Habits build complacency

Never do anything out of habit

“So in the majority of other things, we address circumstances not in accordance with the right assumptions, but mostly by following wretched habit. Since all that I’ve said is the case, the person in training must seek to rise above, so as to stop seeking out pleasure and steering away from pain; to stop clinging to living and abhorring death; and in the case of property and money, to stop valuing receiving over giving.”
— Mosonius Rufus, Lectures, 6.25.5-11

Today’s lives are busy. We are often left rushing from one place to the next, using our latest GPS device to map the easiest and fastest directions. Yet, over the last few years I have found so many people dependent on these tools. So much so that they cannot find a well known establishment them. The have become dependent upon it. Dependent on a tool – but with that tool we have formed a habit, and without the tool we are lost and confused.

The Daily Stoic uses this passage as an example to constantly question procedures we often follow at work, but also throughout our lives. By continuing those processes, never questioning and never adjusting, we leave ourselves open for attack, or missing opportunities that we would otherwise desire. Taking a moment to review and assess, and by always changing and adapting, gives you, your team, and your product or service the opportunity for longer sustainability.

Jocko Willink talks in his latest book, Leadership Strategy and Tactics, about the need to disengage, detach, and step back as it often offers a new perspective on how to handle a situation. I think his lesson applies both in good times as well as in bad. I find it easy and almost natural to conduct a self assessment when you are not happy or you feel your life is being put through a grinder. Yet, how about when everything is going well. After you just received that big bonus or obtained the dream job. Habits can keep us locked in and pushing forward, without thought or reason.

The allure of complacency is an enticing one. This is one more reminder to keep constantly pushing at the edges of your comfort zone – both physically as well as mentally and emotionally. Habits are not bad in and of themselves, as they do lead to greater efficiencies, sustainability and discipline. Yet, be careful. Control your habits, and don’t let your habits control you.

What habits do you have in life? How do you find they help? How do they hinder?

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