We are nearly half way through August. Many elementary, junior high, and high school students have already started school, while most students at university are slowly having panic attacks at the thought of returning for another semester or quarter. These are stressful times. Summer is soon to be over, and with it all our summer goals. There will be roads trips we never took, dates we never went on, and side projects we never started. Pretty soon, life will once again enter a business as usual model and all that glorious free-time we idolized at the start of summer is soon to dissipate.
That was the start of a lovely article I started writing in August of 2016… It is now the start of August 2017, and you might be wondering, why I decided to publish it now? Simple. I got complacent with my life halfway through the middle of that paragraph and I stopped writing. Complacency ruins progress.
When I sat down to write this article year ago, I had planned on writing this lovely piece about how “good enough standards” will ruin your progress within the goals you set to achieve. You know what happened in the middle of the first paragraph? I got distracted. When I came back to writing, I decided that starting the piece was good enough. I can finish tomorrow told myself. Guess what? Tomorrow never came. Instead I became complacent with my life, and decided that not publishing a blog post was okay. I decided to uphold the status quo and not achieve my goal of publishing a post. I refused to uphold my own personal standards, and became complacent with substandard performance. As a result, the piece was never published. Complacency ruined my progress.
As individuals, we can’t become complacent. We can’t fall into the status quo and adopt a “good-enough mindset”. We have to rise to the challenge. We have to refuse to accept lack luster results.
How do we overcome complacency?
- Consistently Work at Achieving Your Goals.
There has been numerous articles published on medium these last two weeks and the impact of being consistent. My favorite one is The Profound Power of Consistency. I don’t want to republish what’s already being written. All I will say is that consistently doing something each day, or X number of times a week, stops complacency is it’s tracks. By actively putting progress to a goal, you will stop the complacent mindset. You stop thinking “eh, this is good enough, I can do this tomorrow” and begin taking initiative over your goals. You become invested in the goals progress and you actively strive to achieve it. This works for every area of your life. Be it career, personal, or relationship goals. Consistently working on your goals stops the good enough behavior and helps you make tangible progress. Consistently working on your goals removes complacency from your life.
2. Find Purpose and Meaning in Your Goals.
DO THIS EXERCISE: Sit down in a quite location where you won’t be disturbed or distracted for 15 minutes. This can be inside your room, under a tree, or even inside your car. Grab a pen and some paper. Begin asking yourself “why do I want to achieve this goal” and write down every answer that comes to mind. Once you’ve ran out of answers, ask yourself “why am I forcing myself to-do this goal, is it even something I want to-do”. Again, write down the answers. Finally, ask yourself “Could my time be better spent achieving something better? What would realistically happen if I didn’t achieve this goal?”. Write down your answers.
Now look at your responses to these questions. Do you have answers that spark your excitement to the first question? Did you talk yourself into achieving this goal on the second question or did you find a million reasons why you shouldn’t do it? Could you find consequences such as a failed dream or miss opportunity that you need to take when you answered the third question?
If you want to stop being complacent, you have to know your purpose behind the goal. If you don’t have a solid purpose, it’s time to move on and find a new goal, because complacency will always follow those who lack purpose. Complacency likes to reside in those who don’t understand their “why”.
3. Establish an Unbreakable Commitment to Yourself and Increase Your Personal Standards
There’s a quote that many are familiar with goes along the lines “It’s easier to stick to your standards 100% of your time, then 98% of the time”. To eliminate complacency you must upgrade your personal standards and clearly define what is and is not acceptable. No exceptions. No grey area.
This begins by making an unbreakable commitment to yourself. Decide today that you will achieve this goal. Decide today that you will no longer let distractions get in the way, and that no matter what happens, you will make progress on this goal. You will not settle for good enough, and you will rise to the occasion. Put this in writing and pin it to your desk. Remind yourself of the personal pact that you made with yourself to work on this goal every single day.
Now it’s time elevate your personal standards. The only way to uphold this personal pact is by upgrading your personal standards. You must decide today that procrastinating on this goal is no longer acceptable. You must decide that “good enough” is no longer acceptable and that you will finish what you start. You must decide to stop making excuses and relentlessly pursue this goal. If you don’t, you will leave room for complacency. You will leave grey area, and you will find a way to weasel out of doing what you should of being doing all along. Complacency thrives in those who do not have personal standards.
4. Remind Yourself You Are Running Out of Time
Memento Mori. Remember you are mortal.
Ryan Holidays article on mortality is still fresh in my head when I wake up every morning. I remind myself that I am mortal, and I could very well die tomorrow from some unforeseen accident. I remind myself this every morning when I drink coffee, afternoon when I eat lunch, and evening when I meditate. It has changed how I approach my goals because I recognize that I am running out of time.
If I don’t make progress to achieve this goal today, when will I do it? In a month? In a year? 5 years from now? What if that never comes. Do I want the last moments of my life to be filled with thoughts of “oh crap, if only I would have put more effort into X, Y, and Z”. No. Over course not. Today is the day I am going to make progress. Because as the old saying goes “The best time to start was yesterday, the second best time is right now”. You only have the present moment. Make it count.
If you create a sense of urgency in your life (even if it’s fictitious) you will stop complacency in it’s tracks. Complacency thrives in goals that are not time sensitive. To eliminate complacency, you must create a timed deadline. You must commit to achieving the goal is a certain period of time. You cannot allow yourself to continue to procrastinate because you are running out of time.
5. Practice Self-Forgiveness and Establish a New Personal Identity
What happens if you go through this process and some unforeseen life circumstance gets you off track. Personal issues, work issues, family issues arise and all of a sudden you broke your personal pact and you missed your deadline. What do you do?
You practice self forgiveness. You forgive yourself for the mistake, and, rather then berate yourself with internal dialog, you get back up on the horse and once again work at the goal.
Life will happen to you. That’s okay. What matter is how you bounce back from a set back. Rather then become defeated, you decide to continue to push at your goal because that’s who you are. You are someone who will accomplish this goal. It is your own personal identity.
Complacency loves to strike people who undergo failure. Complacency loves to make you think that once you fail, you might as well not try because things are good enough. Do not become a victim of complacency. Develop grit and relentlessly pursue this goal.
If you found this article helpful, please refer it to your friends!
Leave a comment below on how these tips helped you eliminate complacency from your life.