Complacency is a silent killer. When life is finally going your way, be wary because one day in the not-so-distant future you will wake up bored, fat, and unmotivated. We get comfortable in our daily routine, we tell ourselves that we’re busier than we actually are, and then we forget to challenge ourselves. This happens to all of us. It’s inevitable. I’ve been sucked into this cycle a number of times, and I’m still trying to figure out how to avoid it. Apparently, I’m a slow learner.
What I have figured out is that complacency creeps in when we stop trying new things. There’s never a shortage of new skills to learn, but when we give up, we’re doomed. I fell victim to this when I finished university. I took a mental vacation from learning and quickly stumbled into a rut. Learning how to plan a wedding pulled me out of it. Likewise, after I became a working-stiff and family man, I tricked myself into thinking I had no time for new things, so I put on my comfy clothes and hibernated. Becoming a runner forced a wardrobe change.
Trying new things keeps the mind fresh, helps us develop new skills, and puts us in situations where we’re forced to meet new people. Ultimately, we become better, well-rounded people as a result. It’s easier said than done, though, and I certainly don’t have things figured out. For one, finding motivation to step out of your comfort zone can be difficult. Also, trying something new can be downright scary.
As cheesy as it sounds, Dr. Leo Marvin, from the comedy classic What About Bob, was onto something with his groundbreaking book Baby Steps. Setting a series of small, targeted goals is much easier than a large, undefined one; it gives you a plan to follow and breaks the goal into manageable chunks. It also helps if you research the new skill you want to learn. Knowledge truly is a powerful thing, and a bit of research can also help make the task at hand appear less daunting.
This isn’t groundbreaking stuff, but I have a tendency to over complicate things, so I’m going to keep it simple for once. I’m using this approach to cross a few items off my bucket list this year – run a half marathon, write a screenplay, and learn a new martial art (either Aikido, Kung Fu, or Muay Thai). I’ve signed up for a half marathon scheduled in May, and the training is going well. So far so good.