7 Ways to Benefit from Not Getting What You Want

“Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.” ~Dalai Lama

A year ago, I hit rock bottom. Until that point, I had put all my energy into my dream of becoming a physician. Last year my life slammed into a brick wall, and my plans seemed to be torn into pieces.

After high school, I took every opportunity to immerse myself in the medical profession while maintaining my grades in college.

During the summer of my freshman year, I worked as an Emergency Medical Technician and practiced being a first responder during medical emergencies. Over the next three years, I woke up at 6:00 AM on the weekends and drove an hour to work as a Patient Care Assistant on the Trauma floor at Parkland Hospital.

However, none of my hard work, experiences, or ambitions seemed significant last year when I didn’t gain acceptance to medical school.

All the work I had put into achieving my dream meant nothing. The energy that I had expelled to become a physician felt meaningless. I was a senior graduating from college, but I no longer had a life plan.

After a challenging year, I finally let go—and then I got into medical school.

I feel grateful now to share how hitting a brick wall can make you stronger. In fact, it could be one of the best things that could happen to you.

1. When you hit rock bottom, the only way to go is up.

After a huge disappointment, fear of failure disappears. Once you hit a major low, you realize that any action you take must lead to something better.

This mindset gave me the conviction to search for other ways of utilizing my passion for medicine. After speaking with a mentor and doing some research, I decided to apply to a Master’s program that could prepare me for medical school.

The Master’s program was a challenge of its own, but considering where I had been the previous year, I hit a point of no return and thought “Bring it on!”

2. Hitting a brick wall gives you the chance to realign your focus.

Usually, when our plans don’t play out as we want them to, we tend to look within ourselves. We think about where we went wrong, what we could have done differently, and what we can change about ourselves to make sure we never end up in the same position.

Giving myself a reality check pushed me to work smarter and aim higher than I had before. Everyone makes mistakes, but learning from our mistakes can radically change our lives.

3. Even the slightest improvement in your life gives you confidence to carry on.

When faced with a speed bump on your journey, the second you get back on the road, your self-esteem gets a boost. Without the speed bump, many people may not even appreciate the smooth road ahead.

Although you may be taking little steps on your way back up, every step counts. As you practice staying committed to taking a step every day, you will begin to trust yourself in a way you may never have learned to otherwise.

4. You learn things to prevent mistakes in the future.

When things don’t pan out as you hoped they would, you develop rules and values to help guide your future. You may gather lessons or develop a mantra to live by in order to move on stronger and more prepared.

Once we come to terms with the message, we tend not to make the same mistake again. When aligned with our intuition, a level of pain resurfaces if we come close to repeating the same mistake.

5. Your “should do” becomes “must do.”

When you face the reality of missing out on your dream, taking action is not just a choice. It becomes essential. You realize that life is short, and if anything is going to get done, it needs to get done in the present moment.

As a result, you focus to align your actions with the life you want to create. You no longer wait for luck to come to you. Instead, you take the reins of life in your own hands and create your future.

6. You pursue your goal and work hard even when not rewarded.

When changing your values and realigning your focus to recover from a setback in life, you become accustomed to giving your all. No matter how much more challenging than before, this becomes a habit.

After a while, you realize that one of the greatest pleasures in life comes from simply knowing that you are doing your best every day. At the end of the day, knowing that you are moving one step closer to your goal is what brings satisfaction.

7. When you overcome the challenge, nothing seems too big to handle.

Once you create something positive for yourself, regardless of that thing that didn’t work out, you will feel that you’re ready to race any challenge that may present itself.

Overcoming barriers in life may take time, but patience and perseverance make you a more resilient person.

It took me a year of pushing myself to reach my goal. I didn’t plan it that way, but I’m grateful for what that year gave me.

There will always be challenges in life. Confidence comes from accepting and facing those obstacles and letting them make you stronger.

Photo by PVT INC

About Lida Shaygan

Lida enjoys writing, learning, running, and doing yoga. She holds a Master’s degree in Biomedical Science and will be a medical student in July.

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  • Nice article, and I love the Dalai Lama quote. This reminds me of the Dark Night of the Soul concept and an anonymous quote that says “I grew the way corn grows in the night”. Has a very primal feel to it. Thanks for this!

  • I can absolutely relate to this piece, especially the first point.  “When you hit rock bottom, the only way to go is up”.  For a long time, I was the kind of person who worried a lot, and in the past few years I had become very fearful and resistant to change of any kind.  I would talk myself out of trying new things or branching out in any way.  After my biggest fear in life actually happened last year, it reset my whole outlook.  I know bad things still can and will happen, but for the most part I have nowhere else to go but up.  Since my greatest fear has already happened, all the little things I used to worry about almost seem laughable now.  Of course it was incredibly traumatic and I had to do a lot of work to heal and recover from it, but after the hard parts it was also very freeing.  It’s amazing how much my outlook has changed after what I’ve gone through.  I feel like the world is wide open to me now, which is pretty amazing!

  • Thank you so much for your posts. They have amazingly lined up with my life. Yesterday I just hit a huge setback with everything I’ve wanted, and was rejected by the person I care about more then anything in the world. But I woke up this morning, and realized I actually have a great life, and a great friend, and I no longer have to make my self miserable going for something I think might make me a little bit more happy. I actually feel relieved that its over, because now I have new options to get what I want.

  • Lida

    Hi Isaac, I’m glad that you connected with this post! You seem like a great person since you are making the best of your situation and have an affirmative outlook on your life. Keep your head up. Life has a way of working out for the best, and the journey is what makes you stronger. All the best, Lida.

  • Lida

    Thanks Alannah! Reading your story made me relate to you as well. Some of fears and worries actually don’t come true, but if they do- we no longer find it significant to fear anything. It is refreshing to see how your outlook changed, and I am happy for you!
    All the best, Lida.

  • Lida

    Thank you 🙂

  • Jlmanlowe, Your Memoir Mentor

    Lida, this quote is going to make you laugh and sigh some day.

    “It took me a year of pushing myself to reach my goal. I didn’t plan it that way, but I’m grateful for what that year gave me.”

  • Great post Lida, it is all the more flattering because i can perfectly relate this post with my current experiences. You are absolutely right when you said – Everything (every little bit) seems to for the good once you have hit the wall. 

    It is just a weird feeling. Excruciating but a life changing moment. 

    Thanks for posting!

    Good Luck!

  • Noritha

    yes, the quote and your post is amazing Lida,
    i know everyone ever feel it, right now i’m so happy because i just got my dream job..
    and you know what, that’s because i let go all the pains inside, i know every hardness makes me stronger and be better..then, new surprising thing comes.

    i wish all people here be happy forever…

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  • Alexa

    I can relate so much to this post. I too was in your same shoes a year ago. Since I was 15 I had dreams of attending medical school; however, after receiving disappointing MCAT scores I realized I would need to take a detour. For awhile I felt very lost, I was constantly asking myself, “how could this happen to me”. All the hard work and energy I had put towards this goal seemed worthless. At the time I was doing clinical research on bone marrow transplant. It was the time spent with the patients waiting to receive the transplant that I gained a new perspective. Yes, I had encountered a minor obstacle, but my dream didn’t have to end. At the end of the summer I began researching Teach for America, I felt that perhaps there were other ways I could help our world while still chasing my dreams of pursuing a career in the medical world. In a few short weeks I will be moving across the country and joining the Teach for America movement to help close the achievement gap that exists in our country. As my anxiety and fears over this move have begun to take over I found relief in reading your post. It is always nice to know that there are others that stumble but in the end find their way. 
    Thank you for this uplifting post.


  • Lida

    Thanks Alexa! I’m so glad that I could reach out to you by writing this post and that reading it brought you relief. Sometimes life’s darkest times are really blessings in disguise. It takes time before we realize it, but some of the biggest obstacles make the best spiritual teachers. Thanks for being courageous and sharing your story. It is great to hear that exciting opportunities are opening up for you!

    Best, Lida

  • Great post Lida, 
    I’m totally agree that sometimes we need reminder that we want something. Or test us how bad we want it. And, the miserable feeling is a growing pain that everyone of us must have in our life.
    Thank you for such an inspiring post. 

  • Mona Mia

    Oh how I love this site! The cosmos have aligned, and now I’m reading this! I really needed this! Great way to start my day’

  • I’m glad you enjoyed this post! =)

  • Ed

    Thanks for sharing

  • Alexander Stathopoulos

    Lida, thank you for your great post. I totally agree with you, there’s never a bad thing in life without a good one behind it. I mention your post to my readers in my article “Unlucky or Clueless” found here >

    Keep going…

  • janvi

    Hi..i am not progressing in my goals ..obstacles come and things not in my control.what should i do then..thanks

  • Anne

    I’m a little confused by this post. You actually did end up getting what you wanted, just in a different way.

  • Ismail Qeshta

    This is an awesome article. Thanks a lot Lida for all the positiveness. Thanks again for sharing it 🙂