Each of us has likely experienced (or will experience) a point in our lives when we’ve been lulled by comfort into a place of complacency. We get used to our routine, our role, our level of knowledge, and we settle in. Even worse, we develop a “good enough” mindset—a fallacy that leads to unrealized potential, disengagement, and lack of growth. For people in leadership roles, complacency can indicate major workplace culture issues and undermine your team’s ability to achieve results.
Complacency is not to be confused with laziness or contentment—although sometimes those are characteristics of the term. The dictionary definition of complacency is “a feeling of calm satisfaction with your own abilities or situation that prevents you from trying harder.” It’s important to note that complacency isn’t always a bad thing. But if it’s keeping you from realizing your dreams and living the life you envision for yourself and those you care about, then it’s definitely something to address.
So how do you know if you’re in a complacency rut? And how do you grow out of it?
How to Identify Complacency in Your Personal Growth
Just like the definition states, complacency is a feeling, and identifying it is usually a simple practice of self-reflection. You can start by examining your days and your general level of satisfaction with life by asking yourself these questions:
- Do I find myself doing the same thing every day, weekend, etc.?
- Are there things in life that I want but don’t feel motivated to do anything about?
- Do I feel like I’m missing out on something—who I could be, where I could be, how I could be making a difference?
- Do I feel like my efforts are just “good enough”?
If the answer is yes to any of these, chances are you’re in a place of complacency in some area of your life. But fortunately, there are some easy, practical ways you can avoid or grow out of that mindset. Here are four quick things you can do today or work into your daily habits to rediscover the momentum you need.
JOT DOWN YOUR CHILDHOOD DREAMS.
This might seem silly or pointless. There’s probably a good reason you didn’t become an astronaut, right? But by allowing ourselves to revisit the way we dreamed as children or before our adult responsibilities and burdens started piling up, we can spark the spirit of wonder and curiosity that may have been dormant for too long. And once we’ve found that spark again, we just might be able to ignite our dreams—old or new—again.
DO ONE THING OUTSIDE YOUR COMFORT ZONE.
This action doesn’t have to be anything extreme. It can be as simple as looking someone in the eyes and saying hello or asking a question you’ve never asked before. An easy way to start this is by making a list of things that scare you, interest you, challenge you, etc. Then add actions to each item that you can take to venture out of your comfort zone and shake up your routine or perspective.
Sometimes, just a small change in our daily lives can make all the difference and help us avoid getting into a stagnant routine that breeds complacency.
ASK “HOW DO I KNOW”?
In his book Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know, organizational psychologist Adam Grant says this is a question we need to ask more of ourselves and of others. We favor the comfort of our own convictions and knowledge over the discomfort of doubt. By asking ourselves “How do I know?”, we adopt an attitude of curiosity and exploration that can help pull us out of our comfort zones and challenge some ways of thinking that might be holding us back.
GET OUTSIDE PERSPECTIVE.
Sometimes we just have to get out of our own heads and let some outside perspective in. Identify at least one or two people you trust to be honest and encouraging; then ask them for their observations on your life, how you interact with the world, your potential, etc. Chances are they’ve not only experienced something similar (this can be a reciprocal exercise as well), but they also have some insight that might inspire you to take the next best step in your life.
Complacency can creep up on us, and before we know it, we’ve completely lost sight of the vision we used to have for ourselves. If you find yourself in a place of just “good enough,” don’t hesitate to take the steps you need to grow into the person and leader you were born to be.
Your personal growth doesn’t have to be a solo mission!
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