It may seem childish to quote a Monkees song, but hey (hey!), those were my formative years and honestly, their lyrics were often pretty thought-provoking (think “Pleasant Valley Sunday“). So, what do you do when you’re met with disappointment…after disappointment…after disappointment and it does start to feel like “disappointment hollowed all my dreams.” Again and again, you experience an inability to achieve even the simplest of goals. For example, you try and connect with an old friend…submit a grant application…apply for a TED Talk, attend a book proposal clinic…and “nothin’ ever seems to come from it” (thanks, Tom Petty).
After a spate of disappointments a few months ago, the most painful one was receiving the greenlight to blog for Huffington Post by Arianna Huffington herself (see email below just so you don’t think I’m making $#%* up). I was never being able to close the deal after SEVERAL follow-up emails, ultimately realizing I had no recourse because AH had moved on to her next gig, Thrive Global.
That disappointment came on the heels of several others, so I started having serious doubts about myself. I went through a lot of negativity along the lines of, “I guess I’m not as good as I think I am…” And, “Maybe all of my life, I’ve been guilty of over-reach.” And, “Who do I think I am?” And, my sister Laurie’s favorite which makes me laugh (and cringe) every time: “I’m just a dumb ol’ girl from Kentucky.” I just started thinking: “F-it! I’m going to stop being ‘striven’ all the time and just relax and stop trying to achieve this and that.” Maybe goals are for people like Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and other guys who are testosterone-driven type A’s.
Let’s be clear: I’m no type-A entrepreneur. I’m a 58-year-old government worker (with a job I LOVE, by the way), happily married to a wonderful self-created professional tour guide. I live on Miami Beach and enjoy fun hobbies like running, kayaking and aerial yoga. Why isn’t that enough? Why can’t I just relax into what is and be grateful? Well, for one thing, I’m hard-wired for self improvement. You name it and I’ve probably done it: Landmark Forum, Tony Robbins (before he was the giant he is today), Creative Visualization (I met Shakti Gawain herself, through a weird, but amazing “coincidence”), Dale Carnegie courses thanks to an incredibly supportive boss (my classmates voted me “Most Improved”), Transcendental Meditation, a follower of Abraham (Hicks), and I’ve read countless self-improvement books such as Think and Grow Rich, As a Man Thinkest and Anything You Want by Derek Sivers (I’m a major fangirl!). I’m a follower of people like Pamela Slim, Seth Godin, Marie Forleo and Tim Ferris, to name a few. Why can’t I just drink wine, hit the snooze three times before slowly rolling out of bed in the morning and just enjoy what naturally comes into my life?
Somewhere along the way, I developed a “growth mindset” which I only recently came to understand meant that I was in constant self-improvement mode. According to a Harvard Business Review article written by Dr. Carol Dweck, author of the book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success: “Individuals who believe their talents can be developed (through hard work, good strategies, and input from others) have a growth mindset. They tend to achieve more than those with a more fixed mindset (those who believe their talents are innate gifts).” But what happens when all this drive and ambition never translates into success?
Have you had your share of disappointments? How’d you get over them? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.