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Make friends with your dissatisfaction

Being dissatisfied can propel you to success rather than leaving you feeling stuck.

2 min read


Make friends with your dissatisfaction

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Dissatisfaction is a key driver of human motivation.

If humans were satisfied with one good meal or one good sexual encounter, the human race would not have survived.

In this regard, dissatisfaction is linked to natural selection, says Robert Wright, author of “Why Buddhism Is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment,” while speaking on NPR’s “Fresh Air.”

On a personal level, dissatisfaction drives people to push themselves to achieve goals. Consider this more of a personalized natural selection.

Channeling dissatisfaction can be a challenge. Here are three ways to make it work for you rather than against you.

  1. Accept dissatisfaction. Humans are not engineered to be blissful. We have to work to achieve it. Seeking to accept it and make it work for us is powerful.
  2. Channel it. Do something with your dissatisfaction. Feeling stuck in your career, consider acquiring new skills to improve your current lot, or embark in a new direction.
  3. Stoke it. Achieving your goal may take months or years. Big things take time to accomplish, whether it’s going back to school or developing a new skill. You will be tempted to quit. Let dissatisfaction with the current moment push you to keep going in your new direction.

Dissatisfaction is indeed a key driver of human survival. Making it work for us is a challenge that can, at times, be unsatisfying. However, in the end, using our temporary discomfort to achieve a chosen goal is very worthy.


John Baldoni is an internationally recognized leadership educator and executive coach. In 2018, Trust Across America honored him with a Lifetime Achievement Award in Trust. Also in 2018, named Baldoni a Top 100 Leadership Speaker. Global Gurus ranked him No. 22 on its list of top 30 global experts, a list he has been on since 2007. In 2014, named Baldoni to its list of top 50 leadership experts. He is the author of more than a dozen books, including his newest, “MOXIE: The Secret to Bold and Gutsy Leadership.”

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