Wrestling with Discontent


“If I am not moving forward, I know I am sliding backwards.” That’s a cliche for many, but it’s a foundational truth for me. Some label it discontent, or ungratefulness, others personal growth. I have come to the realization it can be both a lack of gratitude or a great opportunity to grow and reaching new personal heights. The difference has everything to do with our motivation.


No one would ever accomplish greatness without challenging the status quo. The inner drive to take us beyond where we have been, beyond our own perceived limitations comes from within, and I believe is from God. But even this part of our divined-inspired nature can be corrupted. In this case, replacing our God-given drive to become better at who we and what we do, to grow, and even accomplish the impossible with the search for happiness and significance is the difference between personal growth and ungrateful discontent.

Please, don’t settle. Keep pushing. But also realize that there is not a pot of gold at the end of your personal-accomplishments rainbow that will make you happy. Our achievements cannot do that. While they can bring a certain amount of joy into our lives, their enjoyment is temporary at best. Soon we’ll find ourselves discontent, yet again.

Recently I was struggling with some of my personal goals. I finally had an honest conversation with myself and began examining the motivation behind them. I had put too much weight on the pay off, knowing that even if I accomplished all of them, they could never give me the satisfaction I needed.

Have you ever pursued something (even a someone) that turned out to be a disappointment? How did it impact you?

  • “too much weight on the payoff”  –  wow.  That phrase hit me hard.  So true – it’s a fine line between pursuing what God wants us to improve and what *we* think should be improved. 

    Thank you. Great food for thought this morning…

    • That has always been my problem: expecting too much from things that are not designed to make us happy.

  • Yes. Although it wasn’t the thing I achieved that was disappointing, but the side affects. I made sacrifices to complete an MBA, but it came at the expense of time w/ friends and family. As a result I feel like I missed out on a lot. It will take some time to reap the full benefits of grad school, but right now I’m trying to focus on relationships.

    • Hopefully you can make some gains in your relationships now that school is over.

  • Dave

    Yep, you’re right on target. I’ve waited 49 years for the moment when I can say “I’ve arrived”. Now I realize there is no point of arrival (short of heaven). It is a “journey”, to use a popular cliche – it is a process. But yes, I agree that discontentment is a balancing act between self-improvement and contrarianism.

    I continue to seek after that balance, as I can tell you do as well….

    • Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I love “contrarianism”. I’m going to use it somewhere soon

  • The last few years, I’ve had friends and well-meaning Christians tell me I just need to be content with what God has given me. I do agree, to an extent, but I’m like you – I want to continue moving forward, pursuing better things, not for some perceived satisfaction but because I want to continue growing. I finally had to tell these people that no one in their right mind would be content being on unemployment and working a part-time job that a college student normally fills. Is it my life right now? Yes. Am I going to be content in it? No. Because I don’t want to stay working a job that doesn’t use my skills, talents and passions and thinks it’s a best use of my time and energy to hang posters than to help develop the college’s marketing department (something I have 9 years experience doing).

    Not really on topic with your question, but something I’ve wrestled with about being discontent the last 2.5 years.

  • Anonymous

     I have always been a very goal oriented person, highly driven to succeed but I never felt the satisfaction of accomplishing my goals.  I thought it was because before one project was  finished I was already pursuing another.  It wasn’t until my son was born that I learned what true contentment and joy was.  I have never been happier.  I thank God my son has taught me to slow down and enjoy the small wonders in life.  Nothing I have ever done compares to being his mom!

  • My problem is not disappointment. My problem is chasing squirrels that take me away from my main objective. http://www.randybeckett.com

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