The Negative of Never Settling: A Reflection

First, watch this video:

A Refection by Elizabeth Bower

“Don’t settle, keep looking,” Steve Jobs said in his commencement speech to the graduates of Stanford (Jobs, 2005).  This strikes a chord. I relate his words to what my father has said to me, in so many other words, throughout my whole life.  So, they are somewhat nostalgic and comforting.  Yet, at the same time, instill a sense of urgency and anxiety.

At the root of not settling, there is the notion of ‘doing better’ or ‘reaching farther’.  These ideas taunt me in my everyday life, from something simple like cleaning the bathroom better to the more complex projects at my job. One might be curious why the word ‘taunt’ is used in relation to ‘doing better’, however, there are many symptoms to the disease of perfectionism.

Goals, one-ups, quotes, competition, motivational concepts, and even simple words are all things that can fuel the flame of perfectionism. The self-inflicting virus that sometimes renders me not worthy or not good enough.  Ideas of not settling and to keep looking are motivating in their own right, but to what end and to what cost?  Sometimes viewing life from the lens of ‘there should be more or there could be more’ may be darkness we ignore.

We live in a society where passions are paramount.  Following them even more so.  If we aren’t living out our passion daily, then we must keep looking.  We must never settle.  There is a constant feeling of looking for something.  Seeking the next thing that will make your life perfect or make your life complete.  What’s the cost of living your life always looking for ‘that thing’ or passion?  Is the fee your freedom?  Freedom to live outside constant yearning for achievement. Freedom from perfectionism. Freedom to feel multi-passionate.  Freedom to enjoy the journey and not always seek the future.

Not settling, at large, is important for growth.  It’s important to keep learning, to expand and stretch your spirit.  However, the notion of continued seeking and to never settle lacks the peace we should strive for in order to fully enjoy the world around us and the magnificence of our place in it.  I’m not sure if being hungry and foolish are the sentiments I will be happy to have lived by in my life’s reflection.


Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford Commencement Address (2005). [Video]. YouTube.

Categories: Reflections, The Workplace Word

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