Why Being Complacent Will Ruin Your Life

by Zack Arenson

To be comfortable and secure is not the worst thing in the world, right? It means you’re doing something right, and you should stay on that path. Think again. Not wanting to move forward in life (business, relationships, health) and advance yourself is the most common and detrimental mistake any 20-something can make in today’s world.

For the most part, any happy individual has always seen more to what is in front of them. They have the vision and the awareness to not allow their selves to fall into the quicksand that is complacency.

Now, by no means am I insisting you cannot live a typical, settled life and live it happily. A comfortable life, lived without straying from the norm is 100 percent achievable and has been since the dawn of time. However, what I am implying is that, no matter if you want normalcy or extraordinary abnormality in your career or personal life, you have strive for more than what is comfortable.

Settling into comfort is not the way to achieve this. In either situation, or any scenario in between, you might find yourself slowly sinking into a routine, going through the motions, and before you know it, you’re neck deep in the quicksand, and it’s too late.

Complacency tends to happen first when it comes to your career. Bright-eyed and fresh out of college, most people have these grand plans for their careers. They envision themselves being at the top of their respective fields within 10 to 15 years; however, once they realize how much dedication and hard work it takes to climb the totem pole, and how much networking/ass-kissing you need to do, that vision and dream soon fizzles out.

That extreme plan to become the best and climb the corporate latter quickly, turns into the struggle to simply keep your head above water and to even be able to pay monthly bills. Now look, if you can make it work for yourself and are happy, then continue with that plan. However, if you want something more, you need to strive for something more. You have to put in the time to understand the ins and outs of your field and its related fields, and get to know people at different companies, in different positions, in different cities.

Christian Richter

The worst thing you can do is stop expanding your social circle when it comes to your career. As soon as you become complacent in that regard, you don’t care about going to social functions, learning about new opportunities, and you don’t care about carrying yourself with the same enthusiasm you did when you were 24. Now it’s, “Hey, I’m Jeff. I’ve worked at X-Corp for eight years.

It’s cool. It pays the bills.” Who the hell is going to look your way again when a new opportunity comes along? You think that person is going to say, “Hey, remember that boring Jeff guy who hated his life and was going through motions? We should bring him on board!” No, they won’t. They’re going to want the person who acts and seems as if he’s just getting his stride in the rat race we call life, no matter how long he has been on the course.

The second worst area where complacency really takes its toll is in our relationships. This could be your friendships or romantic relationships. The reason this is the second most complacent area of our lives is because this usually takes a longer time to set in, however, can have even worse effects than being complacent in your career.

Everyone grows up, everyone changes, and we lose touch with people. That’s how life goes. The reason we lose touch is because we continue on living our lives, believing that we’ve been such close friends for so long that nothing will possibly change that. So you go two months without speaking, then two months turns into six months, then a year, then two years, and then all of a sudden, you’re only seeing these people at weddings and funerals.

All it takes is some effort on your end, especially with today’s social media and technology features. Just send a quick email, text, Facebook/LinkedIn message, tweet, whatever you need to do. If you fail to keep up with your friends, before you know it, you’re living the life of Paul Rudd in “I Love You, Man.” Nobody wants to be the guy that’s 40 and has no friends.

Now, complacency in romantic relationships is a whole new ball game. If you become complacent in a romantic relationship, and it ends down the road, it really isn’t going to tear down your world, but it will take you on a sort of emotional roller coaster for a while. The desire for change can come at any time during a relationship.

It can come soon into your relationship with a f*ck buddy, or it could come on your 30th wedding anniversary. It happens every single day to any variety of people. As soon as you stop appreciating your partner and desiring something new is when you become boring, stop putting in the effort to keep the relationship growing, and when you generally stop caring.

If you have the most casual relationship with someone - let’s say strictly sexual - when it first started, you two were probably blowing each other’s minds. Then someone gets too comfortable in the relationship and it turns into the same old boring sex all the time, which no longer blows your mind and keeps you happy. Whoever gets fed up first is going to end up cheating, getting their fix somewhere else, and the person who got cheated on will do everything in their power to get it back. However, leaving a partner with a bad memory, or bad experience, is really hard to recover from, seeing as it requires convincing the person that things won’t be the way they were.

The same can easily be said for anyone in a long term, committed relationship. In the beginning, it’s the “honeymoon” stage, when everything is wonderful. She can make you sit through “Bridesmaids” for the fifteenth time, and it’s still a great night for both of you. Sure, you hate the movie, but you love the company, the energy, the connection - everything about it is great. The sex is amazing, you meet each other in the middle with personal sacrifices, and the future looks bright.

Then the future comes, and she’s watching movies in the in the living room by herself, and you’re in the guest bedroom watching the third replay of Sports Center. The sex is non-existent, and when it does happen, it’s high school all over again. Both of you refuse to budge on certain plans for your future, which couldn’t be anymore different. However, neither of you are willing to leave each other because you’ve both become so dependent on one another that, literally, a future without each other looks scary.


You can bet that something will happen. Some scenario will arise, whether it be five years, ten years, or 30 years down the road, which will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. The one who refused to make changes for the better of the relationship will be the one standing there asking, “What the f*ck just happened?” The partner who finally decided enough is enough will be on the path to happiness, but will also be thoroughly disappointed in their decision to wait as long as they did, realizing how much of their life was wasted and how many opportunities passed by. Then again, you both may just want to continue to be miserable together until you die - typically not the best option.

The final way complacency sneaks up on us is when it comes to our health. Every 20-something is on top of the world - for the most part - when it comes to health (barring any serious diseases/illness). As many people can tell you, that can change in an instant. Your 15 beers or ten vodka-cranberries each night will soon take their toll on your body and mind. Your ability to eat whatever you want and use any recreational drug whenever you please will quickly turn into a real problem.

Complacency comes in many forms, and believing that your ability to recover, drop a ton of weight whenever you decide the time is right, or become healthy with little effort will soon come crashing down, when you realize the true reality. The longer you put your health on the back burner, the tougher it will be to fix. Everyone says it, but the older you get, the harder it is to change your habits. It can absolutely be done at any age, but do yourself a favor and start now.

In an interview, which I will never forget, the most boring quarterback of all time, Peyton Manning said, “You have to decide: do you want to make things happen or do you want to watch things happen? It's been my experience that most of the people who watch things happen are the ones who are usually wondering what just happened.”

Being happy, being healthy, achieving goals, and keeping relationships alive doesn’t just happen. It takes effort, sacrifice and planning. Like I said, you may believe all is copacetic at this point, but give it a couple years of mere complacency, comfort and selfishness, and you’re going to be the one wondering: “What just happened?”

Top Photo Courtesy: Irina Kusnetsova