How to Rebound After Disappointment: A Life Skill

We are at the close of the first six weeks of the new year. Woo-hoo!

As I did a review of where I am and compared it to where I had PLANNED to be, I didn't feel celebratory. I felt the rise of disappointment in my chest…and if I am being completely honest with you (as you know I always intend to be), I felt a bit of shame as well.

I was supposed to have completed items A through D on my list. They set the foundation for E and following. How will be able to then reach my quarterly goals? My trimester goals? My six month and annual goals? Suddenly, everything felt like it was tumbling down around me. More accurately, crashing on me!

Can you relate…?

You set a goal. It’s a bit ambitious but not impossible. It will stretch you some but that’s alright. You’re up for the challenge. Then, you are faced with circumstances, one after another, that impede your progress.

It feels like running in the ocean. The beautiful expanse of blue surrounds you. You are exerting a massive amount of energy but your footing keeps slipping in the shifting sand. The pressure of the surf causes you to lose balance again and again. And when you look back to see how far you’ve gone, the distance is minute.

That’s how it felt for me. And I felt…small.

But that is how shame works. It hypes up the “shoulds” and “supposed tos” in our minds and then beats us up for not meeting its unrealistic standard of perfection. And according to Brené Brown’s research, the only way to quiet that voice is to expose it.

This is me, full exposure!

Shame is only part of the puzzle. Even after it's dealt with, disappointment lingers. But disappointment is a natural healthy reaction to unfulfilled expectations. The problem is that sometimes we allow disappointment to dictate our future expectations. Since X didn’t work out this time, then I am not going near X again, I think to myself. What if X is just what I need…just not right now? By crossing it off the list, I block my future with X.


Running a business is full of disappointments. Heck, life is full of them! The key to bouncing back after disappointment is to have a plan of action for when (not if) they occur.

First, it is alright to wallow a bit. Don’t try to pretend you’re not disappointed. Too often we want to quickly “move on” and sweep our feelings under the proverbial rug. That practice stunts emotional intelligence growth and can thwart efforts to have quality relationships. So, talk about your disappointment. Say it. Think it. Feel it.

I did all of that. Shed a few tears of frustration in the process. But I didn’t stay there.

After that, analyze the situation. If timing is everything, then maybe this is just not the right time. Nothing bad has ever happened from being patient to allow for growth and opportunity to intersect.

I decided to rework my timeline. I put a few goal items out further into the year to wait for the right moment to present itself. I realize that you cannot make everything happen. There is but so much “hustle” that can be done. Limitlessness is still my focus, but I want it with peace.

Then, it’s time for some positive self-talk. I do not mean affirmations, although they are perfectly fine. What I am referring to is a bit deeper than what comes out of the mouth. We’ve all had moments when we’ve said something or done things that we really did not quite believe…you know, fake it until…

The self-talk that I’m advocating is reflective and inspirational. Draw from your past successes and fulfilled moments. Shift your eyes to the future with possibility on the horizon. Allow hope to ignite. Then begin to speak life-words to yourself. Allow what comes out of the mouth to express what is in the heart rescripted by hope.

For me, after some reflection and recasting of vision, it sounded a bit like this…I know that my passion and purpose are aligned with what I am doing in my business and what I plan to do in the future. I also know that my family is my top priority. I am not willing to sacrifice them on the altar of my business. So, if my attention to their lives slows me down, then I accept that and adjust.  I expect to fulfill my goals, even those I have not considered yet, and when I do, it will be another expression of my “genius” in the marketplace!

Finally, get moving. Literally, move. I go out for long walks or I do a session on the Nike Training Club app. (Great personal training app for workouts away from the gym.) Body movement is good for the brain. It enhances neuroplasticity (the brain’s ability to adapt and change), strengthens the synaptic connections (responsible for recall and associations), and supports the new neurons that are produced daily. Not to mention, exercise can leave you feeling powerful like you can do anything.

Disappointments can throw anyone off course. It is up to each of us to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and start all over again! Do this by grieving the thing missed or lost, gaining perspective about the situation, declaring life-filled words from a hopeful heart, and moving the body. the next six weeks…!

Until next time…