How to “Keep the Faith” When Disappointment Strikes

When you pour your heart and soul into your work, it can become very personal. And when you’ve done your best to create something that you feel deep within is a sure win, it can be terribly disappointing when you don’t get the results you feel you deserve.

This disappointment – especially if you were really excited about the work you put out there – can lead to a feeling of deflation and self-doubt. It can cause you to question your talent, or worse, to question your worth.

So how do you keep going during bouts of failure? Here are some ways that creative entrepreneurs can “keep the faith” when disappointment strikes:

1. Understand the entrepreneurial perspective
Everyone fails. Everyone. I’ve never spoken to an entrepreneur who hasn’t had failures. They’ve all failed, I’ve failed, and you will fail, too. And that’s ok! It’s part of running a business, and if you realize that failure is not the same thing as you or your work not being good, then you can assess what didn’t work and try again. Failure equals growth if you let it.

2. Disappointed ≠ Discouraged
It’s ok to be disappointed. Nobody likes failing. Pretending you’re not disappointed when you get an outcome you don’t particularly care for doesn’t honor your feelings, and we can’t only experience “good” emotions – that’s just not how being a human works. But being disappointed is not the same thing as being discouraged. You can experience disappointment and not have it deter you from getting out there again. The key to this is truly believing that what you have to offer is of value.

3. Get some honest feedback
If something isn’t working, one of the best things you can do is ask people why. Ask people you are close to who will be honest. Ask lots of potential customers/audience members. Find out why they are not interested, and you’ll solve a big piece of the puzzle. If you don’t get a good result the second time out, ask again. Keep refining until what you have is working.

4. Have a good understanding of your purpose
It can be easy to lose faith when you haven’t established your greater purpose. Why are you doing what you do? What do you wish to accomplish? What do you want it to do for others? Think legacy here – there’s a big difference saying your purpose is to offer a service or a product and identifying why you offer that service/product. Focus on the outcomes for yourself and others, and you’ll realize that what you’re doing isn’t about something as petty as everything you do going well. It’s much bigger than that.

5. Exhaust your possibilities
In my coaching work, when I hear that someone is feeling down about their work, I ask them what they’ve tried. “Everything!” is usually the reply. And yet when I start asking questions and throwing out ideas, it turns out most of those ideas haven’t been considered or explored yet. It’s a big world! If one thing isn’t working, try a different way. If one door doesn’t open, find another one (or a window!). And if you can’t think of anything new to try, talk to people – work with a coach/consultant or ask your mentors for suggestions. Don’t be afraid to connect with people who are succeeding at what you want to be doing!

All in all, the only reason to really give up is if you’ve decided that you don’t enjoy what you’re doing anymore. Being in business for yourself involves many components beyond your creative talent. For some, it means you have to learn skills you weren’t aware you would need. For others, having to perform those other aspects of freelancing makes it not worth it. That is certainly an individual choice, but know this: coming up short is a common side effect of being in business. The good news is if you so choose, you can use those moments to climb even higher.

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