How Your Contentment Is Killing Your Future

Our culture has a new obsession: minimalism and simplicity. It shouldn’t shock anyone, though, it’s clearly a reaction to the insane standard of “busy” this generation submits themselves to. But in our efforts to minimalize our lives could we invertedly be minimizing our purpose, our passions, and our impact?

In other words, if we’re not careful, could our healthy desire for contentment become and unhealthy desire for comfort? Is it possible that wanting less stuff has led us to also wanting less responsibility, less leadership, less opportunities, and less influence?

A few weeks ago, Veronica and I were convicted on this very matter. We were content. But not just content…we had become stagnant, dormant, and latent.

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Now don’t get me wrong, contentment is a fantastic virtue to attain. It’s a place in which I believe every leader must not only live in, but remain in. It’s the ability to be happy with who you are, where you are, and with what you have.

But contentment doesn’t mean we shouldn’t desire more, it means we’re thankful for what we have and patient for what’s next.

But for Veronica and I, our contentment had turned into premature satisfaction. Almost as if we had said, “Well we made it. Life doesn’t get any better than this.”

You see, as leaders, we can often spend years working to reach the mountain tops of our achievements only to finally arrive, overstay our welcome, and die there in a state of comfort.

Let’s not be naive, the cultural standard for success is quite low. A steady job, an affordable mortgage, one vacation per year, and a healthy family. A noble set of aspirations in which many enjoy all the way to the grave.

But what if God has something more for you? What if He’s just waiting for you to ask, to dream, and to see? What if more life didn’t have to mean more stuff? What if more purpose actually called for less comfort?

Ultimately, my challenge to you is this: Is your life small because your vision was small? Has your desire for less lessened your life? Could your obsession for a simple existence leave you with a simple story?

Need I remind you that we live in a world with no shortage of need. A place desperate for healing, for solutions, and for help. From the poor and the lost to the sick and the dying, we have people waiting. From the children and the mothers to the fathers and the families, we have people praying.

Are we going to drown in our own contentment? Are we going to allow our craving for simplicity to prevent us from taking on complexity?

Remember, the great characters of time’s past didn’t let their hunger die inside of an urban subdivision of tract homes. They didn’t put their comfort above their need to create change. But most of all, they didn’t settle for average, for comfortable, and for pleasure.

So what about you? Are you content with average? Are you stagnant in your comfort? Or are you ready to wake up, ask God for more, and fill your life not with products but with purpose? Are you ready to be used to create change, to help others, and to make a mark in this world? If so, let me about it in the comments below.

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Author

Dale Partridge
Dale Partridge is the Founder of StartupCamp.com. He's also a keynote speaker and author of the Wall Street Journal & USA Today Bestselling book People Over Profit.

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  1. Dale, I love that you “went there” in this post on minimalism. I’m a minimalism/simplicity blogger and my message is about how minimalism is not about our stuff, it’s about our soul. It’s who we are underneath our stuff that matters and when we find contentment in having enough, then we experience freedom to grow and change and realize our soul’s passions and calling. So many get caught up in a standard of minimalism that is equal to the standard of materialism, and they miss the point of living with less entirely.
    Great post!

    Reply
    • Thank you, Lisa! Appreciate the encouragement and stoked you’re influencing in this space!

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  2. Sarah says:

    I’ve been downsizing and minimizing in all areas of my life for the past 5 years, and here’s what I know, from my experience. Removing the clutter and busyness creates exposure. There’s an openness that feels exhilarating, and extremely vulnerable. With the distractions, it’s easy to outrun or numb the vulnerability. It takes courage to choose passion, and it also takes willingness to be vulnerable. Choosing comfort over uncertainty, when the vulnerability is felt, can be a logical, but safe choice. We also fear stepping out in faith, because there may be a lack of relationship with God. We value expertise and thinking in our culture, more than faith, risk, and intuition. All are needed. Thankfully, I’m a woman of faith, and was willing to ask God for his will and the courage to step outside myself. Its been a wild, passion- filled ride, with blessings for others and myself.

    Thanks for your post.

    Reply
    • Sarah, that’s some very real encouragement and honesty – both are so appreciated here. Stoked for your journey! And glad you decided to visit the blog today. 🙂

      Reply
  3. Allison S says:

    Great article. This is the exact reason that – just three weeks ago – I decided to leave my comfortable job at a major OG company to pursue a career in teaching. I’ll be taking a 60% pay cut, but I had gotten so comfortable and complacent in my cushy corporate job that I felt aimless and purposeless. I’m excited for a new season of challenge and passion and purpose. It will certainly be more stress and lower pay, but I believe the fulfillment of living out a life full of meaning and purpose will more than offset what I left behind.

    Reply
    • SO great, Allison! “I believe the fulfillment of living out a life full of meaning and purpose will more than offset what I left behind.” –This is fantastic. I love your heart here. Keep pursuing it!

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  4. Good post. And I agree with this as I have started to notice the same. I tend to lean towards more simplicity and minimalism, but to slow down and get into slumber mode. It’s actually to have less stuff around, to have more clarity in my head, to have more focus on what I should do!

    So yeah, it helps a lot. Clean desk, clarity in mind, to keep going.

    I see other people mentioning feeling stuck here, which is a topic I help a lot of people with. Because I have spent an insane amount of work-hours with myself to find clarity and become unstuck. Without it, I wouldn’t feel I had found enough passion and drive to carry on.

    Thanks, Dale 🙂

    Reply
    • Johnny, that’s awesome!! Keep helping people get unstuck. 🙂

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  5. Rohit Malhotra says:

    Great post Dale. It is important to strive forward and not be complacent. I set 90 day goals for my business and try to focus on those goals for the moment.

    Rohit I Lifeselfmastery

    Reply
  6. Hey man

    This is one great site. I am reading the articles and learning a lot.

    I wonder if you would be interested in an interview for my blog?

    Thanks
    Ben

    Reply
  7. Angela says:

    I think fear holds people back from going that extra mile and achieving more. However, I think there are times when we need to cruise in that contented state as it allows us to recognises all we have and be grateful for it.
    On a different note you have some spelling errors in your article.

    Reply
    • Yes, agreed, Angela! As I mentioned in the article, contentment makes room for gratitude in what we have now and patience for what we’re waiting for! It’s the negative side effects that we’re warning against here. And thanks for the typo tip!

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  8. Mathilde says:

    Reader from Denmark here and I think this is a great article as always. I would however make the claim that sometimes simplicity has great value – at least for a season. Or maybe it is just because I read essentialism when you write minimalism. Which it not quite the same but still. I’m not sure I’m your target reader as a 22 year old woman, staying at home while my husband works because I’m too sick to do anything else (with all the rest I’m getting better). I have limited time in a day compared to others and I think that have taught me a very important lesson young: you don’t need to do it all. All around me I see young people who haven’t spend the time getting a clear direction or a clear idea of what they want so they do it all. And we can’t do it all. So I have found it hugely beneficial to use a lot of time getting rid of all the stuff (read beliefs, routines, ideas etc) that’s not pivotal to my purpose. I have a very clear idea of how my day looks and how my “processing system” is working. And my days are simplistic. And that makes me capable to do more. To take on the hard stuff because I have a simple basic system that works no matter how complicated life gets.

    Because I have spent my life, albeit a short one, trying to do more than I could. Trying to do stuff just because it is there and not considering if it actually needs to be done. I know I’m in an extreme situation but sometimes extreme situations make essential things clear because all the layers are off.

    My husband and I have also avoided the “bying frenzy” you can get in when your young and need/want a lot of stuff because you start from scratch. That’s because we are okay living a simple life in regard to stuff and when we had fulfilled our list of “essentials” we are content not buying more. I’m sure you support that but I would argue it a form of minimalism.

    You probably didn’t mean any of this when you wrote it and sorry for maybe assuming something but it just sounded like minimalism (or essentialism) has no place in this would and I think it has.

    Thank you so much for always making great content.

    Reply
    • Thank you so much for sharing this, Mathilde! It was incredibly insightful to me and I really appreciate your perspective. I soak up perspective and need to hear it often! I totally agree that we are all SO good at either overcompensating or undercompensating for character we’re trying to build, and neither are good! We can either get too lazy or far too obsessed with chasing a hundred dreams at once. Both are maddening and I so enjoy hearing your peace and wisdom. And I pray for healing and rejuvenation for you!

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  9. I feel like I am in a good place as a Mom of a 7 and 9 year old. I am self-employed. My business is Web Design, I’ve been in business for over 13 years. I usually work off of word of mouth, I know lazy! lol …I do want more and I can help a lot more people than I do and be out and about in the world instead of behind my computer mostly. My husband wants more from his career as well, possibly a side venture. He is living in the corporate world, makes good money for our mid 30’s we feel we are doing pretty good now but we are both dreamers! I am so grateful for what we have..so I most certainly don’t want the non-stop needy type of life. My concern is I don’t want us stressed out with overwhelming work flow. In closing, we want to grow. We want to live abundantly, we are professionals and we can do it! Just don’t really know where to start?

    Reply
    • Hey Jen. Great place to be. Good questions to ask. As long as your priorities are straight, go fast and go far.

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  10. Leah says:

    Beautifully convicted. Thank you.

    Reply
  11. LINDSAY says:

    Just wanted to share that I just finished you and Victoria’s book and I LOVED it. I’m a stay at home Mom and homemaker but I really needed this in my life right now. I totally agree with what V says in the book – this season is for motherhood but I’d like to think I’m a little more. Your book really did lead me on a journey and I ended with a vision in my head for a BIG dream I’m starting to pursue now. Thank you for all of your thought-provoking and insightful words.

    Reply
    • This is why we’ve written it, Lindsay! I’m so glad you’ve caught a vision and are running with it. I love hearing that! So encouraging. Keep crushing. 🙂

      Reply
  12. Jaime says:

    Definitely stuck! 🙁 Praying for purpose…

    Reply
    • You are not alone in that, Jaime. Read some books, listen to podcasts, and try to pour inspiration and learning into your daily routine. Pray through what you learn and already know about yourself. Pray through what would or could already be holding you back. And, perhaps most importantly, bring a couple trusted people into the conversation and prayer.

      Reply
    • Mona says:

      I’m in the same boat Jamie, but I love this article and will grab the book as well. I feel horribly stuck as a new mom with many visions. But without help and support, I feel like this road is endless. I am a proud mom, but I am missing something in my life right now. I hope to find a great coach to help me out of my messy lifestyle right now.

      Reply
  13. Mik says:

    It’s really odd that you posted this today. In the past week or so I’ve felt very disatissfied with the status quo in my life. I have the energy and drive to do more, but have no idea what direction to put it in.

    I am passionate about helping people realize that the-9-5-with-an-affordable-mortgage life isn’t all that we can aspire to. That we can do more and be happier. But I guess I haven’t figured that part out for myself yet either. lol

    Reply

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