Thursday, March 4, 2010

What To Do with Disappointment


Disappointments seem to come more frequently when I am bringing myself forward most fully. When I am trying new ways of doing things and stepping into the unknown, I experience more disappointment than when I play it safe and stay in my comfort zone. Predictability isn't ultimately satisfying, though. The big dreams and the worthwhile visions don't hang out in my comfort zone. So, if I accept that disappointment is part of the journey, what do I do with it?

Ignoring disappointment isn't always easy, even if I intend to do so. When a recent Power of Connection course didn't make enrollment, though, I had so many other irons in the fire that it was easy to get over the disappointment quickly and keep focusing on the endeavors that were in motion. I still would have liked to hold the course, but dwelling on that would have potentially taken energy away from other things that mattered to me. The down side of getting over disappointment quickly is that I don't put a plan in place for what I want to do differently in the future.

Simply dwelling on how things didn't work out the way I wanted would be counterproductive, too. At a previous job, I was disappointed that my insights were not heard or respected, and I will admit to spending some time wallowing in that frustration. When I started to examine possible causes, though, I was able to come up with several possibilities. Perhaps I could have been more descriptive in laying out my vision, since others may not have an easy time seeing the possibilities I saw. It's possible that my expectations of the position simply didn't line up with what others thought it should involve. There could have been some political maneuvering going on that had nothing to do with me. Or a few individuals may have had personal issues that weren't being addressed. Or, or, or...

When I take the time to think about why my expectations may not have lined up with reality, it offers me a chance to plan for how I can potentially come closer to what I want the next time I'm in a similar situation. And it helps me to see that there are some factors that may just be out of my control. But if I am able to recognize how telling a more vivid and compelling story can help others see more clearly what I envision, I can change how I describe the possibilities I see. If it seems most likely that a course I'm teaching would reach its maximum enrollment when others are helping to market it, I can start looking for partnerships plenty of time in advance of the next course.

In starting a new business with a wellness company, I am telling a lot of people what I'm creating and why. Some of them aren't as interested as I would like them to be, but when I return to the purpose behind what I'm doing, it becomes much easier to be invigorated by the possibilities. Many times, I have sent out a piece of music to a competition, only to learn a few months later that another composition was chosen instead of mine. I am understandably disappointed. But when I wrote the piece, winning a competition didn't really enter into my motivation.

When purposefulness slips into desperation, it can seem overwhelming that what I had hoped for didn't come to fruition. But when I remember my intention and I am open to seeing a wealth of possibility, each moment of disappointment is an opportunity to define my next steps and fine-tune my goals. I know a little more about what I want and what I can do to create it. The path is in many ways a game of trials and errors. Inspirations and adjustments. Growth.

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