How I manage to make myself happier after a big professional disappointment.

I had a big professional disappointment this morning, and I have the sinking, almost sick feeling that I get when I feel that I’ve failed at something.

I’m trying to comfort myself with two catchphrases:

First: “The second opportunity is the better opportunity.” This is something that the Big Man always says: in career matters, if you don’t get the first opportunity you want, it’s always lucky, because inevitably the second opportunity is better.

Second: “Enjoy the fun of failure.” I’m very competitive, and also insecure, and I hate, hate, hate the feeling of failure. I’ve been reminding myself that failure is a necessary part of creativity, of risk-taking, of aiming high. If I’m not failing, I’m not trying hard enough. It’s fun to fail.

I can’t mope around, because I’m expected at the Big Girl’s school for her birthday celebration, and I need to pick up doughnuts for her class.

It occurs to me – eight years ago today, I was giving birth to a fragile four-pound baby who went straight to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for a week. If on that day, I could have known that anything at all could cast a shadow on the eighth birthday of our healthy, beautiful girl, I wouldn’t have believed it. What could dim that happiness?

Okay, I’m starting to feel better now.

Other posts you might be interested in . . .

  • http://papernapkin.typepad.com Sheryl

    Happy Birthday Big Girl. How lucky you are to have a mom who works so hard to bring happiness to you and your family. Hope your birthday wish comes true.

  • Desne

    Some years ago, I read this piece of advice: “Fail early and often.” In other words, try try again…and again. You’ll get to success that much sooner if you don’t let a failure keep you from stepping right up to the plate again.

  • Susan

    Wow – I experienced a major professional setback this morning, myself. I really needed to read this post. Thanks!

  • chris

    There is truth in the Garth Brooks song line “Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers”. Only with hindsight you will know if things turned out for the better or the worse

  • http://www.inner-light-nika.blogspot.com Nika

    If I fail in doing sth I always say to myself “Tomorrow is another day” meaning new hope, opportunities, chances. It’s so banal, yet it works for me- to see Your whole life and compare Your failure to the most important, most happy things You had. It’s all about perception.
    .
    There’s a great song by India Arie, from her latest album, “There’s hope”- how to appreciate what You already have. By the way, speaking of happiness, her latest songs really lift my spirit whenever I’m in a bad mood- they are a sort of happinss for me.

  • http://inspiredsolo.wordpress.com Sheryl Schelin

    Sorry to hear that you had a disappointment – you’re one of those rare few bloggers who I naturally cheer for. I admire your reaction!

  • http://www.gretchenrubin.com Gretchen Rubin

    Thanks for all the encouragement and other useful catchphrases. It makes me feel better just to know that folks wish me well.

  • Thoglette

    I hate failure – especially when they roll into each other. I lost about 6 figures as a result of 9/11 (VC funding dried up) and the company I went to afterwards spent 3 years failing to even _attempt_ achieving their CEO’s goals. Moved industries again, into another start up and I’m hitting the same problem – big words and complete failure to convert into an executable plan.
    It’s really, really hard not to be bitter. The worst part is that it’s affecting my family – the bitterness seeps through and smells far too much like Winston’s Black Dog.
    I’ve long since abandoned “what I want to do” for “what I can do that will pay the mortgage” as moving to where the work is is not on The Agenda (fortunately, familial support is both available and strong).
    But as my spouse says: it’s like living with a ghost.

  • http://www.kentblumberg.com Kent Blumberg

    I have a friend who says the following when rejected by a potential employer/publisher/client:
    “Some will, some won’t, so what, what’s next?”
    Works for me everytime.
    Kent

  • http://senia.com Senia Positive Psychology Coaching

    Yeah, I just wish you all the best! You deserve it.
    I sometimes say to myself in situations like this, “You can’t choreograph the world.”
    Take care! Was the birthday fun!?

  • http://pos-psych.com/news/giselle-nicholson/20070313160 Positive Psychology News

    One of our authors wrote an article about visualizing backwards the result you wanted. This technique may or may not be your kind of thing. It’s about “try. fail. try again. fail better.” See if you like it – she calls it “retrospective visualization.” All the best to you!

  • http://hpshappy.blogspot.com HP van Duuren

    Failure doesn’t exist!
    There are only Results, that give us valuable ‘Feedback’.

  • Kt

    This post made me teary-eyed, thank you so much. I just received some harsh criticism on my work that makes me feel like a failure, although it wasn’t altogether rejected. Yet your post reminded me that my little toddler is more important than all of this. :-)