Comfort doesn’t always equal growth…
In this episode of it’s About Time we’re exploring a topic that resonates with many of us – contentment!
Here’s the thing – we’re in the last month of 2023, and 2024 is right around the corner. While I’ll agree that there’s nothing magical about January 1st, and I’m an advocate of any time of year being a great time to set goals – the end of one year, and the start of the next really is a great time to think about goal setting. You’ve probably heard me say before, but it always bears repeating – time management – the way we manage our time day-to-day is best driven by our vision for the future, and our personal core values. And that vision and your values come to life through… you guessed it – your goals for the future.
So when I’m asked this question I’m about to share with you, I’ll admit that it can be a tough one to answer, but I’m not one to shy away from tough questions – so let’s go.
The common question I get is this:
Why should I set new goals for 2024 when I’m already content with where I am?’
And It’s a valid question, isn’t it?
Being content is a good thing; it means you’re satisfied, at peace, and comfortable with your life as it stands. But here’s a thought: What if I told you that contentment, as wonderful as it is, could actually be a bad thing? What if your comfort is actually holding you back from realizing your full potential?
That’s why in this episode, I’m unraveling
The fine line between contentment and complacency
How to recognize when you’ve gotten a little too comfortable in your comfort zone
The counterintuitive way to go beyond contentment to write the next chapter in your story
Three reasons why you should set goals even if you’re feeling satisfied and fulfilled
So, whether you’re sipping your morning coffee or winding down after a busy day, let’s uncover the secrets to not just being content, but being dynamically and purposefully content.
So today, we’re talking about
- The fine line between contentment and complacency
- Why goal-setting is essential for growth, even when you’re feeling satisfied
- Practical, actionable strategies for setting goals that enhance your personal values and big picture vision
- How to leverage contentment as a jumping off point for embracing new opportunities
Contentment vs. Complacency
To kick off this episode, I want to make sure we’re all on the same page when it comes to the meaning of contentment. And while we’re getting a refresher on contentment, taking a look at contentment’s cousin complacency is also pretty important. These two terms, often used interchangeably, have very different meanings in the context of our personal and professional growth.
What is contentment?
“Contentment is a state of happiness and satisfaction. It’s when you feel at peace with where you are in life. It’s not just about being happy with what you have, but also about appreciating and valuing your current circumstances. Contentment is a positive and healthy state where you recognize and celebrate your achievements, but you’re also open to new possibilities and challenges.
Let me emphasize that last part – you’re also open to new possibilities and challenges.
What is complacency?
On the flip side, we have complacency. Complacency sneaks in when we become overly content. Oh yeah – too much can become a good thing, even when it comes to contentment.
It’s like sitting in a cozy, warm room while a storm rages outside. Sure, you feel safe and comfortable, but if you stay there too long, you might miss the rainbow after the storm. Complacency is marked by a lack of desire to grow, a resistance to change, or the assumption that current success guarantees future success. It’s a comfort zone that can slowly limit our potential.
Hear that? Contentment is good. It’s happiness and satisfaction with a side of growth. Contentment, on the other hand, is like being so deeply rooted in your comfort zone that you’re essentially just stuck in the mud. You’ve reached a level of success, and you’re done now… you’re done learning, growing and evolving.
So, how do we distinguish between these two? And even more importantly how do we ensure that our contentment doesn’t slip into complacency? This is especially tricky because both contentment and complacency can feel very similar.
The Difference between Contentment & Complacency
But the key difference lies in our mindset and attitude towards future growth and challenges.
Imagine this: You’re content with your current job. You’re good at what you do, and you feel valued. That’s fantastic! But if you’re complacent, you might stop seeking new learning opportunities or challenging projects. You might even turn down a promotion because it feels too risky or uncomfortable. Before you know it, you’re comfortable – safe, but bored. Contentment welcomes growth; complacency avoids it.
Or let’s say you’re a business owner. You’ve got a thriving business, and things are going really well! Amazing! But if you’re complacent, you might stop trying to learn new things and you might neglect to keep up with changes in your industry. You might avoid using new technology or trying new marketing techniques because it feels too far outside of your comfort zone. I see this a lot with clients who totally rocked Instagram growth back in 2018 – and they’re still using the same 2018 strategies in 2023 and wondering why they aren’t growing. Again, contentment welcomes growth, but complacency avoids it.
How to tell whether you’re content or complacent
So you might be wondering right now.. Oh wow – am I content or am I complacent? Here are three key indicators to help you decide:
Do you have a growth mindset?
First is whether you have a growth mindset.
When you’re content, you possess a growth mindset. You’re satisfied with where you are, but you’re also open to learning and embracing new challenges. It’s about seeing potential, not just in situations but in yourself too. I talked a bit more about having a growth mindset in Episode 201, so head back two episodes for a refresher on growth vs. fixed mindsets.
“Contrast this with complacency, where there’s a stagnation in learning and personal development. If you find yourself consistently avoiding new opportunities or shying away from challenges that could lead to growth, it might be a sign of complacency setting in.
One example of this that immediately comes to mind is the influx of AI tools and its uses in nearly every industry. And while getting cozy with AI tools is certainly not a requirement in order to be successful – at least not yet… I can think of so many people I know who said “I’m not touching AI with a ten foot pole.” or “That’s too confusing for me, I’m going to keep doing things the way I always have.”
When… if they’d just be a little open minded and consider poking around on ChatGPT or another AI took like JasperAI or ClaudeAI, they might be very surprised about the opportunities that exist. To me, that’s a super clear difference between those who are content, and those who are possibly a little too comfortable in their comfort zone.
How do you respond to challenges?
The second indicator of whether you’re content or complacent is in the way you respond to challenges.
If you’re content, you probably view challenges as opportunities to learn and grow. They approach obstacles with a positive attitude and a problem-solving mindset.
On the other hand, if you’re feeling complacent, challenges might seem like unnecessary hassles. When you’re complacent, there’s a tendency to stay in the safe zone, avoiding anything that might disrupt your comfortable status quo.
So think about how you’ve responded to a curveball situation lately. Did you launch into problem solving mode? Or did you sulk, get annoyed and avoid the problem altogether?
And look yall – my intention here is not to make anyone feel bad. It never is! But sometimes I’m here as your time management coach to give a little tough love. The thing is – it’s easy to slide from content to complacent. And if you’ve been comfy in your comfort zone, and avoiding challenges instead of looking at them as opportunities for growth… it’s possible you might have slipped into complacency without even realizing it.
And that’s okay! We can do something about it!
Do you think about your long-term satisfaction?
So here’s the third indicator of whether you’re content or complacent – and that has to do with your long-term satisfaction.
Contentment is about being happy now while also looking forward to the future. It involves setting goals and dreaming about what’s next, even if you’re pleased as punch with the present.
Complacency, however, is often about short-term satisfaction. It’s a state where you might be ignoring long-term goals or giving up on aspirations because you feel ‘good enough’ about where you are now.
So here’s an example – Let me tell you about Jennifer – And I’ve changed Jennifer’s name here.
Jennifer has been in the same role at her company for several years. She’s director level, makes a good salary, has good benefits and work/life balance is pretty comfortable.
She’s mastered her role and is able to tackle her daily tasks with ease. Things are fine, a little boring sometimes, but overall fine. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. She doesn’t feel any need to rock the boat.
But here’s the thing – a few years ago, Jennifer actually had bigger dreams. Her initial aspiration was to eventually take on a leadership role and contribute to strategic decision-making in her company.
But now, the thought of stepping out of her comfort zone, facing the uncertainties of a new role, or the effort required for further professional development seems daunting and unnecessary. Jennifer thinks “Why should I change anything when things are good enough as they are? What if I do try something new and I fail, or it doesn’t go as well as I think it will.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Don’t rock the boat.
This is a classic case of complacency. Despite being content with her current state, Jennifer has gradually become complacent. She’s settling for short-term satisfaction and ease, while her long-term professional growth and aspirations are being neglected. She’s just kind of given up. The initial drive and ambition have been replaced by a mindset of “good enough,” preventing Jennifer from reaching their full potential and achieving the goals they once aimed for. Is Jennifer going to regret settling one day?
Now – one thing I do want to mention here.
I am not telling you to strive for the sake of striving. To keep pushing yourself and pushing yourself to the point of exhaustion just for the sake of accomplishing things. I’m the last person who is going to advocate for a hustle til you drop, 24/7 mentality. I do believe that there is such thing is enough – especially when it comes to work.
Y’all know that’s the opposite of what I’m about.
I learned from financial educator Shanna Skidmore the importance of determining your “enough” number when it comes to your revenue and income, and then giving yourself permission to stop once you hit that number. Rest is key to your long term success and I’ve worked with dozens of clients to bring them back from the brink of burnout and overdoing it.
But – if anyone is going to be your cheerleader and encourage you to reach your full potential, and to step out of your comfort zone and in the direction of becoming the best version of yourself? It’s me. I’m here for you. I know you are capable of SO much, you have unique gifts, talents and strengths – and I just want to see you use them and be proud of yourself.
What I’m hoping to point out is that Jennifer got to a point where she decided she was done. Done learning, done growing – because she didn’t want to be uncomfortable in the short term. And as a result… she was just living day-to-day. Getting to the end of the day, the end of the week – and everything sort of felt like groundhog day. Just… lots of sameness and boring.
Identifying these signs of complacency in ourselves can be challenging – and uncomfortable, but it’s a crucial step in ensuring that our contentment doesn’t morph into complacency. It’s about striking a balance – appreciating where we are while being excited about where we could go.
To be honest, writing this episode has helped me realize that I’ve become really complacent in a few areas in my life. And I think that’s important to note as well. If you find that you’re complacent in one area of your life, that doesn’t automatically mean that you’re a broad strokes complacent person. You can be complacent in some areas and striving in others. You can be complacent at work and growing in your health and wellness. You can be thriving at work and complacent in the way you keep and maintain your home.
It’s up to you to decide where you want to direct your energy.
How do we shift from complacency to contentment?
Now that we’ve explored the signs of complacency versus contentment, what do we do if we find ourselves leaning more towards complacency? How do we shift back to a state of contentment that fuels our growth and ambition?
Step 01: Awareness
The first step is awareness. Recognizing the signs of complacency in ourselves is a crucial turning point. It’s like waking up from a deep sleep, suddenly aware that we’ve been on autopilot – living in default mode, comfortable yet unfulfilled in certain aspects of our lives.
Step 02: Set Goals
One way to step out of that complacency and back into contentment? This should come as no surprise – but the answer is in setting goals.
Setting goals challenges us to step out of our comfort zones, and look beyond immediate, short term satisfaction. When you’re trying to get out of a place of complacency, setting goals helps you imagine a future that excites you and is a catalyst for getting back to a place of contentment, purpose and direction.
Why should I set goals when I’m content?
So let’s pivot back to the original question from the top of this episode:
Why should I set new goals for 2024 when I’m already content with where I am?’
I totally get that it might seem counterintuitive, but setting goals can actually enhance our feelings of contentment and lead to an even more fulfilling life. Let me share three reasons why:
Reason 01: Continuous Improvement
First: continuous improvement. Even when you’re content and happy as clam, there’s always room for growth and improvement. Goals encourage us to push our boundaries, learn new skills, and become better versions of ourselves. This isn’t about being unhappy with where we are or comparing ourselves to others; it’s about recognizing that we can always evolve and improve.
Reason 02: Adaptability
Next, we have Adaptability and Resilience. Y’all – life is unpredictable. Just ask any mom who’s dropped their kid off at daycare only to have to turn around and pick them up an hour later because they’ve spiked a fever out of nowhere. Goals help prepare us for the unexpected. If you’ve ever thought – what’s the point in setting goals – life is just going to go off the rails anyway? When we set goals, we’re not just planning for success; we’re also building the resilience and adaptability needed to face challenges and make the most of opportunities that come our way. Plus, whenever a curveball knocks you off track, your goals give you a track to get back on instead of just wallowing around chaotically.
Reason 03: Fulfillment Beyond Contentment
And finally, setting goals when you’re already feeling content can lead to fulfillment beyond contentment. Whew, what does that even mean? When you set and achieve a goal that you’ve worked toward, it can bring an incredibly deep sense of fulfillment. It’s about striving for something that’s meaningful and rewarding. Goals give us a sense of direction and purpose, enhancing our overall satisfaction with life.
Ready. Set. GOALS!
Remember, contentment is a beautiful place to be. It’s a state of satisfaction and gratitude for where you are in life. But it’s also a launching pad for what’s next. It’s not a final destination but a rest stop on the journey of continual growth and self-improvement.
Setting goals, even when you’re content, is not about undermining your current happiness. It’s about building on it, exploring new opportunities, and pushing yourself to new heights. It’s about writing that next exciting chapter in your personal success story
And for those of you looking to do just that, my ‘Ready. Set. GOALS!’ workshop is the perfect opportunity.
This two-day goal-setting workshop is designed to guide you through the process of setting realistic, achievable, and inspiring goals. It’s not just about the goals themselves; it’s about crafting a roadmap for your personal and professional growth. It’s perfect for anyone who’s feeling content but is ready to explore what’s beyond that contentment.
So, if you’re ready to turn your contentment into dynamic action, join us at the workshop. Details for registration are in the shownotes for this episode, or you can head straight to annadkornick.com/goals. Spots are filling up fast! And for being an amazing podcast listener, I’ve got an exclusive gift just for you.
Enter the code PODCAST at checkout, and you’ll save $40 on your ticket. But – don’t wait around. Ready. Set. GOALS! Is happening December 13th and 14th and I don’t want you to miss it!
As always, all of the details from today’s episode can be found in the shownotes at abouttimepodcast.com/203 – and while you’re there, don’t forget to download Dream Big: 101 Inspired Goal Ideas for 2024.