The Cure For Complacency

The hypnotic lure of complacency can seem irresistible at times.

  • “Just relax.”
  • “Take it easy.”
  • “Everything is pretty good. Don’t work so hard.”

This is fine if these messages are coming from your intuition, your body, or your heart. It’s when you’re subtly allowing yourself to settle for less than your fullest expression that you enter into dangerous territory.

With my personality, it’s easy for me to get lulled by the siren of settling. I can get by with doing “good enough” because my half-efforts are above average.

But I don’t feel good in my heart when I settle for half of my effort, or half of my self expression.

I feel best when I end my days spent — with that kind of tired feeling you get when you’ve left it all on the field. You can’t control the outcome of the game, but you can control how much you give. <– click to share that

Of course, most of us don’t hold back because we’re truly lazy or don’t care. We hold back because of fear of judgment and rejection from others.

We feel that if we really give it our all, maybe it won’t be good enough. So we hedge our bets and only sweat a little, because then we can always protect ourselves by saying that we didn’t really try.

So, the true cure for complacency is…

Not caring.

What I mean is, letting go of the outcome. Showing up and giving bravely, but not being attached to what happens. Just giving all you’ve got and letting the chips fall where they may.

When you place too much emphasis on the destination, you’re not really there enjoying the process anyway.

The result is then two-fold:

  1. You enjoy the ride more because you’re not stressed about the result.
  2. You get to where you want to go faster because you’re putting more energy into the engine.

So, be in this moment. Say yes to yourself and yes to life. Say YES to what your heart wants to give.

Fuck half-giving and false protection that really only sabotages you in the end.

Surrender to the giving. Let go of what may come.

Comment & Add Your Voice

ScrewtheSystemJoe June 10, 2014 at 3:29 am

Totally agree! Love the line ‘Give all you’ve got and let the chips fall where they may’. Agree with all your reasons why people don’t give all they’ve got but would also add another.
A lot of people live under the false belief that their life just doesn’t matter. They think that the system is SO big and the individual is so irrelevant that there’s nothing they can do to make a difference so they’ll never give the best of themselves. We’ve got to break out of this way of thinking.


Laurent June 10, 2014 at 3:52 am

I have done it for few weeks about a seminar project that I have got in my head for months. But I just decided that it was time to go from dream to concret project with planning and finance. That not easy but I know that I will finish frustrated if I don’t push until the end. Like for a woman it’s not easy to let go the baby !


Jaymie June 10, 2014 at 4:26 am

Let the result just be part of History!

Do something and not care!


Schuyler June 10, 2014 at 5:17 am

What a great post and topic Jonathan!

In my experience this has shown up as procrastination for me. I’d known I was doing it and at times lacked the will power to stop it. I literally had internal arguments where half of me is telling me to get to the grindstone and the other half wants to watch tv, clean, sleep, or any other activity other than what’s most important.

In journaling, I remembered how as a kid improvement was all that mattered… And it was a lot easier to improve from the bottom – keep expectations low. And like you said Jonathan, those efforts usually gave me above average results.

I tried to ignore, over power, and completely disregard this side of me for years and it never worked. It wasn’t until a friend led me through an exercise where I recognized how it served me in the past. I could then become grateful for that piece of me like you would an older brother. And that’s when the magic happened.

I no longer felt shame in that moment, but instead grateful. I could say thank you, I appreciate what you’ve done, and I don’t need your protection any more.

I still run into this issue from time to time, but I find it is more easily overcome when I address it with love instead of anger, shame, etc.

With love to everyone on this journey, it’s a great life led,

Schuyler from PurposeCompass


Nishant Jain June 10, 2014 at 5:28 am

Loved the article. How true it is.


Alexis June 10, 2014 at 5:36 am

Another reason: ‘I’m not putting myself out for him or her.’ Comes when the reason for giving your all comes from without when it should come from within. Do it for you. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if the haters care.


Deborah June 10, 2014 at 5:37 am

So true, so true. It is easy to say focus on the giving and forget about the outcome. What if you need to pay your rent, etc. with the results of that you gave? I have been trapped in that cycle for along time. I DO see however, that the words in this post are very true, be non attached to the outcome and let yourself be focused on the process. Hopefully, in the process you will be so present and focused on including the details and giving fully that, that in and of itself will bring about the result you are wanting. Anyone else have that experience or want to comment on this?


Virgin Dave June 10, 2014 at 5:50 am

It seems like you’re kind of talking about two different fears blending together: the fear of failure and the fear of judgment. Right?

I definitely suffer from both. Not caring is a good solution but it’s really tough to practice. Something I’ve always focused on is my “reason why”, as I’ve heard it called. If you keep reminding yourself why you’re doing whatever you’re doing, it’s easier to not care about everything else.



Shirley0401 June 10, 2014 at 6:10 am

Deborah: How do we give all of ourselves to something if we don’t feel connected to the outcome and aren’t invested in the mission? Even if we understand, objectively, the task is necessary?
I hate to be a party pooper, but there are a lot of uninspiring, unrewarding, and monotonous things that still need to get done by someone. Sure, a handful of people might be able to make a living doing what they love, but most of us don’t. As long as enough people are willing to project false enthusiasm about, say, garbage collecting or data entry, we aren’t being honest with ourselves. Most of us (white collar, blue collar, no collar) are laborors, at the end of the day. There was an interesting Jacobin article on the whole “do what you love” problem awhile ago. Worth reading.


Jennifer June 10, 2014 at 6:26 am

I don’t think there is anything more effective than this strategy. It’s not always easy to let go of outcomes and give it all that you have, but when you do the results (ironically) can be the most miraculous! Thanks for this post…just the reminder I needed today!


Ashley June 10, 2014 at 6:57 am

This is like another way of saying “Be mindful” and “Stay in the present moment.” If you put all your focus in what you are doing in the present moment, you are setting yourself up to have the best possible outcome. It just takes care of itself. If you keep looking ahead to the outcome and start worrying about it, you’ll start over-thinking it and lose your focus on the present moment and you won’t be giving it your all anymore. And the results will suffer for that.



M. Catlett June 10, 2014 at 6:58 am

There’s depth of wisdom in this, and absolutely happiness in life as a whole has to be approached through detachment of this sort. Enjoyed and shared, thank you.


pedro June 10, 2014 at 8:23 am

So hard to overcome fears of rejection, but so true that when I don’t care and finally do what matters are the only days that I don’t have anxiety at night and can fall asleep feeling satisfied at night.


Chris Hilbert June 10, 2014 at 10:18 am

Really great explanation of “just give it a try — you can do it” that I have read!

Thank you!


Maryn June 10, 2014 at 11:44 am

“Showing up and giving bravely.” This is going to be my new mantra.


ezra June 11, 2014 at 4:34 am

solid post. just wanted to drop a word of thanks for the blog.


Jason June 11, 2014 at 9:24 pm

On point, as always.


Lyrical Treasure June 11, 2014 at 10:35 pm

Leave it all on the field. Now that I love. :-)

I happen to be guilty of God, when I have a whole excel sheet of the awesome places I would like to take my work, but somehow I find myself paralysed by what the world will say.

Not caring is the one thing I need to get good at. There have been a few times when I have put it all out there and those are the moments that I have tasted the sweetness of my work.

This is so spot on. :-)


pks June 17, 2014 at 4:02 am

we can be great while still carrying around that ego weakness – it will never completely leave us, but we must just press on anyhow

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