I’m writing this curled up on the couch in my digz. I’m enjoying a nice cup of black coffee* . What better circumstances under which to talk about the dangers of complacency?
Sometimes, when things have been rough for seemingly forever, when we finally catch a decent break or a respite, the tendency is to hunker down and hold on for dear life. Things sucked, now they suck less, you’ve been hurt to death, you’re still alive, what more is there to say? And sure, if the sum total of your aspirations is a port in the storm (and depending on your life circumstances, that’s a perfectly legitimate goal), there isn’t really much more for me to say. But if you have the privilege of harboring grander dreams, visions, plans and wishes (articulated or just a vague longing for something more), complacency is your enemy. It’s your fork in the road – stay here in relative comfort, stability and routine, or keep pushing on toward what it is that you truly want. I’ll refrain from discussing the imperative of staying keen and hungry lest I stray, but you get the drift.
There’s no small measure of guilt involved. Shouldn’t you be grateful for what you have, especially if you know what it’s like to have nothing at all? Why can’t you be happy with what you’ve got? Why do you have to be so greedy, so hard to please? But it’s not about greed. It’s not about being dissatisfied with 500 million, when what you really want is a cool billion. It’s about realizing that while this job lets you pay the bills and keep a roof over your head, you break out in hives at the thought of doing it for the next 30 years. It’s about acknowledging that while your current significant other is a wonderfully caring, understanding, interesting person, he or she isn’t someone you could ever envision yourself yoked to until death do you part. It’s about not sublimating your long-term desires for the sake of short-term stability. I’m not advocating immediate break-ups, resignations or speed-dialing, but I am recommending that you take five or ten minutes this holiday season to give some thought to what you want and to look at your present circumstances and the decisions you’re currently living out. Are they supporting this idea of your future self? If not, just what are they providing you with – Security? Stability? Acceptance? Happiness? Peace? True Love? A timeout from feeling as if your whole life has been spent thanklessly grinding it out?
Maybe you’ll decide that things are good enough for right now. Maybe you do need this period of intellectual shore leave to recoup and recharge. But while you’re getting your groove back, keep the bigger picture in the back of your mind. Don’t let a temporary hiatus become a permanent one and don’t let a comfortable routine lull you into forgoing your something more. Stay sharp and you’ll eventually be ready and eager, even to trade the rules ®ulations for more blood, sweat and tears. The Boss (GOD) would surely tell you the same thing.