When you experience career setbacks and things are not going the way you hoped in your career – perhaps you are being blocked for a promotion or restructuring has affected your career path; you need a way forward. So what can you do to handle career setbacks like these?
Be realistic, be ready to adapt, be versatile. Don’t let perfection be the enemy of ‘good enough’; play the cards you are dealt and find the advantage in your current career situation, because there is always some way to turn career setbacks to your advantage if you have the right mindset.
Failure is part of life, and something we should embrace as part of the learning experience. The starting point for development is the adoption of an attitude whereby you seek to stretch yourself and persevere even; especially when things are not going well, this is the hallmark of the growth mindset.
Your career is your responsibility and it’s smart to have a plan for the near future, but you may need a re-think if:
- You are bored and feel your job lacks challenge, appeal and fun
- Promotion and/or development opportunities are limited
- You don’t feel you are learning anything new, it’s all routine
- Your talent and skill seem to be going to waste
- You are stressed or feel unappreciated, unengaged, disconnected
Successful career management is built on identification of your values, interests and skills and then developing those and investing time and effort in a chosen career path. Aim to build and grow, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that years of experience are what counts. If you are not fully invested in career development, there’s danger of ending up with 10 years of experience that is, effectively, one year of experience replicated 10 times.
So when facing career setbacks, be honest with yourself, call on your resilience and apply some self-awareness to navigating the challenges and setbacks you face.
Bounce back from career setbacks with a growth mindset
People with a “growth mindset” relish challenge, strive to learn, and consistently see the potential to develop new skills and uncover new opportunities. I suggest a threefold approach:
- Check your assumptions – challenge the standard perspective, keep an open mind and resist the temptation to blindly accept the status quo; instead, be willing to consider the options and embrace the possibilities.
- Value diversity – a broad range of perspectives and backgrounds can facilitate creative and innovative approaches and reactions to barriers and challenges.
- Seek out training, development and networking opportunities – aim for wide-ranging interaction throughout and beyond your organisation, seek out work assignments that take you out of your usual work environment, learn from colleagues and embrace knowledge-sharing as these are all ways to broaden your horizons and spark new ideas.
Now do some goal-setting
Some of the benefits of setting goals:
- Increased motivation when goals are realistic and attainable.
- Provides a performance focus.
- Bolsters the work ethic and fosters perseverance with a goal in sight.
- Facilitates feedback and benchmarking.
Settle on some realistic targets where you can measure progress; if you have a clear view of where you want to be, it is easier to evaluate forward momentum. By setting and taking action towards your goals, you will bolster your self-confidence. If you need to make changes, then bite the bullet and take control – a healthier work-life balance will result in greater productivity and motivation.
Design a clear plan of action, chunk big goals into the milestones needed to achieve your overall goal. Plan smaller objectives into your daily to-do list and create momentum with regular work towards your goal. Each small change paves the way for bigger changes; so, every day ask yourself what can I do today that helps me reach my goal?
Make a change
Learning agility helps us find new ways to tackle setbacks and challenges. When it is no longer a question of doing better what you did before – when running harder and faster doesn’t help – what you need are new behaviours and innovative solutions. Reframe your reference points in order to develop radical and creative responses is crucial.
To grow professionally, you need to challenge your perspectives, biases and opinions. The greater the diversity of your experience and the wider the range of your network, the better the career opportunities you are likely to encounter. Look for opportunities that will enable your development; don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice, ask to work on projects that interest you or with people who inspire you.
The stronger your professional network, the more likely you are to meet people who will help your career growth. Aim to make new contacts and build a robust professional; don’t lose contact with former co-workers or bosses. Attend events, trade shows, and conferences that will help you meet and exchange contacts with other professionals.
Liz Sebag-Montefiore is the Co-founder and Director of 10Eighty, helping individuals and organisations to maximise their potential. To excel your career., improve performance and give a sense of focus in terms of career direction why not get a coach? Find one here.