A few years ago something very difficult happened in my career. Now that I look back on it…
It’s the best thing that ever happened to me.
I wouldn’t wish career failure on anyone, but sometimes it can put things into perspective and give someone the kick-start they were afraid to do themselves.
I was laid off in 2011 and I looked very hard for a job. A good job, something I could get excited about. The few good ones out there were difficult to come by, so I decided to take matters into my own hands.
Your career is filled with learning experiences, and many of them occur because of failure. This is natural -- when you are pushing yourself outside your comfort zone you will fall down.
I’ve failed so many times, it’s a bit embarrassing. And it also makes me stronger. After months of searching I decided to go all in with starting my business. Along the way there have been many painful moments.
I did a radio interview for a national program a couple years ago. I went into the studio, and the engineer guided me through the whole process. The microphone was at eye level. I was comfortable and armed with knowledge to dispense. I was ready. The whole process made me feel very important. After it was over, I asked her, “How did I do?”
“You did ok,” she said.
I was expecting a more enthusiastic response. It was like a punch in the gut.
“Your tone was flat.”
“Really? How could I improve?” I asked.
“Try to vary your voice more, and if you feel passionate about a particular question, let it out in your answer.”
She was right. I held back because I was afraid of showing the true me. The next radio interview I did still lacked punch, but by the 10th one I had improved a great deal. The radio interview could have catapulted my career and it ended up doing nothing for me.
Failures are a part of everyone’s career. If it isn't then you have to ask yourself, "Am I taking enough risks?"
I had a client max out his credit cards to start up a business that failed. He filed for Chapter 13, cleared his debt and started a new business that became successful.
You must keep moving forward, even if it’s only one little shuffle step at a time.
"Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” Thomas A. Edison
Yes, I still get upset when I mess up. My inner arch nemesis takes a bite out of me, but it doesn’t last very long any more. I let him nibble on my pain, then end it before it gets out of control. I have too many people I want to help to let my sad feelings hold me back from doing my work.
1. Understand Your “Why”
You will have career setbacks. You won’t be able to prevent them. In fact you should embrace them.
It starts with understanding why you do what you do. If you can’t answer why you do what you do with any conviction, it might be time to change your career.
If you can answer your why, then this is where you can dig a little deeper to understand how you can get better results.
Next time you have a career setback, just ask yourself, “Why should I continue working?”
By phrasing this question to garner a positive response, your brain will gravitate towards finding solutions that will help you grow in new directions.
"I didn't fail the test, I just found 100 ways to do it wrong." - Benjamin Franklin
Your mindset is the most important aspect of letting go of failure. The quicker you can let go and bring back a happy and positive mindset the easier it will be for you to take action again.
2. Ask for Feedback from Quality People
The feedback that many people give you at work isn’t always well thought out or what you want to hear. That’s why asking quality people for feedback is important. You want to ask people who have good values and who won’t let their feelings get in the way of giving you feedback that you can use to grow.
Once you’ve asked for feedback, you need to listen very deeply to the response. Especially if it’s done with pause and consideration for your best interest.
That’s why I suggest not asking to anyone who could have trouble putting their love aside for you. (*cough – your mom, dad, or a best friend - cough*)
By asking people who believe honesty is more important than making you feel good, you can find out where to put your focus. Once you find a few quality people, just tell them openly about the situation, and ask them, “Using mostly facts and as few feelings as possible, what do you think I could do to make this situation better?”
3. Create a 30-Day Project
Now that you have feedback on how you could improve, you have to look at how you can use this information to make your career more enjoyable. What were they able to tell you that you didn’t already know?
This is where it can get difficult.
You have to separate the super-helpful from the non-helpful.
Look at what they said and what resonated with you. Then think about three ways you could improve on this part of your career. Look at each idea and pick the one that you like the best. Turn this into a flexible goal. Better to start with an idea that you like and that can grow with you than procrastinate on taking action trying to figure out which is the perfect idea.
Then schedule a daily plan for the next 30 days. What project could you accomplish in the next 30 days to level up your career?
Not sure how to create a 30 day project that will boost your happiness and career? Check out the Unlock Your Career Happiness guide that walks you step by step through a proven process that’s worked for hundreds of people.
Pick how much time each day you want to spend on accomplishing this goal. Try to be flexible and understanding with yourself. Depending on how intense your career setback was, you may want to schedule some recharge days, not work on your project every one of the 30 days.
I was laid off from my job 2011, and it took me a couple of weeks to figure out what my next move was going to be. I panicked trying to envision my entire future instead of starting with a short-term plan that I could build on and adjust as I went along.
You need to focus on slowly building a better, stronger, and happier career that allows you to grow. Each day is a chance to build habits that can help you feel happier and help more people.
When you’ve come to the end of your 30 days, then look at what went well and what could be improved for your next 30 days. It’s this measuring and refining process that most people slip up on. That’s why 30 day increments are important.
You can improve your career one day at a time andone month at a time. If you do, I promise you’ll get results over the course of the next year.
Your Next Step
Look at your career and make sure you understand your why, then follow up with honest feedback from a friend then create a project that will give your career a boost.
What project could you start and work towards in the next 30 days to help more people that you care about?