How To Overcome Setbacks In Your Life And Career

Have you experienced a failure or setback in your life or career? The reality of life is that major setbacks can happen even when it seems like you are doing everything right. While many people try to avoid failure, this is not always an option. It is what you do after a setback that determines whether or not you will be successful in the long term. If you are currently going through a tough time, the following tips will help you to overcome the setback.

1. Give yourself time to reflect 

A career setback will shock anyone; a demotion or, a sudden layoff can take time to absorb. To overcome this challenge, give yourself time to get some new perspective. Focusing too much on it will make you forget your priorities.

When you are able to reflect on the issue, you will have the best opportunity of dealing with the negative feelings such as sadness, anger, or betrayal. Furthermore, you will be able to handle your disappointment graciously.

2. Build your self-esteem 

It is easy to lose your self-worth when you encounter a setback in life. For example, if your love life ends on bad terms, you might conclude that you are not as charming or as attractive as you initially thought. Likewise, If you fail to get a promotion, you might fall into the trap of believing that you are not valuable.

Build your self-esteem by believing in yourself and by looking at things objectively. Look at it this way, there are many reasons why you might miss a promotion and there is probably nothing personal about it. In the same breath, a failed relationship does not necessarily mean that you are the problem.

3. Assess what went wrong 

If you have failed to get the promotion you worked hard for and you are struggling with the disappointment, try to assess what went wrong. You can start by asking your CEO or HR manager to clarify what was lacking in your experience and skills.

The discussions will help you uncover important details in the manager’s decision of not considering you for the promotion. While the outcome was not in your favor, see it as a learning opportunity and not a disappointment.

4. Think positively and consider other possibilities 

It is easy to forget about your goals when a setback happens. Do you still have those goals? A let-down could be a wakeup call of what you should actually do. You may find that more money and a good job title might not make you happier.

The disappointment could be an eye-opener to other possibilities. Perhaps you might find more fulfillment working with an NGO or a hospice. There are endless possibilities after every setback. What you need to do is to think positively and consider them as possible solutions.

5. Reevaluate your goals

Reevaluate your goals to know where you are going or want to be in future. Also, determine what activities you will be doing to ensure you reach your career goals. Create new goals by factoring in what you learned from previous setbacks. Moreover, examine yourself and determine how you will build enough experience and skills. These should enable you to achieve milestones in your career.

6. Avoid stress 

If you are not careful, a career setback can add more stress and negativity in your life. Stress can lead to depression and can have a serious effect on your health. Luckily, there are many things you can do to avoid stress. If possible, reduce your workload and participate in activities that will shape your next career move. Take time to engage in hobbies, do nature walks, and perform mindfulness exercises.

7. Do not blame others 

It would be impossible to bounce back from a career disappointment if you keep blaming others. If you blame others because of the role they played in your setback, you will have a tough time overcoming the disappointment.

You need to take responsibility for your actions and stop expending your energy blaming your colleagues for wronging you. Although you will feel better by justifying yourself, in the long run, you will not learn from your mistakes.


Life and careers do not always go as planned. For most people, a career let-down is an opportunity that allows them to learn from their mistakes. It also gives them the chance to create new possibilities and shape their future.

Adam Richards

About Adam Richards

Adam Richards is a semi-retired business professional originally from Bangor, Maine. He spent the majority of his career in sales and marketing where he rose to the marketing lead of a Fortune 1000 company. He then moved on to helping people as a career counselor that specifically helped bring families to self-sufficiency through finding them rewarding careers. He has now returned to Bangor for his retirement and spends his free time writing. This blog will be about everything he learned throughout his career. He'll write on career, workplace, education and technology issues as well as on trends, changes, and advice for the Maine job market and its employers.