Career setbacks are inevitable, but that doesn’t make them any easier to deal with initially. Maybe a project doesn’t go as planned, or you missed out on a big one. Perhaps you had to endure public criticism from your boss or got left out for a promotion you were counting on?
No matter how big or small the setback you’re facing is, there are ways to help you deal with the disappointment, prop yourself up, and move forward with enthusiasm.
Build a solid background
Remember the story of three little piggies? Well, the same rule that applies to build homes applies to people as well. Namely, the stronger your foundation is, the harder it is to knock you down.
When it comes to you or anyone else, a strong foundation means maintaining good physical health by eating healthy, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, etc. – in short, doing everything you can to be in decent shape. It also involves having a support system. When you encounter a career setback, you’re going to need a network of friends and family to help you bounce from it and land on your feet again.
Admit defeat so you can overcome it
If you try to force yourself to have a positive mindset about the setback you’ve just gone through, you might do more harm than good. It’s OK to feel mad. It’s OK to be disappointed. Take the time you need to heal.
Keep in mind that it’s crucial not to act on impulse during this recuperation period. Don’t do anything you might regret down the line while you are still loaded with negative emotions. This means no angry emails, no nasty office gossip, and no turning in that resignation letter.
One more important thing during this period is that you might feel the need to place the blame for the setback on someone. Don’t do it. Try not to blame yourself or others.
Change your mindset
Now that you have given yourself enough time to objectively look at your current situation, try to go a step further. Examine your past and consider all the cases that made you grow as a person and as a professional. Odds are, a great deal of those events seemed like a mere setback back in the day.
Sure thing, those setbacks might have seemed huge to you back in the day, but take a look at you now. You have come out to the other side as a better, more skilled person. Try to keep that in mind. Many setbacks are just opportunities in disguise.
Remember that the aftermath is temporary and will lead to valuable outcomes.
Take an objective look at the situation
Before moving on with your career or pursuing a new one after a setback, it is essential to be honest with yourself about what went wrong. Your initial response might be the urge to blame the higher-ups, the general economic situation, or even your horoscope. Denial is a powerful thing, and sometimes we tend to do anything we can to avoid admitting that we are to blame.
Challenge yourself to ask difficult questions that go beneath the surface. Did you need more training? Were you in over your head? Did you do your best?
Don’t fight your battles alone
Once you have completed an objective assessment of your situation, it’s time to move on. Don’t let your pride or shame stand in your way and stop you from reaching out to get all the help you need.
This step means reaching out to your support network mentioned above. The tricky part can be finding a way to share your worries without bothering them or alienating them. That’s why you should consider finding a coach, a mentor, or someone more experienced that would be able to help you with this portion of the recovery.
Come up with a plan and stick to it
If you have followed along all the steps listed above, by now, you should be on the top of your game, ready to take on the whole world again. So, why wouldn’t you do exactly that? Set your plan in motion. Start small if you need to, but keep on moving forward.
This step will energize you. It will help you wash away the negative emotions associated with the setback and give you something positive to focus on.
Learn from the setback
Once you’re on the right track and done with all the negativity surrounding the setback you’ve just endured, take a moment to look at it objectively. Consider what you have learned, what you have overcome, and how you can use it to move forward.
Remember what you’ve been through as it will help you recognize the temporary nature of setbacks and remind you that you are much stronger than your current circumstances.