Dangers of Complacency
“The arrogance of success is to think that what we did yesterday is good enough for tomorrow.” ― William Pollard
In the past year I have grown a lot personally and professionally. I accomplished some significant goals; achieving one year of sobriety, graduating from a professional fellowship program and joining the board, getting into the best shape of my life with regular yoga, and getting out of an unhealthy relationship. Everything was going really well and really smoothly and what I didn’t realize is how periods of great achievement can lead to a dangerous path of complacency.
Complacency is defined as ‘self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies’. It’s a common trap to fall into when life is going particularly well.
Around mid-July I was still feeling energized by my successes but noticed I was starting to feel a little restless. I had done all these things, and didn’t know what project or goal to work on next. I had ideas but I didn’t pursue any of them. I just kept riding on the satisfaction of my achievements from the first half of the year.
Within a few months I started to feel really discontent and could not understand why. Nothing was majorly wrong; sure there were family issues here, professional frustrations there, but fundamentally everything from outward appearances was A-Okay.
So why the funk? Why the preference to sit at home and watch Pretty Little Liars Netflix marathons over going to social gatherings and networking events? Why the indifference to putting any real effort into my dating life? Where did all that motivation and drive from the beginning of the year go?
After a while some of my once celebrated achievements were suddenly in jeopardy. To get specific here would be a little too personal, but let’s just say my indifference was causing some of the things I had worked so hard on to fall away. Soon complacency was turning into anxiety and low-grade depression, but I had dug myself so far into a whole, I didn’t know how to get out of it.
The cause of my sudden troubles didn’t hit me until a friend pointed out to me I had become dangerously complacent. She said I had an opportunity when I had achieved all these wonderful things over the summer to continue to move forward with that momentum. Instead I decided to bask in my imagined glory and sit with that for a while. The satisfaction soon faded and turned into severe discontent and lack of direction.
I had to remind myself how I had achieved all these wonderful things. It certainly wasn’t by just going through the motions. Getting sober meant a lot of discomfort and willingness to push past really uncomfortable boundaries, it meant following the suggestions of others instead of my own self will. Completing the fellowship program meant pushing past my shy and introverted nature, to take on a leadership role and earn the respect of my peers. Practicing yoga meant dedicating at least 75 minutes, three days a week to being on my yoga mat. And, getting out of that unhealthy relationship meant having the courage to be alone and more importantly the courage to be patient to find the right kind of partner for myself.
The problem was that even though complacency can eventually lead to feelings of unease, it is still a very comfortable place to be.
So recently when the restlessness became unbearable I had to make a choice to break this cycle. I had to get back to the path of growth I was on earlier this year. As difficult as it was, I pushed myself again to a level of personal discomfort. I had to put my ego aside and cross some personal boundaries that made me very uncomfortable, but we’re very necessary to move past. Discomfort after all is what leads us to growth. As much as I try to reject that idea sometimes, it is undeniably true.
I am nowhere near where I’d like to be in this new period of growth. I have a lot of difficult and hard work to do and many obstacles to overcome. But the alternative is falling so deep into a state of complacency that life and all of its opportunities will surely pass me by.
If there is one thing I am most grateful for in life, it’s that at any moment we have the chance to start over. It’s almost never easy, but it’s always worth it. Ready or not, here I go…