A Note of Appreciation
As I sit down to write this week’s blog post at the fancy desk in our new flat, I can’t help but feel that everything has turned out rather well. They say that university is the best three years of your life but this past year probably takes the crown for me.
I’m happily in a relationship for the first time ever. I am living with one of my best friends in the aforementioned amazing flat. My job is fulfilling and I get to work with friends. I have a side project on with my brother which is bringing us closer together. Heck, I just got a pay rise and a big bonus too.
Now I don’t mean to come across as boastful, in fact, quite the opposite. This was going to be another post about appreciation: the need to take a step back to recognise and be grateful for when things are going your way. Important as it is, I don’t want to write about gratitude today but the threat of complacency.
The relationship between expectation and reality
The satisfaction derived from material gain is always short-lived. (The name for this phenomena escapes me.) What do I mean by this?
Let’s say you have a dream car and the ambition of one day owning that car motivates you to work harder. The goal might sustain you for years.
You finally buy that car and the first drive is euphoric. The thought of knowing that it’s tucked up in your garage at night might bring you joy for the next fortnight, perhaps a month or two. But six months later, the novelty is sure to wear off. In no time, you will be looking at someone else’s slightly nicer car with envy.
This mental adaptation isn’t just true of material possessions. It’s equally as easy to take people and lifestyles for granted.
Unfortunately, our expectations always rise under our circumstances. That’s why there are so many miserable millionaires. On the one hand, it pushes us to dream bigger, on the other, it plagues us with discontent. Complacency is a curse.
At the moment, I am enjoying something of a honeymoon phase with the new flat, housemate and salary. While I am trying hard to remember the state of my old place and realities like not having a car, to provide some perceptive, sure enough, soon I will be taking these things for granted.
Complacency is always around the corner.
How to Fight Complacency by Goal Setting
In an ideal world, we would all remember where we’ve come from and compare ourselves to who we were yesterday, and not to anyone else.
But that’s a lot easier said than done.
I think the easiest way to fight complacency is by embracing the inevitability of our changing expectations and growing ambitions through goal setting. You should always be clasping for something just out of reach, as a way to orientate yourself into the future.
I’m writing about this today because my girlfriend asked me this morning what I am looking forward to this coming year, or what I hoped to achieve. I didn’t have an answer, and initially, I was very content in that fact.
What an amazing position to be in. I said I just wanted more of the same.
But thinking about it, that is only partly true.
If I fast-forwarded a year and things were exactly the same, I think I would be somewhat discontent, or at least feel complacent. People don’t grow when they are too comfortable and I’m feeling pretty comfortable right now.
As grateful as I am about how things have turned out, now is the perfect time to look and plan ahead before the complacency settles in. Even if that’s just booking a holiday to look forward to, something beyond the cycle of weekdays and weekends.
What do I want to achieve by the end of the year? In the next 12 months?
This will take some thought. Getting our freelancing side gig off the ground springs to mind. Maybe I need to set a concrete client goal. Perhaps I’ll add a course or qualification to my CV. I have another website idea in mind…
Forgetting work and my bloody LinkedIn profile, maybe I’ll read a certain amount of books. I’ve just started playing golf again, having not swung a club since childhood. Being able to play on a full course 12 months from now seems achievable. I’ve swallowed the gym bug too, with some help of a personal trainer friend. I’d love to maintain my motivation and see where my body and fitness is this time next year.
What do you want to achieve by the end of 2018? How about this time next year?
What do you have on your calendar to look forward to? Don’t sit still and wait around for the next weekend. Work towards something, whatever that might be.