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3 Ways to Deal with Disappointment

I’m not going to lie…as a University of Michigan alum and raving Go Blue fan, I’m devastated by the loss on Monday night. The last time Michigan won the National Championship was in 1989, and I devoutly have them wining my tournament bracket every single year. Come on Wolverines!! Uuuuuggggghhhh!

I guess there’s always next year.

But this shines a very bright light on the universal issue of disappointment and how we deal with it. Whether your favorite sports team loses the big game, your political party loses the election, your co-worker (not you) gets the promotion, your biggest client doesn’t renew the contract, your significant other ends the relationship, your child doesn’t make the varsity team, or you get rejected from your dream job…disappointment is painful and can often have lasting and damaging effects.

As an executive career coach, I coach my clients through disappointment all the time. When you hope, believe, and really really really want a particular outcome or result, the risk is potentially devastating disappointment when the desired outcome doesn’t happen. You put your heart and soul and all of your hopes and dreams into something and it can be really hard when those dreams are dashed.

But let’s be honest, not all disappointments are created equal. Some have major life and livelihood consequences, and others need special super glue to mend a broken heart. Regardless if the disappointments are big or small, major or minor, yours or a loved-ones, they all need effective strategies and ways to deal, cope, and move forward.

3 Ways to Deal with Disappointment…

Put a Deadline on the Pity Party

The truth is that disappointment needs a release valve. You need to let it out! Venting to a friend, journaling, devouring a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, crying, feeling sorry for yourself, or pouring another glass of wine can help, but then you need to move on. A pity party is normal and natural, but without a firm deadline it can outstay its welcome and spiral out of control. If you find out that the job offer went to another candidate on Friday, give yourself the weekend to honor the disappointment, and a commitment that you’ll hit the ground running again on Monday morning.

Embrace the Power of Positivity

Disappointments can often be blown completely out of proportion. Am I really devastated by the fact that Michigan lost a basketball game in the grand scheme of things? Of course not! To bring those disappointments back down to size, and to have a healthier perspective, focus on the positive things you have in your life. Express an attitude of gratitude; celebrate the people that enrich your life in a real and meaningful way, and master your mindset and belief that the best is yet to come. Managing your career will have ups and downs, but your positive mindset is the key to success.

Learn the Lesson and Move On

Depending on the situation, sometimes it’s hard to learn the lesson a disappointment has to teach in the moment, but it’s there if you look hard enough. Sometimes the lesson is to learn to take a risk, to know that your resilience and inner strength are more powerful than you believed, to trust that when one door closes another one opens, to recognize that your interviewing skills need improvement, or to accept the fact that it really wasn’t your dream job after all. If you listen very closely, you will always be able to hear the lesson.

Personal or professional, disappointment is a fact of life…there is no running, hiding, or pretending. It affects everyone, but not everyone deals with it in a healthy and productive way. Once you embrace the reality that you’re going to be disappointed at some point, in some way, or by someone, and you implement these helpful and effective strategies, then you’ll truly be able to grow, to move on, and to Woman UP!

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