When Life Happens To The Best Of Us

How To Overcome Disappointment, Discouragement & Desperation

It’s almost comical. Except that it’s not. I’m about to just write off January altogether. It’s simply not my favorite and it has not gone “according to plan.” Sometimes, life happens. Am I the only one?

And once again, I have found myself with a discouraging set of circumstances to start off the new year, and an attitude to match. Something about the cold, bare, stripped away season of winter, gets under my skin. Some years, I beat back the winter shadow with sheer determination and embrace the “magical joy” of winter. But it is simply not my first love. And this year, I’m weary. I feel like most days lately, are filled with me trudging through the motions just to make something happen. So it’s apropos that I came across this from last year. I’m reading and taking my own advice today. Want to join me?


It is already February, but as far as I am concerned, this is the first day of the new year for me. I have spent the majority of my time in January repairing unexpected broken things (my computer and my phone!), taking care of very sick loved ones, being surprised by multiple school snow days, holding some spinning plates of life up in the air, and fitting in new puzzle pieces of travel, childcare, and margin planning. This was NOT how I had planned to start the year. I had BIG goals and BIG dreams for productivity, purpose and progress in every area of my life.

So today, I was geared up and ready to officially start my year of working towards my goals, when my kindergartener ended up with an acute ear infection and we both slept minutes rather than hours last night. And today entailed an urgent care doctor appointment to check for a burst ear drum, lots of screaming, and all around discomfort in my home. Somewhere around the 2:15 AM mark this morning, I realized that all of my best laid plans were once again going to be derailed. And in that moment, and every moment since I might add, I have had to make a choice to embrace the change and “roll with the punches.”

We all know life happens. And we all know that when it happens, what is best is just to “roll with it.” But, it is so easy to get mentally sucked into what I call the Triple D Syndrome (and this is not your mother-in-law’s bra size I am referring to).

Triple D Syndrome: Disappointment, Discouragement, and Desperation

  1. Disappointment: We have made our best plans and done our best preparation. It sure is disappointing when it does not go our way. [We may spend a good part of our day sulking.]
  2. Discouragement: We have been working SO hard to make this happen and it was just yesterday that my plans were hijacked. I am so discouraged this keeps happening. [We may question our existence and purpose if we become so entrenched in this thinking.]
  3. Desperation: This cannot be! I have to do this, or be there, or finish that. If this happens, I cannot make it work! Everything will fall apart. I am desperate to make this work. If not, I’m going to fail. [We could make costly mistakes, and sabotage ourselves and others in the process, if we act out of desperation.]

But, the reality is, choosing to settle for one of those three D’s, is not who we want to be, and it does not lead us where we want to go. The more time we give into disappointment, discouragement, and desperation is more time we spend derailed from our life. And I do not know about you, but I do not like settling for life on those terms. It robs me of my joy, my peace, and my determination.

So today, when faced with the Triple D Syndrome, stop and do these 3 things:

  1. Look in the mirror (literally), take a huge deep breath (literally), and say out loud (literally) “It’s going to be ok.”
  2. Make a CHOICE in this moment not to live defeated today and CHOOSE to be flexible.
  3. Instead of following your original plan, begin by doing the next right thing. Stay in this moment until you know what it is. Then, do the next right thing all day long. Remember that this could be as simple as brushing your teeth, laying down with your child for a nap, emailing your team and delegating your tasks for the day, canceling a lunch appointment, etc.

Remember that you are NOT what you accomplish and tomorrow is a new day. Some days, life happens, and you will be better off by just “rolling with it.”

Join The Conversation: Did January throw anyone else for a loop? You can leave a comment by clicking here.