How to deal with a big career set back

We all saw the despair on the England football team’s faces after they were kicked out of the World Cup in Qatar on Saturday.

Arguably, their work set back was a little different than most – but the feelings we saw displayed on screen – upset, frustration and anger – are all every relatable in the workplace.

Getting passed up for a promotion after you gave your job everything you had, or making a mistake at work that seems to get blown out of proportion, can be devastating.

So how do you cope with that career set back – whether that be missing out on a pay rise, or not advancing to the semi-finals of the World Cup?

Charlotte Davies is a career expert with LinkedIn, she says there are ways to overcome career set backs.

She tells Metro.co.uk: ‘If you’ve faced a setback at work, it’s natural to feel disheartened.

‘You may even question your ability or if the role you are in is right for you.

‘When this happens, it’s important to view this as a learning opportunity, consider the bigger picture, and come back stronger.

‘The ability to bounce back at work – to shift your mindset towards the positives of the situation – is a highly valued skill, and can be a great way to improve your resilience for the future.’

So here are some useful tips to get you through this unexpected career set back, whatever it may be.

Communication, communication

Charlotte says: ‘If a setback at work has affected you, it’s worth having an open and transparent conversation with your manager to talk about what happened and how you’re feeling.’

It’s important to remember that a good manager will be there to help nurture your talent as well as give you strong direction – look at Gareth Southgate for instance.

‘Any good manager will want to help you move past it and feel confident and happy in your role,’ Charlotte adds.

‘This is a two-way dialogue, so it’s equally important that they provide constructive feedback and that you are open to receiving it – this can help turn the setback into a development opportunity.’

Be realistic

Career goals are often big milestones, like going for that promotion or earning that pay rise, and you often want them badly because they don’t come easily.

You might be competing for a promotion with people more experienced than you are, or maybe you feel that senior management favours someone else over you – either way it can feel like the odds were tacked against you.

‘Keeping motivated when you haven’t achieved a particular goal you’ve set yourself is important, but you need to be realistic about it,’ says Charlotte.

‘It’s great to be ambitious, but try not to overstretch yourself by aiming to reach your objectives too quickly.

‘Sometimes taking that extra bit of time can really help to ensure that you’re achieving your goals in a sustainable way that helps you avoid setbacks in the long run.’

Lean into your community

It may sometimes feel like you’re the only person that’s struggling at work, but you are not alone.

‘Chances are many of your colleagues and professional community will have gone through something similar,’ says Charlotte.

‘Lean on those around you, or if you’re not comfortable discussing it in person, turn to your extended LinkedIn network to help you navigate tricky situations.

‘They may share advice around a similar experience or extend a helping hand, whether it be advice or support.’

Take this as an opportunity to enhance your skills

When things don’t go your way, try to work out what positives you can take from it.

‘Try to approach this situation as an opportunity to learn,’ says Charlotte.

‘Rather than view the setback as wholly negative, use this time to refine your skills and look into how you can better yourself.

‘Seek opportunities to grow – especially if you’re looking to boost your confidence in a new industry.’

Charlotte recommends furthering your skills be taking courses.

‘Online learning courses can help bridge the gap when learning new skills or even if you are wanting to refresh existing skills,’ she says.

‘LinkedIn Learning has nearly 17,000 courses available that range across business, creative and technical categories.

‘Following a setback, improving another aspect of yourself may even help rebuild your confidence.’

Time is a healer

Charlotte says: ‘It’s important to realise that any setback is temporary, even if in the moment it doesn’t not feel like it.

‘Failure is a natural part of growth and when you struggle to make something work the way you envisioned it, it is a sign that you are stretching yourself.

‘If you were able to achieve every goal you set for yourself with little difficulty, that’s an indicator that you’re playing it safe, and not pushing yourself.

‘The likelihood is you will look back at this moment and realise just how far you’ve come.’

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