What to Do When Your Big Break Turns Out to Be a Big Bust

Have you ever had a huge, unexpected opportunity drop in your lap – only to have it slip through your fingers later?

Maybe it was a contract that fell through at the last minute. Or a job you were dying to get. Or a promotion that was given to someone else. Or a call that never came.

You’d worked for it. You’d dreamed of it. You’d waited for it.

But it slipped away.

I recently had a giant door close in my face. The golden light shining from behind that big, beautiful door was enticing…seductive. It glowed with opportunity.

And just when it began to swing open, it slammed shut again. Just inches from my nose.

My big break really did turn out to be a big bust.

I don’t know how you deal with it when you experience a major letdown like that, but I can tell you what happened to me. My internal dialogue got ugly.

You messed up, it screamed at me. What a stupid mistake, it whispered in my ear. That really cost you, it reminded me repeatedly.

And the worst part wasn’t the disappointment I felt for myself – it was the feeling that I’d let my family down because I didn’t secure an opportunity that would have benefited them as well.

Looking back, I can see a couple of things that I wish I’d done differently in the situation. And I learned from them.

But with a little time and perspective, something important became increasingly clear.

It wasn’t the right door for me.

My gut knew it (even at the time,) but my head was convinced it knew better.

After the pain and frustration faded a bit, I reflected on the situation and I learned some important lessons about the closed doors that we face in life. Because, yes, we all face them.

I don’t know what’s going on in your life right now, but if you’ve recently experienced a “big bust,” I hope you’ll take time to think about these lessons. Sometimes all we need is a little perspective to free ourselves from the past as well as embrace the new opportunities that lie ahead.


5 Things You Should Do When a Door Closes in Front of You

Think it over.

It can be tempting to retreat – to withdraw when things don’t go our way. If you’re like me, you have an intense desire to “get over it” quickly. But if we do that – if we ignore it – we miss out on a goldmine of learning from the experience. Force yourself to evaluate the situation so you can extract the learning. Why did the door close? Was it the wrong door? The wrong building? The wrong goal? The wrong working conditions? The wrong team? What was it about that door that was wrong for you?

Learn from the experience.

When we experience loss, we simultaneously experience an opportunity to learn and improve. Think about where things started to go wrong. What was happening? Could you have done or said anything differently? What can you learn from the situation? How could you prepare differently for your next open door because of what you learned from this experience? Sometimes things don’t work out through no fault of our own, but always take time to evaluate the situation to see if there’s an opportunity to learn. This allows you to get something positive out of any situation.

Choose compassion.

This has been a tough one for me. I can beat myself up better than anyone. I can reflect on what I should have done and said till the cows come home. But the truth is that sometimes things don’t work out for no apparent reason at all. And though I’m not perfect, I am a great asset to have on anyone’s team. I work hard, do my best, and strive to add value to anyone I work with. I’ve been able to work with a lot of amazing people, companies, and organizations. I’m truly blessed. So when a door closes, then it was meant to close. End of story. We are not meant to help every person on the planet. Let it go.

Be grateful.

I truly believe that God has all this life stuff figured out. He has my back. And if I truly believe that, then I have to trust that He knows best. He knows my desires and my needs as well as what the future holds. Even in the midst of disappointment, we can embrace the belief that God’s vision for the future is further-reaching than our own. I don’t need that door, and neither do you.  If we did, then God would have kept it open.

Evaluate your wish list.

Reflect on what you wanted. Why did you want that particular door to open? What benefits did you imagine were behind it? How could you find or recreate those benefits somewhere else? There’s always, always, always more than one way to meet our goals.


Don’t let the closed doors keep you from looking for the open ones.

Here is the thing. I hated it when that door slammed shut. I truly did.

Looking back, however, it was the best possible thing that could have happened.

It was a great opportunity, but it wasn’t the right opportunity for me.

Thank goodness it closed before I had to find out the hard way.

And now, with a little perspective, I realize that I have new open doors in my life because I didn’t walk through that particular door.


If you’ve recently experienced the pain of a closed door, I encourage you to look within and then look around.

You have the strength and creativity to find a new door. And life is full of open doors.

One after the other.

Don’t wait for someone else to open one for you.

Don’t keep staring at the one that closed.

Don’t beat yourself up when something falls through.

Don’t focus on what you think you lost.

You have no idea where that door led. You may think you do. But you don’t.

You don’t get to take that journey, and that might just be a good thing.


Make the choice to see each closed door as an opportunity.

Because it truly is.

A closed door is an invitation to find a new door to open.

And that, my friend, is a beautiful thing.


“When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones open for us.”  Alexander Graham Bell      




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