The Single Woman Says: Here’s a glorious thought: You don’t have to settle. Ever. In life, in love, in your career…ANYWHERE!

Though the bookstores are filled with books telling us how to be happy, how to find love, how to be our best selves, and how to live our best lives…the only TRUE way to live your best life is to refuse to settle for anything less than your best life. There are so many ways to cut corners in today’s world; instead of baking our food, we microwave it. Instead of diet and exercise to lose weight, we turn to plastic surgery. Instead of “Til death do us part,” there are seventy-two-day marriages. There are drive-through restaurants, drive-through markets…there are even drive-through wedding chapels! Everything is done so rapidly; sometimes we forget that a quality life wasn’t built in a day.

But if you want your life to be a five-star reality, you have to stop settling for a fast food mentality!

When I first graduated from college with a journalism degree, everyone told me to look for a “practical, safe job.” My dream since I was a little girl was to work in television, and I always had stars in my eyes and my head in the clouds, truly believing I could do anything I wanted. I worked as a leasing consultant at an apartment complex out of college for more than a year and a half while I looked for a TV job because I refused to settle for less than the life of my dreams. Meanwhile, everyone around me told me I needed to “get serious” and “be reasonable” and settle for a comfortable, safe, “normal” job that would pay the bills and allow me to get by.

I’m here to tell you, there is no “just getting by” when you know you were born to shoot for the sky.

After months of determination, I went on to secure a job at the local ABC affiliate in Nashville as an associate producer before moving on to Country Music Television (CMT) as a producer. And though I only ended up working in television for about three years before moving on to public relations, I got to live my dream. And I got to because I flatly refused to listen to the voices around me urging me to settle for mundane and average and ordinary, because I knew I was meant for something extraordinary.

My point is this: Refuse to lower your standards, your aspirations, your expectations for any reason.

We were not put here on this earth to barely squeak by and to settle for a lukewarm, watered-down version of life OR love for fear of what other people will think. Our lives can’t rise any higher than our standards. And I’ve learned that if someone criticizes you for having high standards, it’s probably because they’re not brave enough or determined enough to meet them.

Rise above settling in life or in love. And the next time someone tells you your standards are too high, don’t apologize. Tell them thank you. The standard you set determines the life that you get. And those who know their worth don’t even entertain the lesser things. They hold out for the best things.

In what ways have you looked settling in the eye and walked away? I want to hear from you! Best comment wins a signed copy of my book.

*Excerpt from The Single Woman: Life, Love, and a Dash of Sass

Mandy Hale is affectionately known around the world as “The Single Woman.” With a heart to inspire single women to live their best lives and to never, ever settle, Mandy cuts to the heart of the matter with her inspirational, straight-talking, witty, and often wildly humorous take on life and love. She’s also not afraid to talk about the many realities of being single in a world that still asks, “And WHY are you still single?” Mandy was invited by Oprah in 2012 to cover her Lifeclass: the Tour events in St. Louis and New York City and has been named a “Twitter Powerhouse” by The Huffington Post. Her first published book, The Single Woman: Life, Love, and a Dash of Sass, is now available.