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The Dangers of Falling Into The Trap of Complacency

By: Brian Kim - March 21, 2007

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There’s a saying that goes a little something like this. One of the most dangerous times in a man (or woman’s) life is when he has just achieved a worthwhile goal. After achieving that goal, he should then immediately replace it with another worthwhile goal. Otherwise, he’ll start drifting with no direction and the attitude of “I did it. Now what?” starts to form and he becomes like a ship lost at sea.

Of course there should be a time to relax and enjoy the fruits of your victory, but not for too long. It’s hard to get out of bed when you tell yourself you’ll lie down for just a couple of minutes isn’t it? I’ve done that too and lo and behold, three hours fly by. Once you stay in a place long enough, it gets very comfortable and then it requires more energy to get out of that place and therein lies the very well disguised and placed trap of complacency.

If you find that the days are becoming more and more alike, you’re probably not alone. Routine is inevitable and people gravitate toward it like moths to the flame and once you settle down into the daily routine of things, you end up in a cycle that has potential negative side effects, especially in the world we live in today.

Change is almost a given nowadays. There is no such thing as job security, the economy is unpredictable, anything can happen at any given time, but the one thing that remains constant is that those who deal with change on a regular basis as opposed to those who don’t, will most likely be able to deal with that change more effectively. Very obvious fact, I know, but it just goes to show that you can’t deal with change as effectively if you’re complacent because there is no change to deal with when you’re in that state.

Complacency tends to nip any potential for change in the bud and as a result, when change occurs, it’s a big shock to your system. Furthermore, complacency tends to foster complacent activities, such as watching TV or playing video games when that time can be spent growing, whether it be from reading books, listening to tapes, or exercising. The opportunity costs are great when complacency enters our lives because it’s the easy way out. It’s the path by default.

I say ABG. ABG – always be growing. There is SO much out there to learn and experience. We live in a day and age where we literally have information at our fingertips. We have the means to travel, to try new things, and yet, it’s as if a curtain has been pulled over our eyes and we only view life through the narrow view that complacency tends to give us.

If you become complacent, it’s like stashing your money under the mattress only to have inflation eat it away. Put your money where it yields some sort of interest so it at least matches the rate of inflation or invest it in a vehicle for greater returns. Remember, YOU, you are the greatest investment vehicle in the world. No stock, bond, or mutual fund can compare. Invest in yourself. If you’re complacent, you accrue no interest. There is no return. In fact, your overall value may decline.

How might your value decline? For example, when you’re complacent, you tend to not be aware of the things that are going on around you and the opportunities that are right in front of your eyes as well. Some people might go to their jobs day after day without realizing that their job may be outsourced in the near future. If you see your career being outsourced, perhaps it would be wise one day to sit down and draft a contingency plan or ensure that your job does NOT get outsourced. It’s easy to keep on doing the things you’re doing but by doing so, you may miss out on signs that are right in front of you and when change comes, it tends to knock the socks off of you.

Complacency encourages the absolute minimum. Why grow when things are going good? Why push the envelope when I don’t have to? Why bring elements in that might upset the balance? If you do the absolute minimum and your job is on the chopping block, guess what? More likely then not, you’re out of a job. Did you take the time to learn new skills? Make new contacts? Suggest new improvements? Doing the bare minimum won’t help in getting another job because you’re on the same level as the time you applied for your old one.

Another side effect of complacency is that you become less likely to take risks. Who’s more likely to take risks? The one who’s complacent or the one trying to grow in every which way? It’s because you’ve stood in one place for so long that you’re afraid to take a step forward. You end up fearing change. And in a society where change is rampant, adapting to it is a crucial element to survival.

Always have a goal that you want to achieve in front of the goal you’re trying to achieve now because when you do achieve your current goal, which you WILL, you’ll know you have something to shoot for afterwards. I’ve been in that state before where I’ve achieved a worthwhile goal and you would think that it feels great and it does. It really does. But then an eerie calm begins to settle. You ask yourself – “That’s it? That’s all there is? and you tend to go down paths you don’t want to. There's no "kick". You get that drifting feeling again, but if you know you have another goal you want to tackle, you can enjoy the fruits of your labor that much more because you know there’s something else to go after now.

Snap out of the default path to complacency. It’s easy to be average. It’s easy to settle. Read a new book. Talk to a different person. Think of a new great idea. Don’t stagnate. Expand your knowledge. Go the extra mile. If you’ve been thinking for too long that things are just right, that’s probably a good sign to start growing out of your comfort zone. Don’t settle for complacency. ABG.

Your new world awaits.

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4 Responses to “The Dangers of Falling Into The Trap of Complacency”

  1. Peter Says:

    I believe there is also a risk of always be growing - never quite getting to the point where you just sit and enjoy life. I’ve been told “You always try to change… why?” To some, a changing me is a less reliable me.
    I like this ABG thing… but not as in Always Be Growing… but more as in Always Be Giving… give yourself to others, and always strive to give more of yourself. The world is one big hungry place… it will take all that you can give…
    For it is in giving that we receive.
    Shrinking, being less… is also… being more…
    Being less stressed about this growth thing… is being more peaceful.
    Being at peace with one’s self is solid foundation for growth… forcefulness in stillness.
    Be still and look into the Greatness already present inside you. Share that Greatness, even if the first steps might be a little bit stumbling… share yourself… give yourself…

    Oh… and yeah, Brian is right… Complacency is BAD… Complacency is fear, fear of Greatness… and that’s one of the fears we have to fight… always… because you know….
    Fear is the path to the dark side,
    Fear leads to Anger. (we get angry because we know we deserve more)
    Anger leads to Hate. (we start hating ourselves)
    Hate leads to suffering. (when we start blaming those around us)

    instead of Fear… let’s use Love….
    Love is the path of the light side
    Love leads to Giving.
    Giving leads to Healing.
    Healing leads to Awakening. (Omega, Oneness, Ubuntu, Namaste, GemeinschaftsgefĂĽhl and other nice things… good to have around ;) ).

  2. Brian Kim Says:


    What can I say? Like always, you always have something great to add to the article :)

    Thanks for the great addition!

  3. jen Says:

    You have described my husband so aptly I am speechless. I have to admit for me this way of life is not how I want to be and this is what I am leaving behind. Peter..you describe the way i have been feeling…now that I have taken the time to let it out!

  4. Don’t settle for second best, ever. : The Sunjay Times Says:

    […] Update 3/22/2007: Related post by Brian Kim about falling into the trap of being mediocre. Share and Enjoy:These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. […]

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