Stop Whining About Your Career and Start Over

Try this exercise: on a blank sheet of paper, keep all your skills and experiences, but write down a new direction for your career and your business. What will you do differently?


The shake-up following the Great Recession has been proffered as an opportunity to reassess our financial regulatory system and our national economic priorities. It’s also a golden opportunity to examine your own career priorities. You should take into account pillars of your personal economics that have been knocked down as well as the ways you can negotiate this new landscape.

Consumers and companies are changing the way they behave in the marketplace, mostly as regards how they spend money. Savings is the trend and everyone — individual and organization alike — is being selective in terms of what they invest in.

…and so where do you go from here?

Establish NWR

To start with, stop whining about what’s happened. Start playing.

This fall I coached a 9-year-old boys’ soccer team. Two nights a week, we practiced for 90 minutes. Most of the time we played short-sided games of four versus four with makeshift goals. For the first five practices the boys spent a lot of time whining about what position each wanted to play and whether or not a shot was really a goal. Fifteen minutes into the fifth practice, I announced, “We are establishing NWR.” The boys stared at me with stunned looks on their faces.

One boy finally said, “What is that?”

I said, “NWR stands for the No Whining Rule. You are no longer allowed to whine about what position you’re playing or whether or not we say a shot is a goal. Whatever the referee (who is one of the coaches) calls, that’s what we’re going to go with.” Suddenly the boys just focused on playing soccer, and the practices became a lot more enjoyable and much more productive.

As adults, we need to practice NWR. If I whine to myself about something for 15 minutes, I wasted those 15 minutes. If I whine to another person for 15 minutes, I wasted 30 minutes: 15 of mine and 15 of hers. If I whine to nine people for 15 minutes, then that’s 150 minutes of wasted productivity. This whining thing can pile up very quickly. I think a lot of us whine too much.

Whining and complaining and criticizing have even become big business. Some of the highest-paid radio and cable television announcers essentially spend their entire on-air time whining about this issue or that one. I’m not talking about people who are focused on improving a shortcoming. I’m talking about people who simply use up their time complaining about stuff that they are not working toward improving. Imagine a huge crowd is cheering you on with, “Stop whining, start playing.”

Is there a possibility that you are wasting time and energy whining about some aspect of your existence, like your career, that is keeping you from making the necessary changes to become more effective? Is your organization steadily hurting its own productivity by whining about something it can’t control?

Stop and Start Over

I offer this advice in my articles about every 18 months and it’s time to do it again.

Take out a blank sheet of paper and redesign your career and your business. You get to keep all of the knowledge, skills and experience that you have accumulated in your lifetime. But you don’t have to keep doing anything the way you are currently doing it. Knowing what you know now and being given the opportunity to start your career or your organization over again from scratch, what will you do to generate the results you want both in your career and in your organization?

Write down exactly what you will do going forward. Do not feel compelled to continue doing what you have always done in the past. Feel free to do whatever you think is the best thing for you to do at this point in time.

Knowing what you know now with all of your experiences and skills in place, what are you going to do to generate sustainable success?

Write your answers on a blank sheet of paper, and then execute your plan as well as you can.