just seems routine. A certain je ne sais quoi is lacking and despite all the wonderful aspects of the relationship, Elena cannot help but wonder if it would be different and more exciting with someone else. She has even secretly had thoughts of banging the hot rock climbing instructor she met on her recent trip to Malaysia and indulges in porn when her boyfriend is out. It is easy to say that Elena should just take the risk, leave him, and find someone new but her fear is that she will not be able to find anyone better. [Read: 18 critical signs of an unhealthy relationship]
Plus, she loves her man more than anything and does not want to hurt him. Elena also believes that the concept of an open relationship is absolute bollocks so keeping her options open whilst staying with her boyfriend is out of the question. If you are like Elena and do not know what to do next, here are some things to attempt. [Read: Open relationships – Is it something YOU can consider for yourself?]
#1 Inject passion into sex
In Elena’s case, sex plays a big part in the way she feels about her relationship. If you are that way, then you have to address the problem right away. Start by injecting some passion and excitement into your sex life. Whether it is living out a fantasy, dressing up, using props, or doing it somewhere public, do whatever you can to make it fun again. As important as love is, so is lust.
#2 Liven it up by being spontaneous
Stop thinking too much about what is acceptable and just go with the flow. Plan a quick weekend getaway within an hour’s notice, give your boyfriend a blowjob in the park, or enjoy a quickie in the changing room. Whatever you do with your partner, be spontaneous about it and you will feel an adrenaline rush unlike any other.
This will certainly help combat the dullness that comes after being together for years. The rule of thumb here is to act 18 again, so break the rules if you want and start living it up together. [Read: Top 50 kinky ideas to create a really sexy relationship]
#3 Take a break
If neither plan works, then perhaps you should consider taking some time off from each other. It does not mean that you should do something drastic like break up and move out. Just take a week or two off and go on a solo holiday. Plan an escapade to colorful India, or rent a car and travel around the country. Give you and your partner some time apart to miss each other again. You will be surprised at how much you will appreciate your other half when you spend time apart. [Read: How taking a break works and understanding if you really need it]
Darcy: Should I give up my family to do what I really want?
Darcy certainly leads a charmed life. She has been blessed with a wonderful husband who recently got tenured, happy and healthy twin girls, a well trained brown Labrador who does not dig holes in the yard, and a lovely home in the suburbs complete with flowering trellises and painted shutters.
As picture perfect as Darcy’s life may seem, she feels unfulfilled to the point that she is close to being unhappy. As challenging as it is playing the dual role of wife and mother, Darcy never got the chance to live out her lifelong dream of being a photojournalist. She was about to embark on a yearlong excursion to photograph and study the forgotten tribes of the Amazon with a group of renown researchers when she found out she was pregnant.
Of course, Darcy gave up her dream adventure and chose to settle into family life instead. Seven years later, Darcy still guiltily thinks about what would have happened if she did not get pregnant. She has sobbed her shameful guilt away on more than one occasion but no matter how much she misses her life of long ago, refuses to give up the family life she has built for herself.
However time and time again, Darcy allows her mind to wander to a land of far away with adventures and surprises around every bend. If you understand where Darcy is coming from and want to know how to combat these feelings, here are some suggestions: [Read: The 12 secret signs of an unhappy marriage]
#1 Do what you love
If you are like Darcy and find that your talents and skills can be put to great use outside of family life, then do something about it, but do so responsibly. Do not shirk your responsibilities and parade your selfishness in your loved ones’ faces.
Instead, incorporate what you love doing into everyday life. In Darcy’s case, she can pen pieces of adventure and travel from the comforts of American suburbia. Sure it may feel like armchair traveling to many, but even that is better than nothing at all.
#2 Make the most of it
The difference between Darcy and the other two women above is that Darcy has a family who depends on her. She cannot just up and leave her family while they pick up the pieces of her presence as mother and wife. Because of the way that life has worked out for her, there is no denying that the first step towards happiness is for her to feel grateful and appreciative for all that she has.
You, like Darcy, have to make the most of it. Perhaps, it is time to rethink your goals and in this case, settle for what you already have. The grass may not always be greener on the other side, especially if you already have everything that one could ask for in life. [Read: 5 life altering lessons you can learn from regret]
#3 Allow yourself a breather
If nothing else works, then take a short break from reality. Go off on a trip and do what you love doing. In Darcy’s case, it is not too late to contact various universities, research departments, museums and anthropologists to connect with them regarding her passion. Taking some time off to focus on yourself is not such a bad idea. Just ensure not to forget that you have loved ones waiting for you at home. [Read: How to let go of your past and be excited about your future]
Are you really settling for less?
It’s alright to wonder if you’re settling for less when you can have so much more. But it’s not always true that you’re settling, after all, we have a tendency to believe that the grass is always greener on the other side. But even if you ever do feel that way, take a small step out of your path and try to satiate your curiosity without really changing your life, or breaking away and doing something drastic or something you may come to regret later.
At the end of the day, we will all experience the burning “what if” questions at some point in our lives. That is what makes us human. The most that we can do is to choose to be happy, trust our instincts and do whatever feels right. Just remember not to hurt anyone in the process and all will be just fine.
[Read: 6 telltale excuses we commonly use that stop us from living a dream life]
So should you settle for less when you can have so much more? Of course not! And that’s why it’s really important for you to maintain a balance in your life, so you don’t ever feel like you’re missing out on anything. But most importantly, remember that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side even if it really seems that way right now!
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