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Turn Setbacks Into Comebacks

Who hasn’t experienced a setback? They’re a natural part of life. But a career setback, particularly job loss, is enough to shake the strongest among us to the core. It rattles your self-esteem, when confidence is exactly what you need to move on with your life and career. If you’re sensitive and conscientious, managing your feelings can be tricky. We care about others as well as our own agendas. We tend to feel our emotions intensely, easily empathizing with the people around us.

It can be challenging establishing healthy boundaries while making sure we responsibly deal with our own disappointment, sadness and, yes, anger. Your career goals might involve finding that dream job with a new organization or company. Perhaps you’re thinking about switching career gears altogether or plan to expand your educational opportunities. Maybe you’re not sure what you want to do. That’s okay.

A setback is a good time for soul searching, exploration and reflection. So, give yourself the space. The main thing is to stay positive.The more proactive you are in taking care of your confidence the quicker and more prepared you will be to create, and take advantage of new opportunities. Here are 8 proven strategies to help you keep your chin up as you as you get back on your feet.

Let the wounds heal before revisiting the setback. This is challenging, especially if you’re a go-getter or fixer. It may be tempting to focus on the issues that led to your job setback, but you need time to heal. Once you’re ready to address the issues, then you can look over the events. Be gentle with yourself though. This will give your confidence a chance to mend itself. Ask yourself constructive questions that can help you learn from the experience and find closure. Questions might include:

  • What lessons have you learned?

  • Do you need to correct something to avoid similar challenges in the future?

  • Do you understand how the job issues developed and what might have prevented them?

Remember the successes in your life. A job setback doesn’t define your entire life. Your life has multiple aspects beyond work, so it’s important to acknowledge and appreciate them as well as career achievements. Perhaps this is a good time for you to reexamine how you define the meaning of success. Analyze the successes in other parts of your life and consider past job successes. For example:

  • Are you proud of your healthy, strong and loving family?

  • Do you appreciate the knowledge you gained while pursuing a graduate degree?

  • Do you consider your ability to run a marathon a success? The list is limitless.

Practice gratitude. Keep things in perspective. This is an important companion strategy to number two. Giving genuine thanks for what you have rather than dwelling on perceptions of loss really does help shift your energy and attitude in a more positive direction, opening up more creative channels of possibilities. Focus on the positive aspects of your life. Realize that the job setback provided a valuable learning opportunity and the chance to reevaluate your career.

Develop your skills. As you take stock of your career, you may find you need to develop new skills; the list might include concrete technical skill as well as less tangible ones such as listening, time management and self-awareness. Developing your skills will help increase your self-confidence. You can learn from past mistakes and work on specific areas to prevent them from happening again.

Avoid isolation and seek out your friends. Isolation can make positive thinking more difficult. Your friends and family can offer valuable support. They can encourage you to try again and help you figure out effective ways to deal with all the emotions that you experience in a time like this.

Keep the faith. Find new mentors. If you practice a faith tradition or belong to a faith community, this might be a good time to tap that support system for inspiration as well as spiritual guidance on facing challenges. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or find new mentors. Mentors can reassure you while helping you develop new career paths. They can also help you network with new companies or peers. These all are great confidence boosters.

Take small risks. Stay focused. Start something. It doesn’t have to be a business. It can be a new job or a project. Consider volunteering your talents and services. Helping other people and facing your doubts and fear grows your self-confidence and strengthens your coping skills. Carefully weigh the consequences of new ventures and start with small risks. It’s important not dwell on the job setback. At the same time, it helps to stay focused as you formulate new goals for yourself.

Create new visions. New goals open new possibilities and opportunities for new accomplishments. Your list should consist of a variety of goals ranging from small to big. For example, it can include going for a run every day, planting a garden or taking on a new project or a new job. As you’re rebuilding, consider doing one goal at a time. Each success will boost your confidence.

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