How to bounce back from career disappointment

Having a career setback is hard. See the steps you can do to deal with career disappointment.Disappointment is something that we all need to deal with at one point in our lives. It may not be a welcome feeling but it is inescapable. Feeling disappointed is one thing, but dealing with it like an adult and learning from it is something we all must do.

The recent reshuffling in our organization due to merger has left a lot of people questioning their career trajectory, me included. Everywhere, people are being made redundant, or get passed up for career advancement- me included. This made me think about dealing with career disappointment. Here are a few tips I applied, and currently applying to help deal with it:

Be honest. (At least with yourself)

We are human and we feel emotions, both healthy and not. When I first learned that some people are being asked for role expansion, my initial thought was “Why am I not considered?”.

Yes, I’m aware that it sounds selfish. Yes, I’m aware that it sounds conceited in ways that I personally find deplorable. When I noticed these of questions forming in my head, I recognized it and tried to deal with it in a non-judgmental way.

Maybe I finally found a practical application in Mindful meditation. Notice a feeling, but don’t judge it. Research suggests that acknowledging negative feelings can help you evaluate experiences with greater clarity and plan thing better moving forward. Feeling disappointed does not make you a terrible person. It is what it is.

Being brutally honest with yourself is haaaarrrrdd
Being brutally honest with yourself is haaaarrrrdd

Take responsibility

I am late in the game but 2017 is the year I really got into podcasts. Audiobooks are awesome but when I need a quick kick in the butt, podcasts motivate me.

One of my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE EPISODES OF ALL TIME (Yes that needs to be in caps) is Episode 66 of the Afford Anything Podcast. Paula’s guest in this episode is Emma Pattee, a 26 yr old millionaire. Emma and Paula encapsulated something that I was trying to put into words- if you really want to change something, you have to take radical responsibility in your life.

Taking radical responsibility means not letting excuses hold you back.

When we see someone who has everything on track- rewarding career, happy family, savings, investment, etc. we cannot resist finding something that will justify why they were able to do it, but not us.

“She finds it easy to save and invest because she’s single”

“She has time to workout because she doesn’t have kids.”

“I can’t run a marathon because I was born on October”

Or whatever excuse we can think of.

On and on ad nauseum.

Yes, it IS easier for other people to do things.

The world isn’t made of rainbows and unicorns.

It is not fair all the time.


We need to let go of other people’s advantages.

Maybe you are in the opinion that you have more experience and deserve that promotion more than your co-worker.

But have you ever thought of the reason why that happened?

Were you able to do your current role that exceeds expectations?

Have you ever told your boss that you are willing to perform an expanded role?

Did you develop the crucial skills required to advance on your career?

When I started asking myself these questions, I can’t help but to feel horrible on how conceited I was.

It is very easy to fall into the victim mindset, whining to everyone how unfair the world is.

Take radical responsibility in your life. No more excuses.
“When people are lame, they like to blame.”

I am the one responsible for my career advancement. Not my manager, not my co-worker. The reason about my not being promoted is ME.

It is very difficult to take radical responsibility, but leaning in to such discomfort is how we grow.

Which leads us to the next step

Determine what to do moving forward

As they say, our wins will not be counted on how we reacted on good times, but how we dealt with bad times. How we respond to failure and disappointment is one core difference between successful people and those that are not.

Taking responsibility is a bitter pill to swallow. But once we started doing that, it will be easier to plan on things moving forward. Intense feelings inevitably force clarification of values and priorities.

This is the best time to ask yourself-

“Now what? What can I do differently next time?”


Once we know what did not work, we can use this knowledge to plan our future moves. This knowledge can become the building blocks of future successes.

Be open to career paths. Moving laterally on your organization, getting exposure on other departments may just be what you need as a career boost.

Being disappointment often goes hand in hand with opportunity. The more opportunities you seek, the more you may experience disappointment. Disappointment is not the end of your career, unless you allow it to be. Dealing with disappointment is a skill all of us must learn and a great opportunity for both personal and professional development.

Readers, have you ever experienced a career disappointment? How did you deal with it?


3 Replies to “How to bounce back from career disappointment”

  1. Some great advice here. Mostly relates to taking responsibility for yourself. I find a lot of people can be quick to blame external factors for things that don’t go the way they want. I find myself blaming myself, realising my faults and refocusing to achieve more. You will only learn if you take the responsibility yourself.

    1. Yes, I find that focusing on your locus of control is a great start in dealing with life challenges. Thanks for taking the time visiting this blog Martin!

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