Even if I’ve always been a WAH-person, there are many people close to me that have suffered from a career setback. Devastating as it had been, my foremost role was to keep their spirits high. From holding conferences-over-coffee to long talks on the phone, even to email exchanges, I just had to lift their seemingly depressing states. Not to claim that my helping hands always have definite solutions, but somehow, the setbacks were positively dealt with. It’s either they moved on or moved away to better pastures. Point here being I just desired for people I love to STILL view life beautifully, even with careers or businesses facing risky situations.
Counting back, I’ve come across 6 people within both sides of the family, 9 friends and 3 wives from the social circle my hubby keeps. Most were confident about their great performance at work, all are pleasant people and understand team work very well. Over half felt bad about being passed over in a promotion, five just feel devastated not to be given much credit for their attributes and contributions. Note that not one of them work from home; rather in work settings where they need to work with others, have superiors and some have subordinates as well. The one common thing among all these 18 people have would be emotional upheaval brought by a career setback.
Yes, patience overflow had to be the rule of the game. They needed someone to hear them out, I was there; they needed poking and sometimes banging in the head, and yes, I was conveniently there. Often virtually, I should add. Recently, a college friend buzzed me about a rather boring, slow-moving career that has kept her demotivated for the longest time. After a few chats, it led to my draft of this post. I am hopeful this would help many others who need to cope with setbacks in their career, or aid others in finding brighter directions and recover.
So what are the positive ideas to cope with a slow-mo progress with careers? Here are some great tips to handle a career setback positively.
1. Dig deeper for the causes within yourself and understand the outside factors. You might have been perfect for the job. But you don’t hold the control of the hiring and promotion requirements. That’s the first thing you need to fully grasp to deal with one less thorn on the side. Then comes knowing the deeper reason or root cause for a career setback.
In most instances, you fit perfectly where you are and your company sees this advantage for them. Think always that their decisions are always in their best interest; yours come a little below everything else listed in their interests. Your organization might not deem it necessary to move you because you are needed by the current position you’re at. If you’re not OK with this, express your thoughts and interests to the higher-ups. If after the dialogue you’re likely seeing the same desk and work routine, and see yourself unhappy, then move on and look for a different pasture.
Once you start digging for causes, be ready for realizations about your capabilities as well. Many people who cry over a career setback later realize it happened because they didn’t measure up. Their portfolios are bland, they lacked specific skills that others are superlative at, and they didn’t have concrete experience to hold a higher position. If this is so you, then it should be a lesson that continuing education for your field is always a necessity. Length of service cannot fully speak for merits at work nowadays. Competition comes young, active and innovative, and they know so many new, advanced technologies that put them at an edge. So be ready to learn and master the needed skills in your career and that position you desire.
2. Work harder on addressing the causes and re-set your goals. Among the 18 people mentioned above, only four moved on to a different work setting. The rest stayed with their companies and the career setback they previously had was appreciated as an eye-opener. Of course, they all evaluated their options before coming to the decision to go or to stay. It made me thankful they all got positive pokes with the experience, and then made necessary changes their career goals. More importantly, it’s a heartwarming experience that their next calls or emails had brighter moods expressing gratitude and finding some power to choose what to do next.
As for you who need concrete tips to handling a career setback, it is important to bridge the gap between how you see yourself and how the organization sees you as a worker. You have got to work harder on gaining solid experience for that desired position, along with gaining mastery of required skills and trainings. At the same time, always be at pace with needed technologies of the field to make your portfolio have an edge.
In sum, design a master plan how to fill in the “lacking areas” and how to put forward the “great areas” in your career. Such a process would mean goal-setting is your next big thing at hand. Preparing a master plan comes easier when you have a goal that is specific and can be measured. It is important as well to set time boundaries when you get to the career goal-setting process. Once your overall career target is laid out, then move to master plan designing and action planning. These are pretty much daunting words but they’re all about just listing down the important activities you need to pursue to reach your goal.
Among all other tips to handling a career setback, it is evaluation and goal-setting that could be called tangible activities that could be measured as well. Being so, the two activities would get your hands full. If you love your career at hand, then these processes should be highly meaningful; so with the decision to shift to another company or find another career.
3. Have your emotions handled well and directed towards resolutions. I am not sure if this should come last. In most instances, the emotions come rushing in first even before I could hear the reasons behind the anger, frustration and crying. Haha! Well, this is purposely found towards the end of this post because it is all about you now. Just you and your life ahead. And it’s your emotions and the will to keep moving on that would take you somewhere far from the depressing muck which defines the career setback at hand.
Passed over in a promotion? Put on your best face and congratulate the lucky one. Then scream in frustration when you’re in your car or in the shower. Get on with your day’s routine but treat yourself to something nice and outlandish like a pint of ice cream. Buy yourself an expensive bag. You are an emotional being, you are frustrated and hurt, you need to vent or hit back. All these are natural reactions. But! But! But! It becomes unnatural when you do it more than once. Don’t let the depressing decision of the company lead you to overspending, overeating or screaming a lot! That sure won’t help but instead cause more problems later on.
Instead, let the natural emotions flow in BUT choose the situations well where you would express such emotions. Your work place doesn’t want crybabies, Sulking Susans or Debbie Downers. Definitely, your boss won’t like back-biting, sour-graping and finding you distant and uncooperative. Be the great worker at work and be yourself at home for a day. Okay, give yourself three days. That should be long enough to let out your frustrations and hurts.
But more importantly, seek resolutions. This should come once all your screaming frenzy has been exhausted so you could make wise decisions. When you’re up to it, get back to the first two tips to handling a career setback. In my observation, those who want answers to get clear view of what’s going to happen ahead do get answers and move on very well. But those who want answers so they could point out they are the deserving ones are just bound to suffer an extended, worsening career setback in the days to come.
Don’t fall into the cycle. Get on with life because there are absolutely better things ahead. If not within the company you work for, it could be somewhere else. Let the career setback poke you into re-examining your life instead of letting it turn you into a bitter worker. Let this career setback be an assessment period of the things you need to be grateful about, and the things you need to work for and hold.
In the end, life is always beautiful, even if some major problems at work come in the way. Remember that to be able to work is an opportunity much as it is a responsibility as well. Love it, have fun doing it and make it a great part of your life’s goals. Only then will you find work meaningful; only with this mindset will you truly know that the beauty of life is in your hands.
You have the power to be better, to live better and to possess a greater purpose. Just believe.