Acceptance vs complacency

I was recently reminded of the brilliant phrase, if you have one foot in the past and one in the future, you’re shitting on your present. The idea of acceptance, being here now, one day at a time is obviously a big part of the recovery process.

On the other hand, setting goals is supposed to be something that we do to move forward in our lives. And that involves a certain amount of reflection as well as thinking ahead.

I prefer trying to live in the present, accept life on the terms it gives me and deal with things as they come etc, but I do worry about becoming complacent. I don’t have a plan and don’t know what I want from the future, but I feel like I should have some direction, something to aim for. But in thinking about that I inevitably end up shitting where I’m standing.

Any thoughts on treading the line between acceptance and complacency? Or is it either/ or?


Great topic, I think short-term goals are great, especially for us who like instant (or at least speedy) gratification. Those goals can add up to a more future goal.
And the ‘shitting on the present’ - solid gold.

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Plans are OK I have plans but to achieve them you have to act in the now. If you don’t act now you will shit on your future instead. Everything starts here.

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I don’t know if its my age but Ive decided not to have long long term plans. Plans I had 30 years ago went out the window, 27 years ago.
Plans I made 15 years ago, went out the window 12 years ago.
Call me a cynic, but sod that for a game of soldiers! :joy:
I’ve got a light idea that I would like to get an employed job in a couple of years, just to top up my pension before I look to retire.
Unfortunately, the guys I work for keep adding work to my list.:joy:
My short term goal… Get over the Fan Dance in sub 4 hours.
As I said, don’t know if it’s my age or just the fact that I’m more cynical these days.


“If you don’t know where you want to be in five years, you’re already there”

It’s massively important to think about what you want your future to look like but that’s just the start. Then you need to list the skills you’ll need to make that future a reality. Then you’ll need to plan how many hours a day/week you’re going to spend to develop those skills. No plan means no development. I don’t think people can be truely happy unless they’re developing. If you are happy where you are then don’t do anything. Otherwise accept that your life is going to be all about hard work for the foreseeable future and embrace it.
Don’t feel too much pressure to get started but don’t wait too long either.


Thankyou so much for speaking my language.

Whether we like it or not, unless we die, the future is coming. Long term goals, short terms goals, 3 month plans, 6 month plans or 5 year plans are a sensible and controlled way to set goals, decide what your goals are and then make steps towards achieving them. I believe in a certain amount if living in the present but not to the extent where everything becomes a guessing game and dealing with whatever when whatever comes.

It’s really important for me to know where it is I want to be in a years time otherwise, why am I getting out of bed everyday? Why am I getting up and going and doing a job to earn money to do what with? For me, the decisions I make and the things I do in the moment are there to facilitate whatever it is I want to achieve later. There has to be something bigger than now, bigger than today and I have to be the one who gets me there. If I do nothing, am only ever grateful for the things I currently have have thats all… how can I hope to achieve new things if what I already have is good enough?

Wanting to plan, wanting to aim higher and having direction doesnt at all mean you are shitting on the present. It means you are using your ‘present’ as a platform to measure/gauge and achieve how far you need to shoot in order to get the best out of life… The present is great and there’s no harm in being in the present. But staying in the present is the easiest way to get left behind and inevitably miss opportunities to be in a better present if that’s what you strive for.

What do you want for yourself in a years time? Do you want to move? Do you want to be healthier? Do you want to have better relationship with others and yourself? None of that will happen by staying where you are now and being grateful with what you have. Gotta keep evolving, gotta keep planning, gotta keep looking ahead!! :slight_smile:

That being said, you may very well be happy with where you’re at and happy in the mindset of living in the right now. And if you’re happy with where you’re at, stay where you are! There is nothing wrong with being happy with where you’re at without feeling guilty about the future. :slight_smile:

If you prefer to let your tomorrow be dictated by your today, theres nothing wrong with that! I personally prefer to look at the day after tomorrow because I already sorta know what tomorrow is going to be like.


Interesting! This definitely is not how I live my life, but I am older and retired. I guess I see myself more as savoring my days…since I know I have already lived the vast bulk of them.

That said, I was never motivated by a concrete plan. I am much more of a go with the flow, be here now, woman.

We are all our own person, so how we deal with today and our future is unique to our selves as well.

Great question!


3 posts were merged into an existing topic: Derailment Void

Moved the milkman discussion. :sweat_smile:

Love this topic.

My short version after recent, long reflection: Being in the present versus pursuing long term goals/plans is a cycle. There should be steady, daily feedback between the two.


In everything in life be it recovery or just everyday normal living I feel it’s a balance of both for me personally I don’t live in the past butt gell I’m a gonna forget it as that’s when for me conplestancy rears its ugly head.xx


Thanks everyone, I need to take some time to read through all of these properly. Really appreciate the insights so far :pray::sparkling_heart:


Reviving this topic as it is something that keeps coming up for me. I had the opportunity to discuss it at a Recovery Dharma meeting this morning. It was a meditation class, talking about ‘the four contemplations that turn the mind’ - essentially finding the motivation for cultivating a regular meditation practice.

The second thought that turns the mind is that of impermanence. If we understand that change is inevitable then it follows that we should let go of attachment to difficult emotions and situations. Holding on and clinging to horrible things, creating a narrative around them magnifies them and contributes to the emotional distress we experience… Which brings us to the concept of accepting our reality as we face it.

I asked about this idea of a potential conflict between acceptance and complacency. The answer that came back really resonated with me. Accepting the realities of life doesn’t mean we have to accept injustice or unkindness (coming from ourselves or others). Simple as that!

I found that really helpful. Setting defined goals for an undefined future is hard for me to get my head around. It just opens the floodgates for a bazillion questions (what do I want? how do I work it out? why don’t I know? what’s wrong with me? how can I fix this?) which take up so much space in my head I believe them to be important… But actually they are just thoughts. They come and go. What is important to me now won’t be important in a week, a month, a year… And nothing in the future is guaranteed so it’s not worth wasting time agonising over it.

I know the future is uncertain and that is OK. The Buddhist approach is about finding the middle path (using the eight noble truths) - that feels like a pretty good goal to be aiming for.