How to bounce back from career setbacks

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Career setbacks can teach you valuable lessons you can carry with you throughout your life (Shutterstock.com)

As much as we can try to avoid setbacks, the reality is they are a part of life and even a bigger part of our careers. Even those who have experienced many successes have experienced a few bumpy rides along the way. Nonetheless, what is important to remember is that how you handle failure matters more than failure itself.

Whether you’re unhappy with the direction your career has taken, your job has become redundant or you’ve been demoted, here’s how to deal with a career setbacks and come out stronger than before.

When you’re looking for someone to blame

Looking for someone to blame for something that has gone wrong is a popular way for most people to get over personal and career failures. But without even realising it, that single failure can actually be the biggest impediment to overcoming any setback.

What’s even worse is that if you spend most of your time blaming yourself for say, not cracking a new marketing campaign (even when you put some much effort into it), there’s a chance of developing a case of fear of failure which will be hard to break free from for as long as you feel that way.

Read: 4 outdated beliefs that are holding you back

Bouncing back

Whenever you face a setback, you need to assess the situation so that you can move on from it as soon as possible. If you’re to blame for what’s happened, figure out the internal and external forces that have led you to where you are, and start taking steps to make things better.

If you’re certain that somebody else is to blame, once you’ve identified the factors that have led you to where you are, make sure you don’t let them affect you again.

When things are out of your control

There are going to be times in your life when things are going to be pear-shaped. Companies downsize all the time, salaries are cut to save costs, focus shifts, etc. Sometimes you need to understand that you cannot plan for things that are beyond your control.

Therefore instead of wallowing in self-pity because you no longer have a stable job, escape from the misery trap immediately.  How could you have possibly foreseen that the company you work for was going to lose millions and you were going to be let go?

Bouncing back

What you need to acknowledge is that you’re an asset, and whatever happened to lead you to where you are now, is a thing of the past. The longer you sit around working yourself up, the greater the impact on your short and possibly long-term confidence.

Take this kind of setback as a lesson, and find ways to protect yourself from future setbacks, such as starting a savings plan, investing some cash or finding other income streams.

Take a career setback as a sign

Sometimes things happen for a reason. Walt Disney is a great example of this. The editor of a local American newspaper once fired Disney for “lacking imagination and having no good ideas”. But that was only one of his failures. He then went on to acquire Laugh-O-Gram, an animation studio he later drove into bankruptcy. Only then did his success in Hollywood follow.

Disney’s is one of countless career success stories that started off on a bumpy road. If Walt Disney had spent his life thinking about what a failure he was, he may have never built Disney World to what it is now.

Sometimes when you fail at something it’s life’s way of saying ‘maybe this career path isn’t for you and you need to find something more fulfilling’. Trying to pick up the pieces in an industry that is not for you will only waste your time. On the other hand, focusing on a new career path may be just what you need to reinvent your yourself.

So be proud of where you come from, learn from your setbacks and move on as quickly as you can.

Need more advice on career success? Start with tips and tricks in our career growth column.