A Year of Balanced Action
Fifty Shades of Green

11 Signs You're Stuck in Complacency



Often, when I open my journal I have no idea what I will write. Often, it's a question entering my mind that will get things started. Often it's surprising, seemingly out of left field. But, I know it's coming from an inner inquiry, something that begs my attention. 

Like this question that floated in recently:

Where am I complacent?

Not something I ponder often. And, after some digging into the notion of complacency, it became clear to me as to why. And, when I started to record some areas in my life where I am indeed complacent, it was a huge wake-up call. One worth heeding. 

What do you think of when you hear the word complacent? 

Complacency is a state of being satisfied with the status quo. More the point, stuck in the status quo. It can lead to a lack of motivation, boredom, decreased productivity, and a lack of progress toward goals.

You may think, "things are fine. It's all good. I'm content with how things are." But, there's an underlying feeling in this state that creeps up on you. An unsettled feeling you're not aware of until you are.

“Do not confuse being content with being complacent.”- Jenna Kutcher

Contentment is a peaceful state of being. Of happiness. A steady feeling. Whereas the uneasiness of complacency sneaks up on you.

Here are 11 signs you may be complacent:

  1. Apathy. Lack of motivation or enthusiasm toward work or personal goals
  2. Feeling comfortable or satisfied with just the status quo.
  3. Ignoring possibly harmful consequences. Putting blinders on.
  4. Avoiding taking risks or trying new things
  5. Procrastinating or putting off tasks that require effort or discomfort
  6. Resisting change or being resistant to new ideas or feedback
  7. Feeling bored or unchallenged by daily routines or tasks
  8. Feeling like you have nothing new to learn or that you have reached the limit of your abilities. This can be couched in overconfidence.
  9. Resting on your laurels or past successes, yet not moving beyond them. This is one of the greatest hidden fears and reasons behind complacency and the status quo. "How can I meet or exceed my previous success?" "What will people be expecting from me now?"
  10. Feeling that you are coasting or going through the motions
  11. Taking shortcuts or doing the bare minimum to get by

In what areas of your life do you feel complacent?  What are you putting off? What has been the impact or consequence? 

Author Benjamin Mays said: “The tragedy of life is not found in failure but complacency. Not in you doing too much but doing too little. Not in you living above your means, but below your capacity. It's not failure but aiming too low, that is life's greatest tragedy.”

Ah, man! "Not in you living above your means, but below your capacity." Ouch! This is when complacency becomes your silent gatekeeper, keeping you stagnant, stuck in place on your path. Status quo. 

Status quo is "easier than doing the hard work of facing ourselves." - Unknown

But, here's the beautiful thing. Now that you know about it, you can remove the gatekeeper and move through it, beyond it. 

To counteract complacency? Renewed Interest. Possibility. Commitment. Joy.

  • Set new goals: find a renewed interest in the same area or broaden your scope to explore what else is there
  • Develop a growth mindset: embrace the challenge and view what you saw as a failure as an opportunity to learn and grow
  • Learn new things: read books, take courses, or attend workshops to expand your knowledge and skills
  • Celebrate your progress: mark your milestones and appreciate with gratitude each step of the way
  • Sit in the possibility: of where you want to be - beyond the gatekeeper. See yourself there. I love this exercise I heard a speaker illustrate several years ago (I think it was Mary Morrisey but I can't remember). I use it often for myself and while facilitating others. Ask yourself: "Can I sit in the possibility that I will be in a loving relationship?" "Can I sit in the possibility that I will receive this lucrative contract?" It sets the energy in motion. 
  • Be a contribution: this puts you in a mindset of service and joy

In their book "The Art of Possibility," authors Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander landed on this game of being a contribution as a way of helping clients combat the trappings of success and failure. 

"I am a contribution. Unlike success and failure, contribution has no other side. It's not arrived at by comparison. All at once I found that fearful question, "Is it enough?" and the even more fearful question, "Am I loved for who I am, or for what I have accomplished?" could be replaced by the joyful question, "How will I be a contribution today?" 

That sounds like a good place to begin the softening of complacency. Start each day with: How can I be a contribution today?

Not: how can you contribute? How can you BE a contribution? 

Small changes can start there. You can sit in the possibility of where it can lead. Sounds good to me!