• Nikki Trotter, MS, M.A., SHRM-CP, ACC

Lessons for Dealing with A Career Setback

Updated: Jul 13


I believe it is safe to say that many of us have experienced some type of setback in our professional #career: a challenge, an interruption, or perhaps even derailment. These types of events have and may still be paralyzing or traumatizing us in ways that we are not even aware of. This trauma and paralysis may be causing us to experience defeat due to a lack of confidence, it may be stopping us from moving forward due to a lack of direction, we may be feeling like we have no voice because we are not being heard, or we may feel like we don't belong because we just do not feel included. In other words, we know that what we have experienced is not just an emotion or simply a feeling, but it is real. It is real and #careerPTSD is real! And it can have career-derailing effects if we don't understand or know how to #moveforward from these traumatic career events. If you have experienced or are experiencing some form of careerPTSD due to career derailment or a career setback, here are a few ways to help you put things into perspective and put these things in your rearview mirror.


REVIEW. First, separate who you are from what you have experienced. Remember that although you have experienced a very bad work or workplace event; it does not define who you are or what you will do in your future career. You have the power within to define how it will impact you and determine how you will respond to it and chart your path forward.

REFRAME. Secondly, take some quiet time to reflect and to put things into perspective. Identify what you have learned from this negative experience, which lessons you want to hold on to, and let go of the rest. Identify these lessons as new doors of opportunity and positive change.


RECHARGE. Thirdly, fight the temptation to want to #escape and retreat from your experience. You will only delay the inevitable by suppressing the hurt and pain. This is the time when you need to lean into your network of family, friends, and most importantly, a #coach. The more you do this, the quicker you will be able to #rebound in your career and get the help and support that you need to help you make a positive and more productive transition.

RISK. It may sound like a very bad idea to experience a career setback or derailment and want to take on more risk. But the risk is not the enemy, fear is. Therefore, you have nothing to lose by putting it all on the line and being bold about your next career move. As they say, this is the time to 'GO BIG OR GO HOME.' Plan to step out of your career comfort zone and take your career to the next level.

REWARD. When it is all said and done you will get through this and in doing so you will be stronger for it. It does not feel good at the moment, but you will look back on this and feel confident that whatever comes your way in your career, you will make it through. So, celebrate, reward, and treat yourself because you deserve it! Accepting that you have been through the storm and although you got wet, and may have caught a cold, you were not blown away or blown over. Make this career test your career testimony! And believe that your next BIG career opportunity is ahead of you and everything else behind you is called: EXPERIENCE!


Nikki Trotter is the Founder and CEO of IO, LLC., a transformational coaching company. I specialize in coaching professional women in leadership from the front line to the C-Suite. I help my clients master the art of resilient leadership to take control of their careers with courage, clarity, and confidence.








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