Complacency

“A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.”

Bruce Lee

Fear is an excellent motivator. Our natural response to fear or discomfort is to run the other way. We seek comforting things. Nostalgia. Hot comfort food. Smells. Familiar places. Routines. A consistent routine is a godsend to hectic times. But comfort isn’t always our friend.

Comfort is often the gateway emotion to complacency.

Complacency is a short path to ruin. The world never stops moving, but you do.

Essentially, complacency is feeling naively satisfied with your life and with yourself, despite all the red flags and warning fires dancing in your periphery. Funny enough, I believe complacency can come from both success and failure.

Success Complacency comes from achieving a goal and-or reaching the top of a mountain and telling yourself that you’ve “made it”. You reach the top (or at least what you think is the top) and you stop. You root.

You build a successful business but stop innovating. You make a hit song and you fold in the towel. You find the love of your dreams, get married, and stop trying.

We retire from creating. We stop improving. We coast. We smug (to use that word incorrectly as a verb). And while we’re goofing off— our skills and ideas rusting away—everyone around us is still in the game—improving, achieving and, more importantly, trying.

And suddenly we find ourselves at the bottom. The mountain moved beneath us while we were sleeping.

Failure Complacency is the opposite of Success Complacency. Not only have you not succeeded, you’re perpetually dissatisfied with how things are. You’ve tried, usually, you’ve tried extremely hard, but nothing has worked out.

Failure complacency is accepting a mediocre life or giving up after failing and resigning yourself to being a miserable sad sack. You fall into patterns of comfort and safety—or at least the little “comfort” and “safety” you have. For example, you hate your job but don’t do anything about it. It sucks, but the pay is decent, so why quit? Or you attach yourself to a certain lifestyle and despite hating yourself, you don’t want to give it up.

Psychologists might have better names for success and failure complacency. (These are just ideas I’ve observed in my own life and through the lives of others.) I want to do more research on this idea.

I do know that both success and failure complacency are difficult to overcome in their own ways. I would guess that the majority of us deal more with failure complacency than success complacency, but I could be biased.

The only way forward is to seek change and momentum.

We must challenge ourselves and learn to become comfortable with discomfort. Not for discomfort’s sake, but so that we are always moving. Even when we are resting and doing nothing, our minds and bodies are in continuous flow. Clouds dance. Nature bends to the wind. The world beneath our feet is rotating and walking through space. Life is motion.

Seeking challenge is our way forward.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1016

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The Struggle

“I really try to put myself in uncomfortable situations. Complacency is my enemy.”

Trent Reznor

Complacency can creep up on you at any stage of your journey. Beginning, middle, and end.

  • When you think you have nothing and feel hopeless—you can become complacent to the life you dislike but tolerate.
  • When you are finally starting to make progress—but then you let the fear of failure (or success) lead you to procrastinate and avoid what you need/want to do.
  • When you’ve succeeded beyond your wildest dreams (or your family has succeeded before you, and has accrued wealth and/or status) — you can become complacent to a life of luxury. Your immediate needs are fulfilled, but you can’t help but wonder, “Is this all there is?”

Complacency also lives somewhere in the middle of not failure and success. A not-not world. A negative space. That pesky in-between state where nothing seems to be happening to us. We are working harder than we ever have, but we’re not making progress towards our goals. Or we aren’t trying hard enough to tip over into something better, but we aren’t getting worse either.

The word ‘struggle’ gets a bad rap, but it’s through the continuous drive to learn and improve, and the love of the craft that we can find meaning within our lives.

There’s a paradox here though— momentum creates both meaning and struggle. In fact, the struggle to be someone, or the struggle to create something worthwhile gives us the energy to stand out and make an impact.

Joy is found in motion. Work. Rest. Work Rest. Forward. Change. Towards somethings. Without that things can feel lost and distant. Luckily, there’s purpose waiting around every corner, you just have to put one foot in front of the other to see it.

The struggle isn’t the problem. The struggle is the solution. Let go of trying to rid yourself of struggle and embrace what comes, no matter if you like it or not.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #933

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I️ want to be ALIVE

A Renaissance Life is about the art of living. Being ALIVE. Continuous learning and improvement. That being said, the best way to understand how to live is defining the opposite: Complacency. (Dun dun daaaaaaa)

Complacency is doing things — or not doing things — because, well, ‘I don’t care’. 

Complacency is complaining about our lives more than we act on changing them.

Complacency is giving into temptations of self-sabotage because things are good.

Complacency is giving into easy, fear, thoughts of never being good enough and every other million ways we can lock ourselves in a cage of our own design. 

The cure for complacency is designing your life. It’s trying new things and taking on pursuits. It’s learning, growing, and connecting with others. It’s adding a little (sprinkle) of positivity to the world.

Being ALIVE is taking up the mantle and choosing to be better than complacency and all of his ugly friends (apathy, despair, and self-loathing to name a few).

Being ALIVE is knowing you are capable of change and that change can be good. Second chances are always one step away.

Being ALIVE is committing to caring. Caring for what/who you love, caring for values and most of all caring for the well being of others.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing

— Josh Waggoner

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Related Insights

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill

“Thank you for life, and all the little ups and downs that make it worth living.”  — Travis Barker

“One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.” — Dale Carnegie

You’re a Slacker McFly, Just Like Your Old Man

How many of us go through our entire life living passively

We spend most of our time hoping for a better life while taking part in a life that doesn’t align with our core self. We work, interact, read and exist as if we will live forever and that we have the option to slack off. We avoid who we want to be, in service of who don’t want to be.

All the while, we could die tomorrow in a freak hotdog accident.

I don’t want to live a life of a slacker and wake up one day when I️’m fat and 85 and wonder what happened.

Slacking isn’t having negative ‘nothing’ space or spending time with what you love. Slacking off is distracting yourself from what you should or want to be doing. It’s the fidget spinner of our humanity. 

Do people plan to be apathetic?

No, I️ don’t think so. Living asleep happens gradually and it’s hard to notice unless you’re  already out of it­ looking back to the bizarro world you lived in.

How do we keep ourselves from being apathetic and complacent?

1. Have a reminder that life is short.

A phrase you read each morning or a memento you carry as a reminder.
Read I­t­ in the morning, feel I­t­ in your bones.

2. Create weekly, monthly check-ins to review what you’ve been doing.

 What’s working, what’s not?
 Are you giving time for the important things?
 Are you taking steps towards accomplishing your goals?

3. Make a plan for what’s important, and take daily actions that challenge your status quo.
    What are you afraid to do?
    

We must live in our discomfort zone to create radical change in our lives.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Related Ideas I’m thinking about:

Fear Setting from TF
The Tail End, from Wait But Why
Guilt, Happiness and Honesty, from Ryan Holiday (Feb. 2008)