4 Steps to Manage Professional Disappointment

Disappointment comes in many forms, and anyone who has attempted to achieve something has experienced it. 
When that disappointment is a big one, when it’s something you had your heart set on and had convinced yourself
of its necessity to your success, it can feel devastating.  

Here are four chronological steps to help you come to terms with it and move on,
instead of letting it set you back. 

1. Allow yourself time to grieve. 

If you had your heart set on it, you most likely perceive it as a loss.  The emotions you are feeling are related to grief. 
There’s only one way to manage it, and that’s by going through it.  Give yourself some time and space to allow yourself to feel whatever you need to feel, then allow them to fade away. 

2. Determine what you can learn from the experience. 

Emotions and logic can’t occupy the same space at the same time. Only after the strength of your emotions has diminished
can you begin to think clearly.  You can then identify things that may have changed the disappointing outcome. Try to detach yourself from the outcome and notice anything during the process that didn’t feel right or anything that was not strategically beneficial.  Learning from your disappointment will help you to find a sense of purpose in the journey and make it easier to continue to take risks. 

3. Forgive. 

You are only human.  All the other people around you are only human, too.  Mistakes happen, even if you’d prefer not to admit it to yourself.  If you catch yourself blaming others or if you hold on to feelings of regret, you get stuck in time and don’t allow yourself or others to evolve.  The first step forward is being able to forgive yourself.  Forgiving others in your professional life does not imply forgetting the experience or not learning from it; it just means letting go of the burden of carrying things that will weigh you (and your career) down. 

4. Let go but stay in touch. 

Finally, let go of thinking things could be any different or that you have missed out.  Trust that you will have another opportunity in the future that will be meant for you in ways this one was not.  If you’re overly concerned with a past disappointment, you may miss seeing that next opportunity and be incapable of embracing it.  Don’t alienate those who were part of your story.  Be brave enough to keep in touch with them and others and continue to put yourself out there.  

There’s no shame in being disappointed.  It’s part of the human condition and it helps us to develop empathy for one another.  

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