“Life is 10% what you make it, and 90% how you take it.” – Irving Berlin

You have just put the finishing touches on your fourth insurance application for the week and it’s only Thursday. You’re feeling good about yourself, your career, and your future. Everything is going as planned. Then the phone rings. It’s from a client you sold an above-average plan to last year. Circumstances have changed, however, and he needs to drop the policy. You do your best to salvage it, but his mind is made up. You’re sorry to see him drop the coverage, but you say to yourself, “It’s all part of the sales business.” You then begin to prepare for tomorrow’s appointment, not giving the lost client another thought.

Let’s replay this situation and change the circumstances. Let’s assume the client calls to cancel his policy after you have had a three-week dry spell in your practice. How would you react now? Will your attitude remain as positive as the one you described above? Or, will you react differently? Will you say to yourself, “Why is this happening to me?” Or worse, “When will I ever make a sale?” The client call in both scenarios is the same; how you react to it can be different.

You are not alone in facing disappointment, rejection, and setbacks. Everyone deals with rejection, especially in the sales field. Life insurance selling has always been one of the most difficult, challenging professions, and it is more complex today than ever. Learning to bounce back and respond constructively to stress is the best antidote to disappointment. You must learn to keep mistakes and setbacks in perspective as single events to be dealt with and not as proof of your ineffectiveness or inadequacy. Negative thoughts and feelings don’t determine who you are; your actions do.

Stay positive
Staying positive, no matter how difficult it may be, is essential in dealing with rejection. No one likes rejection, but some people are much better at dealing with it than others. Dealing with rejection requires positive thought and action. If your mind is trained to react to things negatively, you will need to work at retraining your mind so that it reacts positively when you are faced with adversity or disappointing news.

Once you learn how to be positive when you’re faced with negative news, you’ll have a much easier time dealing with and accepting rejection.

Here are some suggestions you can use to stay positive, overcome adversity, and get back on top of your game.

1. Take positive action. Analyze your situation and write out specific goals you would like to achieve. Then, create mini action steps to achieve those goals. Monitor your progress daily. Refine or revise your plan as needed.

2. Keep a success journal. Write down everything you feel proud about in your life and career. Write in your success journal daily. When you’re having a bad day, open your success journal and read previous entries to help get you back into a positive mindset.

3. Create a personal mission statement. Keep the big picture in mind. An example of a mission statement is, “My mission is to find challenge, enjoyment, and profit by exceeding my clients’ expectations in helping them to identify their financial goals, then implement ways to accomplish their plans.” Consider printing your personal mission and placing it where you’ll easily see it every day, as a reminder of the goal toward which you are working.

4. Write out positive affirmations. Make sure you also repeat them out loud – often. What you think about gets internalized, and those thoughts will act as a magnet to manifest what you told yourself about the situation. Examples of affirmations include: “I build my own self-respect by serving and respecting others,” and “The more value I create for people, the more personal rewards I’ll enjoy.” Again, consider printing your positive affirmations and placing them where you’ll see them everyday. Then, each time you see an affirmation, repeat it. Eventually, you’ll automatically recite your positive affirmations when dealing with a difficult situation.

5. Take good care of yourself. Eat well, exercise, and get adequate rest. No matter how busy you are during a day, find the time to eat a balanced diet, exercise (even if it’s just a walk around the block), and get enough sleep each night to allow yourself to feel rested and refreshed. The better you feel about yourself, the more positive you will be. As a result, you’ll have a much easier time dealing with any obstacles that may come your way. Participate in activities that bring you joy and fulfillment. The best way to do this is to schedule those activities just as you would an appointment with a client.

6.Develop relationships with successful people. These should be people you can trust and on whom you can depend. Ask them for advice and feedback on how they would respond to challenges that are similar to the ones you face. Is there someone in your office that you would like to emulate? How about a successful client? Another way to do this is to create a personal board of directors and meet with them once or twice a year. You also might want to join or start a study group with like-minded agents. Such a study group will allow you to share ideas and glean inspiration from each other. Like-minded individuals also will have a much easier time relating to your thoughts and feelings and vice-versa.

7. Read positive and uplifting books. Make it a habit to visit your local bookstore or library to find positive and uplifting books that will help you reach a positive place and stay there. Set aside time each day to sit down and read from those books. Even if you only have 10 minutes to spare, use those 10 minutes to read something that will inspire you throughout the rest of your day.

Choose books on sales and achievement — biographies of successful people fall into this category. Everyone, even the most successful people in sales and business, has faced rejection and disappointment. One of the key characteristics of a successful person is the fact that he or she has learned how to overcome disappointment.

8. Learn to deal with your stress. Everyone, regardless of their position in life, has some degree of stress in their lives. Rather than looking at stress as a negative, turn it into a positive. For example, you may have an overloaded schedule at work. A negative person might view that overloaded schedule as nothing but a headache. A positive person, on the other hand, sees that packed schedule as an opportunity to achieve something positive.
When faced with a stressful situation, take a deep breath, mentally recite your positive affirmations, and relax. Once you’re relaxed, you’ll find it much easier to deal with the stressful situation.

9. Never give up. Everyone faces adversity and everyone goes through bad periods. The key to your success, both professionally and personally, is to never give up. Remember that every disappointment or failure is leading you one step closer to success. If you give up, you’ll never achieve your goals. If you have to, take some time to pamper yourself and get away from your frustration, then continue toward your goal.

10. Become an optimist. Pessimists see the glass as half-empty while optimists see it as half full. Which are you? If you’re a pessimist, start training your mind to see the glass as half full rather than half empty. Optimists naturally maximize their strengths, including their accomplishments, while minimizing any setbacks or weaknesses.

11. Take control. You can’t control everything that happens in your life. But, if you take charge of yourself when faced with circumstances beyond your control, you’ll have a much easier time dealing with those obstacles. Essentially, you must evaluate how you react to situations beyond your control. For example, if faced with a stressful situation, do you automatically begin to think negative thoughts and react negatively? Or do you immediately take control of the situation and start working toward a positive conclusion?

12. Develop self-awareness. Self-awareness is a key component of being positive and it will help you become resilient, making it easier for you to deal with adversity. Becoming self-aware requires you to examine how and why you feel a certain way about the situations in your life. When something upsets you, consider why you’re upset and what changes you can make in your life to better cope with upsetting situations.

One of the best ways to develop self-awareness is through journal writing. You don’t have to write in your journal every day, but when something is bothering you, empty your feelings onto the page. You’ll gain a deeper understanding of yourself and will be better able to make positive changes in your life.

Disappointment is a fact of life. How you handle that disappointment will determine whether you move forward and achieve your goals or whether you remain stagnant, paralyzed with disappointment. By being proactive and learning how to make positive changes in your life, you’ll be able to overcome obstacles and realize your goals.

Good luck to you on your journey to success.

Bob Arzt, CLU, ChFC, LLIF, is president and founder of Insurance Coach UTM, a coaching, training, and development company dedicated to agents and managers in the insurance industry. Mr. Arzt has been in the insurance industry for more than 30 years. He began his career as a sales agent, was a multi-year MDRT qualifier, and is the recipient of many company and industry awards, such as the National Sales Achievement Award and National Quality Award.