If you’re alive and reading this right now, there’s a good chance you have something very real to be disappointed about.
Disappointment loves sneaking up on you — like that weird one-eyed neighborhood cat who keeps showing up on your porch and peeing all over your decorative pillows.
So the question becomes — how do we deal with the disappointments in our lives?
And I write this having gone through my fair share. You don’t take the path of an entrepreneur without a lot of failures paving your way.
We can’t avoid disappointment. But when it comes your way will you crush the disappointment or let it crush you?
I say we crush it. But how? Here’s some ideas:
Think about the past disappointments in your life
I can almost hear you now —
“Great Paul, I’m feeling terrible about my life and now you want me to start thinking about some of my biggest disappointments. Swell. Why don’t you just tell me to eat raw chicken and then ride on a spin-a-wheel.”
While I don’t recommend eating raw chicken (although it would probably put your current disappointments in a different light), I do recommend thinking back to some of your past disappointments. And then think back to how things somehow worked out afterward, and maybe even for the better.
Typically when we think our life as we know it is over, our life keeps going.
For example, I remember a girl breaking up with me and feeling disappointed about it. Then a friend told me this wise advise —
“If you thought this girl was great and yet it wasn’t meant to be, think about how amazing the woman you are going to marry is going to be.”
And now eight years of marriage and three kids later, what my friend told me was a million times more true than he could’ve ever known.
Sometimes what we see as a disappointment now is merely a blessing to be discovered later. (click to tweet that)
You never know how a “disappointment” will look in retrospect.
2. Stop tying your identity to the perceived outcome of your work
Sometimes we’re wrought with disappointment because we’re tying too much of who we are to what we do.
As I first wrote in my post “When your dream kicks the crap out of you,”
You are more than the visible outcome of your work.
And the outcome of your work might be more than what is currently visible.
Do good work. Put your dream out there. Do your best to help others.
Then, let it go. Your dream can’t fly if your identity and self-worth is clinging onto the back of it.
3. Relax and have faith
The more I’m trying to have everything work out exactly how I planned it, in exactly my timing, the more disappointed I’m going to be. I know this. Yet, I still try to grip tight to all the details of my day.
The more adaptable I am. The more faith I have that God is working things out better than I ever could, even if I can’t see it at the moment, the more peace I have.
It’s not a blind faith, it’s a faith seeing with eyes wide open how many times God has come through for me.
If we’re only looking at what we can see, we will miss everything else that is going on.
4. Be willing to be adaptable
Sometimes the best plan you can make is to plan to continually make new plans.
It’s hard to be too disappointed in life if you’re willing to adapt your plans when they don’t go exactly as planned.
If you let each failed plan and exploding expectation overwhelm you with disappointment, you won’t be able to move forward with much in life.
It’s only a dead-end if you let it stop you. Or you can climb the wall in front of you and get a better view.
Or as I wrote as Secret #1 in 101 Secrets For Your Twenties,
Sometimes surviving your 20s is nothing more glamorous than just holding on for dear life on the back of an inner tube like a kid being whipped around by a speedboat.
You can’t see a thing.
Repeated waves knock the wind out of you.
Your hands are gripped so tight your fingers begin to cramp. And your only choice of survival is to just let go.