Complacency is a killer

Go search for “complacency quotes” in Google and you'll find enough results to keep you busy for days. The reason? Being complacent is a surefire way to stop yourself from growing as a person and a lot of folks figured that out before you or I were around.

Five years ago I knew it was creeping in. Four years ago I felt it getting stronger. Three years ago I saw it coming and thought I could ignore it. Two years ago it was staring me right in the face. A year ago it had taken over. Complacency.

The feeling of reaching a lifestyle that I never thought possible as a kid had caused me to stop moving forward. Beautiful, supportive family? Check! Owner of two homes? Check! Living debt-free? Check! Six figure salary? Check! I couldn't help but feel like I had made it, and from an outsiders perspective, it might have looked as if I had. Behind the scenes though I was a mess.

I had stopped doing anything of value. The hobbies I had I would start and stop in spurts, never sticking with anything that long. My physical activity was decreasing at almost a monthly rate. I found myself skipping activities that I had loved doing since I was a kid, simply because I “wasn't feeling it”. My diet was a joke and I'm incredibly embarrassed when I think back to what I was eating five years ago. Most of my time at work was spent shooting the shit with co-workers or on social media. The work that needed to get done got done, but that was it. I was no longer working on advancing my skills as I had done throughout most of my career. Not only had my career started to stagnate, but my life had as well. Complacency.

The worst part is that I knew it. I knew exactly what was happening and when I took 30 seconds to step back and observe, I could see it clear as day. But I didn't do anything to change it. One of the bits of wisdom I've latched onto over these last few months has been something that most of us are taught when we are kids: listen to your conscience. It is so simple to listen, but it can be incredibly difficult to follow through. The thing is, if you keep ignoring it, and you keep doing the things that you know you shouldn't, the negative actions and feelings are compounded. Now you feel like shit because you are doing things that you know you shouldn't be, but you can’t (won't?) stop doing those things, so now you feel even shittier because you're failing twice. I won't speak for everyone, but personally, when I fail at something I don't feel that great. So failing all day every day was doing a number on me mentally. I had everything I needed to be happy, but I felt like I was always in a shitty mood.

But guess what? Failures present opportunities for learning. If you can be objective and honest with yourself (harder than it sounds), you can look at your failures, identify why you failed, and figure out how to avoid failing the next time. Here is the trick though, the part that I couldn't do five years ago: you need to FOLLOW THROUGH. All the assessments and planning don't mean shit unless you FOLLOW THROUGH. That was (and still is) the hardest part for me. Everything I need to do is right there in front of me, I just need to put in some effort and follow through. Not just today, or this week, or this month. This is a lifetime commitment we are talking about.

Earlier this year I started a process I had gone through multiple times: being honest with who I was and where I was in life. This time though, I didn't go out and buy a bunch of exercise gear or spend a bunch of money on the latest diet routine. I didn't look to all of these personalities out there today for their suggested “life hacks” or self-help books. Instead, I decided to listen to myself.

It has been a long and challenging process, one that will likely never end as life will always present challenges, but it has been working unlike anything I've done before.

I spend a lot of my time thinking to myself “is this the right choice for me and my family?”. I've found myself in awkward situations where I have decided not to do something that others are doing (I do this without judgement of them, they are free to do as they want) which can lead to uncomfortable conversations where it sometimes feels like I have to defend my decision. I've changed jobs so that I can work somewhere that aligns to my beliefs and how I see my career progressing. Many (many!) times I've sat alone for long periods of time wondering what the hell I am doing and why am I making it so hard on myself. These are all good things. They might not seem like it at the time, but these are signs of growth. That growth is key to ending the cycle of complacency. The discipline I am building is what will help fuel the growth. The listening to myself is what will keep the discipline in-check.

Conscience –> discipline –> growth