Everything won’t go your way all of the time.
Maybe you didn’t close the one sale you wanted. Maybe you got passed over for the promotion. Maybe the relationship didn’t work out like you thought it would.
Disappointment in life is inevitable and you can’t always get your way all of the time. But, you can get beyond it and keep moving forward.
I’ve recently found myself on a huge upward climb. Over the last few months I’ve moved into my own apartment, achieved a level of financial independence and landed the role as Studio Manager for the Fort Washington LifeTime Fitness. I’m blessed with an amazing team, an incredible community of members and have had some pretty amazing opportunities come my way – like that (not so long ago) time I presented Warrior Sculpt for Be Well Philly on the rooftop of the Hotel Monaco.
This past Saturday, that uphill climb came to a screeching halt – or rather a plummeting descent – when I opened an email regarding the Signature Studio Program Ambassador position I had applied for:
…we would like to thank you for your interest and application for the position of Signature Studio Program Ambassador.
After careful consideration…we have decided to pursue other candidates at this time.
My heart sank.
For quite some time, the role as a brand ambassador had been on my radar, and my vision board. When the opportunity came up for this position two weeks ago, I was like, Talk about divine timing! and so I applied.
For me, it was the next piece of the puzzle towards the bigger dream of training teachers and designing formats. There’s no question in my mind as to whether or not I could have done this role – and, I think that’s why it hit me so hard and I found myself wrestling with disappointment. For the first time ever – like for real ever – I finally believe in my gifts, talents and abilities, especially as it relates to teaching. While it’s been an ongoing process for years now, it’s only been over the last few months with stepping into my role as Studio Manager, that I began to fully trust and believe in myself. So, when I read the email, I was thrown a bit: How could I be talented and good at what I do…and also not good enough?
I sat with that heavy question all Saturday and into Sunday morning…until I realized it wasn’t a question. My disappointment wasn’t a question of whether or not I was good enough. Instead, my disappointment was an invitation – an invitation to pivot and ask myself: Ok, so you feel this way…now, what are you going to do about it?
In that moment, I realized I found myself in a familiar place I had been many a time before – it’s the place that author Seth Godin refers to as the Dip. Up until this point, every time I had found myself in the Dip, I had let the Dip consume me and take me down for the count. But, this time was different. I knew where I was. I was also acutely aware of how I was feeling and what I was thinking. Having that awareness and hindsight didn’t rid me of feeling disappointment, but what it did do was remind me that the next steps I took were crucial. The setbacks I was facing and the disappointment I was feeling could either put me in a holding pattern, or it could be the stepping stones that propelled me forward.
I had to choose.
And I chose to pivot.
STEP 1: Resign yourself to feeling bad for a while, and then move on
The more I tried to push my disappointment away like I didn’t care, the more it demanded to be heard. See, that’s the thing about pain – it demands to be felt and it’s only when we allow ourselves to touch our pain that we can move past it toward new insights and opportunities.
But here’s the fine print disclaimer: There’s a finite period of “emotional recovery.” Stay in the pain too long and you become your loss. On the other hand, dust yourself off too soon with an “it doesn’t matter anyway” and you don’t just numb yourself to the pain – you block out the good stuff too.
I have lived at both ends of the spectrum and it’s taken a lot to pull myself back up from those moments. This time, I’m sitting with how I feel, allowing myself to feel it and recognizing it’s just a feeling and I am not my disappointment.
STEP 2: Remember what you really want
We mistakenly assume the specific goal is actually what we want, but that’s rarely the case. Someone breaks your heart? Maybe that person was the “one,” but chances are, you’re probably just looking for a meaningful relationship. Startup failed? Was it really that one particular encapsulation of an idea that’s so important, or, is it building and running a successful company?
When I really sat with it, the goal of being a brand ambassador was something I wanted, for sure, but it wasn’t THE goal – it’s not the bigger picture of training teachers and designing formats. Is it something I wanted? Yes. Is it the end all and be all? No. Does it take away from the dream? Only if I let it. For all that I know, exactly what I want to do is still waiting for me. Hell, maybe the “position” I really want doesn’t even exist yet. Bottom line: for every possibility, there are an infinite amount of others waiting.
STEP 3: Consider the alternatives (and your pivot)
When you remember that your one specific goal may not be identical to the overarching one, you can be open to and consider the alternatives. It may have been an opportunity for something you wanted, but it’s not the only opportunity. That you didn’t get a particular position or role or whatever doesn’t mean that there won’t be or can’t be others.
No doesn’t mean never. It simply means not yet.
Looking back, some of my best moves came from having to pivot after setbacks: Not landing a high school teaching position with one of the schools I did my student teaching at, allowed me to land a job team teaching an interdisciplinary humanities course at the Reading Public Museum for inner city kids. Not getting hired full time at Equinox opened the door to LifeTime Fitness. Not landing the Studio Manager position at the King of Prussia location landed me exactly where I needed to be: #theFort. Every loss, in retrospect, was part of a bigger plan, one that only became available once I let go of thinking it had to be this one particular way.
STEP 4: Make the pivot
The pivot, while the most crucial step we can take when faced with disappointment, is a step that’s only made available after we’ve felt and reflected. Awareness is our most valuable tool when taking intentional action.
When I consider my pivot, I know that I’m not quite there yet. I’m still navigating my feelings, collecting my losses and considering my alternatives. That being said, I know my pivot will take me back to what’s most important and this week I’ll commit to investing in my classes, my team – and most importantly, myself. When I give myself the freedom to recharge and be creative, I feel alive and when I feel alive I have more energy to invest in the things I love.
Consider your next best step – what do you need to put your time, energy and attention towards in order to move closer to what you really want? What fills you up? And how can you do more of that?
Everything won’t go our way all of the time, but when we allow ourselves to see disappointment as an invitation to feel – an opportunity to expand our possibilities beyond our current ways of thinking – we open the door to our next best pivot and self.