What to do when your career fails

This is one of those topics we sheepishly skirt around. It’s almost as though if we don’t look at it, if we avoid direct eye contact, it’ll never happen to us. Sadly, (or maybe reassuringly?) it happens fairly often and in a dizzying array of circumstances.

We’ve put together some ideas about making the next right move and how to recover from the wrong one that put you in this situation in the first place. Let us know in the comments below your own sage advice too, because sharing is caring and your wisdom could help someone pick themselves up off the career fail floor.

1. Cut yourself some slack

Ok so you made a mistake, or a series of them, and now you're looking failure right in the mouth. It can be very easy to focus on the negative and lay into yourself. Instead, try thinking about how you would see the situation if it was a friend coming to you for advice.

Would you tell them they deserve it because they’re useless? Probably not. Would you go over and over the conversations and minute details? Please no. Would you berate them for being blind to the failure about to smack them in the face? Say you’re not agreeing here!

It’s more likely you’d be able to take in the series of events that led to the issue and offer a balanced and fair account of where they went wrong, offering them some comfort in the mix.

Take the same approach with yourself. Sure some wallowing is in order, but don’t spend too long doing that. Dust yourself off and be your own best mate so you can get on with the next steps.

2. Take responsibility

Know the difference between ‘fault’ and ‘responsibility’. Interestingly, we can take responsibility for our part in any given situation without finding fault or placing blame. Pointing the finger at others or ourselves is unhelpful and a waste of time and energy. Most situations are more nuanced and complicated than it being all your fault (or all someone else’s for that matter).

Channel this instead into the constructive activity of taking responsibility for your own actions with a healthy dose of acceptance. This is part of being a fully functioning adult, but it also shows maturity and a willingness to learn from mistakes, which is a key factor in achieving longterm success.

3. Work out what went wrong

If you’ve just been fired or embarrassed at work it can be difficult to take an objective look at what really happened. However, this step is super important because it will help you to avoid making the same mistakes in the future.

Make efforts to see it from your employers point of view and any other party involved (client or parent company for example) so that you can fully understand. Then chalk your findings up to experience (or lack of it) and make conscious choices to learn and gain from these life lessons in the future.

It’s worth noting what you did right too. There are rarely ever times when failure spans across the entire sorry affair, so make sure to acknowledge that as well.

4. Next!

So you’ve shrugged off the negativity, taken responsibility and worked out what you’ve learned for the future. What now?

Now is the time to start planning where you’re going and what your next move is. If you’re taking this opportunity to forge a completely new path, start talking to people and gathering information.

Write out an action plan and show it to people who might have relevant and knowledgable input to share. Take advice where you can find it (everyone has failed in their lifetime so that is literally everybody you know) and make it count.

If you’re undeterred and trying again, have a plan that builds on what you’ve learned, that is goal focused. Be honest with yourself here. If the truth is that you’re not sure you can put all your energy into your previous goals and career ambitions, then re-analyse your plan and alter it to reflect that. Find something you can commit yourself to 100% and go for it.

5. Take action

The majority of people are great at gathering information. However, taking real action is the necessary step to definitively move beyond failure. Take one meaningful step at a time and continue to check and cross-check that you’re on track.

As you gather momentum use this to propel yourself towards those all important goals using your plan. In the future this failure will seem like a distant memory. Perhaps one that helped to course correct your path and set you up for your biggest success yet!

Posted by: Sarah Price, on June 6, 2016
Categories: Articles