The Cost of Complacency

Complacency is a continuous struggle that we all have to fight. ~ Jack Nicklaus

You know how you sometimes (perhaps frequently) have that experience of something bumping up against you repeatedly and you feel the nudge to listen. It’s like the universe is trying to tell you something, or to teach you a lesson, or remind you of something. Some things just seem to come up enough that you finally just have to pay attention …


That’s the word that has been bumping up against me repeatedly over the last month. So much so that I felt compelled to write about it.

I have a friend who has been married for 28 years. Her husband came home last week and told her he was leaving. No warning. No build-up to it. No kidding. He literally walked out. As she is reflecting on what happened, she admits that neither of them have been actively working on their marriage for several years. She assumed that they would be together forever (a normal assumption, for sure). He obviously decided otherwise. She says they stopped putting forth the effort into their marriage, their ‘dating,’ their sex life, their romantic gestures. As her kids pointed out, “you and Dad haven’t done anything together in years.” They were right. #RelationshipComplacency

I have a friend who has worked for the same company for 21 years. She has progressed through the ranks, worked her way up, earned a great salary, and was even able to work from home frequently. She has done very well for herself. As she has built her career internally, she has become insulated. She hasn’t kept up a professional network outside of this company. She hasn’t stayed networked and connected with others in her industry or in her function. She lost her job last week. She hasn’t put a resume together in over 20 years. She is totally unprepared for this. #CareerComplacency

I have a friend whose teenage daughter appear to have it all going on. She has never been in trouble at school or at home. She is outgoing, kind and respectful. She is a good student. The parents have never felt the need to ask too many questions. Over a few months, she started to act differently. The grades went down. The friend group changed. The attitude changed. Yet, they brushed it off as “normal teenage stuff” and didn’t take any action to try to find out what was going on. #ParentingComplacency

Familiarity breeds complacency. ~ Rick Warren

Why is it risky to become complacent?

Complacency happens! It happens when we get really comfortable with the situations in which we find ourselves. It’s easier to let things continue on as they are than to have to expend energy. Of course my marriage is fine; I don’t need to invest time or energy in it when there are so many other things I have to get done. Of course my job is secure; I don’t need to invest time or energy on my career when I am so busy in my career. Of course my kid is good; I don’t need to invest time or energy creating a problem where none exists. Complacency is risky because it creeps in when we let our guard down and we quit focusing on what’s truly important. Complacency happens when we get too comfortable with the status quo.

What can we do to avoid becoming complacent?

From a relationship perspective, I saw a great example of this on Facebook today. A colleague posted a photo of he and his wife of 27 years at the airport about to head out for a long weekend. He commented that the trip was “marriage maintenance.” How fun is that? He and his wife recognize that they can’t become complacent, but rather need to intentionally work on staying connected within their busy lives.

From a career perspective, there are countless ways to stay connected and intentional about your development. Attend continuous development conferences to stay current on the latest trends in your business. This also allows you to meet others in your industry. Get involved in the community to meet others who might be able to help you should you ever find yourself unemployed. The worst time to try to build your network is when you need their help. Build it first, make deposit and investments in these relationships, so that if and when you ever need them, they are willing to help out because the relationship has been established.

From a family perspective, stay connected and involved. For example, I was never a big user of texting as a form of communication. I realized many years ago that if I wanted to stay connected with my own teenagers, I needed to start texting and quit leaving voice mails or emails (which are never listened to or looked at). Complacent behavior would just say, “it’s too much trouble to learn a new form of communication … my kids just need to listen to my voice mails.” But, if they aren’t listening then all those voice mails are just wasted air. You can avoid becoming complacent by adapting as the world evolves around you.

He who is content with what has been done is an obstacle in the path of progress.

~ Helen Keller

The bottom line is that while it’s nice to be comfortable in our lives (our relationships, our careers, our friendships) the reality is that we need to always be intentional about staying focused on what is most important to us so that we never get surprised when something derails and takes a path that smacks us in the face and surprises us.

Monique Honaman 2013 HRLT2 265x180 Are You Dateable?About the Author:

Author Monique A. Honaman wrote “The High Road Has Less Traffic: honest advice on the path through love and divorce” (2010) in response to a need for a book that provided honest, real, and raw advice about how to survive and thrive through one of life’s toughest journeys, and “The High Road Has Less Traffic … and a better view” (2013) to provide perspectives on love, marriage, divorce and everything in between. The books are available on Learn more at

If this article gave you the confidence to find your match, try eharmony today!

Join Now