Don’t let anyone anywhere make you feel like you don’t deserve what you want.

Patrick Verona, 10 Things I Hate About You, 1999

“You get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit.” I lost count of how many times that line was heard when The Boy was young. The lesson is to roll with the punches and don’t overreact to everything that doesn’t go your way. It’s valuable as kids are learning to socialize – but as adults we take it too far. We accept less than our worth, going along to get along. Maybe we should be making waves!

We sell ourselves short by accepting “good enough.” By lowering that bar, we open the door to not getting everything we want and deserve. We end up on a plateau – better off than we were, but not our very best. Accept less, and that is the risk. Is that the outcome you are looking for? Or do you want more than that, more than “good enough”?

Instant Karma

Karmic principles tell us that everyone gets what they deserve – what goes around comes around. Do good things, get good results. Act like a jerk and there will be a karmic payoff down the line – even if you get away with it in the short term. It’s a comforting thought when life is raining down on you; make it through this and I will be happy again – plus the people who are hurting me will get theirs.

That’s fine, but karma can take a long time, and some people never seem to get their just desserts. They keep hurting others, lying, cheating, stealing their way through life. So what is the answer? Every situation is different; if they are a boss or a coworker, you can escape from them. If they are family, it can be a whole different thing. Each person, each situation, the bar may be in a different place. Just don’t set it too low!

You Set Your Own Worth

Karmic retribution is a nice idea and all, but in the end you can choose to wait for your “just desserts”, put your faith in the universe coming through – or you can take charge. Don’t wait for good things to happen, go out and make it so.

My theory is you don’t always get what you deserve. I think you get what you demand; you get what you work and strive for. When you expect the best from yourself, when you set the bar high – then you will achieve results beyond your imagination. By fighting for yourself, your happiness, your own satisfaction, you are demanding the best from life.

If I set my goals as “good enough” to get me through the next week, next month, next race – I will more than likely achieve that goal. But what have I really accomplished? Earlier this year I found myself on that plateau. Working out on my usual schedule, but not really driving to improve. Lifting the same weight, running the same distance. Without pushing myself, I would never reach my best self – and that is my ultimate goal. I’ve refocused now and am going for the higher bar.

Too often we put ourselves second (or farther) down the list. As parents, for example, we put our own goals on hold for our kids. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that; our job as parents is to guide them and teach them how to be successful adults. Once your kids are old enough to understand, though, shouldn’t it be part of that teaching to balance out responsibility and day-to-day life with our own dreams and personal satisfaction?

In my case, The Boy is about to turn 14. He’s in between boy and man, but he is definitely watching. “I know it’s a long way off,” he said the other night, “but is there anything you would want for Christmas?” He went on to say, “Well, it won’t be a surprise now, but I was planning on donating a check to your Foundation.” Ummm… wow – all the feels right there! He sees what we are working towards and is proud of me – which feels pretty great.

Challenge Issued

As you go through your day, consider this: am I accepting less from life than I should? Is the bar too low? If the answer is yes, consider pushing yourself. It’s a hard thing to do, I know. It’s so much easier to focus on the problems and ignore the parts of life that are… well… fine. I don’t get up each day hoping for “fine” these days. I’m looking for “great.” What about you?

Cover photo by jesse williams on Unsplash