Turning Career Disappointment Into Success

Let’s be honest, not every moment in our careers goes how we expected or wanted it to. As a result, there are times where we experience disappointment. Maybe we are disappointed in not getting a promotion, or one of your colleagues decides to quit, the reasons for disappointment vary, but one thing remains constant: we all experience these feelings at some point or another.

How you handle this disappointment, regardless of the reason, will determine whether or not you slip into a funk or turn it into a positive learning experience. Each career disappointment can be thought of as a lesson, both personally and professionally. In an article for Ladders, Monica Torres provides a few pieces of advice on how to handle disappointment and turn it into a success.

Let Go Of What Was, Focus On What Is

When you encounter a career setback (not getting a promotion, getting fired, etc.) it is perfectly normal to feel disappointment. Did your coworker get a promotion over you? While you might experience some thoughts of jealousy or resentment, consider taking this opportunity to do an internal audit of what you can improve. Instead of feeling stuck in your current role, maybe it is time to step out of your comfort zone in order to grow more and pursue a new opportunity.

An important thing to remember is that these feelings of disappointment are usually temporary. It might be easy to feel sorry for yourself for not getting what you wanted or expected, but in order to turn these negative feelings into a positive, you must learn to “let go of what was, and focus on what is.” Each disappointment can be seen as a lesson for how to not feel that way in the future.

Put The Disappointment In Perspective

When you are in the moment, it seems like the cloud of disappointment is hovering over you and clear skies aren’t in the forecast for the foreseeable future. Once you learn how to separate your emotions and put the disappointment in perspective, you will be able to realize that it is simply a lesson. At the time it might feel like a colossal failure both personally and professionally, but when you begin to realize that this is temporary you will be able to take a look at why you feel this way.

Sometimes this feeling of failure isn’t always a bad thing. It can actually serve as a wake-up call and guide you to a new career path. Don’t just take it from me:

“There is a supreme moment of destiny calling on your life. Your job is to feel that, to hear that, to know that. And sometimes when you’re not listening, you get taken off track. You get in the wrong marriage, the wrong relationship, you take the wrong job, but it’s all leading to the same path. There are no wrong paths. Failure is just that thing trying to move you in another direction…The losses are there to wake you up. When you understand that, you don’t allow yourself to be completely thrown by a grade or by a circumstance, because your life is bigger than any one experience.” -Oprah Winfrey in a 2014 speech to Stanford Graduate School of Business students

Test The Fictions You Are Telling Yourself

It may be the easy route to run away from your discomfort and fall back into your usual daily routine. However, if you want to experience true growth and conquer these feelings once and for all, you must confront what is causing these feelings.

For example, your usually friendly and conversational boss avoids conversation with you one day, you might jump to conclusion that he or she is upset or mad at you. Instead, you can focus on what you know for sure and what you’re making up. Instead of thinking negatively, evaluate the story you’re telling yourself – that your boss “hates” you. What can you learn about the situation? It is highly likely that your boss is having a bad day, and highly unlikely that they woke up and decided to hate you.

Wrap Up

Regardless of your experience, industry, and job title, chances are you are going to experience disappointment at some point in your career. The key to remember is that this disappointment is usually a temporary feeling. Figuring out how to handle and get over these feelings will ultimately determine your future success. Disappointment, although difficult to realize in the moment, can be a learning experience that will benefit your career down the road.

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