My voice was hoarse as I pulled up to the house.
I had been yelling for quite some time and had worn my vocal cords down to nothing. I was so utterly frustrated that screaming into the void seemed the only reasonable thing to do.
It probably wasn’t.
Closed for business
This “venting session” took place in the car by myself many years ago. Nearly a decade, actually.
I was building my first business and was failing at it miserably. On that particular afternoon, I received an email from my developer. I don’t remember what it said, but I remember how I felt. Angry, sad, annoyed, the whole gamut of un-fun emotions.
If I recall, the company ended up folding not long after.
The good from the bad
There’s a silver lining to that bummer of a story though (there always is).
Here I am, years later, writing to you. Running a business that leaves me fulfilled. Creating something that you will be able to apply to your own life. I needed that painful experience so as to learn and teach of it.
Without it, this post wouldn’t exist.
New article ideas
One of my current goals is to publish one new article each day. I’ve done it for several months now and it’s been going well. By far the most challenging aspect of it though is figuring out what to write. Once I know what I want to say, the words come right out.
But getting to that moment can be time-consuming.
So now I find myself at a weird place. I am happy when I experience a problem. Why? Because it gives me something to write about!
From 10% to the majority
The other day, I was struggling with my nutrition goal. I’ve since adjusted it, but at the time I felt frustrated. And that’s how about 90% of my conscious mind felt on the matter. Yet quietly, subtly, the remaining 10% saw it as a good thing.
This is perfect! Something to write about on Monday!
That 10% began to work its way to 20%, then 35%, and eventually took over the majority of my way of thinking. Look at that! Something to write about on Monday! My perspective went from one of upset to one of positivity.
I was still annoyed, but I was able to see the good that would be possible because of that obstacle.
A change in thinking
It’s easy to let disappointments, frustrations, hard-times get you down. That’s the standard model of thinking, after all. But it doesn’t have to be.
Like me with my writing, you can turn negative things into positive, productive ones.
You can learn from whatever challenge you face and apply that knowledge towards a better future. You can use that information to help someone else avoid your mistake(s). Or further, you can channel that experience into achieving your goal days, weeks, or years from now.
You can call yourself a failure and quit. Or, you can grow from the ordeal.
Create a Learn Log
Today, I channel many of my disappointments into writing: if I struggle with something, chances are someone out there struggles with it as well. I write so as to help, share with others, and refine my understanding.
You don’t have to be a blogger to take advantage of your frustrations though. Instead, the simplest way to turn the bad times into good is to learn from them. Take a minute and write down:
- What did I want to happen?
- What actually happened?
- Why do I think it didn’t go as planned?
- What will I do differently next time?
This series of questions is what I call a Learn Log entry and it’s something I do when I experience a glaring “failure.”
For more subtle upsets, recognize them as problems to be solved. For instance, if you feel exhausted every Saturday, consider why that is. Once you understand the cause, you can begin to test out solutions.
Maybe it’s because you do all your cleaning on Saturday and it’s draining. Well, you can test out cleaning in small, 25 minute increments each night instead. Maybe it’s because you get inundated with “urgent” emails that prevent you from taking an actual day off.
In that case, you could experiment with out-of-office responders.
Every problem you face is waiting to be solved. And with each problem you solve, your life gets that much better.
Then there are the times when you experience general disappointment. For example, like the time a music event I was excited to attend got rained out.
No Learn Log or problem-solve was necessary. Instead, in situations like that, remind yourself that you must have bad times in order to have good. Be grateful for the negative because that means there is a positive coming your way.
Like the stock market, there are ups and downs, but in the long run, life keeps growing and improving.
Moving forward with disappointment
There is no avoiding frustration or strife, but there are better ways to handle it. It’s not always easy in the moment – I’m rarely able to catch myself as it happens – however, when you have some time, consider what you could do differently in the future.
Ponder some solutions. Recognize the event as a necessity in order to attain more good. Use the inevitably of disappointment to your advantage.