Is it ever wise to settle in life - for a relationship, career or any other ambition you might have? Robert Goodin says we are always settling, but that doesn't mean we can't also strive...
Settling has been a topic of hot debate for decades - should we settle for a relationship that isn't picture-perfect? And should we let go of our career dreams and settle for being in a job we know? Dating experts would say yes.
Writer and dating expert Lori Gottlieb put the pro-settling case forward in 2010 in her book 'Mr. Good Enough' saying, "Don't worry about passion or intense connection, don’t nix a guy based on his annoying habits of yelling 'Bravo!' in movie theatres. Overlook his halitosis..." Keep searching for perfection and you will be doubly penalised.
Robert Goodwin, a philosopher who has recently written the book, 'On Settling', looks at the concept from a different viewpoint. In contrast to Gottlieb's pessimistic views, Goodwin looks at the fundamentals of settling. He has defined settling as giving up the decision to seek the optimal outcome in that area, at least for now. He argues that this is not only wise, it is in fact an intrinsic part of any meaningful existence.
Almost all human activity requires stability and closed off options. For example, if you choose to get married, you are closing off the option to keep searching for partners, and if you choose to take on a new job - you are closing off the option to look for better opportunities. Even striving, depends on settling. If you decide to strive to be a fashion designer for example, you are committing yourself to fashion and closing off the option to explore other career paths.
Some may see this as Goodwin using philosophy to avoid the issue, but the key point to take away is that you shouldn't worry about settling - you are
settling... and, thankfully, you do not have a choice. Goodwin points out that in order to strive, we must settle. He also recommends that we should periodically take stock of our strive/settle balance to see if it is time to make adjustments - we think the New Year is a great time to do this.
Do you believe in settling or are you a striver? Let us know in the comments section.
If you are taking stock of your strive/settle balance this year, speaking to a life coach could help you. For more information, please see our Personal Development page.
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