Rags to Riches to Rags. Fat to Fit to Fat. Divorced to Marriage to divorce; the stories are everywhere.

Hitting rock bottom is supposed to turn people’s life around. So then why, do so many people, after their efforts of climbing up from rock bottom, sabotage their success, only to return to the pit of despair?

Why do the majority people who lose weight, gain it all back?

Why do so many lottery winners and professional athletes go broke seemingly overnight?

Why do we find it acceptable to stop short of the finish line, when we are so damn close?

All these questions, bring light the dark side of one of the most powerful and sought after experiences, in the english language

Success

Progress, Success, Whatever You Want To Call It Comes With Its Evil, Mediocrity Creating, Life-Sapping Twin, Complacency.

Complacency is the kryptonite of success.

When we make progress towards a goal, we can be seduced by feelings of accomplishment and entitlement. We slow down and take it easy, because hey, we’ve got some success, everything is alright. (1)

This entitlement usually leads to a 1 step forwards, 2 step back approach; ensuring that you never achieve your end goal.

You become frozen in time; not really succeeding at anything, but no falling hard on your face enough to get woken the fuck up!

Have you ever used your “good” behaviour to justify doing something “bad”?

Most people would answer yes.

Moral licensing, as it is known, is an insidious trap that houses the lost dreams of many, once ambitious, men and women.  By bein“good” we believe we have earned the right to be “bad.

Rack up lot’s of good, and you can be really bad. As illogical as this sounds, it is a dilemma that every single human being wrestles with. For example, because you opted for a Diet Soda, it is acceptable in your mind to indulge in the McGangbang (2) , instead of the, probably healthier, chicken salad.

Frankly, even simply thinking about being good, can increase the likelihood of sabotage. McDonalds has created a fortune exploting this.

Since increasing the healthy options, such as salad, to their menu, they have begun selling more big macs than ever. Yes the possibility of eating healthy, racked up a point in a persons good category, allowing them to be immoral and indulge in a delicious Big Mac (Though can we really blame them?). (3)

The pain of discipline or the pain of regret?

Human nature is full off paradoxes. We want abs, but we find it acceptable to indulge and consume an entire pint of Ben and Jerry’s Half-Baked ice cream, in a single night.

We want more money and success, yet we somehow manage to binge watch entire seasons of Game of Thrones wasting hours of precious time (2). We want a better relationship, yet we indulge in the same boring and sometimes self destructive habits day in and day out.

We want everything to happen according to the “plan” however we also know that should it unfold that way, our life would be very dull and unfulfilling.

One of my favourite quotes that I love by to this day comes from the infamous Mark Twain…

“20 years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do, then by the things you did.”

Now although I have a love/hate relationship with the poster in my room that has that quote (it may have led me to taking actions that had me fall into a seemingly bottomless love wormhole that shattered my heart), the words are nothing short of brilliant.

For the most part many actions you take are not seriously life changing (this excludes the obvious like having a kid, marriage or getting so drunk you confess your love to your best friend). But the everyday actions, you take while seeimingly important in the moment, will probably not have detrimental, life altering consequences.

So yes, I give you permission, right now, to take risks. To push a little harder. Yell a little louder. Approach and get that pretty girls number. Dress differently. To burn the midnight oil and start the business of your dreams.

So why not just do it? Because I guarantee you will look back 20 years from now and wish you had.

How to conquer complacency and ensure success

Instead of patting ourselves on the back and allowing ourselves to ease up, we should look at success and use it as fuel towards our end goals. Not to let off the gas. Not to self-sabotage. But use success as a reason to keep going, keep pushing and seeing the process through, right to the end.

So accept responsibility for your actions and take fucking control! Take consistent, daily action towards your goal.

Once you get close to your goal, raise your standards so that you are never satisfied and always pushing yourself to be better. That is the only way to truly succeed.

And sooner than you thought you will have arrived, happy, healthy and ready to conquer the next adventure, Destiny, has planned for you.

Footnotes

  1. People may use progress towards a goal as an excuse to let off the gas and indulge in some sort of self sabotage. Study: Ayelet Fishbach and Ravi Dhar, “ Goals as excuses or guides: The liberating effect of perceived goal progress on choice.” Journal of consumer research 32, no. 03 (2005): 370-377
  2. For hearty eaters who want to quench their hunger without being immobilized.
  3. Keith Wilcox, Beth Vallen, Lauren Block and Gavan J. Fitzimons, “Vicarious goal fulfillment: When the mere presence of a healthy option leads to an ironically indulgent decision,” Journal of Consumer research 36, no.3 (2009):380-93
  4. Not that I don’t love GoT or other similar series; but locking yourself for 3 days straight in the dark (guilty) and just consuming, has almost become a terrifyingly accepted norm. We need this to stop. Now.