On May 1st 2020, I started a 30 day no complaint challenge.
As you can guess, the goal of this challenge was to not complain for 30 consecutive days.
Some people who undertake this challenge restart the 30 days if they mistakenly complain at any stage. If I mistakenly complained, I preferred to just continue and strive not to complain again. Softcore, I know.
Inspiration to do it
Being quite a positive person by nature, I generally prefer to quietly try and solve my issues without mentioning them to others.
However, the idea of a 30 day no complaint challenge was introduced to me while listening to the Tim Ferriss podcast and he seemed to derive a lot of value from it, so I thought I’d give it a try.
The difference between complaining and simply acknowledging unfavourable things
On day one of the challenge, I realised that it was important to establish what a complaint actually was.
This occurred when I said, “it’s really bucketing down outside” and my roommates happily called me up on it.
We agreed that this could be construed as a complaint based on tone and how it’s expressed. For instance, if I had prefaced the statement with “ugh” and said “ugh, it’s really bucketing down outside.” That would be a definite complaint.
Whereas if I had said, “it’s really bucketing down outside, I will put on a jacket next time I leave the house.” Then I would be viewed as being solution based and not dwelling on the unfavourable circumstance.
So from there, we established that I could acknowledge when unfavourable things were happening. However I wasn’t allowed to dwell on them or use a tone that seemed frustrated with the circumstance.
Statements became “complaints” only when my words were no longer productive, informative or contributing toward a solution.
“Word choice determines thought choice”
The benefits of the 30 day no complaint challenge
If you can only speak about issues with a view to improving or fixing them, your mindset begins to adjust this way too. Or as Tim Ferriss puts it “word choice determines thought choice”.
Instead of complaining that a client was scope-creeping, I would either have to just do the extra work for free and move on with it – or mention the issue to the client and reach a solution from there.
On a morning walk with a friend, I mistakenly complained about Dublin Buses being extremely loud in the city centre. Usually we would have both dwelled on that for a while but now that complaining was no longer an option – we simply augmented our route to avoid noisy streets.
The unexpected result of not complaining
When making an effort to not complain and having explicitly defined what a complaint is – you become hyper-aware of others complaining.
It suddenly became incredibly draining to listen to someone complain. Perhaps because I had never been so explicitly aware when someone was complaining before.
Either way, I actively began to avoid conversations wherein someone would complain.
The most common complaints I heard were about:
– the weather
No complaining in the long-term
It only took a few days before it was very easy to avoid complaining entirely.
Even the thought of complaining quickly became very unappealing… so it looks like I won’t allow myself to begin complaining again for the foreseeable.
Having seen what a simple challenge can do to improve my thinking, I look forward to doing another 30 day challenge shortly. An easy one that I’m currently doing is the 30 day floss challenge.
Any suggestions for other challenges? Let me know 🙂