Dealing with Professional Adversity

Dealing with Professional Adversity

by Jeanne Knutzen | January 30, 2013

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 So you’ve had a rough day. Or maybe you’ve had a rough year. You fought hard for your promotion to management, but the reality of the position isn’t playing out as you imagined. Or maybe you fought hard for your new job, you celebrated the day you received an offer, and now you’d rather die than spend another day in this nightmare. Or maybe, like countless professionals these days, you weathered the ups and downs of office life until the day you didn’t, and now you’re out on your own doing whatever you can to make ends meet until you can get your career back on track.

Whatever your position may be, it’s no picnic, and no crystal ball can assure you that things will look brighter by the end of the day, the week, or the even the decade. So what should you do? And how can you channel the optimism you need to carry you through this challenging chapter of your professional story?  Try these simple tips.

Staying Optimistic During Challenging Times

1. Line up your role models.

Many of the people who we consider paragons of “success” didn’t face an easy path on their way to the top. In fact, some of the most successful people in history struggled with crippling setbacks, disappointments, and episodes of uncertainty. Who are your adversity role models? Think of the person at the top of your list (either a famous name or a personal hero drawn from your circle of family and friends.)  Take a close look at this person’s life, and recognize that during his or her darkest periods, she was just as uncertain as you are about how the future would play out.

2. Stop negative thought cycles.

One negative thought (or imagined worst case scenario) tends to lead to another. So when you feel yourself losing your footing and sliding into a dark place, recognize that this is happening and do three things: 1.) Stand up from your chair or change your physical position. 2.) Take three deep breaths in and out for a count for five seconds each. 3.)  Switch gears and turn your unrealistic negative fantasies into realistic positive ones.

3. Fail hard, and fail smart

When you fail (which you will if you’re a human being), learn from the experience. But actually learn, don’t just surround yourself with cheerful sounding platitudes. The lessons your failure brings may not resemble the lessons you have in mind, or the ones you’ve absorbed from movies and TV. In fact, they may not look familiar at all and may be unexpected and utterly unique to your own life. Be quiet for a while and stay alert to the real lessons, the ones that will have meaning for you, and only you.

When you face a rocky stretch of road, remember that you don’t have to navigate your situation alone. You can, but you don’t have to. Reach out to the career management and staffing experts at Pace for insight, perspective, industry news, job leads, and other information that can help you find your footing and move forward with confidence.


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