I remember the first time my high school friend mentioned the term, “low-hanging fruit,” to me. “She lacks self-confidence,” he told me as he described his sister. “So instead of striving for more, she just settles on the low-hanging fruit”.

I remember laughing at the choice of words and thinking how sad for her. I remember thinking it’s unfortunate, but then I moved on. Years later, I would look back on some of my decisions and realize that there were many times that I, too, settled on the low-hanging fruit.

The low-hanging fruit keeps you fed without too much risk. It may not be the best, the biggest, or even what you truly desire, but it’s the settlement that we are willing to take or that we believe we have to take.

Why We Settle

How many times have I settled on low-hanging fruit? As I look back on my life, I realize I have done this A LOT! At the time my friend told me about his sister, I couldn’t really understand or relate. As I mentioned above, I literally laughed. But as I’ve gotten older (and wiser I would hope), I realize how important human connections are. And how important they are at helping you see who YOU are. You see, when he made that statement to me, I was a surgical resident doing exactly what I believe I was supposed to be doing. He frequently told me (and still tells me) how proud he is of my accomplishments. But what he doesn’t know is that I could have been better, and I should be better. So why aren’t I? The same reason you aren’t: fear. Fear that I can actually have the best fruit, the whole tree, and all the trees next to it.

We all have done it. We pick the low-hanging fruit when we didn’t ask for the raise, when we didn’t quit the job, when we walked away, or when we opted to simply stay. We pick the low-hanging fruit when we find excuses as to why we can’t lose the weight, find that true love, or be a great this or that. We pick the low-hanging fruit each time we compromise who we are meant to be to fit in the box of who we are expected to be.

So, I know what you are thinking, how do you stop reaching for the low-hanging fruit?

Okay, wait for it … you just stop.

A lot of us (like me a couple of years ago) don’t even know we are doing this. You remember what GI Joe said, right?

“Knowing is half the battle.”

Are You an LFG?

When you know better, you do better. So, the better question is how do you find out if you are a LFG (low-fruit grabber). Look around you. Look at your friends, replay some of your conversations, and look for the commonalities. If “I would do this, but” comes up a lot, then you, my friend, are an LFG. If “his or her accomplishments are great, but” … yup, you, too, are an LFG. If you constantly can’t, then you may actually be the president of your LFG community. Yes, I said community, because some of you have been living, functioning, and thriving in LFG communities that you have helped create, that you have become a representative of, and, in some cases, that you may be leading.

So today I urge you to look around, recall some of your interactions, and truly assess who, exactly, you are. If you can’t figure it out, ask a friend; better yet, ask someone who is not a friend. If you really, really are ready for the answer, stand in front of the mirror, and ask her.