Bouncing Back After a Disappointing Year


Bouncy Ball Bonanza by Nike Savvas

By Justin Ho

“This was a tough year for me,” my friend sighed as we drove home from a holiday party. He was reflecting on a pivotal year he had and explained how it didn’t live up to his expectations.

“Good,” I said with a smile.

We ended up having a long conversation about the importance of perspective and action and why it’s good to have a tough year.

Through 365 days of disappointment, failure, and stagnation, you’re still alive and able to read this post. After all of that bullshit during the past year, you survived.

Your New Survival Tools

Recall the hardships that you went through last year. They either happened because of unfortunate coincidence or poor decisions. Take time to understand why each of them happened. Be honest with yourself.

It is through understanding and embracing these situations that you can start to move past it.

Now look at your past year with a different perspective. Instead of counting up all of the negative, be proud of yourself for coming out of that mess alive and stronger. Let this idea instill you with determination to make this year a better year.

This perspective does not guarantee a fail-free year. There will always be situations that are beyond your control, but through observation and experience, you can avoid making the same mistakes. Just by doing this alone, you can start this year smarter and more aware. Through experience, you equip yourself with new survival tools.

If tough times find their way back into your life, remember that you’ve already endured quite a bit last year. Reminisce on how you felt that one time last year where something went wrong.

Convince yourself that you don’t want to feel that again. Have faith in yourself to get through those tough times. Continue to improve and thrive.

Disappointment Clarifies How Bad You Want Something

It’s easy to want something, especially when there aren’t any obstacles in your way. It isn’t until you’re denied from obtaining it that you realize how bad you want it and what your true intentions are.

Take for example, the process of applying for healthcare graduate programs. Every year, hopeful applicants give a shot at gaining acceptance into these institutions. Only a handful are selected, and the rest fall into the ever-growing pool of the following year’s applicants.

How bad do those prospective students want it? If they want it, then nothing–not even time–can stop them from getting it.

I’ve personally learned that it was an incredible blessing to be denied from physical therapy school.

I was rejected by all nine schools I applied to last year. I told myself I wasn’t good enough yet. I didn’t understand what I was lacking a year ago, but this time around, I realized how I could have done better.

I worked diligently to improve everyday. I constantly asked the physical therapists questions and studied biomechanics and kinesiology on my own time. Through this drive to improve my candidacy for next year’s applications, I really began to understand, exactly why I wanted to become a physical therapist.

What are Resolutions without Intention?

When you set your goals check your intentions. Understand why you want to accomplish something. Commit to new years resolutions that you plan on accomplishing.

Make sure your intentions are not convoluted with excuses or false reasoning.

If you want to help people, write down why. This may seem extremely trivial, but the second you write it down, you have to keep yourself accountable. It will help reveal your true intention. Do those words you wrote down align with what you’re prepared to commit to?

These things don’t happen overnight, a couple of weeks, or even months. You will need to constantly refer back to your intentions, remind yourself why you’re doing this, and exercise patience.

Be Patient with Your Self-Improvement

Not everything will change instantly.

If you want something bad enough you’ll wait for it. No doubt it’ll be a frustrating process, but the happiness and success is worth the wait. The year can only get better. Make a conscious effort every moment to improve.

Every morning, ask yourself “what am I doing to improve myself today?” Sometimes taking baby steps in the right direction is the only way.


I’ve seen miraculous cases of both mental and physical rehabilitation while working in physical therapy. I’ve seen how taking baby steps can be one of the most frustrating things in the world. Not only is it demoralizing that you need to take such small steps, but it is tough to stay in high spirits when there are little signs of improvement.

Many patients came in to every appointment with wavering confidence, moments of zealous determination and moments of surrender and breakdown. The patients who were more positive and understood the process showed significantly higher improvement.

Observing patients enduring their long recovery processes has been an incredible inspiration for myself and a reminder that I need to be patient with my own progress.

Exercising patience will help you bounce back from a disappointing year. By “patience”, I don’t mean that you sit on your ass waiting for a miracle to happen. Being patient consistently looking to achieve something while understanding that improvement doesn’t happen overnight.

One day, a patient who suffered a stroke assured me of his commitment to his rehab program. He said, “I come in here everyday to fight. I’m fighting against the odds and my own confidence, but I am willing to fight and I won’t give up.”


This year is a grand opportunity to improve yourself. Appreciate the struggle you went through, and not only redeem yourself for last year, but also make this an even better year.

There are only so many things you have control of, your state of mind being one of them. Whether you started or ended on the wrong foot, make the best with what you have. Use the disappointment and frustrations from last year as fuel for your drive to improve and accomplish greater things this year.



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Photo Source: Bouncy Ball Bonanza by Nike Savvas, Disney: Winnie the Pooh, Hercules: The Legendary Journey, Pacific Coast Physical Therapy


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