What is complacency? In basic terms, it’s the satisfaction with a current condition or situation. Feeling content with the way things are. How is this a sin? I’ll explain. The truth is, this may be the deadliest sin of all, depending on who you are and what your goals entail.
What’s Wrong With Being Happy?
It’s a valid question. In everything we do, the ultimate goal is usually to be happy and satisfied. Accomplishing your goals and realizing your dreams will obviously make you happy. However, the inverse is not necessarily true: Just because you’re happy or satisfied does not mean you’ve accomplished your goals and realized your dreams.
In fact, you can be a complete and utter failure, but still be happy at any given moment. I’m happy when I’m watching TV or taking a nap, but it doesn’t take a genius to realize that you can have those things with virtually no accomplishments in life. This seems like an appropriate spot to quote from the classic comedy “Office Space“:
Lawrence: Well, what about you now? what would you do [with a million dollars]?
Peter Gibbons: Nothing.
Lawrence: Nothing, huh?
Peter Gibbons: I would relax… I would sit on my ass all day… I would do nothing.
Lawrence: Well, you don’t need a million dollars to do nothing, man. Take a look at my cousin: he’s broke, don’t do shit.
Maybe we take our basic standard of living for granted, but that’s a topic that’s outside the scope of this blog.
The problem with being satisfied is that it’s not motivating. Success could motivate you to seek out more success, but being happy and satisfied doesn’t necessarily give you the drive to do more. More specifically, being satisfied with your progress toward a goal can sometimes impede future progress. Complacency may be the silent entrepreneurial killer, because it’s disguised as something that really doesn’t seem all that bad.
A Realistic Example
This being a blog in the “make money online” niche, I’m sure it’s read by a lot of people who want to quit their jobs and start their own business or otherwise find a way to make a living online (or simply supplement their income online).
To find a realistic example of complacency, I need to look no further than my own life. My motivation to do work outside of my 9 to 5 job is directly correlated with my unhappiness of the job. In other words, when I’m happy or satisfied with my job, I’m less motivated to work hard and build up my own business. As it stands, I enjoy my job right now, so it’s more of a struggle to push myself to work when I get home from work (if that makes sense).
There are even better examples of the opposite scenario, where people have been fired/laid off from their jobs and it jump-started their wildly successful businesses – see examples here (Pat Flynn) and here (Chris Gurthrie). They were forced to remove satisfaction or stability from their lives, which lit a fire that continues to spread today.
Success Isn’t Always a Killer
Obviously, being successful can excite you and drive you to bigger and better things. That’s a different motivator altogether, and I still distinguish that from being complacent or merely “satisfied.”
Success is relative – it wouldn’t surprise me if the most successful people actually didn’t feel completely successful throughout their growing list of achievements. Although an outsider may view someone with $1 million as “successful” (because they compare the person to themselves), the $1 million person is probably thinking, “why don’t I have $10 million?” or “how can I get to the next million?”
The important thing is, despite what others perceive as success, these individuals are never completely satisfied, and that’s what drives them forward. It’s not all about greed, either (ironically, one of the original “deadly sins”). There are numerous ways to measure success beyond dollars and cents.
But Wait…I Like Being Happy…
It’s a weird dilemma. You want to be successful, because success will make you happy and satisfied. However, being happy and satisfied may prevent you from achieving further success. There has be a solution to this, right?
There’s no groundbreaking, magical solution. In fact, it’s quite simple: set good goals.
You’ve been told this a thousand times, and I would be beating a dead horse if I went into all the details about setting good goals, because there are literally thousands of places you can look online for tips on how to set good goals. Almost every lifestyle design/internet marketing/entrepreneurship blogger has written at least one post about goals, including me.
But if you’re looking for tips here, I’ll give you a few brief ones:
- Set BOTH realistic and “stretch” goals - You need to be able to dream big while tackling reality at the same time.
- You need to be hungry for your goals – Anyone can set a goal to “earn $100,000 this year” or “build a successful business,” but to have even a remote chance of accomplishing your goals, you need to be HUNGRY for them. You need to really want to achieve them.
- Divide and conquer – Goals are usually not written in bite-sized chunks, and if you try to swallow the whole thing, you’ll choke to death (okay, that’s a bit extreme). Even your less significant goals are probably too big to tackle with one swift motion, so you’ll need to find a way to break it down into action steps. Start with making a daily “to-do” list.
- Keep setting goals, even as you fail to achieve them – Your life is dynamic, and your goals should be too. A goal you set earlier this year may not be practical anymore, or you may not care about it anymore. Don’t chase goals you don’t care about. If your desires change, alter your goals to reflect it. There’s nothing worse than chasing a goal that isn’t appealing.
By staying on top of your goals and always keeping them in mind, you’ll hopefully never be complacent, because there will always be something out there that you have yet to achieve.
What do you think?
None of this is an exact science, so I’m curious to hear what you think about complacency and how to combat it.
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- 7 Deadly Sins of Entrepreneurship, Part 1: Impatience
- 7 Deadly Sins of Entrepreneurship, Part 2: Indecisiveness