Pick Yourself Up and Try Again

November 13, 2012

We’ve all been in situations when something work-related just hasn’t gone our way. And if it’s something you feel you have worked super hard for then it’s even worse. Gutting even. Not everything we plan for or aim towards always comes off, so how can you cope with a professional disappointment without taking it out on your loved ones or hitting the gin?

I have all kinds of mini-disappointments in my working life. From not being booked by an awesome sounding couple, to pressing publish on a blog post to a sea of silence. In general however, life is good. I work hard and most times I have happy news. All kinds of opportunities come my way and I like to think I grab them all by the short & curlies and make the best of them. I love my clients and I get to work with great photographers at Photography Farm. Plus when all the hard work from the workshop is done, we get to kick back and make use of the rockstar facilities – it’s really pretty great. I even recently went to New York because I was invited to speak for the B&H Event Space and The Blogcademy. Amazing. In between the two events we hung out and generally had a blast. Recently however, I faced a big career disappointment.

A while back I was told that I was in line for a huge worldwide industry award. I had been nominated by some pretty high up people, whose radar I had no idea I was even on. The first thing I did was call Kat to scream my news down the phone as I knew she would understand what a big deal it was. It was super early in the morning but hey… that’s what friends are for. I felt like I had won an Oscar. However when I looked into the small print for the award, it turned out I couldn’t qualify. I was sooooo totally gutted. I felt like I had been invited to Buckingham Palace thinking I was getting an OBE only to be ushered in the servant’s entrance and told I had to polish the silver.

Now I know what you’re thinking, doesn’t she already have an award? Isn’t that a tad greedy to want another? Well it’s a little known fact that it’s just as hard work to stay at the top as it is to get to the top, and so I’m constantly looking at ways to push myself and improve. But once I found out I couldn’t even be considered anymore, I was left wishing that I never even knew I was nominated. To cope with these feelings, I turned to the person who had shared in the good news, thanks Mrs Williams for the wise words of support. My husband poured the wine and my little family all told me I was a winner in their eyes, but for a whole day I moped about feeling sorry for myself.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, here’s my advice. Firstly PLEASE don’t be tempted to spill your guts on your business social media. I am a firm believer in maintaining a happy and cheerful public face… A client or potential client won’t be impressed if you’re on Twitter or Facebook moaning about how work isn’t brilliant or you’re going through some personal trauma. Save all that stuff for your personal Facebook or actually go out in real life with friends and talk to them about it.

The way I see it, your professional social media is where you show off your edited highlights. Imagine if your business was a movie, you need to put out a trailer of all your best bits, not all the rubbish that ends up on the cutting room floor… you with me? Just remember that most other people are doing the same thing so don’t compare your director’s cut with their high octane preview. We all know that most of the time a movie doesn’t live up to it’s trailer anyway. So if you look at everybody else’s updates and feel bad, remember they are just sharing the best bits and the whole truth might be very different story indeed.

I also have private Facebook groups that I’m a member of with only a few trusted friends that we can share the not so good stuff with each other and lend support and advice. There are plenty of days where that support means the world. For those of us working at a computer, often by ourselves, it’s imperative to have people to talk to. Just like if you were in a traditional office environment you’d have trusted workmates to turn to if the boss was giving you a hard time.

In a career it can sometimes feel as if you are taking one step forward then three steps back, but remember that all of these steps are leading you on your own personal journey. Most of the time, the steps back teach us to appreciate the forward steps all the more.

So, the day after this huge disappointment I woke up and decided to just get on with things. First up was editing this couple shoot that I did in NYC with the fabulous Gala Darling and her adorable husband Mike. Gala’s positive attitude to life is truly infectious and inspiring, so it would be nigh on impossible to be down when looking at pictures of her. I started to think that it would be easy to wallow and really let the disappointment sully all the positives, but sometimes things are just not meant to be. You have to pick yourself up and try again, all the while remembering all the other amazing things you’ve done or achieved. They can be little things or they can be huge things – just don’t forget them when you’re feeling down.

Dale Carnegie wrote in How to Win Friends and Influence People “It isn’t what you have, or who you are, or where you are, or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about.” So right now, I’m thinking about Farm Week that launches this week, as well as all the others I’m involved in. In fact I barely have time to think I’m so busy.

I’m sure I will face future disappointments, as will you, it’s all part of life. But with the stuff I can control, I will be doing them with a renewed energy and excitement for the New Year and all that it might bring.

If you’ve recently struggled with some work-related disappointments why not share them below – as well as how you dealt with them. Do you have any advice for people struggling or are you currently feeling low about something and you’re after a bit of encouragement yourself? Leave a comment and let’s figure it out together!

About the Author

Lisa Devlin is a wedding photographer from Brighton and a regular contributor to The Green Room. She hosts the 3-day long Photography Farm on a regular basis. The next Farm will be taking place from the 19th-21st March (with guest speaker & stylist yours truly!)

Lisa is also launching the 5 day non-residential Farm Week which will take place this January with an awesome timetable of talks and master-classes from some of the industry’s finest including Kirsty Mitchell and Brooke Davis. Registration is now open at http://photographyfarm.co.uk. For enquiries or bookings email Lisa on lisa@devlinphotos.co.uk or call 01273231047.


  1. I would have been disappointed if you hadn’t written this article, and I keep learning that often in the face of what seems like a big setback. Not only is the best yet to come, but it tends to be better than what I wanted in the first place.

    Wise words lovely lady, wise words. I’ll make you an award outta paper and glitter xxx

  2. Great advice as always. Especially remembering that everyone is broadcasting the highlights of their business life, that’s so important to remember. Thank you Lisa 🙂

  3. Thank you for this Lisa and Kat. I find that working from home (even though I get to do it with the man I adore) means I don’t get the praise or the feedback or the motivation I crave in order to push me forward. I’ve always been someone who works hard and takes the knockbacks extremely personally – after all it’s only me running my part of the business and I don’t always want to moan to my husband when he has to live with me the rest of the week! He’s extremely supportive but we aren’t always that good at leaving our business at the office door and switching off after office hours.

    Thank you for letting me expel a little hot air. I know support and motivation from others is vital at the moment, so I can rest assured that while things aren’t that good in my business, I’m still doing the right thing for my family.

    I’m also reminded (thanks to the gorgeous pics of Gala) that I’m lucky enough to have a roof over my head, hot water in my tank and food on the table. Whilst some things suck, people like Gala who are recovering from the aftermath of something they had no control over, give me a virtual kick up the backside and remind me to be thankful for small mercies.

    Great post, thank you xx

  4. So near So far

    This made me blub! I’ve just got to the end of a very long training course had my first proper job all lined up and everything looked in it’s place but then I basically fell at the last hurdle. I failed the very final thing on my training and in a very humiliating and hurtful way. I still have the chance to pass and my employers are holding the job for me but my confidence has taken such a knock. It’s helpful to remember we all get knocks from time to time and that there is a bigger picture.

  5. Great guest post, thank you ! Plus the photos of Gala & Mike are really cool.

    I’ve encountered a major professionnal disappointment recently, having left a very comfortable -yet boring- day job to join an exciting creative start-up company…which turned out to have financial problems and finally couldn’t hire me. I’ve been out of work for ten days now and though I don’t regret a second handing my resignation letter and trying to follow my bliss, I’m not coping so well. Outmost confusion, blurred priorities (should I concentrate on fiding another employer ? start my own business ? write a novel ?) and low self-esteem (what can I expect if I can’t even figure what I want to do?) are my companions.
    I try not to vent about this situation and to remain positive, but denying my disappointment doesn’t seem to work.
    I truly believe this is some joke of destiny that will lead me to something great via a complicated path. But emotionally… I’m still trying to figure out how to “pick myself up”.

    I started a new habit though, that can be some help to people like me who don’t feel they get the most out of their unemployed time. Every evening I write a list of everything I did or learnt during the day, even the small stuff. Helps me realise everyday is full of accomplishments and discoveries. Every step on my path counts if it is a conscious step.

    Love from Paris,


  6. Lisa, As someone who inspires me to aim higher in my career, your post came at just the right time for me to read and reflect on. Thank you for being so open. Great post ladies x

  7. Thanks Lisa for writing this post and allowing me to publish it. It seems to have touched a nerve with a lot of you xx

  8. Bran – so true. sometimes our problems can feel so huge and then you see the devastation that the east coast are facing and it all pales in comparison. Luckily my friends are safe but its been scary times

  9. Thank you, I needed this today.

    I’ve just moved from one end of the country to the other, taken a massive financial risk and turned my life upside down with the ultimate aim of taking my work to the next level. I knew there would be good/awesome times and some lows, and today is one of the thumping great big lows. it will take time to settle in, but it’s not going to happen overnight and I was ready for it to take a while.

    I’m seeing my family over the next couple of days and while it will be great to see them, it also means stepping back into the old as I will be clearing stuff from my old house. I am apprehensive about this.

    Time to pull on my running shoes and head out in the fresh air as this always lifts my spirit. And to remind myself why I’m doing what i’m doing, and that if i wasn’t good enough, I wouldn’t have got onto the course I’m on.

    Thanks again

  10. Alexa Kent

    Amen sister. I hear you! I think that this is an awesome post and it seems that a lot of people agree. You speak so well about issues that a lot of us go through. Not only does this make me feel better about knock backs, but your hints on how to pick yourself up are very helpful. Thank you.x

  11. There’s a bookmark I keep on my dressing table that says ‘Be proud in how far you’ve come and have faith in how far you can go’. It’s a bit twee but the sentiment works for me when I’m feeling a bit up in arms 🙂

    If it meant anything you’d be getting the Emma Lucy award for most supportive and inspiring industry photographer ever! x

  12. Wow, it seems i am not the only one then. Phew and thanks so much for taking the time to respond and leave some kind words. I’m over it now, honestly, really I am okay???? 😉

  13. Thank you Lisa until this year I didn’t know any other wedding photographers and felt like I was very much on my own. Sitting at home just hoping I was doing the right thing! I then decided not to sit still and get out there, thats when I found Kat Williams with her wicked wedding blog and Lisa Devlin with her amazing Photography Farm I haven’t looked back now armed with heaps of photography friends I feel like I could take on any job or the world!!! Thank you guys you rock!!

  14. Melinda

    “All kinds of opportunities come my way and I like to think I grab them all by the short & curlies and make the best of them.”

    Good to see you get it and are passing on it on. The reflects my absolute favourite saying:

    “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Thomas Edison

    But not you.

  15. Jayme

    This post certainly touched a nerve with me, in a slightly different way. I haven’t so much been disappointed yet, as am afraid to take the next step in fear of being disappointed. This post helps me to remember that disappointment is all part of the process and I shouldn’t be afraid of it, but rather accepting that nothing can be all kittens and roses all of the time. It is still going to take some time for me to jump these hurdles that stand in front of me, but day by day I can feel them breaking down and I know I will get there eventually! I am so glad that via my wedding planning I found Kat’s blog and that there are many encouraging and supportive people in the world 🙂


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