Don’t Settle for Being Second

Photo Credit: Benjamin J. DeLong

“It’s a funny thing about life. If you refuse to settle for anything less than the best, that’s what it will give you.” – Somerset Maugham

I started to think about how many times people settle for being second, as opposed to truly embracing being first. Two is a great number for partnerships, but when it comes to having authentic, fulfilling relationships, how often do you or others you know settle for being the consolation prize?

It is interesting to me that people can accomplish much in many areas of their lives, yet when it comes to their relationships or their careers, they often resolve themselves or make compromises that do not honor what they truly need and desire. It seems like when the emotional stakes are at their highest, the bargaining begins. Stories get created such as someone, somehow, someday “it” will change and hope, coupled with denial, sets in. People hang on to promises made and they accept that their current career, life situation or relationship is as good as it gets. Even worse, some people do not even believe they deserve a better job, a wonderful relationship or the abundance that goes with a happy life. So, they settle for less without ever considering what they really need, much less speaking up for it.

Being first means knowing yourself, doing your best and asking for what you want. It starts with being clear about your needs, being proactive in achieving your dreams, and getting fierce for your desires. Making yourself a priority means asking people to assist you and if they are not able to, finding someone who can. Insist on congruency with others in their words and actions and expect them to put you at the top of the list. Demand respect and start being treasured by the people closet to you for who you truly are, as well as your gifts, talents and personal excellence. And above all, get your needs met and be at the top of your own list.

Identifying Your Needs:

Getting needs met can be a tricky thing. As humans, we have wants and desires, but often don’t properly identify what’s really missing or needed. In order to start living more authentically and joyfully, you must name it, claim it and take action. Consider what “needs” you currently have relationally, emotionally, spiritually, financially and physically. Listed below are the more prevalent needs I have observed in my coaching practice.

  • To be valued, recognized, validated
  • To be appreciated
  • To be loved, cherished, adored, treasured, supported, approved of, acknowledged, cared for, accepted unconditionally, saved, rescued
  • To be included, to belong, to feel part of
  • To be liked
  • To be certain, sure, confident, positive
  • To be comfortable, nurtured
  • To be free, independent, self-reliant
  • To be noticed, remembered, seen
  • To be of service, a leader, a follower
  • To be trusted
  • To be heard, listened to
  • To feel important, needed, useful, busy
  • To feel connected (to others, to a Higher Power, to yourself)
  • To feel safe, secure, protected, stable
  • To have beauty, order, consistency, perfection
  • To have peace, calm, quiet, stillness, balance
  • To have power, strength, influence, acclaim, control
  • To have abundance, security, stability
  • To have a cause, vocation, higher purpose
  • To have honesty, sincerity, loyalty, authenticity, integrity
  • To have fun, laughter, joy
  • To have passion, play, pleasure
  • To have companionship
  • To have physical touch, connection

An Exercise in Discovering How To Get Your Needs Met:

1.What would your life look if you were number one?

2. What’s missing in your life that keeps you from experiencing true fulfillment and joy in your work and your relationships? Are there boundaries or requests you need to make?

3. Using the above list, identify the three most important “needs” you currently want fulfilled, then rank them in order of importance to you.

4. Design three creative ways to meet each need.

5. Take responsibility to meet your own needs AND enlist four different people to meet each need for the next month–be sure to include yourself. Overdo it! Here are some examples:

    • If you need to feel approval or validation, you might ask your boss for weekly check-in meetings or to tell you when you do a good job.
    • If you need to feel adored, you might ask your partner to tell you how fabulous you are and maybe what qualities he or she likes about you.
    • If you needed to feel peaceful, you might schedule daily quiet time, start a meditation practice or go for a walk, without technology.
    • If you need to feel accomplishment, you might make a list of your achievements you have done this year, so far.

6. You might consider having your best friend, boss or partner also do this exercise and then compare notes.
Meet Jennifer: Life Coach, Inspirational Speaker and Author Jennifer M. Blair is founder of Excavive™ Coaching and Consulting, based in Louisville, Kentucky. Her work focuses on empowering people to pursue their passions, increase their self-confidence, communicate powerfully and build the kind of lives they want to live. If you love these Blog posts, many have been adapted from her first book, The True You: Tools to Excavate, Explore and Evolve, published in 2011.