Changing Mentality: Deserve to Earn

Knowing the difference between deserving and earning

There are different ways we look at the world and our actions in it.  We use words like: should and deserve as a way to describe how we want things to be.  When real life doesn’t meet our expectations.

A tool we can use to help achieve our personal and professional goals is changing our mentality.  We change it from thinking we deserve something for having to earn something.

I always hear people say, “I did this action so I deserve the reward, or “I deserve this reward because of all the time I spent doing this action.”

The good news is, you don’t deserve anything.  No one is obligated to give you anything.  The better news is, you can change your perspective and not rely on coping tools when things don’t go the way you planned.

You can go from thinking you deserve something, to earning something.

My goal isn’t to be cynical, it’s to be realistic.  Even after hard work and dedication you still may not reach your goal.

You may feel like you earned it but it just doesn’t happen.  When I was accepted to multiple pharmacy schools, I felt like I earned it but it didn’t work out.  I carry the lessons of my failure to make myself a better person.

What’s the difference between the deserving mindset and the earning mindset?

The deserve mindset is passive, relying on people “giving” or validating your results.  This kind of mentality sets us up to accept what does or doesn’t happen.  People start thinking, “I deserve ‘X’, but ‘Y’ didn’t give it to me, so it’s their fault.”

A deserve mentality puts the blame on others for events that don’t turn out the way you plan.  This pattern of behavior takes away your control, remember:

“I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” ― William Ernest Henley

The earn mindset is active and depends less on the actions of others.  This mentality is both outward looking, but it’s mostly inward looking.

This mindset enables you to evaluate your actions against your goals and readjust actions or goals as necessary.

With the earn mentality, you can build on your successes and failures.  You may not reach your goal but you would an opportunity to evaluate your failure points and learn from them.

These are valuable lessons that are hard to learn with the deserve mentality.

Drawbacks of the deserve mentality

We see the world the way we want to see it and how it actually is until we run into failure. People want to believe this is a fair and just world because it would be harder to believe otherwise.

We want to believe people, good or bad, we get what we deserve.

The mindset of thinking you deserve something is a distraction from the lessons of failure.  This creates a hurdle to achieving your goals by not allowing you to take responsibility and learning from failures.

When you think you deserve something, you’re always going to be looking for that external feedback or reward, and not self-evaluating and adjusting.  I

n school, I would study late into the night and still might get a poor grade.

Did I deserve a poor grade after all that work?  Yes, I didn’t study the right things, I wasn’t evaluating myself properly to change the topics and find weaknesses.

The deserve mentality sets up something like diffusion of responsibility.  For example, there were so many other people working on this project so it’s their fault it went wrong and I deserve “X” for my work.

You have so many outside options to choose from when assigning failure but how often do you look inward? This is a hard lesson I had to learn.

The deserve mentality decreases your ability to lead and your leadership abilities.  Your ability to act as a leader depends on taking personal responsibility for your actions and outcomes.

The deserve mentality, mentioned above, is passive and dependent on outside actions.  You lose leadership abilities and potential when you’re passive to outside influence.

You ability weakens when you don’t know how to interpret the outside influences and adapt based on it.

“Perseverance is a great element of success. If you only knock long enough and loud enough at the gate, you are sure to wake up somebody.”― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Final thoughts

Changing your mentality will take time and practice.  Knowing the difference between earning and deserving something, and how to learn and grow from mistakes, is a great start.

Adopting an earn mentality requires you to focus internally as much as you focus on your external actions. Your external actions should be in response to your internal review.

Internal actions include:

  • Discipline (this is important to keep yourself moving in a positive direction),
  • Doing an honest self-evaluation (example),
  • Having realistic goals (start small and have your goals grow as you grow), and
  • Finally, the ability to change yourself or your goals based on the feedback you’re receiving.

It’s going to take time to remove yourself from the deserve mentality to the earn mentality but the outcome will be rewarding.


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Spring board for aspiring fiction writers. Using free time to write sci-fi / drama.

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