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Home > Audio, Podcast, Show > New, different, action is the way to recover from career setbacks — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

New, different, action is the way to recover from career setbacks — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

April 8th, 2013

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I have written in the past about the immense power that action brings to your career. The act of taking action brings power to any situation and no more so than when you suffer a career setback. Perhaps you didn’t get the job or the promotion or you’ve been laid off. Let those setbacks drive you on to new — and different — action that can lead the way to the next step in your career.


 
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If you have been pushing for some sort of career change, and find yourself thwarted, it can lead to depression, inaction and even more self-destructive behaviors. How do I know this? I have seen it in myself over the years of my career. In fact, I think it is something that we all have in common as human beings. When we suffer a failure, we often turn inward and attack ourselves with anger and self-doubt. Rather than do this, I challenge you to direct your energies outward. More importantly, though, I also challenge you to do something new, something different instead of repeating the same actions that brought you to that point.

Like anyone, we can become stuck in ruts of attitude and behavior. We can come to believe that there is only one, right way of doing something –whether that something is making our bed or developing our career. That fact is, if you have suffered a career setback after trying one particular tactic, you would be foolish to attempt that same tactic again. Trying the same things over and over and expecting different results only leads to madness. You need to find new and different ways of approaching your career. New ways that have a better chance of succeeding than those you have tried already. This may seem to be common sense, and yet I see many people repeating the same errors over and over in their careers and lives. They can’t seem to break free from their thinking and actions and therefore fail again and again in exactly the same ways.

So, if you recently suffered a career setback, think about the methods you were using. Then think about a method that is directly opposed to that method. If you were looking to gain a promotion by being the same as all the other candidates, think about how you might be different next time. If you were trying to be very different, think about how you might be more similar to the other candidates. If you have been searching for a job without success using the traditional methods of classified advertisements, recruiters and job web sites, think about looking for a new job using direct personal contacts, networking, conferences and more. For every action there is an equal and opposite action, or tactic, or thinking, that you can bring into play.

Whatever you do, though, don’t let inaction become your default action. Unfortunately, inaction is exactly what most people do when faced with career setbacks. We retreat to our caves, salve our mental wounds with binges of television and junk food and try to pretend that the setback never happened. The only way out of a bad situation is through it. Trying to hide will guarantee that you remain no better off than when you started — and more likely, even worse. Hiding away wastes time and energy that could be better spent on finding the next action — and taking it. Taking positive action always leads to improvement, even if the only improvement is making you feel better about yourself and your work. That said, feeling better about yourself and the situation is the first major step to improving the situation.

Action is important when addressing any career setback, but that action must be positive action, focused in new and different directions. Don’t repeat your mistakes again and again. See them for what they are. Learn from them and then try something completely different. Once these different actions are tried you will probably find that success lies somewhere between the two extremes, but if you never try something completely different you will never know what is possible. You’ll simply fail again for the same reasons you have failed before. This is not the career you deserve.

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