Struggles, Disappointments, Frustration - Oh My!!!

Catherine Pratt,, @LWConf

Are your disappointments making you doubt yourself as well as the path you’ve chosen?

It seems to be a common belief that if your life passion is frustrating or if you run into obstacles along the way towards a goal then it’s a sign that you’ve made a mistake in your choice and you should perhaps choose something else. Common advice seems to say if it’s the right thing for you then it should be effortless and you should always be in flow and always feel excited when you work on your passion.

So, when you run into obstacles, it can make you doubt what you’re doing. Is it a sign that:

  • Maybe you’re not cut out for this line of business.
  • Maybe you’re doing the wrong thing

The truth is that the belief is wrong.

Frustration can be a sign you’re on the right path.

It’s at that moment when you’re forced to slow down and really think about what you’re trying to do,  that's when learning takes place at a deeper level and you not only learn something, you understand it. You see it from different angles and gain a different perception. At this moment, you have just reached a new level of mastery.

If everything went your way, you wouldn’t learn your goal at more than just a superficial level. When you’re made to slow down and learn everything about something, that’s when you become an expert.

Frustration isn't an interruption of the process. Frustration is the process.

A great quote by Elizabeth Gilbert is:

"Frustration is not an interruption of the process, frustration is the process.

The frustration, the hard part, the obstacle, the insecurities, the difficulty, the “I don’t know what to do with this thing now,” that’s the creative process. And if you want to do it without encountering frustration and difficulty, then you’re not made for that line of work."

Knowing this can completely change your perspective on your passion. Expect to have frustration somewhere along the way and it will reinforce your belief that you are on the right path. If you expect it to be effortless because you’re “meant to do it” then when you run into frustrations, you’ll doubt yourself and could create setbacks for yourself when there's no need for that.

It's About Confidence

Feeling frustrated and disappointed with how something is going can seem like a lack of confidence but if you turn it around with the idea that you’re embracing the frustration as part of plowing ahead and becoming an expert, that increases your confidence. You’re learning something that others will never bother learning.

Also, remember that everybody feels frustrated when trying something challenging or new. Every expert was once a beginner who knew nothing.

Effort is never wasted even when it leads to disappointing results.

Great quote by Marc Chernoff is, "Effort is never wasted, even when it leads to disappointing results.  For it always makes you stronger, more educated, and more experienced.  So when the going gets tough, be patient and keep going.  Just because you are struggling does NOT mean you are failing.  Every great success requires some kind of struggle to get there. 

This isn't to say you should never decide that something isn't for you. There are definitely situations where it would be the best thing for you to choose something else. For example, if you're in a relationship with someone and it's just not working, you're not compatible with each other, and you're trying to force something to work when it's not good for both people. That's a time where deciding not to continue down that path quite likely is the best option for both of you.

This is more about not giving up when you run into the first obstacles along the path towards a goal that means a tremendous amount to you.

The only difference between a master and a beginner is that the master persisted when the beginner stopped.

If a goal is important to you then don't let obstacles stop you. Think of them as valuable learning moments and stay focused on your end goal. You will eventually get to where you're headed.

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