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Dissatisfaction motivates growth. Or is it vice versa?

Never be satisfied with what you have achieved in life. Being dissatisfied at all times is a route to grow and attain much more. For many, dissatisfaction acts as a motivator. While this model works, there is a very big problem with it because we as humans think that not feeling pleasure (dissatisfaction) is a pre-requisite to getting more.

Dissatisfaction with possession and achievement is one of the requisites to further achievement. 

John Hope
Personal satisfaction is the most important ingredient of success.

Denis Waitley 
Both these statements are quite convincing and most people would tend to agree with both if read separately. The first statement infers that being dissatisfied with what you have is necessary for achieving success while the second statement infers that satisfaction is the most important factor in your success. This is the irony and the problem arises when they are read together. Then, they start appearing to be contradictory.

The problem is that the human mind is the greatest learning device on earth. Human beings don’t just learn intentionally but also learn without having a conscious desire to learn. Repeated patterns solidify into models of how things should be and consequently drive behaviour and ultimately, life itself. By constantly motivating themselves using dissatisfaction, their mind forms generalisations.

The generalisation thus made is what we might call a belief and the beliefs formed in this case could be – ‘growth happens only when you are dissatisfied with what you have’ or ‘to be satisfied means to stagnate and die’ or ‘never be satisfied’ and so on. Therefore the minds of such people equate dissatisfaction as a precondition for growth and in turn this belief pattern never allows these people to feel fully satisfied and happy with their achievements. What is the use of achievement then if you are never going to be satisfied and happy after achieving what you wanted?

The term satisfaction too is often misunderstood and therefore warrants an explanation. It is often seen as a passive if not entirely negative state of mind. For most people satisfaction is akin to sitting and doing nothing. Many people equate satisfaction with being in a comfort zone and an unwillingness to venture out of this zone. I have also heard statements like ‘you can be satisfied when you retire but never be satisfied before that’ or ‘people who are easily satisfied do not amount to much in life’.

The oxford dictionary defines satisfaction as the fulfilment of one’s wishes, expectations, or needs or the pleasure derived from this. So if we understand this with the help of an example it would be ‘making a million dollars and enjoying the achievement’. The ‘feeling good’ about the achievement is really more important than the achievement itself because even a million dollars have no meaning unless they are used for an objective that gives pleasure or fulfilment. However when somebody uses dissatisfaction as a motivator, their mind overrides or shuts down their ability to feel the pleasure to its fullest extent as it has learnt that not feeling the pleasure (dissatisfaction) is a pre-requisite to getting more.

This method of motivation is popular and it works. The world is full of people who have attained much in worldly terms using this formula. The bad news however is that there is a down side to this achievement; a very massive down side. By never being satisfied with whatever they have achieved, these people are never really able to feel satisfied and happy to the fullest extent about achieving anything no matter how big the achievement is because there is always something bigger to be achieved. Therefore, while they achieve a lot on the outside, they have very little to show for it on the inside. Emotional fulfilment by way of feeling satisfied and happy is missing which ironically is the ultimate aim of any achievement in the first place.

What is the way out of this trap then? Is there a solution where one can achieve and grow a lot in life and at the same time retain the ability to feel satisfied and happy? The answer is yes! It is possible but takes a little understanding and practice. One has to cultivate the ability to enjoy the PROCESS of achievement. This is possible when one does not go after achievements thinking of the process as the dark tunnel with light only at the end of it. Enjoying the process is possible when one is truly going after what one loves doing and is passionate about it.

There are many advantages of doing things this way. To start with, happy and satisfied people are generally more resourceful and productive than their unhappy or unsatisfied peers. There is a lot of research which shows that being happy or satisfied in many ways makes a person ‘fire on all cylinders’ and thereby greatly enhances ones potential and ability. Secondly, one is better able to deal with any problems or stumbling blocks that may come up. Lastly but most importantly, the feverishness that may be associated with the outcome is greatly reduced or almost eliminated. This way the mind does not learn to equate satisfaction with stagnancy or complacency.

It is difficult to let go of deeply engrained patterns and learning’s that have been instilled and reinforced since childhood. However if you are somebody who has been using dissatisfaction as a motivator and have faced the consequences and have felt the void by never really feeling satisfied or happy about your achievements, maybe it is time to start changing your model and start doing things differently from now on.

A simple thing to begin doing would be to start celebrating the little victories that you have while on course to a bigger goal. While this sounds simple, it can have a profound effect on how you go after your achievements and has great self motivational potency. A celebration is a small reward you give yourself for having done well. This is turn makes you feel good about what you have done and makes you want to do more or even better.  Go on then. Celebrate!

About sachinthombare

Sachin Thombare is a hypnotist, a master practioner of Neuro Linguistic Programming and Gestalt therapy. He is the creator of the Subtle Skills™ training platform and trains corporate clientele on enhancement of human potential. Sachin is also an intervention based coach who specialises in turnaround strategies.

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