What is disappointment? It’s the experience of having reality not align to our expectations. Basically we’re hoping for one thing and get another instead. Pretty sure we’ve all felt it and felt it acutely in 2020.

Recently, I experienced a major disappointment. I had been hoping for and working hard toward one outcome (for an award/recognition), only to not see it materialize after all the effort I’d put in. It was crushing.

But in a year that has handed out more than an average number of crushing disappointments, I was in good company.

I talked to a friend that same day who was experiencing the disappointment of the sale of their house unable to go through as planned. A few days later, I talked to another friend who has been brave enough to return to school for an entirely new degree, but is disappointed with field work that has been far more challenging in unexpected ways, causing her to doubt her choice to return to school.

Can there be success in disappointment?

Absolutely. You just have to be willing to look for it.

For my friend with the college challenges, the disappointment is changing the approach for the remainder of the field work, but it’s not changing the brave new direction that’s been set. She’s staying in the degree program to eventually gain employment doing work that matters deeply to her.

For my friend with the house drama, it’s changing the timeline of when they will move and how they will accomplish it, but it’s not changing their decision to move. Moving was and is the success measure and they will hit it. Eventually.

As for me, I needed to remind myself that although awards and recognition are nice, they aren’t my measure of success. I’m not here to be the most highly decorated coach in the industry. I’m here to help as many people as I can find work that they love because our families, workplaces, and communities are transformed when people love what they do. When I looked at my disappointment with reset expectations, it was a lot easier for me to see the success and to celebrate it.

The punk-rock poet, Frank Turner said it best, “Everyone can find a song for every time they’ve lost and every time they’ve won”. So whether you’re killing it or getting killed by it, turn up the music and take another look. You might see more success than you expected!

If you are struggling with disappointment (from mild to crushing and everything in between!), check out my new book Success Authentically: Unlock Excitement, Purpose, and Joy At Work. You’ll find a brand-new approach to success!


#PositiveAction Take a good, honest look at your latest disappointment. You may be surprised to discover there’s a lot of success hiding in it!


Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Adulting (the act of becoming an adult) is hard. There’s lots of advice out there from friends, family members, the Internet, even perfect strangers, on what responsible adults do. Responsible adults should floss every day. Responsible adults should eat their vegetables. Responsible adults should find a stable job with decent pay, benefits, and a retirement plan. Responsible adults don’t get to have fun because they’re too busy being responsible. 

In the words of punk rock poet, Frank Turner:  

“Oh maturity’s a wrapped up package deal so it seems / And ditching teenage fantasy means ditching all your dreams / All your friends and peers and family solemnly tell you you will / Have to grow up be an adult yeah be bored and unfulfilled / Oh when no ones yet explained to me exactly what’s so great / About slaving 50 years away on something that you hate…”

Bored and unfulfilled definitely describes the majority of American workers, but it doesn’t have to define you. The first thing you need to do is recognize that this is how you’ve been feeling. Note – if you’re reading this blog, you may have had the realization already! Check one off the list!

The second thing you have to acknowledge is that just because a job sounds good doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good match for your talents, skills, interests, beliefs, and values. Trust me, I’ve been there. I once spent more than a year trying to convince myself to stay in a job, because on paper, it checked all the metaphorical boxes. Great pay. Decent benefits. Reasonable hours. Retirement plan. Matched my skill set. 

It should have been awesome… but I was miserable and to top it off, I felt guilty for feeling that way. Lots of other people wanted that job and would have enjoyed doing it. But I didn’t. And for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why. I would love to go back in time to encourage my past self to leave that job sooner. My misery was making everyone around me miserable too and that’s no way to live. The rear view mirror eventually allowed me to reflect and see what was happening in that scenario. Spoiler alert: it was the fact that I wasn’t working authentically and it’s helped me make better career choices moving forward. 

The final piece you should remember as you are on your career journey is that everyone makes mistakes (chooses the wrong role, stays too long, etc.). Don’t beat yourself up over it – you’re already feeling bad enough if you’re in that position right now! Instead, make up your mind to get clarity on what exactly you like and don’t like about your job so you can make an informed decision moving forward. I am always here to help you on your unique career journey.