“I am the same person I was last year.” 15 years ago, I realized that statement was a dubious accomplishment. Twelve months had gone by, and I had little to show for it. I hadn’t moved forward. I was stagnant.
Characteristics of a Stagnant Pond:
- It has nothing flowing in or out.
- It becomes overgrown with algae.
- It becomes poison.
- It stinks.
- It is abandoned.
In honor of Steven Covey, who recently passed away, here is a list of seven bad habits that cause stagnation. Some are my habits and some are ones I have witnessed. I will leave it up to you to guess which are mine.
7 Habits Of Highly Stagnant People
1. The Snooze Button
The snooze button has murdered good intentions for decades. “I will get up early and workout, read, pray, study….” Behind every unrealized personal growth goal, lies an overworked snooze button.
I know that the Not Top 10 Plays is on again. But, do I really need to see it for the 4th time? Here is something I realized: The highlights don’t change from one hour to the next. Plus, there is very little difference between the 11:00 PM SportsCenter and the 6:00 AM SportsCenter the next morning.
3. Words With Friends
Be it Xbox or Words With Friends these seemingly harmless escapes from the world around us take time. They add very little to our lives except more entertainment. If I want to grow this year, do I really need more entertainment options?
4. Talk Radio
For those of us who have a lot of windshield time, talk radio can be a constant companion. But I submit that listening to the rants, raves and opinions of pundits for hours, everyday does little to build our own intellectual bank account. Instead of being able to recite Sean Hannity’s opinion on a topic, I would like to be able to articulate my own opinions.
The bane of this generation’s intellectual growth is often spending hours watching for life updates from former high school classmates and professional athletes. The daily ritual of repeatedly checking in on Facebook to read about another person’s day does little to keep us moving forward with our lives.
6. Pulp Fiction
What do Quentin Tarrantino, Us, People, and Dragon Tattoos have in common? They are all sources of Pulp Fiction. Reading fictional novels like the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is not a bad thing. I love a good Vince Flynn novel. But when the only reading I do is gossip about another person’s life and fantasy novels, is there any surprise that I end up where I started 12 months ago?
7. 25 Hour Days
“I just wish I had more time.” Get over it. Today, tomorrow and July 20, 2023 will all have only 24 hours. I have time for what I prioritize. So whatever I am doing instead of investing in my growth is obviously a bigger priority for me.
None of these seven things are bad for us in and of themselves. The problem is when they become a habit. If I am habitually involved in any of these pursuits, I am well on my way to stagnation.
The Bottom Line:
I am in control of my growth. If I am not growing as a man, a father, or a leader, it is my fault. I realized 15 years ago that I needed to make different choices and create new habits if I did not want to live a life characterized by stagnation.
Characteristics of A Running Stream:
- It has fresh water flowing in and out.
- Its clarity and its depth are obvious.
- It is life sustaining.
- It doesn’t stink.
- It attracts others who are thirsty and hungry.
To be like a fresh running stream versus a stagnant pond, I must consistently absorb fresh information and then share it with others. The best way I know to avoid stagnation is to read, listen to books while I drive, learn from mentors and then share my new thoughts with others.
I realize now that my choices determine whether I am a stagnant pond or a running stream.
What habit do you need to eliminate allow for more opportunities to grow?