How to deal with disappointment

Published on: 5 Sep 2016

Sometimes, even with all your perfect planning, things don’t go to plan, which can be infuriating, disappointing and stressful in equal measures. Sometimes it was an instance where the failure lies entirely with you, and sometimes, it was totally out of your control. Either way, dealing with the subsequent feelings are entirely your problem.

It could be the project that didn’t go to plan, the bid that didn’t win the client, the travel schedule that was significantly disrupted, the pay rise you asked for but didn’t get, the job you really wanted but weren’t successful in.  Whatever the reason, the result may be that you feel a wide range of emotions- anger, helplessness, impotence, guilt...we can translate the ‘thing that didn’t happen the way we wanted’ as manifesting itself as ‘ENTIRELY OUR FAULT AND EVERYONE WILL KNOW I WAS RUBBISH’.

This is one of those times when people say things like ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’. I have never found that particularly helpful. What I have found helpful, is allowing, in a safe and controlled manner (such as boxing in the gym or talking to a trusted friend) allowing an outlet for those feelings. For an allocated and brief time, I allow myself to feel every negative thought and emotion that I’ve tried to push to the back of my head and ignore- by letting it come up and out in a way that isn’t detrimental to anyone else. I can look at it, feel it swell up and then, slowly but surely, reduce down. How will you feel in a month? A year? (Don’t air your frustrations on social media, that can only be a bad idea). As I analyze it though, I realise that this isn’t the end of my world. It’s not going to be on my gravestone. It’s not ‘the thing that is going to define me forever more’. It’s just a thing that happened in a way I didn’t like. Take your time to heal over it, but don’t wallow in self pity.

I think Executive Assistants often have to plaster a smile on their faces when they don’t feel that way at all, and keep going. I think allowing yourself time to feel the exact opposite is very healing.  Manage your emotions in a way that is healthy and works for you- I have a friend that buys crockery from charity shops and smashes it in a safe space to express her rage. Don’t take it personally- it can certainly feel personal when your boss says no to a bonus, but it doesn’t mean the decision was made that way. Review your expectations- perhaps they weren’t as balanced as they could have been? And most importantly, take a bigger perspective. Whatever is important to you- perhaps family, health, travelling, studying- is your bigger picture. Not this set back. Don’t catastrophize and doubt yourself. You know yourself better than anyone, and you, quite simply, are fabulous. It’s just that not everyone knows that. Yet....


Abigail Jones

Abigail Jones is a career Executive Assistant, with almost two decades' of experience. With three degrees in the Arts, she started working at the V&A Museum, Tate, Christies, Sotheby's before moving into Healthcare, Charity, Fashion/Luxury Retail (L'Oreal) and is currently working for American Express Global Business Travel as EA to the MD.