How to Turn a Work Setback into an Opportunity

Experiencing Setbacks at Work

Every career has its setbacks. However, don't get caught up in keeping score. It's not about those raw numbers; it’s about turning those failures into opportunities.

Maybe someone else got that big promotion you were vying for. Perhaps you were left off a project that included a conference in Hawaii. Or, maybe you had to move your office to a windowless cubicle and can’t remember the last time you saw the sun. In short, things aren't going your way.

Here are four ways to turn your work setback into a long-term opportunity:

Keep Moving Forward

Rather than dwelling on a failure, assess the situation as it stands now. Figure out what you need to do going forward. Like Shakespeare said, "what’s past is prologue." Your story starts now. Accept things as they are and move on.

Reframe the Situation

Very few situations represent a total defeat. Usually, events are more ambiguous. Just because you didn't achieve your central goal doesn't mean you achieved nothing at all.

Look at your current situation with fresh eyes. Think about all that you’ve learned. Even if you fell short of your primary intention, review the progress you’ve made. Reframing your point of view can make your situation appear more promising than you initially thought.

Reassess Your Goals

Success is a moving target. Perhaps you aimed a bit too high in the past and did not set achievable goals. Setting clear and reachable SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time bound) will help you reach your loftier long-term objectives.

Strive for Growth

Careers are marathons, not sprints. You’re unlikely to recall most of your setbacks within a few years. They are merely passing markers on your long road to success.

Remember, if you're not encountering setbacks, it means you aren't challenging yourself. Push yourself to seek out new challenges. Doing so means you'll occasionally stumble and fail, however, consider this part of the process. Your true long-term goal should be constant forward progress and growth.  

Workplaces with a welcoming atmosphere for personal growth are crucial to driving your career forward. Teaming with a strong recruiting partner — such as United Personnel — helps place you in situations where you can risk failure in constructive ways while becoming stronger in the process.

Contact United Personnel to learn more.