How to Overcome Disappointment and Refocus on Your Goals

Robert Kiyosaki

The size of your success is measured by the strength of your desire and how you handle disappointment along the way.


Are You Feeling Major Disappointment Right Now?

To feel disappointed is to feel let down and somewhat defeated.

You held high expectations that something would work out in your favor, but unfortunately, things didn’t entirely go your way. You’re now holding onto an unsatisfactory outcome and finding it difficult to deal with unfulfilled promises and expectations.

Feeling disappointed, of course, doesn’t feel great. However, in the short-run, it can actually be quite advantageous. But unfortunately, most people don’t see it that way.

The vast majority of people tend to wallow in their disappointments. And persistent wallowing often leads to self-doubt, despondency, discouragement, and even depression over the long-run.

Wallowing in disappointment keeps people stuck — living a life they don’t want to live.

This is especially true when people experience a series of disappointments over a short period of time. These disappointments weigh heavily on their minds. As a result, they tend to get overrun by negative thoughts and other debilitating emotions.

When we get caught up in this negative cycle of disappointment, we get down on ourselves and tend to wallow in self-pity. We might say that…

  • “I’m just not good enough…”
  • “Nothing ever works out…”
  • “This always happens to me…”

It’s, of course, very easy to get caught up in this cycle of disappointment and continuously get down on ourselves. However, this is never helpful and will prevent you from seeing the real value that disappointment has to offer.

Disappointment can actually be an incredibly powerful emotion that can help you clarify your personal expectations and pave the way forward toward the attainment of your goals.

What it Means to Feel Disappointed


5 Steps for Overcoming Disappointment

Disappointment doesn’t feel good, but it can be incredibly beneficial when interpreted in the right way.

Disappointment is, in fact, just like any other uncomfortable emotion we experience throughout the day.

When it comes down to it, our emotions are nothing more but guideposts that alert us to what’s happening in our external environment. They, subsequently, help us gain the clarity we need to make more effective choices and decisions throughout the day.

And, it’s actually not too difficult to turn a little disappointment on its head and use it to our advantage. Here are five steps that can help you do precisely that. 🙂

Step 1: Acknowledge How You Feel About the Situation

Your very first step is to acknowledge how you genuinely feel about the situation.

If you’re feeling disappointed, then admit it openly and honestly. Hiding your disappointment will only keep you stuck. Ask yourself:

What really happened here?

What should’ve happened?

Why am I feeling disappointed about this?

Clarifying why exactly you’re feeling disappointed about the situation will help you to better understand your thoughts and expectations.

Your thoughts are, in fact, the key here.

The thoughts you initially had about the situation and how you ultimately responded to the outcome has predictably triggered your feelings of disappointment.

Given this, it’s imperative that you take some time to explore the thought process that led to your feelings of disappointment. Ask yourself:

What was I thinking at the time when things didn’t pan-out as I had anticipated?

Was I blaming myself, others or circumstances?

Was I searching for excuses?

How have these thoughts hindered me?

If you’re caught up making excuses, complaining and dodging responsibility, then you’re just ignoring the real problem.

Step 2: Time to Questions Your Expectations

It’s now time to take a closer look at the expectations you had before these events and circumstances took place. Ask yourself:

What were my expectations about these circumstances?

What expectations did I have about myself?

What were my expectations of other people in this situation?

As you answer these questions, you might recognize that perhaps your expectations weren’t quite flexible or realistic enough. In such instances, continue asking yourself the following set of questions:

Overall, were my expectations about all these things realistic?

Were my expectations trivial or inflexible?

Were my expectations too narrow-minded?

Were my expectations selfish in any way?

When it comes to disappointment, your expectations coming into the situation will always determine how you will feel after the events have taken place.

Say for instance you had no expectations at the beginning of all this. It, therefore, wouldn’t really matter what happened, right? Because you had no expectations, you now have no reason to feel disappointed.

When we come into a situation with no expectations, we naturally see the situation for what it is and select the best path moving forward.

But, let’s say that you are actually feeling disappointed. If that’s true for you, then it’s unlikely you took this approach. You must, therefore, now ask yourself one final set of questions:

Do my expectations set me up for disappointment?

How could I potentially adjust them for next time?

Just maybe there is a silver lining here… What could that be?

Keep in mind that your unrealistic expectations will prevent you from learning and growing from this experience. Something to keep in mind as you continue to work through this process.

A Method for Overcoming Disappointment

Step 3: Take Time to Learn from Your Experience

Let’s now take some time to learn from this experience. Ask yourself:

What can I learn from this experience?

What can I learn about myself?

What can I learn about my perspective of the situation?

What can I learn about how I set expectations?

What can I learn from this that would help me change my approach the next time around?

These questions should open your eyes to new perspectives and possibilities.

Just maybe, things aren’t how they seem. Just perhaps, your disappointment is an illusion. Who knows, perhaps it’s all a figment of your imagination?

The moment you begin challenging yourself to think objectively about your circumstances is the moment you gain the clarity you need to start figuring things out.

Subsequently, you can move forward through this disappointment with a renewed sense of confidence that you will make the most of whatever life throws your way.

Step 4: Take a Personal Inventory

By this stage, you should fully understand your predicament and the expectations that led to your feelings of disappointment. Moreover, you should have the necessary clarity you need to overcome your feelings of disappointment.

What’s left is the “knowhow” and resources you need to work through your predicament and achieve your desired objectives.

With that in mind, we need to take a moment to take a personal inventory. Ask yourself:

What skills do I have that can help me make the most of this situation?

What knowledge do I have that I might be able to use here?

What tools do I have at my disposal that could be helpful?

What support can I potentially garner from others?

What are my strengths, and how can I make the most use of them in this situation?

Answering these questions will help remind you that you’re, in fact, incredibly resourceful. You already have everything you need to turn disappointment into a positive and empowering experience.

However, to move through this process successfully, you may need to fine-tune your problem-solving and creative thinking skills.

Have you ever considered the fact that your disappointment is nothing more than a problem that needs to be solved?

To solve this problem, you will need to think creatively and critically. Only in this way will you figure out a solution that can help you move past your disappointment. Ask yourself:

What’s the problem that I must solve?

What are the facts and tangible things that I will need to work through?

What creative ideas come to mind for solving this problem?

Always be mindful of the difference between fact and fiction.

Facts are built upon concrete evidence, and fictitious things are based on your opinions, assumptions, and perspectives of the situation.

Opinions, perspectives, and assumptions have no concrete evidence backing them up. As such, don’t use them as a basis for making educated decisions.

To solve this problem successfully, you will need to cultivate optimism, patience, gratitude, and enthusiasm. You will need to be adaptable and flexible in your approach, and you will need to persevere until your desired outcome is achieved.

In addition to this, find time for laughter. Laugh at your disappointments. See the humorous side of every situation. This will help you relax, and may even stimulate creative thoughts, insights, and ideas.

Step 5: Modify Your Expectations and Objectives

The final step of this process requires that you modify your expectations and objectives.

When you modify your expectations, you begin to see things more clearly and rationally. This will likewise help you to alter your objectives.

It’s very possible that you initially aimed a little too high and too quickly. A modified objective will provide you with a realistic target you can work towards. And, of course, once you hit that mark you can then raise the bar higher the next time around.


What to do in the Midst of Disappointment

It’s difficult to get through life without at times feeling disappointed. You’re human after all. And as a human being, you typically hold expectations of how you would like things to be.

Expectations are, of course, wonderful as they help us to look forward with anticipation to a desired future. Moreover, expectations can keep us focused, motivated, and are critical for goal setting.

Whenever you set goals, you create desired outcomes for yourself. These outcomes, of course, won’t always come to fruition. More times than not, things may not turn out as expected. Given this, you need to prepare yourself for handling disappointment.

Here are nine suggestions that can help you to work through your disappointments in optimal ways.

Calm Yourself Down

Okay, I understand you’re feeling incredibly disappointed right now. Things didn’t quite pan out as you had expected. And now you’re feeling completely overwhelmed. You can’t, however, solve a problem while indulging in this state-of-mind. You, instead, need to relax and calm your mind.

With that in mind, take a moment to calm yourself down. You can, for instance, do this by focusing on the present moment. Or, simply, step away from the situation to clear your thoughts. The key is to give yourself the space you need to clear your mind.

Other suggestions that may work for you include taking a nap, getting a massage, or indulging in a steam room or sauna.

Once you’re in a more relaxed and calmer state-of-mind, you can begin thinking about things somewhat differently. This can help trigger new insights and perspectives that could help you modify your approach moving forward.

Distract Yourself

If calming your mind doesn’t seem to be work, then immediately distract yourself from your disappointment.

Distract yourself by listening to music, by watching a movie, by talking with someone, or through reading a book. These distractions will help settle you down.

Then when you’re ready, you can get back to the situation at hand with a fresh perspective at your disposal.

There’s not much point trying to deal with something if you’re obsessing about disappointment.

Transform Your Physiology

The moment disappointment hits you like a ton of bricks, your physiology instantly changes.

Think for a moment about a time you were extremely excited about something. How did you move your body during those moments? How did you stand, breathe, and gesture? This is what I would call a resourceful state-of-mind.

Now think about a time where you experienced incredible disappointment. I bet your body was moving somewhat differently, right? Your posture was probably slumped, your breath was shallow, and your gestures were subdued. This is what I would call an unresourceful state-of-mind.

Understanding the difference between a resourceful and unresourceful state-of-mind — as it relates back to your physiology — is paramount when it comes to snapping yourself out of disappointment.

While experiencing disappointment, pay attention to your physiology and immediately make some adjustments.

For instance, think about how you would use your body while feeling excited and confident. Once you have a clear picture of what this would look like, make the necessary adjustments to how you move, talk, gesture, and breathe.

When you’re in a more empowered state-of-mind, you will begin to think and act differently, which will help you make more optimal decisions moving forward.

Disappointment is Clouded in Fog

It’s important to keep in mind that our feelings of disappointment might not always be as we imagine them to be.

Disappointment can frequently result from misunderstandings, from confusion, and is often based on your personal expectations and interpretations of a situation.

Just maybe, you really have nothing to be disappointed about. All you need to do is shift your perspective of the situation and, all of a sudden, what seemed unfortunate, may, in fact, turn into your greatest opportunity.

Transform Your Perspective

How you perceive things must encourage you to move forward with confidence. It must help you adopt a solution-focused mindset that promotes “out of the box” thinking.

What if instead of feeling disappointed you shifted your perspective in the following three ways:

There’s always a silver lining… What about this situation gets me excited?

Everything happens for a reason… Why is it important that I experience this disappointment?

This could’ve been much worse… What specifically about this am I grateful for?

These three shifts in perspective provide you with new insights that encourage you to think more objectively about your situation.

Disappointment is Only Temporary

It’s absolutely crucial that during moments of disappointment you understand that disappointment is only a temporary condition.

Yes, you did something. And yes, things didn’t quite work out. But why? Answer this questions and learn from this experience, then adjust your course of action moving forward.

All your disappointments provide you with valuable lessons you can use to improve your chances of success the next time around.

Don’t Admit Your Disappointment

Don’t ever admit that you’re feeling disappointed…

Okay, this seems to contradict what I said earlier when I mentioned that it’s important to admit how you feel. However, hear me out…

Focusing on what you’ve lost and what you’ve failed to do or achieve, will only deflate your self-confidence.

Rather than admitting your disappointment, it might be better to immediately reframe your disappointment as a learning experience.

Therefore, if you find that you’re one of those people who’s easily overwhelmed by disappointment, then avoid admitting the fact that you’re feeling disappointed. Instead, shift your perspective about the situation by reframing it in more optimal ways.

Don’t Demand Perfection from Yourself

The reality is that no matter how hard you try, you will never be perfect. You’re human, and perfection is not part of your nature.

Accept the fact that perfection is not attainable and focus instead on making progressive improvement over time.

However, even when it comes to improvement, you will often take two steps forward and one step back. And that’s perfectly okay.

You need to take that one step back to gain a clearer perspective and understanding of your predicament. You must learn from that experience without resistance.

The key is to go with the flow and strive for improvement over perfection.

Don’t Attempt to Control the Outcome

When it comes to sudden and unexpected feelings disappointment, sometimes the more you try and control the outcome, the more frustration and disappointment you will experience.

There’s no point trying to control things that are out of your control. It’s akin to trying to catch the wind with your bare hands. It’s simply impossible.

Instead, give up the desire to control external events, and instead, use the suggestions listed here to work through moments of disappointment in optimal ways.

Guidelines for Feeling Less Disappointed


What to do After a Disappointment

How you respond to disappointment will not only affect your current situation but will also foretell how you’re likely to approach future disappointments as you continue to work toward your desired goals.

Here are several more suggestions to help you handle disappointment in optimal ways.

Focus on the War, Not the Battles

Don’t get lost in being short-sighted. Thinking short-term and not having the foresight to look beyond your disappointment will prevent you from seeing the bigger picture and the possibilities that may exist on the horizon.

Your disappointment is only one battle that has temporarily pulled you off course. However, you’re still fighting the war, and there are many battles yet to come.

You will, of course, win some battles, and lose others. No matter what happens, the battles are only part of the bigger picture. Winning the war is what counts in the end.

Focus on winning the war, not the individual battles.

Look for Potential Opportunities

The moment of disappointment presents a perfect and unique opportunity to expand your horizons.

As one door closes a window opens. However, if you’re just staring at that closed door, you won’t see the open window. 🙂

Sometimes the open window will be out of sight. However, it won’t be out of mind. You merely need to look for the signs that an opportunity exists. Get a feel for where the breeze is coming from. This will help you adjust your course of action moving forward.

As long as you stay positive and receptive, you will eventually find a way out of your disappointing situation.

Ask Questions to Gain Clarity

After a disappointment, take some time to ask yourself some thought-provoking questions that will help you to get a better understanding of the situation:

Was I clear about what I wanted?

Why was I attached to this outcome?

What did I think was going to happen?

Was I realistic about my expectations?

How will I benefit from letting this go?

Will this disappointment really matter in six months time?

Could I have done something differently?

What resources could assist me to move through this successfully?

How can I best utilize these resources?

These questions will lay down a path to help you move forward with a greater sense of clarity and confidence as you work toward your goals.

How to Overcome Disappointment


Concluding Thoughts

Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong, at the worst possible time, all at once, when you least expect it. That is in essence what Murphy’s Law is about. And within Murphy’s Law lies the hidden key to overcoming your disappointments.

To minimize future disappointment, you need to take into account what could potentially go wrong as you make progress toward your goals. You must then formulate appropriate contingency plans to reduce the risk of potential failure and mistakes.

This, of course, isn’t a full-proof strategy. However, it can certainly help you make better decisions when confronted with seemingly unexpected setbacks.

With all that said, in the end, it’s not what happens to you that matters, but rather how you respond to the disappointments that life throws your way. That is what will make all the difference tomorrow. 🙂


Time to Assimilate these Concepts

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Six Steps for Getting Over Disappointment


Adam is a life coach, mind mapper, doodler and visual thinker. He founded IQ Matrix in 2009 and has created over 350 self-growth mind maps. He also has a Free 40 Day How to Doodle Course where he teaches how to doodle using simple daily lessons. Read more about Adam’s story, and how he created the concept for IQ Matrix. Feel free to also get in touch and send Adam a message here.