Complacency, strangely enough, is a sign of burnout.

It’s not happiness, thank goodness. Happiness happens in the midst of loving absorption in something or someone else. It is a general state of affairs as well, the deep realization that no matter how things go, you’ll play full-out and be just fine. The key distinction between complacency and happiness is this:

Happiness is not de-motivating.

Complacency, on the other hand, happens when we’re tired. We decide, “Well, this is as good as it gets, and so I think I’ll just settle in and make the best of it.”

I realized I’d gotten complacent yesterday when a small incident triggered a furious rage–a rage like I haven’t experienced in quite some time. It had to do with a missed communication: a doctor returning a volley of phone tag from a line with blocked Caller I.D.  I didn’t pick up, leery of yet one more robocall.

Of course, now she won’t be in the office and reachable for a couple of days.

The fury that ensued was really something.  I yelled at my son.  I broke a glass!  I wrote and re-wrote an excoriating email to the one contact I had at the clinic…fortunately, some still small voice kept me from taking a total blow-torch to the situation and the messages I left on line and on voicemail were terse with frustration, but not completely insane.

I don’t think.

My out-of-proportion response was only momentarily shocking because upon reflection I realized I’d been feeling a lot of resignation. Things have not been coming easily, a lot of people around me are stressed, and despite my intention to enjoy the moment and the beautiful spring weather, authentic enthusiasm for life had waned. I felt like a bit of a husk.

Burn out. Oh, THAT’S what’s going on!

Both going  ballistic and feeling laissez-faire about things are two sides of the Burnout coin. Going ballistic can be destructive, but I also think it’s Nature’s slap in the face of numbness. Recognized as such, it can be useful. Recognizing complacency as burnout BEFORE losing your shit is even more useful.



Sleep when you’re tired. Talk about it. Do some exercise: just a short burst of something weight bearing or aerobic to get your energy up.  Get out of the house.  Write and write and write your way out to the other side of it. Have a good cry. Meditate. Scream. Get a haircut.



Don’t get drunk or high. Alcohol and pot are depressants and while it may feel good to escape into a buzz in the short-run, it will exacerbate your complacency the very next day.

Don’t tear your life apart.  Don’t break up with your partner or quit your job. The shift that’s needed is internal, not external. Right now you need to remember that nothing lasts, not inspiration, not frustration, not anything.

Don’t stop showing up.  Don’t stop promoting your business. Text or email if you can’t pick up the phone to follow up a lead. Write the newsletter. Go to the networking event. If it’s outside of you, it’s not the problem.



Its G.R.I.T. Go Renew Intention Time.

Talk to yourself. Really. Out loud. Imagine yourself in a chair opposite you, and speak to yourself as though you were a small child again. Encourage, acknowledge, and soothe yourself. Revisit your goals and remind yourself of what they’ll look like when they’re done. Resolve not to abandon them until they’ve been fulfilled. If you find you’ve decided they don’t matter anymore, re-read your good reviews. Ask friends and family (where appropriate) for pep talks, affirmation and encouragement.  Listen and watch inspirational podcasts and videos.

Remember, you are not alone.  Even if it feels that way sometimes.  We are all part of a chaotic ugly-beautiful mosaic. Hiding alone in your room won’t change that. Keep coming out to play.