How to Bounce Back After Disappointment

The dreaded word: “sorry.”

Unsplash

When we first met, my husband referred to me as a “glowing ball of happiness.” And for the most part, that moniker has remained true to who I am: a relentlessly positive and infectiously enthusiastic person.

Until I’m not.

Because even a glowing ball of happiness will extinguish after receiving several emails beginning with that feared ‘s-’ word:

“Sorry.”

When an email starts with “sorry,” you know you won’t like what follows.

It’s never fun to learn that you didn’t win the pitch, get the job, or make it to the next round of consideration.

Let’s be honest: it sucks.

We’ve all been there. Things didn’t go our way, despite our best efforts.

So how can you deal with disappointment?

In trying to answer this question, I decided to reach out to you, my super awesome network, for advice and strategies to complement my own. When the “no’s” pile up, here are a few ways to help you through your setback:

Allow Yourself to Wallow.

Yes, you read that correctly. Give yourself some time to grieve over the lost opportunity. I find that when I put my heart and soul into an effort (read: every time I attempt something), there is an emotional toll if I fail to succeed. I wish there weren’t, but I’m an emotional being and have learned to accept that about myself.

But notice I said to allow yourself some time and not forever when wallowing. Stewing away in your own pity party is not an effective strategy for moving on, so make sure you also…

Talk it Through with a Friend (or a Network).

It turns out that outreach is a great strategy for dealing with disappointment. Like many of you, I tend to feel better after I relay my feelings to a trusted friend. They’ll listen, and probably remind you that you can’t win them all. And when you’re feeling less than, these are the folks who will prop you up and give you a much-needed pep talk to help bring you out of your funk.

I can also attest to the power of using your extended network to sort through feelings. So many of you — even though we’ve never actually met in real life — kindly offered up advice and support. Even though I was seeking input for this article, your words helped me directly, and for that, I thank you.

Take Away its Power.

That recent disappointment stings, doesn’t it? Will it still hurt as much in three to five years? Asking yourself this question can help remove some of the pain and help put things into perspective.

A friend tells me that before he realized disappointment was an illusion, he used to deal with it. Now, he says, disappointment deals with HIM. Perhaps you can adopt a similar attitude.

Manage — and Reset — Your Expectations.

If your disappointment is the result of unmet expectations, then you may need to hit the reset button. Before putting yourself out there, try to manage your expectations. Think through the process so if/when you end up with a “no,” you’re prepared to more readily accept it and move on.

There is also the strategy of emotionally detaching yourself from expectations, so that disappointments become mere pivot points, opportunities to discover alternative solutions. Again, the idea here is to shift your thinking.

Redirect Your Energies.

Though there are several variations on this strategy, the idea of redirecting your energies is one that many of you and I cited as useful in overcoming your frustrations.

When you take action, you’re moving towards something better instead of dwelling on a setback. Progress is encouraging; stagnation is not. Focusing your efforts on a new goal or project can help distract you from feeling depressed, and provide the motivation you need to pour yourself into a fresh opportunity.

Adjust Your Perspective, Be Grateful, and Learn From the Experience.

Some of you won’t waste time being disappointed. Instead, you’ve come to change your attitude, be grateful for the opportunity, and glean any learning you can from the experience.

When you lose a job, don’t be afraid to ask for feedback on why you weren’t selected. Perhaps the client preferred a one-stop shop agency versus a consultant? Was the decision solely based on rate? Knowing this information can help you make adjustments in your prospecting and your pitches to help increase your future odds.

Try a New Goal: 100 Rejections.

Last week I stumbled across a writer who had received a series of “thanks, but no thanks” replies from editors regarding her submissions. Seeking advice, she asked a mentor what she could do. Surprisingly, the advisor shared a most unusual annual goal: to actively and enthusiastically collect 100 rejections. (Yes, rejections!) The mentor went on to say that keeping a tally of these rejections was like a badge of honor: a reminder of her efforts. Additionally, she theorized that by amping up her submissions to reach her rejection goal, she would undoubtedly also get a few wins along the way.

So what’s the latest entry on my white board? A tally of my “rejections.” Though I’m nowhere near the century mark, I’m getting there.

Am I still disappointed? A little. But thanks to the tips above, I’m dealing with it.

And slowly returning to a glowing ball of happiness.

© Amy Blaschka, 2017

This article first appeared on LinkedIn.

— — —

Amy is the president of rbp consulting, a consultancy specializing in helping transform organizations in transition. When she’s not involved in some sort of makeover, you’ll find her…unhappy. She enjoys being a badass writer, playing co-ed volleyball, and pretending she has her own HGTV show. She loves traveling and spending time with her friends and family, which includes a yellow lab named Rigby. She considers Peet’s almond milk lattes a food group and is a huge fan of whiteboards and Post-It® Notes.

Need some help dealing with disappointment? Contact Amy at rbpconsulting.org or on Twitter @amyblaschka.