Have you ever been disappointed? Likely you have. Most of us have because most of us have goals. The biggest disappointments tend to come when we are on a roll, moving right along toward an ample or exciting achievement. And then the dry spell hits, keeping us just shy of hitting the goal. Our momentum comes to a halt; we may even feel a sense of shock along with our disappointment. “How did this happen?” If you are envisioning one of these personal moments in your head, a big “Ugh!” sighs from your gut to your lips or you shake a fist. You’ve been there and you know what I am talking about.
Regardless of the size of a goal, falling just short can be disappointing. As optimistic and happy-go-lucky as you might be, you are human. It is okay to feel sad, frustrated, and let down. It’s more than okay – it is normal – and healthy. But when you are in for the long haul, and you are on a journey (not a destination) of success, you will discover a need to learn how to manage yourself in the area of disappointment. If you don’t learn this early on, you will continually let your situation defeat you rather than allowing yourself to defeat the situation.
The bad news is also the good news: Disappointment is part of the process.
If it were easy, everyone would be doing it, right? The things worth having most do not come easy; they test you, and sometimes they disappoint you. But they test & frustrate you so that they will become better, which means you will feel that much better when you do achieve those goals.
Coming off a recent “just-short-of-a-goal” moment, I’ve reflected on my 7 steps on how to discipline disappointment.
- Be Disappointed but with a Time Limit: take a few moments to release the frustration, the sadness, and the disappointment, but make a conscious effort not to dwell on it. If you are the type who needs to go for a good run, then run it out. If you are the crying type, cry it out. Tell your spouse, share with an understanding friend. Whatever it takes, release it and then make the decision to move on and forward. The difference between a successful and an unsuccessful person is not to never feel disappointed; it is the length of time one allows her/himself to feel defeated.
- Celebrate What You DID Accomplish: by reaching for your goals, chances are, you reached mini goals that you forgot about because you were so focused on the larger goal. Don’t forget nor belittle what you did accomplish thus far. Guaranteed that you have something to celebrate within the time frame you were measuring – so celebrate it.
- Take a Moment to Reflect & Accept Responsibility: now go back to what you did not accomplish and use it to learn. In fact, pick it apart for a few moments. Can you find some reasons which attributed to why you did not reach your goal? Did you truly give it your all? What could you have done better or differently? Did you get off track? This is also the perfect time to reconnect with the reason why you were working toward the goal in the first place. It will help you to reflect on the reasons you may have strayed from the goal, even if unintentionally, and it will get your heart back in the game.
- Reevaluate Your Goals: in the process of reflection, you might have discovered a number of different things. Perhaps you had been shooting too high and setting yourself up for disappointment. Perhaps you didn’t do enough of the right activity to achieve the goals. You may also have found that something happened in life which either unexpectedly deterred you from the goal or perhaps created the need to change it. Or, perhaps it just wasn’t the time for it all to fall into place. The good news is, today is a new day and you are back in control. You have the ability to reset and rewrite your goals as necessary. You can also change your actions or your circumstances so it doesn’t happen again and the timing becomes right.
- Commit to Accountability: the process of setting and reevaluating goals should be done frequently, and this will help you to hold yourself accountable. If you haven’t already, put them on paper. Then find someone else to share them with, someone who will be willing to hold you accountable. You might be in the need for someone to encourage you when you need to be encouraged, push you when you need to be pushed, and commend you when you need to be commended, and an accountability partner can be that someone for you.
- Set New/Additional Goals, If Necessary – if in reflection you found that some of your goals were too big, you might want to break them up into smaller, more achievable goals, or you might find something new to add which you hadn’t thought of before. You might also find a need or desire to incorporate some personal development which could help you in tackling your goals in new ways.
- Saddle Up and Get Back on the Horse – now that you have learned from the disappointment, you need to leave the past in the past. You are ready. You cannot accomplish your goals by sulking in disappointment forever, or by allowing yourself to feel like a failure, or by accepting defeat and quitting. Try – and try again.
At times, it might seem easier to just feel defeated. There is no place for self-defeat on the journey of success. Refusing to get back on the track and sitting in a puddle of tears gets you no closer to the finish line. The only way to stay in the race is to discipline the disappointment; it is critical to your sustainability.
Remember, life is 20% what happens to you and 80% how you react to it. You are in control of how long you sit in disappointment. You are in control of whether or not you give up or stay in the race. You are in control of allowing what happens to you either to drain you…or to fuel you. Make your decision…and then giddy up!
“One’s best success comes after their greatest disappointments.” ~Henry Ward Beecher