Complacency can happen even to the best of us. During times of adversity, the dangers of complacency are obvious and so we are alert and on our toes to survive. But it is the times of success and the period of ease that follows, which can become our undoing. In theory, we are aware of the dangers of complacency. We know that we must not let our guard down. Heck, we even know that security is an illusion. But still, we fall prey to complacency at the worst possible times. How then do we manage complacency during a time of success and ease?
How to Manage Complacency
Impermanence is the way of life. Nothing lasts forever and everything will change with time. To manage complacency well, this awareness is important. All we really have in life is moments. If we do not make full use of these moments, we will regret it later. On the one hand, we must remember what is important and spend time with our loved ones. On the other hand, we must not forget that only prudent planning, preparation and action will ensure our survival amidst change.
2. A Purposeful Life
As I mentioned in my previous article, success is a time of deliverance. Tensions and complications ease because you have attained your goal and there is no longer any need to struggle. While you have earned the right to enjoy the fruits of your labour, you must take care not to overindulge. It would not do to get too used to a life of prolonged ease. Under such circumstances, sloth is likely set in and before you know it, it will be very hard for you to respond to change.
Instead, it would be more prudent to set another goal or find another purpose or direction in your life. Life without purpose is devoid of meaning. So create a goal that gives your life a new direction. Have a strong reason to live fully and press forward. By doing so, you will be less inclined to be complacent.
3. Constant Growth and Development
One result of change is constant growth and development. Every day brings new discoveries, ideas and innovations. What was impossible the day before is possible today. And who knows what will be possible tomorrow? Given this reality, there really is no room for complacency. It is a harsh fact but unless we commit to constant improvement, the world will leave us behind. Our skills and knowledge will become inadequate to deal with change in a changing world.
The good thing is that each new idea or skill we learn stretches and forces us out of our comfort zone. This is a great way to avoid being complacent. Meanwhile, as we grow, we have more options to deal with change as needed.
4. Keeping Abreast of Relevant Changes
One look at the world today and you will see massive changes that will have wide-ranging implications on us all. There is the Arab Spring in the Middle East and North Africa. Meanwhile, Japan is still struggling with its nuclear crisis. Over in Europe, the governments are trying to resolve the Euro crisis. Even if we do not live in the affected areas, each of these events changes the world, as we know it. Directly or indirectly, these events affect our lives.
The point is we cannot afford to remain in our comfort zones or ivory towers today. Security is an illusion. Just because we are unaware of a crisis does not mean we will be safe from its effects. Therefore, we must keep abreast of the relevant changes that can affect us. Only by doing so can we hope to avoid complacency and to manage change well.
5. Planning and Preparation
Staying informed is not enough. It is vital to use that knowledge to take action and pre-empt changes where possible. Your life and the lives of those who depend on you are too valuable to leave to chance. The measures taken involve a realistic assessment of worst-case scenarios followed by measures taken to manage them. In some cases, it might involve emotional measures in the form of support groups. It is vital to having a strong support group to rely on in a time of crisis. In other cases, it may involve spiritual measures to manage adversity. Having spiritual strength gives you the will to endure and to press on when the going is hardest. Or it could even be learning new skills to manage specific changes that arise in a changing world.
But a vital part of these measures may involve money needed to weather a crisis. If you have enough funds to protect your family in a time of crisis, that is well and good. If not, you might want to consider outsourcing this risk to protect your loved ones.
Done well, you need only review your preparations from time to time to adjust them as needed. This is the way to ensure your plans stay relevant in a changing world. Change does not happen overnight. There are always ample signs of warning if we take the trouble to pay attention. If you remain alert and watchful, you will be able to weather changes better than most.
6. Discipline and Vigilance
Success is often a dangerous time. When success is likely, it is tempting to relax your guard and slacken. But such an attitude risks stealing defeat from the jaws of victory. For all it takes is a fatal slip to undo your hard work. The dangers that follow success during the subsequent period of ease are more subtle. They can even cause you to lose your edge if you do not manage it well. This only serves to make you vulnerable to change. Here, discipline and vigilance is vital to dealing with complacency.
Not all choices and actions in life are good for you and me. Overindulgence for example, only leads to needless problems. If we do not learn to master our passions and desires, we will become their slaves. Discipline is therefore vital to good living. For only then will we be free and prepared for change.
Discipline and vigilance is well and good. But it is not possible to be on high alert all the time. Too much discipline can lead to rigidity, which makes it difficult to manage change. Yet we should not swing to the other end of the spectrum and let ourselves go. When the situation calls for quick thinking and action, we may find that we lack the firmness needed to respond.
Because either extreme is harmful, the key is balance. A good example would be earthquake prone Japan. Its people prepare for earthquakes and practices drills during peacetime. If an earthquake strikes, they are prepared. If not, they carry on living their lives. This is the way to avoid complacency. During times of ease, we take measures to prepare for unexpected changes, but we still go on living our lives.
Despite knowing all of the above ways to manage complacency, I still experience slips from time to time. But this is ok. What is important is that I have plans in place to manage, safety nets to catch me when I fall. And if I do slip, it is just a matter of returning to my discipline and vigilance once more.
What other ways can you think of to manage complacency? Do share your thoughts and comments below!