Six Steps on How to Overcome Career Failure and Regret


Some of us struggle with career related challenges at some point in our lives, some more so than others. A serious career challenge would be dissatisfaction with where you are at the moment in terms of career. Or facing a major career setback such as retrenchment, made redundant, lacking in opportunity, lacking in qualification, and a variety of other issues.

Ever had that nagging “what if” thought at the back of your mind? Ever regret some of decisions that you have made in the past? Perhaps you had too much fun during high school or secondary school and flunked out of school before you could even get your toes into the pearly gates of University education. Maybe you had chosen a wrong major during college which inevitably banished you into a career abyss, never to see the sparkle of career success and dignified prestige.

Some may be able to relate to the painful experience of struggling in a rut, slowly sinking into the societal ‘quick-sand’ of career destruction, with little feeling of hope but abundance of anguish, humiliation, and learned-helplessness. Such can be consequences of choices that we make during our early years into the notorious ‘rat race’.

Shall we concede defeat than? Forever condemned to the aftermath from the choices that we make? For those who struggle with such issue or at least marginally similar experiences, I have few ideas that may be useful and help to combat such negative thoughts. You may be defeated for now, but nothing last forever, not success, and certainly not defeat.

Step #1 Withdraw and recollect yourself

In a battle, when an army have been defeated, the most prudent course of action would be to withdraw, regroup, and re-strategize This strategic warfare tactics can be applied to career related environment as well. Much like a war zone, a person who feels that they have failed in their career would feel defeated, psychological oppressed with negative emotions such as depression, hopelessness, inferiority, shame, guilt, regret, and their self-esteem taking a major beating. With such mindset, you are in no condition to wage another war; thus, it is prudent to take a step back and recollect yourself. Take time to accept the circumstance as is, acknowledge that the past cannot be undone, assume responsibility for your predicament, and move forward.

Step #2 Clear your mind

Clarity of mind is of utmost importance, to be able to succeed in anything, you must have a clear mind to be able to assess the situation and the challenges that you are in. Take your time to clear your mind of all the negativity. Talk to a counselor or career advisor about your challenges, get some encouragement from people around you who genuinely cares, meditate, read some positive books, exercise, and going on vacation are some ways that you can use to refresh your mind.

Step #3 Assess your resources

With a clear mind, you will be able to think more effectively. Now is time for you to assess what resources you have available. No defeat is permanent, and no defeat is without its value. If nothing else, you can learn from the experience and the mistakes that you made. These can also be used as a resource. Talk to a career advisor, career counselor or psychologist to determine your strengths and weaknesses, you skills and talents, your passion. These insights will serve as a guide to which path you should take, and the choices that are available to you. Psychological tests may help you to identify these key areas.

Step #4 Improve yourself

Gaining insights and knowing your strengths and weaknesses allows you to see which career may fit you better and allow you to excel. Develop areas that you are weak at, and capitalize in areas that you are stronger in. Check your ego, and accept that you are not perfect and you have areas that you need to improve on.

Step #5 Re-strategize

Use every single opportunity and personal resources that you have, strategize, and identify a desired career that matches your skills, abilities, personality, and talents. Talk to professionals in the field, career counselors, and other persons whom you think may be beneficial in giving you information regarding your new career path. Draw up a career blue-print for yourself, and consider all potential challenges that you may face along the way. Remember to be flexible and be open to change, as opportunities sometimes come unexpected. Always be ready and be prepared to jump on opportunities.

Step #6 Man up and re-engage the battle

Now its time for you to re-engage the career war zone! Apply your strategy with all your new found tools, techniques, and insights. Be analytical and rational while making future decisions. Most importantly, stick with the plan and persevere! Be resilient because negativity will be hiding just around the corner, waiting to pounce on you and discourage you. You have to shut them out from your mind and focus on the goal. Good things never comes easy, and nothing comes without a fair amount of challenge. Remember, Rome was not built in one day! So keep it up, stay positive, be flexible, continue to grow, and never give up!