For years, I was settling for less without even realising it.

I was seen as successful. I got two degrees. I had an international career, with recognisable named companies. I worked on impactful projects. I loved my partners and friends. I was seen as a tower of strength and nurturing.

What wasn’t seen were the sacrifices I made. The yeses that should have been noes. The times I skipped lunch to help a colleague. The dance classes I cancelled to listen to a distressed friend. The opportunities I gave up to facilitate my partner’s choices. The nights when I held my stepchildren until they fell asleep. I stopped knowing what I liked or even preferred. You’d hear me say “I don’t mind. You pick” as I was overwhelmed with decisions.

Whilst I don’t regret many of those choices, I do recognise I was merely functioning. I got up, worked, took care of home, supported my partner and family, went to bed. Hit repeat. 

From the outside, I looked like a woman juggling the balls and not letting them drop. I got praised for my efforts, for my generosity, for my caring. From the inside, I was setting for less.

Settling for Less: Young woman sat on stairs looking confused

Less of what I needed. Less of what I stood for. Less of me and all I could offer in the world. 

My confidence was diminished and old anxieties raged under the surface. I became smaller as my fears of being rejected or excluded if I asked for what I wanted or expressed what I felt – I’d be admitting I wasn’t enough, I wasn’t comfortable with the norm and that I wasn’t happy with what I had.

I wanted to live in alignment with my values. I craved more freedom in my work. I needed to balance everything out to find space for me in my life. Even just writing this now, I can feel that old guilt, the sense of selfishness and the shame creeping through my chest and throat. How could I put myself before others when they needed more than me?

Settling for less: young black woman sat on ornate stairs, holding a large piece of paper filled with ideas

You can’t serve form an empty cup.

My self-doubt and self-worth hit a low. Being small and settling for less didn’t bring me the love from others or from myself that I’d expected. Nor did it make me more accepted in my family or my workplace. Nor did it make me an easy person to be around (saying “I don’t mind” causes the fuss I was trying to avoid!). My physical and mental health took a dip. I was exhausted trying to be all that I could without respecting myself.

If any of this sounds even vaguely familiar to you, please know that settling for less is actually at the core of what is blocking you from growing, from thriving, from laughing every day.

Saying yes to you, to your joy, to your needs, to your values, to your hopes is possible and won’t risk much of what you think it will. I promise.

By not settling for less, you create the conditions to have more energy and space for all that you want into your life. You give yourself and others the permissions to honour your wellbeing, spiritual and social needs. By identifying your values and vision, the boundaries you set can be upheld and supported. Speaking your truth – the things that make you authentically you – leads to more opportunities to serve, to have impact and to feel more joy.

Settling for less: black woman sat on stairs holding her phone and looking frustrated

Learn to think differently about your thinking and behaviours, that drive your human instinct to protect yourself from potential risk, pain, fear or those icky, crunchy feelings of guilt and shame. 

Ditch the doubt, find self worth, self acceptance and self love – trust yourself to be who you need, to know the people who have your back and want the best for you, to be fully able to successfully walk your preferred path through life.

Choose with wisdom. Choose with yourself in mind. Choose joy.

Not sure where to start – give me a bell, drop me a message and I’ll help you out.