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7 Easy Ways to Overcome Complacency and Make Good On Your Resolutions

overcome complacency

Snow and cold have a way of dismantling our motivation despite the enthusiastic personal and professional resolutions we wrote down for ourselves. New York winters can be brutal, at a minimum freezing cold, which leads to not enough sunlight and too much time indoors.

We become lethargic. We become lazy. We become complacent (I’m as much talking to myself as I am to you). None of this aids us in achieving the goals we set at the start of every new year.

So as to NOT experience the disappointment of failing to achieve our resolutions, I sought out potential solutions to our winter sluggishness and found…

[Tweet “Complacency is a disease and thus can be cured with the correct medicine.”]

The following list of 7 easy ways to overcome complacency will help you make good on your resolutions, but, more importantly, will help you run a happier and more productive business.

 #1 Embrace Creativity

If you’ve ever read a business book, been to a motivational presentation, are a fan of Apple products, or went to see the movie “Jobs”, you may be familiar with The Crazy Ones. This is Steve Job’s campaign for Apple.

The Crazy Ones campaign was launched in 1997 and spoke to a generation of business leaders disenfranchised by the traditional corporate structure.

the crazy ones

Complacency can simply be a symptom of boredom, and nothing destroys boredom faster than a new, never before tackled project. Break out of your routine – even if your work is routine driven. Find ways to add “color” to your work. Take a day and focus on doing just part of your work different or faster or backwards.

Do your work backwards for a day, and there’s a good chance your complacency problem will go away.You’ll be motivated to meet those resolutions.

#2 Organizational Transparency

Many small business owners feel it’s their right to keep operational information private, especially when it comes to growing revenue. Others simply don’t see the importance of sharing these kinds of achievements.

However, this lack of communication can be a primary cause of complacency. Successes, even small successes, should be celebrated. Success is motivating.

Furthermore, failures should not be kept a secret either. Many small business owners would be surprised to realize just how invested their staff is in the success of the business. Communicating missed goals can break employees and management out of the funk that lead to failure in the first place.

#3 Accountability

No one likes to be called out for his failures, but a lack of accountability can quickly create a culture of complacency within your business.

This may not be an issue for self-motivated staff members, but not all potentially productive staff members are internally driven to be their best every day. By creating a culture of respectful accountability, you can break complacent staff members out of their bad habits and get them moving again.

#4 Help Someone Else Achieve

Success can be contagious. For the reasons we’ve already mentioned, our own personal work can feeling boring, which leads to complacency. Trying setting your own work aside for a day, an hour, ten minutes and completely invest yourself in helping a colleague do his job better.

Help someone you work with do his job better. Think about the problems he faces and see if you can’t solve one, even if it’s very small. By taking your brain out of it’s normal routine, you can spur enthusiasm and a renewed sense of purpose in your own work.

[Tweet “Complacency Cure #4: Take 10 minutes and help a colleague do their job better. “]

#5 Small Successes

I briefly mentioned celebrating small successes early, but this one is so important it warranted being brought back for its own section.

Success is addictive.

Even small successes are addictive. Each little achievement, even if it doesn’t produce a direct ROI, stimulates our brain through the release of the chemical dopamine, a neurotransmitter vital to our reward-motivation system.

When complacency strikes your business, dial in on small successes and let the dopamine flow. Your body will naturally want more, and you’ll be compelled out of your complacent malaise.

#6 Believe in Yes

We have a saying here at The Murray Group. We want a Culture of Yes.”

As a small business, constantly maxing out resources, bogged down in minutia, it’s easy to fall into a habit of “No.” Unfortunately, “No” has never been a good driver of success. Sir Richard Branson has built his empire on, “Screw it, let’s do it.

Find ways to say “Yes” more often in your business. Even if something seems like it might not work, try it. You’re already in a complacent funk, so say “Yes” to the next opportunity that comes your way and see where that takes you.

I bet at a minimum your complacency problem will be solved.

[Tweet “Complacency Cure #6: Screw it, let’s do it!”]

#7 Set a Deadline

I don’t know about you, but throughout my entire school life I was completely unmotivated. I burst into action the night before a project was due.

When that deadline was looming over my head and I knew I’d be the only kid in class who hadn’t done his work, a pack of wolves couldn’t have stopped me from getting the work done. It was the deadline. The work had to be turned in the next day or it didn’t count.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of NOT placing deadlines on initiatives.


If you don’t have a deadline, the work will never get done. This isn’t a groundbreaking piece of advice; however, it is reality. Deadlines encourage action.

The Rub

It’s easy to become complacent in our work, especially if we’ve already experienced some level of success. Unfortunately, complacency can kill a business, even a successful business.

If you’re feeling complacent, put at least one of these cures into practice this week. Just one. Try it out. See if it works, and if it doesn’t, try another one. Eventually one will take hold and you’ll be cooking with gas again in no time.

Thank you and Good luck,

Ryan Hanley, CIC

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