That’ll Do..

Good is good enough.. Right?

Complacency.

The above is a word I am likely to write many times as I develop posts for this blog. Complacency is the Big Bad Wolf to my Little Red Riding Hood. It is an ever present evil that attempts to disguise itself in order to trick me away from my best interests. At times, it masquerades as contentment. Other times, it presents as doubt. Regardless of what mask it wears, complacency constantly threatens to relegate me to a life of the status quo.

To understand my experience with complacency, I’ll give a bit of background about myself. I am a 28 year old white guy from a middle class family. I was raised in a small town, but went to a big university. I graduated with a Bachelor degree in Computer & Information Technology and I’ve worked as a software developer for the last 5 years. I have always maintained an active lifestyle and my physique reflects that. I have a good circle of friends and I am very close to my family. All in all, life is pretty good (barring the aforementioned break-up. That was not neat).

So you might be wondering, “Why I am bragging about my life?” Well, I’m not. I’m telling you these things to give context to this post. For most of my life, I had a firm grasp on how to perform well in everything “important” in my life. I did well in classes, maintained healthy eating and exercise habits, and kept up with my personal relationships. The problem with everything in your life being “good enough” is that once you have accomplished certain things in your life, it’s hard to find the motivation to do more. For me, it was graduating from college and landing a well paid career in software development. In my mind, I had made it. This was the goal that I had in mind since I first decided to spend my college years with my nose pressed to a computer monitor.

Though complacency had already begun to manifest within my satisfaction in my career accomplishments, I hit an all time low in terms of motivation when I found myself in a relationship with the woman of my dreams. I was completely satisfied by simply laying with this woman and spending an evening scouting out Netflix. I did not realize it, but I had stopped challenging myself. I had stopped growing.

Well, as I’ve mentioned before, that fairytale relationship recently came to a screeching halt. I won’t go into details on how this happened, but I was definitely not without fault. Reasons aside, two months ago I found myself sitting in a half empty apartment, my only company being the creeping realization of how far I had let the vision of myself slip away. I had many things that I knew I needed to be working on, but I became so complacent with life that I half assed every single one of them. Among other things, I had let my vices become stronger, I stagnated in my career progression and I had stopped putting real effort into romancing my mate. I did what was necessary to keep living my comfortable life and stopped pushing for more.

I am sure that last line is something you can relate to. Have you ever gotten to that place where you’ve been met with success and some part of you decided that it was enough? Or perhaps you have that one thing that you -know- needs to change, but it just seems like too much work? That is complacency playing it’s very best trick. In fact, complacency works best when it operates in the shadows of our minds. While you are distracted with enjoying life, complacency is robbing you of your potential.

The interesting thing about complacency is that it is not that hard to battle once you have discovered that it is a problem. It is realizing and catching yourself becoming complacent that becomes the struggle. The fact is, we have a hard time truly maintaining a status quo. Often times, keeping things “as they are” turns into letting things slide backward. For example, if you are not pushing yourself to achieve new levels in your career, it is all too easy to allow your work day to become simple routine. Once it becomes routine, it becomes easy. Once it becomes easy, it begins to be taken for granted. Before you know it, you’re simply going through the motions and your aptitude begins to decline.

This happened to me. For the last year or so, I had stopped having much of a passion for my workouts. I was happy with my body and I was on a routine that had me work out every day. The thing was, I didn’t have drive during those workouts. I showed up, exercised, and left. I didn’t throw myself into my workouts as I had previously. And the entire time, I thought I was staying on top of my game. You see, I was steadily gaining weight during this time. I thought to myself “Wow, I’m putting on some real muscle!”. What I hadn’t realized, though, is I wasn’t putting on muscle at all. I had gained 10 run-of-the-mill pounds of fat.

You see, complacency didn’t set in all at once for me. It hid behind my satisfaction with my fitness level and quietly ate away at my drive. But complacency doesn’t stop at workouts. You can become complacent with your work, parenting, friendships, and honestly it can happen within any facet of your life.

I think it is essential to revisit the things in your life that you care about and make sure you haven’t begun to take them for granted. Look for things that you can improve and run with it. It doesn’t have to be a big change. It can (and often should) be something small. For instance, I am a whiskey lover. While I have cut my drinking back over the last few years, I was still having a glass of whiskey before bed. I realized that I no longer had a good reason for doing it night after night. It was a crutch picked up to help myself sleep (breakups are hard, man!), but I never reevaluated the practice after my emotions stabilized. By nipping that habit in the bud, I have prevented a potentially damaging routine from taking hold.

My message here isn’t all gloom. In fact, there is a bright side to discovering the tendency toward mediocrity that most of us have. It was through this discovery that I have begun to experience the thrill of challenging my standards. Self improvement has the potential to give a sense of fulfillment unmatched by other pursuits. Once you start moving in a positive direction, it becomes exciting to see where you can push yourself.

The big takeaway to all of this is to realize that complacency doesn’t only exist in people who obviously have things they need to change. Even people who are fairly successful in a particular area have to remain vigilant so that they don’t allow their hard fought successes to slip away. Find a reason to continue to push forward in those areas that are important to you. Find out what characteristics define you as a person and never stop refining those.

Above all, love who you are now, but love yourself enough to keep pushing to be your best.

Building a Better Man

Introduction

This is not the first time I have tried to start up a blog.

Honestly, there are a lot of things in my life that I attempted once.. twice.. a hundred times. Many things that I never stuck with long enough to be worth a damn. Perhaps that is because often a few weeks into something, I forget why I ever even started that venture. Or, in the case of my previous attempts at blogging, the focus was too narrow to ever be worth talking about more than a few times.

But that will not be an issue with this blog. The subject (or subjects) of this blog are central to the person I am and the person I want to be. On that note, I acknowledge that the very nature of this blog is personal. There will be things I will say that simply will not apply to some people. You will have to forgive me for that. But I honestly believe that some of my hard learned lessons will be of help to someone. Besides, the best way to find the right answer to something is to post the wrong answer on the internet.

So, who am I? Well, I am a 28 year old software developer who is a little interested in just about everything. My main focuses are health & wellness, self improvement, career growth, maintaining positive relationships (platonic and otherwise), and being proud of the person I am. I dabble in a lot of areas, such as photography, martial arts, biking, sports, camping & hiking, and cooking.

Why now? Why do I start a blog now, rather than next year or last year? Well, this year (actually, almost two months ago) I went through a major life change. Nine months ago, I moved from Kansas City to Indianapolis to be with the woman of my dreams. I thought I had my life all figured out. I had a good job, a wonderful mate, and I was near my family (yes, I am from Indiana originally). Things were looking great! Well.. Then life happened. My soon-to-be fiancée was suddenly sidelined by doubts in our relationship she never thought she would have. After the ensuing drama (including some less than wise actions on my own behalf), I found myself suddenly alone.

I was (and am) torn. She needs time to find herself in order to truly know what she wants, but neither one of us can know what the result of that will be. So, stuck in a position where my feelings for her will not let me move on, but knowing full well that I cannot simply “hold on”, I needed to find an outlet. That is when I started seriously looking at myself. I started seeing things in the way I was living my life that I was not proud of. Things that are not part of the vision I have for myself.

So, rather than focus on something that I cannot change, I decided to focus on things that I very well could change. This blog will represent those areas and more or less be a place for me to discuss the things that I am working on. The nature of my posts will surely be varied, but there are wide range of things that go into the goal which is the namesake of this blog. The goal of Building a Better Man.