The Real Reason Behind Disappointment

Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

There I was, watching my final sales numbers rolling in with a growing sense of dread building in my gut. I wasn’t going to hit my goal. Again. This realization triggered a cascade of emotions. Frustration, discouragement, disappointment.

What was I doing wrong that this kept happening to me? I started to see myself as less capable than other business owners who obviously knew something I didn’t. I started to give up on myself and my dreams. Clearly I wasn’t capable of building the business I had dreamed of for myself.

As I was struggling in the midst of this fear and worry, having quite a little pity party for myself, a close friend told me, “You have to stop putting a deadline on your dream.”

At first, I thought she was nuts. Of course, I needed to have a deadline. I wanted to build my business NOW, not at some random point in the future when I was too old to even care anymore. I’d been well-taught on SMART goals, and I knew that my goals had to have a deadline.

But as I really thought about it, I realized that she was right.

I was doing something I had never done before. At the time, my goal was $20,000 per month. That was more than I had ever earned in a month, so I truly didn’t know what it was going to take to get there. I certainly didn’t know how long it would take.

I had set an arbitrary goal with an arbitrary deadline, and then beat myself up when I didn’t make it. Seems pretty silly in retrospect.

But isn’t this what so many of us do? We impose an arbitrary date by which we “should” have achieved our new goal, and if we don’t hit it, clearly we are failures.

Until that time, my biggest revenue month was $16,000. I had been trying to reach my goal of $20,000 by working harder doing more of the same things I had done up until that point.

It took me a while to realize that I couldn’t reach my goal by trying harder. I had maxed out on how far trying harder could take me.

I had to grow into my new goal. I had to develop the capabilities, skills, beliefs, and habits that would support the goal I had for myself. Once I had done that, then reaching the goal would be easy.

This process showed me that disappointment stems from one thing: Disappointment comes from taking score of your results too soon.

When you take score of your results too soon, and you aren’t where you think you should be, you derail all the progress you’ve made. You lose all your momentum. You set your progress back.

When you are doing something you haven’t done before, you can’t impose a time limit on that goal.

Instead of a deadline, focus on consistent growth, allowing yourself to grow into the person you need to become to reach that goal. When you place your energy here, you WILL reach that goal.

Could I get from $16,000 to $20,000 in two months? No, I couldn’t. It took me three months just to figure out that I needed to change first. Once I figured out that I needed to change, I remained firmly committed to my goal AND to becoming the type of person I needed to be to reach it.

There I was six months later, watching my sales hit $23,000 on the 18th of the month. I had done it. It was the best feeling in the world. I had remained committed to myself and my goal, and I did it.

Since this time, I’ve come to realize that disappointment is always the result of imposing a random time schedule on a goal I’ve set.

Stop setting yourself up for disappointment with the deadlines you set for yourself. Instead, know that everything is right on schedule, even when it doesn’t feel that way. (Especially when it doesn’t feel that way.)

Stay focused on the goal, despite appearances around you. This state of eager, yet patient, anticipation is the fuel that moves you forward.



Helping entrepreneurs and business owners charge what they are worth and make a difference in the world.

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Jennifer Sneeden

Helping entrepreneurs and business owners charge what they are worth and make a difference in the world.