How to overcome a career setback
Episode 155 - We learn along the way. We fail along the way. And sometimes, it can be very frustrating.
Recently, I have been dealing with a personal setback for the past couple of weeks, and of course, my clients have lots of setbacks all the time. Although I often share on social media how excited I am about achievements from my clients when they get a new job or just signed a new contract, that doesn't mean the path to that ultimate goal has been trouble-free.
The story arc from the point when somebody starts working with me to the time they "graduate" with a job is not linear. We learn along the way. We fail along the way. And sometimes, it can be very frustrating.
Setbacks make you lose momentum
A setback can make you lose progress toward your goal and keep you from gaining ground. Setbacks make you stall on a project that you have on: It could be the project of your life, job hunting, training for a marathon, and so on. You stop progressing toward your goal, and it keeps you from gaining ground, from moving forward, and from achieving the things that you've planned to achieve.
We often forget that life does not run in a straight line. It's more like a rollercoaster, filled with ups and downs.
So how do you overcome it? Listen to this episode, where I will discuss some of my tips and personal stories to help you deal with career setbacks.
Resources mentioned in this episode
Timestamps to guide your listening
Tip #1: Embrace your emotions (05:31)
Tip #2: Shift away from pain (12:22)
Tip #3: Update your goals and plans (17:06)
Tip #4: If you can improve your game, now is the time to revisit your steps (23:53)
Transcript of this episode
Hello everyone, and welcome back to the Job Hunting podcast—today's episode 155, How to overcome a career setback or any setback really. And I hope that you have already subscribed to this podcast. If you're a professional looking for work, I think this podcast is for you. So wherever you have found.
Please subscribe. You know, I have been dealing with my setback for the past couple of weeks, and of course, my clients have lots of setbacks all the time. I'm not inspired by any client in particular because I often when I'm on. Social media when I'm, you know, excited about achievements from my clients, I share them with you, and I say, you know, my client just got a new job, just signed a new contract.
I get super excited and happy for them, of course, and for myself. Because I like to feel like I've helped them and that we've achieved something together, and it's so special to me. But of course, in order to get to. Ultimate successful welcome. A lot of things have happened along the way, and not all of them are great, and it's not linear from start to finish.
The story arc from the point when somebody starts working with me to the time they. Graduating with an A job is not linear. It's not like up and up and up and up. We learn along the way. We fail along the way. It's ups and downs. It's sometimes very frustrating. So I'd like to share with you some tips and ideas and share with you also my personal experience of how I dealt with setbacks in the best.
Setbacks make you stall on a project that you have on. You know, it could be a project of your life, or it could be job hunting, or it could be whatever it is that you're doing. Trading for a marathon, you lose. Progress toward your goal, and it keeps you from gaining ground, from moving forward, from achieving the things that you've planned to achieve.
So an example of setbacks in your career could be not getting the job you want. If you want to go into more detail, it could be not getting the interview for that special job that, you know, a dream job that you think is so great for you and you. Even get an interview for it, or you get interviewed many times like some of my clients, and in the end, the job isn't yours.
You don't get the promotion that you wanted. You get the job, but you don't like it. You hate it. It's such a setback. You know when you get disappointed with your new. Sometimes you make a huge career change. Like you go entirely 180 on your career, and then you realize it was a big mistake.
You get really sick or unwell. It could be physical. It could be mental. Life gets in the way. And it affects, you know, your career progression in that sense. You are made redundant from a job that you really liked. And I mentioned a job that you really liked because, as I was explaining to someone yesterday, being made redundant from a job you don't like is a good thing.
You come out of it with some money in your pocket, and you can move on to something else. But when you like a job, which it was my case, I was made redundant from a job that I really enjoyed doing. It can be really sad and very hard to understand. Are there other cases? I'm sure there are. If you can think of other setbacks that you have experienced in your career and you want to share with me, I would love to hear from you.
If you get the newsletter with this new episode, you can reply back, or you can send me a message on social media, and I'll get that. So please share with me if you have had other setbacks in your career.
So how do you overcome it? I will share with you some of my tips. These are just things that I've written down today.
At the end of a very long day, if you're watching this on YouTube it's a video podcast and you know, I'm cold. It's been a long day, probably longer than it should be. I should have stopped working about two hours ago if I'm honest with you. What I was thinking just before pressing record was that if I don't get these ideas out of my head, I actually don't sleep well because I keep thinking about it as I'm trying to sleep.
So for me, it's actually better to brain them my ideas on you. Apologies for that, but it makes for a better sleeping routine for me later. I'm going to share these steps with you, but first, let me tell you what my current setback is. I, experience chronic pain. You know, it's not something that has just started. It's been decades.
I'm used to it and sometimes it flares up and it did flare up a week or so ago, more than a week, two weeks ago, and I'm still dealing with it. So it's really intense, and I'll tell you how I'm dealing right now as I share my tips with you.
So my tip for you is to embrace your emotions, whatever they may be.
Permit yourself to feel human. My great friend Hannah Pitman once told me this, and she did it in a very delicate way. And, you know, I was sharing with her probably too much, Huh? If you're listening, apologies. I don't even know if you remember this. It was many years ago. And she, you know, allowed me and told me how important it is to permit yourself to be human, to feel everything you need to feel, to know it's normal, to feel disappointed, especially when you're so invested in what you're doing and to do things well. You have to be invested to go through job hunting and to, apply for jobs and to prepare for job interviews.
You have to be invested in it. That's how you really show up with the right energy in front of people. So if you don't get the job, of course, you're gonna feel disappointed. So acknowledge the pain of the setback or whatever emotions you're feeling. Sometimes it's not pain. It could be anger. It could be, you know, whatever it is. Understand that the grief is normal, and it's part of being human and feeling things, and, you know, it's all part of the process. In my experience, when I have tried to rationalize the emotions too quickly at a very early stage, as soon as something, You know, a setback, had happened to me. It wasn't helpful.
You know, it's too soon. It's better to just let it flow and go through your body and your mind, and it will eventually subside. And that there is enough research that shows that, you know, that it can take a few minutes. It can take a few hours, it can take a couple of days. Everybody is different. I think it varies according to how exposed you are with setbacks. If you've never had a setback, it will be more of a shock. If, you know, and sometimes you have many, many setbacks, but you are on a sort of an an emotional spiral. You know, counseling can really help with that because it can really get to you.
And in fact, I have clients that, you know, because of job hunting and other things going on in their lives, have decided to work with a bigger team, more support including counseling. And I think that that has been very beneficial for many people, myself included. My experience is that you know, lots of setbacks, sickness, redundancy So, in my personal experience, the types of setbacks that I have experienced, and there have been lots of them because I'm 50 years old. I've had a full life, and I've taken risks, and I've been, you know, quite bold in choices I've made in my life.
But, Personally and professionally. So I've had, you know, sickness, I've had redundancies, I've had jobs that I accepted that I didn't like. I, you know, initiated career changes, especially early on in my life, and made choices that I then it, and I had to do a 180 again . And that is all part of life.
And you know, that those failures. They didn't scare me very early on, and I think I've mentioned this a couple of times before in previous episodes because it was such an important milestone in my career. I participated in a program that's organized by the United Nations called iTech. It's, you know, not available in every country, but it was available in my home country, Brazil.
And I did it very young. I think I was maybe 25 when I enrolled and was accepted to do the program. It's very hard to get in and one of the prerequisites to get into that program is you have to have failed three times. And that's why it's so hard to do it when you're young because it's four entrepreneurs and.
You know, I had not failed in business three times, but in my interview, I showcased that I had failed twice, And I promised to fail the program. I know that the program had an entrepreneurial component. It had a project, and I said I will fail the project. And I think that the fact that that program that was designed to be so amazing and inspirational and motivational for entrepreneurs had a failure criteria.
As a, an enrollment criteria made me think about failure in a very different way, and since then, I haven't been very afraid of it, but I still feel it. I still know when I need to give myself that permission to feel human and take time off. So that's my first tip to embrace your emotions and understand that that's part of, you know, especially the first stage of a setback.
Interestingly, I have had a conversation recently with one of my clients where we both acknowledged this. You know, he said it first, and then I'm like, Yes, I have that too. This feeling that you know, years go by, and you think about a setback. And it makes your, hairs on your hands just go up, and it makes you want to shiver a bit because you just remember how bad that emotion was and that is important for us to know and to acknowledge that our careers and what happens to us professionally are also part of our life. It's part of us. It has an emotional component to it. It's not possible for us to just be rational when we're being professional. Sometimes things will happen to us at work that will cause a strong emotional reaction, and you will remember the good and the bad.
Unfortunately, our minds are wired to always remember the bad things and the good things. But I, you know, think of that as an exercise, too. Go back and think, what are the things that make me like, want to, you know, crawl under the, under the carpet and forget that that happened.
On the other hand, remember all the amazing things that you have achieved so far in your career and never ever forget them. In my case, I do journaling, and I have spoken about journaling a few times before. And it may help. You know, the journaling and the gratefulness exercise are well known. I will link the show notes to some research or ideas for you to follow if that is helping and, and that can help.
But like I said, don't try to rationalize too soon what has happened to you. Just let the emotions flow through your body. They will go away eventually. And in fact, that's also my tip number two is to shift away from the pain. If you want to recover and move on, you need to force yourself out of it.
Sometimes, you know, there needs to be a bit of an energy that comes from you to get you out of that. Feeling human , that situation where you are in grief, you need to move away from it. And it's really hard sometimes. But that idea of moving away from the know that you received and thinking about it as a not yet, I've read that once, and I think that that's such an important way of understanding the need to move on.
you will next week hear Evan Son, who I interviewed for this podcast for episode 1 56. He's the CEO of recruiter.com, and he makes this important point as well. You know, if it's not this job, it's the next job. There's plenty of jobs out there, so, My experience, I personally have needed to walk it out.
You know, I take long walks, or I walk as much as I can, depending on my pain. I clean the house, you know, that sort of spring cleaning or any sort of reorganizing, you know, sometimes I see it in sitcoms or tv or TV shows that you know, other people. Probably use that technique as well, and it helps make clear my mind.
And most importantly, I need to laugh it out. You know, if I'm not laughing about my own situation, I will find a TV show that helps. Me laugh. Sheets Creek has been my go-to recently. I mentioned it in a previous newsletter. You may have received it, and that I had watched a few episodes of Sheri. It was because I really needed that laugh.
I needed that happiness. That comes from watching a great TV show that I know I will laugh at. And I deal with setbacks regularly because I do have chronic pain, and I often need to revisit my priorities to deal with, you know, my planning and reschedule things and re rethinking how I'm going to be able to achieve the things I set myself to achieve that day, that week, that month.
I always have my top priorities professionally. It's always my private clients. They are first and foremost, and I will always have time for them. And then things that sit just below that may. I may need to shift. You know, I have emailed people and I have said, I can't get back to you this week. It will have to be next week.
And I need to deal with things as they, they happen. Although, you know, when I think about career setbacks, I think most people are shifting away from emotional pain and not physical pain, which is my case. So it's the same, you know, about sending messages to your mind. Your body that it's time to move on and finding, you know, pleasure in getting out of the house, exercising, talking more, opening up with people, watching things on tv or reading something that re-energizes you, that makes you happy, that makes you laugh. I think it's always a good idea to have a good belly laugh. Excellent movement with your body is open to people sharing more, and don't try to hide it.
You know, remember always that motivation alone will not get you. The job is done. You see, it's important to have that discipline, even if it hurts a little bit in the beginning to get back to job hunting or get back to your day to day activities. A client has recently sent me a breathing exercise that he was doing, and I completely agree with him. I have decided to incorporate the breathing exercise inside my group coaching program. So I will also have a link to it below so that you can have a look, and this breathing exercise is fantastic to do if you're feeling nervous before an interview. Or if you have a career setback and it's making you anxious or nervous or sad, and you want to restart your nervous system to start thinking more positively about your life and the plans ahead.
So it's fantastic what breathing can do.
Number three, I'd love for you to update your goals and plans and revisit your plans. Remember in episode 1, 5, and 3, when I mentioned that we sometimes set? Terrible timeframes to achieve our goals. I, in fact, invited you to watch an episode of Grand Designs because it's laughable, really, that TV show that has been going on for decades, I think.
I don't know how long it's been going. I feel like I've watched it for so long. And episode after episode, you see individuals and couples telling the host that they are going to finish a house in six months. And, of course, it takes six years. It's, you know, hilarious and full of ups and downs, and usually, the house ends up fine.
But I think it's important for us when we have those setbacks that we reexamine our goals and learn from whatever it is. That we can learn from that experience this is really the time to reset, to adjust, to accept the reality of the situation that you're in, the environment that you find yourself in.
Sometimes the environment is outside of your control. And we know this now more than ever after looking for jobs for, for a couple of years during the pandemic. And you know, do you need to revisit your salary expectations? I'm not saying that you have to, but have a checklist next to you and think, okay Is this the salary? Is this the position? Is this the location of the sector or the companies that I'm targeting? What can I learn from this experience from the application that I sent? Is this the right resumes is the right way to approach interview questions? Also, consider the length of the job search.
I know you have a setback now, And it's been a few weeks or months that you've been job searching. what does that say about the length of your job search and how long it will take you to get a job? So stay open to opportunities, ideas in the intelligence that you gather in these sort of situations.
Right? Think about this as a project, and think about everything that happens to you as an opportunity to learn and improve on what you're doing. In my experience, I've always enjoyed this step the most. I think this is why I became a coach because I always felt like I was learning so much with my career.
Setbacks with the failures, as well as the successes I found. This planning and readjusting, and learning are very stimulating. This is also a step that I've always enjoyed doing with other people, with someone else. I've had coaches in the past, so I found it really great to connect with coaches and workshop with them.
Don't get me wrong. I wanted company always, you know, even with the giving myself permission to be human and embracing my emotions, and when I was shifting away from pain, not saying that you have to be alone for those steps. Not at all. I just felt like, you know, when I was super sad, my go-to person was my husband and my, my closest friends or my mother, if not, you know, a counselor, but I wouldn't want to share, you know, too much or with too many people.
And you know, sometimes I feel like I have to hold on clients from opening up too much with colleagues at work or their bosses or their referees, or even the head hunter. So those are the peoples that are supposed to be there, ready to support you, advocate for you, and champion you when you're at your best, to showcase yourself at your best, and to also seek their advice when you are in this updating of your goals and plans.
This may be. Different for you. Maybe you have a different environment and idea of how to connect with people. But as a rule of thumb, I am careful with who I open with and seek advice from when I am fragile emotionally, right? I want people to support me to be. Either professionally trained or to be my mom.
So during this time, when I flared up with my pain, I spent a week going to the doctor. So I saw my specialists, I saw my physio, I saw a massage therapist. So I trust those people. Like, you know, I wouldn't be open. I mean, I could open up with a friend. They can't help me, to be honest. So that's you know what I decided to do?
If you translate that to a career situation, you know, you, go through the motions of connecting with maybe a DM, mentor a coach if you have one. And even a counselor, if you think that you know, it's too much for you to take, and you have to discuss this with somebody that can help you and support you emotionally.
I can open up with more people, and I don't feel like I need to hide any of my failures in life. In the past, I have said, Look, I want your advice in brainstorming ideas for my next career move because the last one didn't go so well. I think that when you are at that stage, Updating your goals and plans.
It's important to seek out opportunities and to be very upfront with your trusted network to say I really need your advice in brainstorming ideas. Do you have time for a coffee? Can we play around with some ideas over coffee or even a bottle of wine? And I think that people really like to know that they are needed in that sense that they can really offer great intel.
And ideas to support your career and people that can help you with this are people within your network, within your professional network. So I would often in the past have done this with former colleagues, former bosses, mentors, again coaches, and it's been a very useful exercise for me and I. Always motivate and incentivize my clients to do the same because, as a coach, of course, I have great ideas for them, I hope, but it's great when they come with me after meeting with their network and they compact with ideas that, things that they hadn't thought before.
And we can do a lot with that. You know, when we have our sessions.
Number four, if you can improve your game, now is the time to revisit your steps. So after some time has passed, you can look back and see if you can improve upon aspects of, let's say, your job interview or the way you lead people, or how you manage your time, you know, or you know, making sure that you are not going to burn out again and so on.
I like to do this many, many weeks or months after a career setback. I don't think it's good to do this immediately in my experience because when I have done this immediately in the past, I was too hard on myself, too judgemental, not really thinking straight and just being too negative about my own abilities, skills, and resources.
You know, over time, I grew a very thick skin, and I can now, you know, and from many years ago, maybe five, six years ago, I could do this step immediately. I would walk out of a terrible interview, and I would immediately write down everything that had happened, figure out pretty quickly where things had gone wrong, and so forth.
But you need to be very free from judgment, and you know in your heart that nothing that has happened is personal at all. And most importantly, you need to be at, you know, At this sort of mental stage where you really do not feel sorry for yourself when something goes wrong, and this is not for everyone.
So doing this very quickly after a setback is definitely not what I would advise doing, but I am proud of the fact that I moved from being very sensitive and very reactive to over time—building on that resiliency. You know, as I studied, you know, positive psychology. So I, resiliency was one of the aggregate, you know, one of the measures that wasn't part of the aggregate measure that I studied for my honors degree, which was equivalent to a master's overseas.
And resiliency was just such an important idea for me. I, I, I was, you know, really passionate and excited about reading about resiliency and how you build it and how people develop it, you know, in the worst of situations. So I, tried as much as I could to Develop resiliency within me.
And then I, you know, discovered that I didn't even need to bounce anymore. I wanted to be anti fra. I wanted to sort of move really quickly into sort of a continues improvement mode, learning from whatever needed to be discovered. If there was nothing to learn, just moving on very quickly. But I want you to know that this step can take a while, you know?
And if you feel you are being too judgemental and too hard on yourself, it's not the time to do it yet. Now I have other episodes that can help you. Recover from setbacks. I really like the one where I discussed the sunk cost fallacy. I'm going to put the link to that episode below, and if I think about any other spells that could help you, I will put a link.
The episode show notes as well. I hope you enjoyed listening to this episode. Please subscribe if you haven't subscribed to this podcast yet. Wherever you find this, make sure that you press the subscribe button. But I have more to teach and in the coming weeks, I will do just that inside the Job Hunting Made Simple program, which is my online.
Coaching program. So if you're listening to this before the 17th of October, 2022, know that you can register immediately. So many people have been waiting months to do this program. I already have a lot of registration, so I'd love for you to join me. If not, I will be teaching that again in 2023. I only teach the job Hunting Made simple program twice a year.
So, That will be many months before I teach it again. So if you're in a hurry, please join now. I hope you consider participating and go to my website to learn more about the program and about the other services that I have. The website is https://www.renatabernarde.com .
I hope to see you there, and I hope to see you at the next episode live.
About the Host
Hello, I’m Renata Bernarde, the Host of The Job Hunting Podcast. I’m also an executive coach, job hunting expert, and career strategist. I teach professionals (corporate, non-profit, and public) the steps and frameworks to help them find great jobs, change, and advance their careers with confidence and less stress.
If you are an ambitious professional who is keen to develop a robust career plan, if you are looking to find your next job or promotion, or if you want to keep a finger on the pulse of the job market so that when you are ready, and an opportunity arises, you can hit the ground running, then this podcast is for you.
In addition to The Job Hunting Podcast, on my website, I have developed a range of courses and services for professionals in career or job transition. And, of course, I also coach private clients.
Contact Renata Bernarde
I’m determined to help you! I want you to feel empowered, nail your next job, and have the career you want.
My free resources for job hunters: The Optimized Job Search: Weekly Schedule & Masterclass.
Learn more about my services, courses, and group coaching: RenataBernarde.com