From Whining to Winning in 3 Steps


Discontent with life, with career, with anything, may mean you can’t rest yet, and need to continue down the path to success, content, and happiness.

You have to be careful though, and differentiate the ‘stalled’ whining from its bubbly ‘turbulent’ cousin. In the first kind, you are expending energy expressing discontent, but do not make an effort to address it. Worse yet, you are expecting someone else to address it (family/friend/organization/government?). This way you will not get anywhere, and get stuck in this whirlpool of negativity that will eventually suck all the critical positive energy out of you.

However, whining – if combined with an effort to find solutions to alleviate it – can be healthy for growth. Most people will say: she’s a constant whiner. She will never get anywhere. But what they do not understand is that each one of us is different. We are all unique individuals, with an exotic mix of personalities, values, behaviors, prejudices, and a constantly changing perspective of the world around. One cannot be expected to ‘conform’ to a template lifestyle. Not everyone can be a happy camper loving everything around them all the time. The same way, not everyone can be discontent with everything everywhere all the time either. Most of us fall somewhere in between these two ends of discontent.

So, what can you do about it? Ask yourself these three questions:

Q.1. Is there anything you can do to change your perception of the discontent?

Perception is reality. See if you can look at the situation a bit differently. Most adverse conditions lose the ginormity with time – because time reduces uncertainty and unknowns, the primary source of anxiety and helplessness. Give it some time, and do a gut check again: is it really as bad as you had thought?

Q.2. Is there anything you can change that is in your control, to address the discontent?
Keep in mind that personality cores, and your value system are some of the hardest things to change. Behaviors can be modified with conscious work, but it takes effort – sometimes a lot of it. Make new friends or relationships if you can. Revisit an old hobby you buried – painting/writing/sports/travel. Also remember that the source of discontent is not static – it will keep moving. So one solution may will not apply forever.

Q.3. Is there any help you can get to change some of the causing factors that are not in your control?
Notice that now you are moving away from your magic space of certainty (that YOU control) to an open land of uncertainty. This is a very bold step – the bravest of them all. It shows you are ready to

–  let go of command,
– admit to vulnerability of the situation, and
– trust others with it.

You will have lesser control over the outcome, and will need to exercise more influence than command to effect any change.

Say you answered all these questions, and still have the same gut feel about the situation. Instantly, you are not a whiner anymore. You are a winner. Because you will create an opportunity and the courage to effect a change. Today. Here. Right now.

Step up, and take action. Change your surroundings.

Stand up, face the reality, thank your surroundings for the realization, and walk. Walk away.

As much important it is to find a stable plateau and cruise in bliss, you owe it to yourself to get up, and sprint to climb those distant mountains, and to keep doing it until your answer to the first question (Q.1. above) is YES.

Rock on then, and share away your thoughts and experiences below as comments!

Note: The words above are by the author of this blog.

(All words below, are from a different blog talking specifically about discontent in careers, that partly inspired this post.)

In many cases, the intense soul-search is not as effective as just going out and trying jobs until you find one you like. We are not very good at guessing what we’ll like, according to Daniel Gilbert, Harvard psychologist and author of the book, Stumbling on Happiness. He recommends that instead of philosophizing about career passion, just try a lot of jobs to find one that makes you happy.

Once you find that passion, it’s enticing to keep doing the same thing that you’re good at; the work world encourages this, because once people know you are good at something, they will ask you to do it all the time. But after a while, your learning curve plateaus, your personal growth sputters, and then your passion dissipates.

Maister says each of us has three modes: Dynamo, loser and cruiser. The first two are when you are doing something – getting a lot accomplished or failing – and both are important for growth. We all cruise, too, but “the trick is to have a system around you where you don’t let yourself cruise for too long,” says Maister.

So how do you do that? Force yourself out of your comfort zone and try something new. Once you accept that success and failure are both worthy avenues of personal development, it’s easy to understand the importance of trying new things, and risking that they’ll be bad ideas.

Image source.


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