Complacency’s sort of like quicksand, in the sense that once you get stuck in it, good luck getting out. How would I know what it’s like to be stuck in quicksand? That’s a whole other story, for another time. 🙂 But I’ll admit I know much more, relatively speaking, about the properties and experience of complacency than about quicksand.
So, let’s get to it: What I suggest here is a very general roadmap to solving your complacency. When we work together, we’ll get more specific and creative, and make your complacency dislike us a lot.
But let’s start with this: You admit you’re complacent. By complacent, I mean you’re pretty comfortable, maybe too comfortable, with things. Perhaps you’ve developed a tendency to settle. Perhaps you’re not pushing yourself to establish and pursue worthy changes and goals. Perhaps you’re not challenging yourself to accomplish things you’d feel really good about accomplishing. Maybe you’re not following-through on good intentions. While it’s smart not to be obsessed with your personal growth, it’s probably also smart, as a discipline, to stretch yourself, take fuller charge of your productivity, take well-considered risks that liberate and express your inner explorer and adventurer.
Now that you’ve admitted you’re complacent, it’s important to identify specifically how you’re complacent. You’ll want to identify the forms your complacency takes that hinder you from taking fuller charge of your aims. Of course, this implies the importance of establishing, or reminding yourself, what your aims are! Most of us, after all, need a sense of purpose to lend our lives meaning. Lacking purpose can drain our lives of vigor and satisfaction.
Now, having acknowledged your complacency, and established its forms and hindering impact, it’s time to smash through. By smashing through, I mean exactly that—metaphorically, you take a hatchet to your complacency like you’d take a hatchet to a wall you want to smash down, a wall that confines you.
Let me offer an example. You’re a writer, and you’ve planned to write a novel for years. Maybe you’ve started your novel several dozen times, but always aborted along the way, sooner than later. Of course, it’s possible that many factors besides complacency can be obstructing your follow-through. But let’s postulate that, in your case, complacency’s a big factor. Respecting its impact on your ambition to write your novel, it’s time to “smash through.”
Together, we’re going to agree on a commitment you’re going to make—for instance, you’re going to start your novel tonight, you’re going to write 1-2 pages a day, yes, every day (unless you’re really, genuinely sick and need to rest). Let’s crunch the numbers: in less than a year, you’ll have produced your novel, at least a rough draft of it—300-600 manuscript pages! That’ll feel great, won’t it? You may notice that I use the pronoun “we?” Why? Not from a controlling motive—this will be your accomplishment, not mine—100%. I use the pronoun “we” because when we’re smashing-through our complacency, it’s motivating to find a “silent partner” who’s all “bought-in” to our goal(s), and to whom we can be accountable (collaboratively) to pursue our goal (s). When I coach, I am your partner while, as I said, all the accomplishments are yours.
Now, your having finished the rough-draft of your novel, it’s time we agree on a precise timetable for the conversion of your highly imperfect rough draft into, ultimately, your imperfect, finished draft. We might agree, for instance, that over the next three months, on a daily basis, you’ll edit 3-5 pages a day of your manuscript. This assures that, in three months’ time, you’ll have your wonderfully imperfect, finished manuscript. You’ll have smashed through your complacency.
I’m telling you, as simple as this sounds, it’s the approach we take to complacency—basically, a sledgehammer.
We can apply this strategy to almost anything and everything, being hypervigilant to the countless, insidious ways complacency can attenuate our investment in our lives. We’ll track this together; and you, in time, will become excellent at tracking and neutralizing your complacency on your own.
So, let’s toast your complacency. It’s a normal phenomenon, after all. We all feel it to one extent or another. There’s nothing at all alarming about it. That’s part of the problem—it’s so damned comfortable!
Now let’s toast to your getting a handle on your complacency, and make a last toast to everything you’ll accomplish as a result.