As everyone travels back from ACFW today, I’m sure that among the highs, some of you have been hit with crushing disappointments. Maybe the editor/agent meeting didn’t go as planned, or you found yourself overwhelmed and feeling like an outsider. Know you’re not alone. I didn’t attend the conference, but I struggled with disappointments this weekend that knocked me on my tail. I wish I would have remembered to reread this post. It would have helped! Hope it helps you!
Originally post Dec 2, 2011
It’s been a while since I got a rejection, (mainly because it’s been a while since I submitted something.) They used to hit me hard, and sometimes they still do, if I don’t follow the 5 rules to avoid disappointments I’ve learned the hard way over the years.
This weekend I forgot the rules. I dropped my guard, and let a non-writing related disappointment overpower me. I’m still dealing with the emotional fallout and honestly, in the big scheme of life this disappointment is too ridiculous to share. But it hurts just the same. And when your kids are involved, it sometimes hurts worse.
So what will I do next time to avoid disappointments?
Don’t Have Expectations
I know this sounds harsh and depressing, but over the years I’ve learned the higher my expectations, the harder the fall when disappointments come. Growing up I had one relative who would always promise things and never follow through. It hurt. Every time. So to deal with that disappointment I lowered my expectations of this person. And instead of expecting anything, I left the door open for the possibility that this person would come through.
This philosophy has also worked well in my friendships. You know the friends who promise you everything, but never follow through? I still love them, but I don’t expect them to keep their promises. I’m hopeful that they do, but my heart has been broken too many times to let my expectations of our friendship get too high. This also works well when submitting a manuscript. If I don’t expect a contract, I won’t be crushed when I don’t get one. By lowering my expectations, I’m guarding my self against disappointments, but not closing the door to possibilities.
Having low or no expectations doesn’t mean you have no hope. It just means that you’re okay with the way things will turn out. It means that you wish the outcome would go in your favor, but you’re fully aware it won’t. This is the second mistake I made this past weekend.
I let my expectations get too high that I forgot to be hopeful. Forgot to look at the big picture and put everything into perspective. I forgot there was a possibility of failure, and I’m dealing with the emotions that have been puffed up out of proportion.
Do Your Best
Whether you’re writing a novel or working full time for a company, if you focus on your performance instead of the outcome disappointments will be easier to handle. There are lots of reasons why we may not land a contract or get that promotion, but if the circumstances are outside of our control then it’s easier to say “I did my best and I (it) just wasn’t the right fit for me right now.” If you are proud of what you accomplished and have no regrets, then your disappointments should be easier to handle.
Remember Father Knows Best
I’ve learned over the years that God knows what He’s doing even though I don’t understand it most of the time. And his timing is perfect. He sees things I don’t and knows what’s best for me and you. I forgot that this weekend, and instead focused on what I wanted. By focusing on God’s will and plan, even though you may not know it, it will help calm the emotions that rise when you’re inner two year old wants to through a tantrum. And when that two year old does start to whine (and he will) you can say, “God’s up to something, and he’s got something better for me planned.”
Celebrate (with) Others
This might be the hardest thing yet, and maybe this is the one God’s still working on with me, but when someone else achieves the dream you’ve longed for, celebrate with them. Some of us aren’t there yet, I know. So I’m adding a caveat to this rule…
Take your mind off the prize you just lost and celebrate others! I’m not asking you (or me) to cover your feelings and emotions, but I do think it’s important not to wally in misery. The best way to do that is to take your eyes off yourself and what you lost and celebrate what you have. It doesn’t have to be related to your disappointment, just choose to focus on the positive in your life, especially when the emotions rise.
Dealing with disappointments stink, and since I’m being honest and transparent here, I’ve frankly had more then my fair share of them, and I wish they would just stop. But I know they won’t, so next time I anticipate something that might bring about a disappointment, I’ll remember my 5 rules for avoiding disappointments.
How about you? What can you add to the list?