Fun Fact: I was passed over for a promotion three times. Each time was just as disappointing as the previous time, but the worst was when I was asked to train the person who got the promotion instead of me. So, I know what it means to be disappointed and even slightly embarrassed in your career.
But, unfortunately, no matter how much you try to shoo it away or prevent it, disappointment has its way of finding you and inviting its way into your space. It’s like an unannounced family member who just shows up at your door whenever they want.
And, you’ve probably already experienced your fair share: maybe you didn’t get that promotion you know you were qualified for, too. Or, maybe you’ve gotten so many no’s in your job search you can’t help but feel disappointed in yourself. Or, maybe you worked so hard on a project, or to close a new client, and things fell through and you can’t help but feel the heaviness of disappointment.
How do you bounce back when you can’t see past the cloud in front of you? Lucky for you, there’s a way. I’ve learned that if you let it, disappointment can fuel your career to new levels, but you must be willing to do these four things.
Acknowledge the Disappointment
You know the worst thing you can do for yourself when you’re hit with disappointing news? Act like it didn’t happen. I heard someone once say that avoiding disappointment is like sending your emotions to the basement to lift weights. Acting like you’re fine and dandy and like everything is perfect doesn’t make your feelings disappear, it delays them. Of course, this isn’t about throwing a tantrum and outwardly being unprofessional. This is about being honest with yourself and allowing yourself a quiet moment to acknowledge defeat.
When you give yourself the space to digest the unexpected outcome, rather than avoid your disappointment, you may find that all you needed was 15 minutes to recognize your feelings and let them go. On the contrary, moving right along without taking time to sit with yourself could cause you to repeat the same mistake over and over – or make more mistakes, until you decide to acknowledge your frustration.
Change Your Perspective
Once you acknowledge your disappointment, you must be willing to change your perspective. Sometimes things happen outside of our control, and sometimes things happen because we dropped the ball. There’s a difference and it’s important to decipher which factor led to our disappointment. If it happened because it was out of your control, then you have to release control and stop blaming yourself for something that would’ve happened regardless. You can’t beat yourself up or take something personally if it had nothing to do with you.
On the other hand, if it happened because you dropped the ball and could do better, then rather than throw yourself a pity party, you must take responsibility for your part in the matter and figure out what you can do differently next time to get better results.
You always have a choice between scarcity and abundance. Scarcity says, “This was my one shot. This was the one opportunity for me. And, now it’s over for me.” Abundance recognizes that there are limitless possibilities and limitless opportunities out there. Abundance considers other ways to move forward. Abundance knows that sometimes no means no, but sometimes no means not yet. Abundance thinks, “Maybe I didn’t get that job, but there are other companies out there who are looking for my skills and expertise.” Abundance makes room for other choices. Whenever you’re faced with disappointment, if you choose to embrace abundance rather than scarcity, you’ll discover there’s always another route or another option.
Find the Lesson
Sometimes disappointment comes to humble us and teach us a lesson we may not have learned or paid attention to otherwise. Sometimes disappointment is life’s way of waking us up and letting us know that it’s time to stop playing small and being so comfortable. If we let disappointment make us bitter, stagnant, or resentful, we’ll miss out on the keys we need to enter new doors in our careers. We must be willing to take a step back, take our emotions out of the equation and ask ourselves, “What can I learn from this?”
For instance, maybe you keep getting disappointed in your job search because the way you’re presenting yourself in your applications isn’t the best way to showcase you’re the best for the job. Maybe, you didn’t get the promotion because you didn’t know how to advocate for yourself and show the results you’ve achieved for your company, and you needed to realize that’s a skill you still have to learn. Or, maybe you didn’t get the promotion or the job or the client, or whatever you wanted because life wanted to show you that those things were too small for you and that you could be doing more. If you take a moment to find the lesson, you may learn that your moment of disappointment was sent to help you discover a different approach or a new direction.
When you look at disappointment from this lens, it’s guaranteed to fuel your career because you open yourself up to new possibilities instead of closing yourself off and nursing your shame. Of course, part of pressing forward is taking time to acknowledge how you feel, but afterward, you must change your perspective, embrace abundance and find the lesson if you want to propel your career to new heights.