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Melissa Schmalenberger, Published March 27 2014

Ms. Simplicity: Now’s the time to stop complaining and take action

I recently heard an African proverb, “As you pray, move your feet,” and it really struck a chord with me. One of my pet peeves is a person who complains yet does nothing to change their circumstances.

I am not someone who can listen to someone complain for hours about how they have the world’s worst case of plantar fasciitis. Tell me once and let’s move on.

There is no award for having the worst of something. I can empathize for you, but after 20 minutes, I am going to get bored. I’m happy to problem-solve with you or strategize on ways to improve your situation. But if you are complaining to complain, I am not your girl.

Something that you may or may not know about me is that I am a girl of action. If I want something, I go for it. If I don’t like how something is working in my life, I try to change it. We can pray, wish, dream and meditate all we want. But if we don’t take action, our circumstances will unlikely change.

I remember the story of the shipwrecked man who prayed for God to save him. A fisherman came upon him and told him to get in his boat. The man declined, saying he was waiting for God to save him. The man soon died. When entering heaven, the man asked God why he didn’t save him. God’s response was that he tried – he sent a fisherman in a boat. This is a great example of how we need to take action.

When I walk into clients’ homes, I am reminded that they are afflicted with what I like to call “analysis paralysis.” Meaning they are overthinking the situation so much that they don’t know where to start, so they simply never start.

But what if you don’t know where to turn or where to start?

Ask for help. Start by asking a question to a trusted friend about how you are not sure where to turn for guidance. See if that friend has suggestions.

Don’t like how our government or certain politicians operate? Volunteer for a candidate’s campaign or simply take the time to become more educated on the workings of our political system.

Are you frustrated with your job? Can you start seeking some education to give you the confidence to improve your situation? Meet with a career counselor to see what options you have. By simply asking, you may be surprised what is out there.

Not happy with your personal relationships? If a relationship is toxic or abusive in any way, seek outside guidance. However, if it is simply a person not being nice, can you distance yourself from that person? Or can you be kinder to that person and take the time to find out what is making that person unhappy?

Less than thrilled how your kid’s school or your place of worship is being run? Get involved, and serve on a committee. See how things are being done and try to have a positive impact.

Years ago, I was told by a friend that we vote with our feet. Meaning, that what we support we show up for. This was probably the best advice I received. I try hard to not sit back and complain. Instead I try to get involved.

If I see a cool thing to attend, I RSVP and say yes. I don’t ignore the request and wait for something better to come along. Accept that invitation and show up! I have met really interesting people by saying yes and showing up.

What would happen if we all started showing up instead of complaining? My guess is that we could rid the world of poverty and also figure out world peace!

I challenge you to take action this week. Stop complaining. Stop overanalyzing and get moving. Stop saying you want to lose weight but then continue to tell yourself you are too fat to go to a gym – you aren’t.

You also don’t need the perfect outfit. There is no excuse. Call that doctor to take care of your plantar fasciitis once and for all. Oh, and you may need to follow instructions and do the exercises.


Ms. Simplicity, also known as Melissa Schmalenberger, operates her business as I Did it with Ms. Simplicity. She is a professional organizer based out of Fargo. Email her at melissa@mssimplicity.com.