Up until graduation day, everything made sense. I’ll go to class, get good grades, then land a decent paying job so that I can move out of my parents and “start my life”. Amazingly, all of that happened fresh out of college at 22 years old. Back then, a couple of my peers have told me, “Damn dude, you’re living the dream.” In reality, I felt like I was far from it. Despite reaching a little stability and independence after college, my life melted into this disgusting bowl of complacency.
What does complacency looks like? Work, Gym, Eat and Sleep Monday - Friday. It was a standard routine that I followed. Get up at 5:30 am, then make it to bed around 9 pm.
The worst thing about complacency is that you are completely fine with it. You automatically assume that this will be your life from now on.
The unfortunate thing is that I see this in almost everyone I work with. Work becomes their life and their annual 2 week vacation (gotta love U.S. employment 🙄) becomes the only thing that they look forward to. Think of the middle managers (with their big bellies) who sit at their desk surrounded by vacation photos; always talking about their next big trip. It’s really sad that we turned life into a box of repetitive tasks that don’t bring any meaning. There’s a good article on Medium that talks about the box of life and how travel is not a cure for boredom.
Complacency after college was extremely hard to deal with. In college, things were always changing. New classes every semester, group projects, parties on the weekends and tons of socializing. After college, you sit at a desk for 8 hour staring at a computer screen. So what’s the solution?
DOPAMINE is the solution. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in our brain with many responsibilities. Among them, is regulating our emotional responses and enabling us to see rewards and take action to move toward them (psychology today). Essentially, dopamine is the “reward molecule” that keeps us motivated in life (psychology today). When we get a hit of dopamine, we feel great! Think back to college when you got an A+ on a test, or when you asked that girl out and she said yes.
The problem is, when we do the same thing everyday and stop taking risks, we neglect allow ourselves the opportunity to experience something that could give us that natural high. What you gotta do is diversify. Make it a habit to do different activities and change up your life. As soon as you feel like the task you’re doing is no longer bringing any new excitement, change it up. I know, this is easier said then done and can be challenging depending on the particular tasks.
But seriously, I found that doing the same thing over a long period of time is hazardous to my motivation and quality of life. I need to try new recipes, join new sports teams, try new jobs, and find new hobbies every so often to keep life interesting and to avoid falling into complacency. Because complacency after college is something that will creep up on you without any warning, and could stick with you forever unless you change it.