Butterfly  You botched the interview. You didn’t get into the MBA program at a top-tier university. The promotion you were seeking went to someone else. Things are not going according to the plan and now your life is upside down and you’re walking through molasses. How do you regain balance after disappointment?

What about if you reframed the disappointment as a catalyst to your growth? You could then consider these trying times as an opportunity to become stronger and wiser. I’d like you to consider these four steps toward balance after disappointment:

1. Remain present for the experience

The desire to escape the pain of disappointment is the path of least resistance. Try to remain present. It is more painful in the short run, but in the long run, greater emotional health and vitality will be your reward. I’ve found that the disappointment comes through in waves. The intensity waxes and wanes. By remaining present, you can acknowledge the situation with clarity. Say to yourself, “I am here now. I will not be here forever. This too will pass.”

2. Seek and accept support

If you recognize that you are not alone in the struggle against the pain of disappointment, your challenge becomes less self-centered and more about what it means to be a human being in the year 2015. These are hyper-competitive times. Once you remember that we are all connected to the great mystery of life, you’ll feel less alone and more inclined to accept support from others who also continue the struggle. There are times in your life when you’ve held the lantern in the dark for others, helping to show them the way. Now it’s your turn to be led. No one can take the journey for you, but they can hold your hand and guide you through the darkness into the light.

3. Recognize experience becomes wisdom

When you are in the midst of your challenge, it’s hard to imagine a time when the transformation will be complete and the experience will become wisdom. As long as you feel you’re in transformation, you are not any wiser for it. It is when you are complete with the struggle that you can gain perspective and can then transform the experience into wisdom. You no longer identify with the disappointment. You have distance from your challenge and can now examine it with clarity and perspective. You’ll look back and reflect on your behavior and the results of your actions. Don’t judge them as good or bad. They simply are. Then take that information and catalog it. Now it is in your mental and emotional files. Soon you will be called upon to participate in another struggle. It may not be any easier, but now you have a greater awareness of how to get through it. You will be wiser than before, but not as wise as you will become.

4. Life is a gift beyond measure

Sometimes life will be raw. But if you allow it, your life can become a creative expression of who we are. The choice to be awake and present for the experience can crystallize in greater clarity on your purpose for being on this Earth at this time. It is up to you to decide. This opportunity to choose is given to you every time you face challenge and struggle. When you are in the metamorphosis from a cocoon to a butterfly remember that the reward of your great effort is wings to take flight.

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Cover of Book

At midlife, my two college-bound children left home at the same time.  Restless and living in an empty nest, I questioned: Am I living my life’s purpose?  I heard prophetic words that altered the course of my life:  If you want something to change, make a new choice.  This advice set my heart on fire.  How far would I be willing to go outside my comfort zone to discover who I really am?  As I shouted “yes” to my newfound desire, I wondered after the course of a year where I might end up.  I surrendered the need to know, figuring that this was all part of the journey which basically began before I even left Sacramento.  I sold my home and possessions.  The remaining belongings were packed into a Lexus coupe.  Then I launched on a pilgrimage across California where I lived in one city per month for a year.

I started my journey in the mountains and ended at the ocean.  After an entire year of being on the road, I made some insightful discoveries, now lessons, which I’ll share with you below.  I’ll be the first to admit, changing the course of your life takes some true grit, not for the faint of heart.  If you’re ready to trust that a larger story of your life is unfolding, then I have three words of advice for you—beast mode, engaged!

  1. If you want something to change, make a new choice

If you want to experience another way of living your life, make a new choice and follow that path on your journey.   The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting a new result.  Make a new choice.

  1. Passion requires risk

When was the last time you had butterflies in your stomach and felt your heart pound wildly?  Resting safe and secure in your comfortable life will not inspire passion.  Put your head in the lion’s mouth and feel what it means to be alive. Make a new choice and change the trajectory of your life.

  1. Say yes to every opportunity

Your life contracts or expands.  When you say no, it contracts.  When you say yes, it expands.  “Yes” sends the message that you’re in expansion mode.  Yes is a muscle you strengthen every time you use it.  Your reward is confidence.

  1. Release attachment to outcome

The direct cause of suffering is desire.  What you want for your own life may not be what the world wishes or needs.  There may be something much bigger and bolder waiting for you.  Surrender your will.  Trust that a larger story of your life is unfolding.

  1. Every step of the journey is the journey

Your journey has no start or end.  Your existence is infinite.  Life mirrors the universe, it continues to expand and evolve.  You create meaning of your life with each choice you make.  Wake up to yourself.  There is only one time and it is now.