Have you ever been in a challenging work-related situation? I think we all have. Maybe you got laid off. Or maybe you made a mistake that cost you your job. Whatever the situation, when we’re faced with challenges, our first reaction is typically negative. You can quickly become overwhelmed with negative emotions like fear, shame, or worry.
But those initial emotions aren’t the truth. One of my favorite quotes is from Tom Darden, a brilliant leader and CEO. He said, “No matter what happens, our initial emotions are almost always wrong.”
And it’s so true! When something bad happens – or even something good – we jump to conclusions. And when something bad happens at work, we jump to the conclusion that our life is over or we’ll never work again.
How Should We Handle A Career Shake-Up?
Over the course of our careers, things happen that have the ability to shake us to our core. Maybe we lose our job, lose a key person on our team, miss out on a raise or a promotion, or don’t get accepted into an educational program or school.
Situations like these are life changing, and initially, might seem “bad”. So how can we shift our perspective and learn that sometimes a bad thing is actually a good thing? If you’re facing one of these core-shaking career situations and feel lost, scared, and overwhelmed, it’s time to shift your perspective.
- Catch Your Breath
When one of these core-changing career scenarios happen in our lives, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with emotion. Your head can spin in every direction, playing a string of worst-case scenarios. That’s why it’s important to pause, take a deep breath, and gain some perspective.
If you’re dealing with a work-related crisis, take an emotional time-out. Go for a walk or practice some deep breathing. Once you’ve calmed down, ask yourself, “What can I learn from this? Is it possible that this situation, which seems bad right now, is actually a good thing?”
For example, losing a key person on your team would be hard. But it would also give you a chance to evaluate your business, figure out why that person left, and set yourself up for success with a new person.
Or say you got passed over for a big promotion or raise. That hurts, but it can also open up the door to conversations with your leadership team about where you can improve. Or if you didn’t get into that prestigious program, it could send you on a totally different education track that’s ultimately a better fit for your goals.
The point is, there’s a silver lining in every situation. You just need to have the faith to find it.
- Seek Outside Counsel
When you’re dealing with an overwhelming work situation, it can be easy to get caught up in your own head. That’s why it’s so important to reach out and get other people’s perspectives.
Because the situation is so personal to you, you’re at risk of blowing it out of proportion. By talking to other people and hearing their view, you can gain some perspective and realize that whatever is going on at your job isn’t as bad as it seems.
- Get Your Attitude In Check
Success in life is largely dependent on your attitude.
Successful people have what’s called an internal locus of control. They realize that they are in the driver’s seat of their life and have the ability to control their thoughts, emotions, and outlook, which in turn affects their circumstances and how they interact with the world.
People who typically struggle have an external locus of control. They take a victim mentality and instead of feeling in charge of their own lives, they feel that things just happen to them and they have little to no control.
How you approach life – from a place of power or from a place of victimhood – is one of the most important contributors to your success. If you can approach whatever is happening in your career from a place of “I’m in control”, you can find the silver lining and use it as a catalyst for positive growth and change.
When seemingly negative things happen at work, it’s never easy. But the thing that seems like a setback today might be the best thing that ever happened to your career. Don’t waste these opportunities. You are in your powerful and creative sweet spot. You have clarity and the motivation to take action, where otherwise you may have been too comfortable to notice and too complacent to take action. This is looking at the proverbial glass as half-full, not half-empty. This is your time . . . your chance . . . seize the moment!
I’m Robert Dickie, President of Crown. Check out my latest book, Love Your Work: 4 Practical Ways to Pivot to Your Best Career.
This book is for anyone who wants more opportunity and success in their career by helping them pivot to plug into the major economic trends today and providing a practical game plan for every step of the way.