The Little White Lie (You Know The One), That Keeps People Stuck In The Middle Class

There are six words that I think are most responsible for keeping people stuck in the middle class. Six little words that hold more people back. Six words that have the power to keep people right where they are…for life.

It’s not “I did not have any opportunities.” Hardly.

It’s not “I did not have the time.” Please.

Those words are nothing compared to the real words that constrain people to the middle class. You see, the real limiting words are clever phrases of self-deception. They are lies that are conveniently worded to make them sound good, but that cover up the real truth.

And what are those six bad words?

It’s this – “I just want to be comfortable.” Or their evil twin, “I just want to have balance.”

These are the pet phrases of the middle class. But what they really are is code for an inconvenient truth. The real truth behind those phrases is this – “I want more out of life, but I’m not willing to put in any additional effort to get it. I would rather stay where I’m at and be less that I’m capable of, if it means that I have to endure even the slightest discomfort to get ahead.”

The myth of “just being comfortable” gets shattered

Well, today I’m going to shatter the myth of “just wanting to be comfortable” and expose it for the white lie that it truly is.

To get started, I have a few questions for you:

Does it feel comfortable, when you don’t go after your true desires? Do you feel comfortable knowing that you are capable of more and just aren’t doing it? Does it feel comfortable when you feel that pang of jealousy when you see someone else doing what you know you should, and could, be doing? Do you say to yourself, “When I feel that biting pang of jealousy, I feel so comfortable!” The answer is obviously no.

Myth busted.

You see, there’s a popular belief that we live in a moment where many ordinary people are doing extraordinary things. That’s simply not true. The real truth, and greater tragedy, is this – we live in a moment where extraordinary people are just doing ordinary things.

What’s going on here? Let me explain.

Many people that are in the middle class today were either born directly into the middle class or within close proximity of it. That’s a function of the prosperity of this great country – the middle class has swelled to become the largest income class.

But there’s a problem that plagues many in the middle class and it’s this – settling. It happens like this –they start off in a comfortable middle class environment, they go to a comfortable school and get a comfortable degree that earns them a comfortable living. And then they just… settle.

That comfortable six figure salary affords them all the comforts of life – a decent house, two cars, college educations for their children, and a maybe a hobby or two. Life is good. But is it?

The middle class has been taken over

Here’s the problem – the middle class has not grown so much as that it has been taken over. It’s been combined with the lower income class to form one larger class. You see, real (adjusted for inflation) middle class income has been on a steady decline since peaking in 1999.

If it feels like you are not getting ahead, it’s because you are not getting ahead. Those paltry 3% annual raises that companies give in the good years, are offset with no raises or layoffs in the slow years. The result is no net gain, or worse, declines in real net income.

The problem is this – There’s nothing like a six figure salary to lull people into thinking they have the good life. After all, they aren’t living under a bridge and their children aren’t going hungry. So, they are doing alright…they think.

But Bill Gates said it best when he said “a little bit of success is a terrible teacher.” He’s right. Complacency is a killer to success. It can make a person want to do just enough to stay where they are, but not so much as to cause any discomfort.

T. Harv Eaker, said it best in his great book “The Secrets Of The Millionaire Mind.” He explained this middle class malady perfectly using a cake analogy:

Poor people don’t believe they deserve cake, so they order a doughnut, focus on the hole, and wonder why they have “nothing.”

Rich people believe “You can have your cake and eat it too.”

And what about the middle class?

Middle class people believe “Cake is too rich, so I’ll only have a little piece.”

You see, just enough cake to be comfortable, but not one bite more of the good life.

So, they tell themselves a lie – that they just want to stay right where they are – comfortable. When in reality, they want more but they’re not willing to do the extra work to get there.

But the problem is this – “being comfortable” isn’t as safe and rewarding as they thought it might be. The downsizing, the layoffs, and the re-leveling exercises shake them out of their cocoon. The cost of living keeps going up but their income stays the same. They look at their bank balance after all these years and realize that they’ve went exactly nowhere.

So here’s the point of today’s essay – life doesn’t stand still. It’s a constantly moving parade. You are either in it, or your getting left behind. You weren’t designed to be complacent.

Your willingness to be a little uncomfortable in order to achieve all that you are capable of, is directly related to how you end up in life. You see, the uncomfortableness is there to accelerate your progress, not to hold you back.

“I have news for you: Your pride will lie to you. It will tell you that you are doing just fine in life and that you should just relax. But know this – the bank account never lies.”

I have news for you: Your pride will lie to you. It will tell you that you are doing just fine in life and that you should just relax. But know this – the bank account never lies.

If you are not where you need to be financially, where you know that are capable of being, then my advice to you is to drop the “comfortable” and “balance” talk and do this…

Get hungry again.

You see, it is hunger for the life that you deserve, that will drive you to find new answers. New ways. New opportunities for success. As Roosevelt said, it is the man in the arena that is truly living, not the spectators. And to be in the arena, you must be hungry.

Remember, great conquest demands uncomfortableness and imbalance. The truth about success is that you’re going to have to do quite a few uncomfortable things that other people just won’t consider doing. But isn’t that the hallmark of those that have achieved greatness? – They were willing to do what others would not do, so that they could get what others do not have.

To get the better life, you have to put yourself in a position where the idea of a better life and your audacious dreams bring you to your feet and stir an unrest in you. You have to sign up for something so out of reach that you are forced to take your abilities to the next level.


Don’t avoid the things that you know you must do.

Don’t remain underdeveloped. Under-evolved. Stale. Stuck.

Greatness for those that just want to be comfortable is but a fantasy. They’ve been blinded by their own lies.

But not you.

You are willing to do what you need to do.

You are willing to do the work for greatness.

You are willing to do the things that hurt until you realize your full potential and get to the place where you can celebrate being the best you can be!

Be free. Nothing else is worth it.


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  • Christine Dow Coraccio

    Very well written. My only comment is that is should be T. Harv Eker not Harv Eaker.

    • Monty Campbell

      Hi Christine. Thanks for the compliment and for the note about T. Harv Eaker’s name. We corrected the spelling.

  • Ann

    What if I like nice things but I’m lazy? 🙂

    • Monty Campbell

      You may want to go into politics then Ann. Ha ha!

  • wesleysmoney

    The middle class think being comfortable means being happy, but the rich realize that extraordinary things happen when we put ourselves in uncomfortable situations.

  • barry

    Just wanting to be comfortable will no longer suffice, especially for Americans who haven’t been born with wealth or particular talents. More and more, education has become the key to moving up–from poverty into the middle class, from the middle class into affluence–or to holding onto the middle-class lifestyle in which one was raised.

    • Monty Campbell

      That’s right Barry. There’s plenty of people doing enough just to get by. That’s why the bottom is so crowded.

  • Susan

    “Does it feel comfortable when you feel that pang of jealousy when you see someone else doing what you know you should, and could, be doing?” Ouch! That hit close to home. I have to admit that I’ve used the life balance phrase a few times but I never thought of it like the way you’ve put it. I guess I need to remove that little phrase from my vocabulary. 🙂

    • Monty Campbell

      Don’t feel bad Susan. I think everyone has uttered those words. Good for you, for doing the self-reflection necessary to eliminate ideas that just don’t stand up to scrutiny.

  • victor

    Everyday, middle-class Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. Yet, many bemoan the slightest idea to get out of their comfort zones for some irrational fear that their life will somehow be “out of balance”. You’d think that we would be hearing of people dying left and right of imbalance with as much as we hear about life balance. Seems like it’s just a convenient excuse for some.

    • Monty Campbell

      I agree Victor. Fatigue, not comfort, is both the price and the evidence that we are doing all that we are capable of.

  • 97unamy

    You’ll never be happy if you’re always afraid of letting go of what is familiar! The problem is that you can’t grow when you are just focsed on being comfortable. You can only grow when you feel a little awkward.

    • Monty Campbell

      You got it 97unamy. You can’t get the prize without paying the price.

  • Ken

    Thanks for posting this Monty. We all seek things that reconfirm what we already believe and ignore or discount things not supporting of our worldview. This is a good reminder to ask ourselves the hard questions to make sure we aren’t fooling ourselves.

    • Monty Campbell

      Yes! If left untethered, the mind gets busy justifying what we want to believe…not necessarily what is true.

  • Emily Bost

    Thank you for dispelling this myth. It’s been a pet peeve of mine. People have sacrificed self-respect, happiness, and years of their time and energy in pursuit of “comfort”. Wanting to be “comfortable” can result in living less than a fulfilled life. People get so used to their ‘comfort zone’ that they never take a chance to pursue something more meaningful.

    • Monty Campbell

      That’s right Emily. The lives of the average are just that, average. Look around you and you are bombarded with mediocrity. People filled with regret, bitterness, dread, worry, and stress. That’s certainly not comfort.

  • benni

    So true. The bank account doesn’t lie. We manifest in our lives what we say to ourselves too.

    • Monty Campbell

      Yes. Aristotle said that we are what we repeatedly do.

  • mariaellow

    I hate you Monty. Just kidding. Sometimes it’s hard to look at the cold hard truth you post here but you’re right. I’m guilty of using the “just want to be comfortable” phrase. Although it sounded good when I’ve said it, something didn’t quite feel right each time it came out of my mouth. Thanks for opening my eyes a little today. This helps me put things into perspective.

    • Monty Campbell

      Ha ha. Thanks mariaellow! I realize that some of the things I mention on the blog are hard to take. But they are the truth as I know it. I could tell readers what they want to hear and in the short-term that may cause some of them to like me a little more. But in the long-term they would lose respect for me. I would rather be respected than liked so I tell it like it is. Besides, the world doesn’t need another conformist! 🙂