Retirement: No time for complacency

by | May 25, 2021

Eight ways to prevent complacency creeping in during later life

It’s easy to become complacent in retirement: I should know, it happened to me when I semi-retired a while back. It’s one of the reasons I became a ‘retirement rebel’! And I see it in my clients too: when they stop working, they become less focused, and their energy wanes.

Here’s the thing: you might have reached the point in your life where you think you can sit back, relax, enjoy the success of reaching this point on the journey, and just let things happen. But I argue that retirement is no time for such complacency. Why? Because with complacency comes inactivity, and worse: idleness. And because you can’t afford to be complacent: you don’t know what’s next, and you don’t know when ill health or money worries will strike. 

Let me explain. Remember the fire in the belly you got when you were on your way to achieving a goal, like a career promotion? Once it happened, you probably began to relax and enjoy the level you had reached. And maybe you found you weren’t performing with the same “edge”? Often in these situations, you don’t hear a loud alarm bell. But then one day you realise you’re no longer on top: complacency has quietly crept in. 

do not face complacency in retirement

Did you know it’s unusual for big sports teams to win two championships in a row? It’s down to complacency: teams reach the top, bask in the glory, and then lose that fire in their bellies. And the same thing could happen to you in retirement if you let it, so here are eight ways to prevent complacency creeping in during later life:

1 Don’t surround yourself with ‘yes men’

Who wants to be challenged? I do! But some people always surround themselves with ‘yes men’, people who always agree, and flatter instead of being honest. Maybe they don’t want to offend, or are frightened you will reject them. But successful people surround themselves with those who will point out their mistakes: you can use this trick in retirement too, to keep complacency at bay. 

2 Know what your blind spots are 

Complacency can create blind spots in people when it comes to the areas in their life where they need growth and change. I’ve seen this during my coaching. My advice is to write down what your blindspots are and don’t forget about them: they are the critical areas that need to be addressed, but they’re not visible to people who refuse to acknowledge them.

3 Keep learning

So you found success, you reached retirement so you must have got the formula right? Not necessarily. Things change, and complacency can creep in when you don’t keep learning and remaining current. The world doesn’t stand still and neither should you. For example, if all your friends are now communicating on social media, but you don’t want to learn how to use it, then you’ll miss out. That’s complacency creeping in.

Oprah Winfrey quote about complacency4 Be a risk taker

Complacent people don’t look for new opportunities. But look at it this way: what a waste it would be for you to grow old without realising your full potential.

As Oprah Winfrey said “There is no pay check that can equal the feeling of contentment that comes from being the person you are meant to be”. 

5 Start afresh each day

Great sports people don’t think about their past achievements: they show up every day aiming to get even better. So learn from this and don’t rest on your laurels: show up in retirement fresh each day thinking: how can I be better, what can I contribute, what can I discover about my true purpose today?

6 Enjoy the journey

I have come to discover that those who focus only on outcomes might have some success and happiness, but it won’t be sustainable. It’s all about the ‘climb’: what’s the point in focusing on some end goal in later life when you don’t know if you are going to even get there? Complacency will find these cracks and creep in if you are not enjoying the journey and only looking towards the destination.  

7 Take time to recharge

To avoid complacency, it’s vital to make time for relaxation, rest and quality interactions with your loved ones. This is the fuel you need to motivate yourself towards your worthy purpose, and without it, fatigue will start to take over, and on the heels of fatigue, complacency. 

complacency in retirement

8 Practise gratitude

I always encourage my clients to practise gratitude: it is truly elevating. As I like to say, it gives you altitude! It’s also a very useful weapon to use against complacency. Be grateful for the life you are living right now, not the imagined life you have in the future, that may never happen. In other words, don’t take your life for granted and wait until it is almost over to realise what a gift it has been. Live in the now with gratitude and purpose and complacency won’t stand a chance!

George Jerjian
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