Frustration at work
Life Lessons

How to Overcome Frustration in the Face of Failure

When figuring out what to do after failing Pharmacy School, I became frustrated with myself.  Disorganization and inaction came out of this frustration came.  So I developed a plan to address frustration so I can keep myself dedicated to enacting my personal vision.

Facing frustration

Frustration happens to us all. I describe it as annoying, demoralizing, and mentally exhausting.  A great combination of going nowhere.

Frustration, when not properly managed, can be the enemy of your time and ultimately, your personal vision.  Frustration can end up taking valuable time when it becomes a distraction and time is a commodity, once lost, can never be regained.

Sometimes I find myself going in circles then I just feel like giving up. Time passes and I’m stuck. This causes a chain reaction to slowing my journey as I work on my goals.

An important strategy I’m starting to use so to turn that negative frustration into a positive.  It takes time and practice but frustration can be used as a key to how we understand or misunderstand of an idea or action.

When I get frustrated, I take a minute to think about what I’m frustrated about. Then I try to think of this challenge from a different angle or I reach out to others for their perspectives.

Challenging frustration

Return to the here and now

I feel as if I were a piece in a game of chess, when my opponent says of it: That piece cannot be moved.― Søren Kierkegaard

When I get frustrated, I feel as if my thoughts go to a future where I’m stuck in the same situation, with the same task and nothing gets done or accomplished. Sometimes my thoughts go to a place to think about what would happen if I just gave up or didn’t finish the task.  Or, I start thinking about past failures and it decreases my motivation and creates doubt in myself.

When I find myself going down this mindless path of decreasing or zero productivity, I have to snap out of it.  This is the time when I have to remind myself to get back to the here and now.

I take a moment to clear my mind, sometimes I leave the work area to get a new perspective on things.  Or, I’ll look out the window and try to clear my mind. I find going for a short walk helps me clear my mind and resets my thoughts.

I find that I have to have patience in myself and the process of getting things done, to break the cycle of frustration.  There is no quick way to build patience, it comes over time as it builds on itself.  Start with a little patience and keep it going and eventually you’ll have more than when you started.

Review what was accomplished

When I get back to my work area I briefly go review what I’ve accomplished up to the stopping point.

It helps me keep motivated by seeing there is progress. Sometimes it helps to see the problem from this perspective because maybe something happened earlier that could be changed.

Getting back to the challenge

Now that I’m refreshed and ready to go, I have to get back to the challenge at hand. I think about small incremental steps that I can take to advance the process.  I think about resources available or past event that may be similar enough to provide guidance on what to do next.

This helps reduce frustration. I try to keep in mind that there are multiple paths to a destination.

Keeping a positive attitude

I have the challenge back in front of me; I’m refreshed and find resources to guide me forward now is the time to keep a positive attitude.

Keeping positive is found to reduce stress and increase positive health outcomes.  What good can come from being negative? Nothing. It can only result in mental fatigue and stress, and you’re back where you started and the only thing you’ve done is lost time.

Keeping a positive mental outlook is important to move forward in anything you do.

Final thoughts

Frustration can be both demoralizing and demotivating if you let it.

A strategy I use is to take a step back, take stock of achievements so far, try to think of alternatives (reaching out to others when needed) and keep a positive mental outlook. This helps me keep focused and dedicated to my goals and personal vision.

Let’s see what you can do to fight frustration using these simple tools.

Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning do to do afterward.― Kurt Vonnegut Jr.


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Learning new things about myself after failing out of Pharmacy School


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