I’ve noticed something interesting about the disappointing outcomes in my life: it is only when I look back on them later that I can see that what appeared to be a setback wasn’t that at all. Instead of being a setback, the disappointing outcome left me open for a better opportunity.
This is my favourite example. Many years ago, this scenario happened twice within a month: I interviewed for a job that seemed perfect for me, I was one of the final two candidates, and all indications were that the job was mine. However, I didn’t get a job offer from either of these seemingly perfect opportunities.
I was very disappointed.
The second opportunity was through an agency who had a very clear policy about not keeping information about past applicants. They advertised each opportunity and job seekers applied.
A few weeks after my disappointing outcome that agency called me and said: “We don’t keep résumés on file, however, we have this opportunity and you came to mind.” This was not their way of operating, but they sent me for an interview for a position that they hadn’t yet advertised.
That opportunity was the PERFECT job; a job that I now see as a pivotal part of my life story. In fact, I can’t imagine what my life would look like today if I had been offered one of those jobs that I badly wanted.
What if I hadn’t been open for the job that I was meant to have? A job where I not only learned so much that served me throughout my career but the place where I met many of the people who are still in my life today; over 20 years later!
It is easy to view this in hindsight, but how do you do this in the moment? How do you avoid going down disappointment road and ending up on setback island?
What I’ve learned is that I need to recognize and feel my emotions. I don’t force the disappointment aside, or ignore it, or overlay it with positive thoughts. Instead, I feel it. I acknowledge that this outcome is truly disappointing.
After that I allow that disappointment to fade and I move into the ‘meant to be’ frame of mind. Instead of replaying what I “could have” done to change the outcome, I focus on now. Not the future, but now.
I look at my feet to see what step I can take from where I am. I see myself as open to ‘better’.