For some people, dire situation can be a great motivator to put in the necessary effort. Time and again we have seen personalities who have excelled in circumstances when the odds were heavily stacked against them.

Many people can relate themselves that they can feel motivated to achieve realistic goals.

However, there comes a scenario which successful people often face and that is of complacency. Imagine that you’ve made it after months (or years) of blood, sweat and tears and you’re finally starting to see some noticable results.

The money is rolling in, you have the fancy cars, the big house, all the material indicators of success. It’s easy to start feeling like you’ve arrived and can be little complacent.

It’s hard to maintain that intense hunger and drive that pushed you to the top when you no longer feel you have anything left to prove. That voice of self-doubt that motivated you to work harder than anyone else has gone silent now that you’re successful and secure. Complacency and entitlement can start creeping in without you even realizing it.

Why Do People Find It Difficult to Sustain Hard Work After Achieving Moderate or Significant Success?

Achieving major success after years of hard work and perseverance is the dream for many people. However, once a person has reached the top tier level of his industry, it can paradoxically make it extremely difficult for an individual to maintain the same intense work ethic and drive that got them there in the first place.

This attitude can stem from a few different factors:

Entitlement Mindset: Success can breed a sense of entitlement, where individuals believe they deserve continued achievements simply because they’ve experienced success in the past. This mentality leads to taking success for granted and a diminished drive to put in the same level of effort as before. A chronically entitled disposition may diminish the motivation to put in extra effort. This insight is further explored in Jane Adams Ph.D.’s article “What We Mean When We Talk About Entitlement,” published in Psychology Today.

Fading Hunger and Ambition: The intense hunger and ambition that propelled individuals to work relentlessly towards their goals can start to fade once those major goals are achieved. Having reached the proverbial summit, they may lose sight of new aspirations to strive for, leading to a more laid-back approach and a reduced willingness to put in maximum effort.

Satisfaction with Status Quo: After achieving major success, individuals may feel satisfied with their current circumstances and accomplishments. They may struggle to see the value in working as hard when they already have what they want or need. The hunger to strive for more starts to wane when the biggest goals have been checked off.

External Validation: External factors such as praise, recognition, or financial rewards that accompany success can reinforce a laid-back attitude. Individuals may become complacent due to the positive reinforcement they receive, leading them to believe that they no longer need to work hard to maintain their success. This sets up a dangerous cycle where the person thinks “If I’m still getting all these perks without trying too hard, why should I push myself?” Instead of motivating them, the outside rewards accidentally convince successful people that they don’t need to work as hard anymore to keep winning.

High Expectations: Following a major success, individuals often face heightened expectations from themselves and others. The pressure to replicate or exceed past achievements can be daunting and overwhelming. This pressure can lead to feelings of inadequacy or self-doubt, especially if individuals believe they must maintain a perfect track record of success. As a result, the fear of failure can become paralyzing, making it difficult to summon the motivation and drive to tackle new challenges. The weight of these expectations can contribute to burnout and a reluctance to engage fully in future endeavors, this insight is echoed in Ron Friedman’s article “Staying Motivated After a Major Achievement,” published in the Harvard Business Review.

How to Keep Complacency at Bay?

To avoid letting success lead to complacency or a loss of drive, it is important to continuously challenge yourself and maintain a hunger for achievement. Below are some strategies to help you stay motivated and avoid becoming complacent.

  1. Embrace Novelty: Regularly seek out new experiences and challenges. Ask yourself when was the last time you did something completely new or different. If it’s hard to recall, it could be a sign of complacency. Push yourself outside of your comfort zone to trigger feelings of vulnerability and excitement. Set new, bigger goals as soon as you accomplish a major goal, immediately set a new, even bigger target to chase after and continuously redefine what “success” looks like for you.
  2. Stay Humble and Maintain a Learning Mindset: Regardless of past successes, remember that there is always more to learn and room for improvement. Adopt a humble attitude and approach each day with a learning mindset. Stay curious, seek out new knowledge and skills, and remain open to new perspectives and ideas. This humility and willingness to learn can help guard against complacency and foster continued growth and success.
  3.  Surround Yourself with Motivated Peers: Surround yourself with individuals who share your drive and ambition. Being part of a motivated and high-performing team can provide support, inspiration, and accountability, helping to fuel your own motivation and drive. Collaborating with like-minded peers can also spur innovation and creativity, keeping complacency at bay.

Common Denominators of People who Dont get Affected by Complacency

True success is sustained through continuous growth, humility, and integrity. Successful individuals understand that complacency is the enemy of progress. They recognize that success is not about honors or material wealth, but about making a positive impact and uplifting others along the way. Some principles that serve as common denominators for successful individuals who continue to achieve more despite fame and adulation.

  1. Continuous Improvement: Successful individuals recognize that success is not a destination but a journey. They understand the importance of constantly striving for improvement and growth, refusing to become complacent even in the face of achievement.
  2. Humility and Self-Awareness: Instead of feeding their egos, successful individuals remain grounded and self-aware. They understand their own limitations and are open to learning from others, valuing diverse perspectives and feedback.
  3. Relationship Building: Rather than surrounding themselves with “yes people,” successful individuals cultivate genuine relationships based on mutual respect and trust. They listen attentively, seek input from others, and are not afraid to collaborate and share credit for their achievements.
  4. Integrity and Respect: Successful individuals prioritize integrity and treat others with dignity and respect. They understand that true success is not measured solely by wealth or status, but by the impact they have on others and the trust they earn through their words and actions.
  5. Vision and Purpose: Having a clear vision and sense of purpose is essential for sustained success. Successful individuals know what they want to achieve and why it matters, guiding their actions and decisions with clarity and intention.