They say, the only guarantees in life are death and taxes, but I’d like to add one: Disappointment. Feeling disappointed is a complex mix of emotions and can be challenging to manage or even understand. However, it is an important part of our professional and personal growth.

Some disappointments are small and quickly overcome, but there are occasions when the disappointments are significant or unexpected and we can have a hard time reconciling, resolving our feelings and moving on. We can get stuck and feel like our progress has been impeded. What then?

Overcoming disappointment is unique to each individual and circumstance. Here are five practical ideas that can help in the process:

  • Feel the Feels – The emotions that surface during times of disappointment need to be acknowledged. It’s okay to spend a moment and allow the emotions to be felt and reflected upon. Take a few hours to reflect on how you feel about the disappointment and calm your mind before reacting—this will help you adjust your perspective and allow for greater clarity.
    • Are your emotions appropriate for the level of disappointment?
    • Are you letting wayward thoughts cloud your judgement?
    • Are you taking criticism of a project or task as a personal attack?
  • Take a Step Back – It can be particularly helpful to reassess the reasons for disappointment from a broader and clearer perspective. This can allow us to evaluate what is most important and help us refocus our goals. Thinking too much in the short term, or not seeing the greater opportunities on the horizon, can stymie our progress.
    • Does this disappointment mean failure or new opportunity?
    • Is this disappointment temporary?
    • Does this matter on a larger scale?
  • Adjust Expectations – Setting unrealistic expectations can lead to disappointment and prevent us from growing and learning. On the flipside, setting expectations too low will lead to a lack of concern for the outcome. By setting high, yet attainable, expectations we can better assess the reality of a situation and make proper choices about how to move forward. Plus, attaining goals after hard work can be encouraging and motivating.
    • What are the expectations and how were they determined?
    • Are your expectations too narrowly focused or too rigid?
    • Are the expectations based on accurate information?
  • Learn the Lesson – Focusing solely on the disappointment can cause a loss in self-confidence and be demoralizing. By reshaping it into a learning experience we can better maintain our optimism. By asking ourselves why something didn’t succeed and not beating ourselves up about it, allows us to apply the lessons learned and work toward future success.
    • What can you learn from this experience?
    • What about this experience would help you change your approach the next time around?
    • What past experiences do you have that could help this time?

“Everything that has made humanity great came from setting high standards and having high visions for ourselves. There is nothing wrong with expecting a lot of ourselves. Having a learning mindset prevents you from being disappointed.” –  Brendon Burchard

  • Try Again – There are only two choices, give up or try again. While the temptation to give up can be great, take a breath, get up, dust yourself off and get after it again. The quickest path to success is as simple as trying again and again. The truest test of character is in experiencing disappointment yet continuing to try.
    • Are you taking all your shots?
    • What will it cost you to give it one more attempt?
    • How badly do you want this?

“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan

Learning to overcome disappointment is crucial in our development—both personally and professionally. Each disappointment whether large or small creates opportunities to grow, strengthen and refocus our goals. By increasing our resiliency and cultivating optimism we can better manage disappointments as they arise and quickly get back on the path to success.

And never, ever give up.

About Janet Jorgensen

After 15 years in the magazine business for local, regional and national titles, Janet Jorgensen ventured into freelance marketing consulting in 2014. She immersed herself into digital marketing, content marketing, and strategic planning for clients from small sole proprietor to large multi-national brands. Eventually, she started getting requests to consult on magazine publishing projects which evolved into providing custom magazines for both print and digital. In early 2017, SagaCity Media the parent company of Park City Magazine recruited Janet to take over as Publisher for their Utah market. She is currently the publisher of several of their titles including Park City Magazine, The Things to do Guide, The Menu Guide and Salt Lake Park City Bride & Groom Magazine. Janet also oversees several websites, a digital advertising agency and is launching an events division this fall. Janet is also an avid networker, home remodeler and classically trained vocalist who resides in West Jordan with her teenage daughter Hannah, her Westie named Baxter and a fish named Elvis.