Imagine you just reached an important life goal. What was it? Hiking the Appalachian Trail …paying off a loan…owning a car that starts on cold mornings? Now that you’ve achieved it, you can kick it and enjoy life. Right? Yes! Wait—no. Well…maybe.

Life is confusing like that. You have things you want to achieve, but you also have some good things going for you now—so where’s the motivation to grow? To change? To improve?

Another way to ask that is—what is the difference between being content and being complacent?

Feeling content is a healthy, proactive experience. Contentment is being satisfied with your life, and it requires accurate self-evaluation and knowledge of reality. Far from limiting achievement, contentment can propel people toward accomplishment.

Content people name problems and find solutions; yet, they still feel satisfaction. Work and enjoyment are simultaneous processes for a content person because they pick life goals that are realistic and that utilize their skills.

Complacency is a very similar feeling with one big difference: lack of awareness.

Feeling complacent is an unhealthy, reactive experience. Complacency is being satisfied but unaware of areas in your life that are dangerous or flawed—areas that need attention.

Complacent people dismiss and minimize problems so they do not work consistently to address them. Complacent people may feel a false sense of security and satisfaction, grounded in an inaccurate self-evaluation. Because they do not know themselves well, complacent people may choose life goals that are unrealistic or unsatisfying, leading to lower achievement and satisfaction.

Returning to the original dilemma: You have things you want to achieve. You have some good things going for you now—so where’s the motivation to grow?

Content people know that motivation comes from enjoying the good things they have while also working toward new goals. Want contentment? You can celebrate achievements and set your sights on more. You can enjoy the journey and the achievement.