In our quest to change for the better, it is important to understand the complexities of the human condition. One will not look to improve oneself if the need for change is not realized. When self awareness is low, and a person is unconsciously going through the motions of their life , they often do so with a sense of self calmness. There becomes a sense of uncritical satisfaction of oneself that inhibits the need to grow or change for the better. It is perceived as a safe state of being. This is the essence of complacency. It happens in the most insidious way, gradually over time , until the long term persistence lead to often dangerous, and unforeseeable crisis.

Lets examine this in everyday life. A person lives in a relatively secluded country cottage and gets into a habit of not locking his front door. Another person never picked up the habit of automatically putting on their seatbelt immediately before driving. Another person doesn’t routinely floss their teeth. Another fails to fully complete their daily administrative tasks at the workplace. Another doesn’t actively engage or invest time in his relationships . Another doesn’t engage in routine exercise.

In all of the above examples there are many factors in common. The first being that these habits tend to exist over long intervals without consequence or punishment. There are no immediate negative reinforcements to the behavior. What happens to these individuals if they continued their inactive practices tomorrow? Probably nothing. They have gotten away with it for so long without consequence .They become conditioned and satisfied with the current state and their is no incentive to invest effort or energy towards change.

The insidious danger in this pattern is that it leads to a negative systematic erosion of ones standards. If we pride ourselves in maintaining high values and principles, and we wish to hold ourselves accountable to them, then we must examine our actions and challenge our behaviors that are not congruent with our beliefs.

The long term effect of this patterned erosion leads to neglect. Neglect is passive inactivity. It requires no effort or energy and yet it has a downward opposing force. Consider your backyard. If one doesn’t properly maintain the lawn, garden or patio deck it will erode and decay over time. This leads to more effort, time and expense to restore it. Unfortunately that’s when the motivation to act finally kicks in- When the crisis ultimately happens
Lets revisit our examples. The house gets broken into. A serious injury is encountered in a car accident. Tooth decay and cavities form. A promotion is lost. A break up occurs. A heart attack happens. That’s when they finally take action. Now they are aware. Now they are awake. Now there is urgency. Now there is reaction. It was all a passive choice of avoidance.

The solution

  1. Start with the mindset. Focus on improving self awareness.The first step in taking responsibility for your actions and choices is to recruit and engage your higher evolved cortex. Identify your values. Write them out. Work towards raising your standards and seek out information and knowledge that bears on your interests and aspirations. Identify the contradictions between your values and your actions.
  2. Be intentional For higher aspirational changes to become realized ,they have to be conscious and deliberate.Otherwise, they become just wishes and dreams. Deliberate action needs to become consistent and sustainable. It therefore needs a structural plan to optimize time, schedule and the environment to facilitate successful execution.(ie.Choose to set up a proper habit loop)
  3. Start slowly and incrementally. Avoid radical changes. Take stalk in everything but don’t try to fix everything at once. It was a gradual process that got you into this place, and if you want to avoid a crisis, take a gradual approach forward. Want to a great easy step to raising your standards and building a good habit. Choose to make your bed every morning.

In my next blog I’m going to connect how choosing to master this easy task will have a momentous effect on eliminating complacency and direct you towards bigger achievements . Stay tuned

Can you identify 3 examples of complacency in your life that oppose your values or desires or beliefs? Which one have you neglected the most and wish to change. Please share.