At Frogslayer, we adhere to 5 core values: Give A Shit, Take Ownership and Act, Act Transparently, Pursue Growth, and Pull Together. While I identify with all five, Pursue Growth really resonates with me as a recent college grad starting my career in development and a young adult who has a lot of work to do to get where I want to be.
At the surface level, it’s easy to think that growth happens automatically, that you’ll naturally progress in your career and personal life by ‘doing your job.’ But the reality is the goals that we set for ourselves are easy to fall short of.
Growth is not achieved on autopilot or with the passing of time. It’s a proactive process, something to be pursued constantly. If we become complacent, we’ll quickly find ourselves stuck in a rut.
The Origins of Complacency
It’s human nature to want convenience, ease, and comfort. Throughout history, these have been powerful motivators for people.
Think about times when basic human needs, such as food, water, and shelter, were challenging to acquire. Creating stable access to these things was a lofty goal that humans diligently worked towards and eventually achieved.
Thanks to innovation throughout the years, our basic needs are met. But, combined with the endless means of stimulating your mind with entertainment and technology, this makes us easily susceptible to falling into a complacency trap.
Complacency & Compromise
It’s simple – without stress to improve quality of life and the absence of boredom, there’s not much left driving us to pursue growth. Sure – we have personal goals and aspirations, but there are no expectations to achieve more outside of the expectations we place on ourselves.
What keeps us from holding ourselves to these high expectations? Compromise.
Over time, we convince ourselves that we must ‘be realistic…’ or that what we’ve done is enough. This action is the pitfall that leads us as individuals to complacency, and it can manifest in multiple ways. It can help to identify these manifestations to keep compromise in check and, in turn, continue pursuing growth at a self-respectable rate.
Below are three ways to avoid compromise and overcome complacency.
1. Prioritize Goals
When we try to accomplish everything at once, we set ourselves up for failure. Diving headfirst into multiple goals at once can quickly turn into a juggling act that leaves us feeling overwhelmed. When we hit that point, it’s tempting to start cutting corners and compromising – over time, this can cause us to look back to realize very little progress has been made, and that can be disheartening.
Faced with this, people usually react in one of two ways. They either double down, investing themselves back into their goals, or they throw in the towel and give up. Doubling down can work, but it’s risky if you haven’t learned how to manage your priorities effectively. There’s still the chance of finding yourself back at square one, overwhelmed.
The trick to avoiding this pitfall is to start small. Gauge what you can realistically handle at first and train yourself to balance multiple goals gradually. If you find yourself falling short, don’t hesitate to reassess. Maybe your initial goals were too lofty, or maybe you have a lot on your plate and need to prioritize some goals over others.
The key is to avoid compromising your top priorities. It’s okay to postpone deprioritized goals; the main idea here is not to give up but rather reassess, adjust, and keep striving for what is truly important to you.
2. Understand Your Obligations
The second scenario leaving you vulnerable to compromise is when your goals conflict with your obligations. If we’re not careful, obligations can build up quickly, leaving us no time to focus on our goals.
The key to managing our obligations is to establish boundaries. There’s no rule that says you must accept everything thrown your way. Keep your own growth and personal priorities in focus when confronted with a potential obligation.
You don’t have to say “yes” every time. That doesn’t make you selfish; it makes you focused. When you’re focused, you’re less likely to slip or compromise on the goals that you’ve set for yourself.
3. Embrace Discomfort
The final roadblock in our pursuit of growth is sometimes more difficult to put a finger on, but it’s the discomfort that naturally arises when we push ourselves outside of our comfort zone.
This is a form of compromise that takes place internally, and it’s often the most persuasive because it taps into the instinctual desire for ease and comfort discussed earlier. Recognizing that your brain will send you signals to stop when things get tough is crucial to avoiding compromise and complacency.
The phrase “No pain, no gain” holds a lot of truth here. The road to growth is full of discomfort, but we must learn to embrace it to make progress.
Embracing discomfort isn’t always the most palatable thing, so here are a couple of mindsets that can help us to keep pushing through:
- Consider your past challenges and triumphs. These can serve as a reminder that you’ve pushed through before, and you can push through now.
- Focus on the end goal and the sense of success you’ll feel once you accomplish what you’re working towards. Discomfort is temporary, but the regret of giving up could linger much longer.
That said, be conscious of your limitations. We can still embrace discomfort and avoid injury, burnout, or other major setbacks that could hinder our path to growth.
At Frogslayer, we live out our core values. “Pursue Growth” isn’t just a catchphrase; it’s a cornerstone for how we navigate the ever-changing landscapes of business and software. While this core value is extremely applicable at our firm, it’s also applicable elsewhere.
To steer clear of complacency, focus on minimizing self-compromise, strategically prioritizing your goals, understanding and managing your obligations effectively, and embracing the discomfort that comes with growth.
By being mindful in these areas, we avoid situations where we’re tempted to compromise ourselves, which in turn reduces the risk of complacency and actively steers us to pursue growth and achieve our goals.