Career setbacks are part working life. Maybe you didn’t get that promotion, or had a poor performance review. Or perhaps your job changed due to a re-organisation and became less interesting, or maybe there was a sudden layoff.

Take today’s news from HSBC, for example. The company has confirmed that it is axing between 7,000 and 8,000 UK jobs, that’s around one in six of its staff in Britain. Some 25,000 roles are expected to be shed globally, as part of the bank’s cost-cutting and restructuring strategy.

It has also said that it will “trim” branches in Britain and rebrand its UK retail banking business, and prepared to move its UK head office from London to Birmingham.

The reality is that these things can happen and are all-too-common realities that we need to be prepared for in today’s economic times. However, we do have choices in how we deal with them.

With this in mind, here are five top tips for people to consider if they handle a career setback, be that in the financial sector or any other industry:-

1. Take time out

A career disappointment, regardless of the business type or sector you are in, often comes as a shock and takes time to fully absorb. Take some time away from the office to step back and get some perspective.

Take time to recover. Acknowledge your emotions of anger or disappointment.  Allow yourself time to deal with these feelings but avoid dwelling on them for too long.  Instead, focus on how you’ll meet your next set of challenges.

When we focus intensely on work, we sometimes forget other priorities like our family or taking care of ourselves. Some time away will help you deal with the feelings of disappointment whether it is anger, sadness, betrayal, etc. Time away also helps you continue to be professional at work and handle this disappointment gracefully.

2. Assess what happened

If you’re struggling with disappointment related to not getting that promotion, ask the hiring manager to clearly highlight what was missing in your skills and experience.

These discussions may uncover things that were more important in the decision than you’d first realised. While we may not always agree with the outcome, there is always a learning opportunity to be taken from your disappointment.

Careers, like life, don’t always go the way we expect. With the benefit of hindsight, for many people a career setback was a blessing that allowed for some important learning or created a new, more compelling possibility.

Put it in perspective. Failure is situational. Just because you were unsuccessful in one instance doesn’t mean you are a failure. Don’t let the event shake your confidence and keep you down.

3. No scapegoats

Avoid blaming other people for your setback and instead focus on the sequence of events that led to it. You may be able to identify things you could have done differently that might have changed the outcome.

This may help you gain valuable insights into your own abilities and the dynamic in your office. As a result, you’ll regain confidence in your abilities and find the focus and energy you need to move forward.

4. Consider possibilities

Think about your career goals before the setback. Are these still your goals? Could this setback perhaps be a reality check of what you really want?

Often, we’re seduced by a job title or more money, only to realise those things do not actually make us happy. Could this disappointment be an opening to another possibility?

Perhaps this is the springboard for you to work in another business sector or to explore opportunities in another part of the company. There are possibilities in every disappointment.

5. Redefine your goals

Make new goals for yourself based on what you’ve learned about your setback, the choice you’ve made about your future and the analysis you’ve done about the areas you need to work on.

Identify specific, measurable and time-bound goals that will move you forward. For example, if you suffer from lack of visibility, don’t say vaguely that you’ll do more networking. Instead, select three to five key individuals you should get to know. Then set a deadline to meet them.

The size of your success is measured by the strength of your desire, the size of your dream, and how you handle disappointment along the way.”    Robert Kiyosaki

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