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7 Highly Effective Ways to Recover From A Setback At Work

Updated: May 4, 2023

Setbacks are inevitable in life. Know the smart ways for overcoming setbacks and use them for future success.


“Champions are men and women who refuse to fall back even in the midst of setbacks.”

~ Anufa Freeborn

Success and setbacks both are inevitable parts of our lives. One of your projects may not end up as expected, or a promotion you were anticipating just didn’t happen. Your employee whom you have mentored for years resigns or you have endured public criticism from your boss. You will encounter many setbacks throughout your career.

Setbacks can appear in your professional life in many different forms. Some are small yet heartbreaking that slow us down. Some are huge that stop or derail us entirely from our tracks. Setbacks may be tough and challenging, but often they give us an opportunity to pause, reflect, learn, restart and reshape our lives.

7 Ways to Overcoming Setbacks in the Workplace

Setbacks are undesirable but can be a stepping stone towards your next achievement. Regardless of the severity, there are certain effective ways for overcoming setbacks that can help you overcome the disappointment, refresh yourself and move ahead with enthusiasm. Here are the seven ways for using obstacles to advance your career path, not hinder it.

1. Take a pause and evaluate

When you suffer a setback at your workplace, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Ask some of these questions to yourself for evaluation and to understand how to deal with difficult hurdles:

● What is the real cause of the problem?

● Am I the only one facing this problem?

● How does this problem affect you at an individual level?

● How does this problem affect your team at your workplace?

● What are the worst consequences that can happen due to it?

● How is this going to impact my career in the next few days?

● How is this going to impact my life in the next 5 years?

2. Process your emotions

Setbacks are heart-breaking, and processing your overwhelming emotions is crucial to overcome that situation. It’s important to create a positive self-image in such instances, otherwise, the recovery efforts get impacted. Gain awareness of your emotions and deal with them appropriately. Do not repress them, which means do not bottle up your feelings.

You can process your emotions and mitigate the impact of overwhelming feelings with the following exercises:

● Meditation

● Journaling

● Audio taping

● Talking to someone close

3. Change your mindset

Setbacks are actually progress in disguise but you need a distinct mindset to see it. Think about achievements in life, and you will find a lot of your success and confidence have come from your most challenging experiences. Adopt the ways to build your self confidence and become more self assured at the workplace for overcoming setbacks. Affirm that the current situation is just a temporary phase and will lead to valuable outcomes.

4. Connect with others who encourage you

When you are trying to push through a hurdle, you often need support. Connect with others to seek support but not from just anyone. You need to surround yourself with like-minded people who are positive and focused on solutions. Seek out the passionate and positive people in your professional network. Their wisdom and experience will help you gain valuable insights on how to deal with difficult hurdles.

5. Learn

Learn from your setbacks and you will be empowered to use them for your progress. Ask yourself how you can prevent the problem from happening again. Determine the gaps in your personality and skills that caused those hurdles. Learn the necessary professional skills to fix the situation and prevent it from happening again.

6. Strategize

Once you learn how to deal with difficult hurdles, you need to design a plan that will minimise its impact. This step may need to involve others. Seek feedback from trusted colleagues and mentors to get back on track. Do extensive research, and look at relevant resources on the web. Get the adequate information you need and put together a plan for overcoming setbacks.

7. Act and assess your journey

After you’ve processed the emotions, analyse the gaps that lead to setbacks and gather the facts to fill those gaps. You’re now ready to move forward with your plan. After determining your action steps, act on them. Act and measure the progress along the way. Focus on the things that can be changed and assess your journey. It makes your efforts result-oriented and enables you to regain control of the situation

Whether you’ve made a minor mistake during a daily task at your workplace, or received a bad annual performance review, dealing with such setbacks smartly can provide a positive impetus to your overall career progression. Incorporate these tips into your daily habits at your workplace and transform your professional life.

Are you in the right job? Take the Free ‘Are You in The Right Career Assessment’ to identify whether you are in the right job and discover what type of jobs you will excel at. The results of this test will be your guide towards a successful career change.

Smita D Jain is a Certified Life Coach, Executive Coach and NLP Practitioner. Smita’s ‘Empower Yourself’ Personal Clarity Coaching Programs enable busy professionals unhappy in their jobs to tap into their passions and transform them into professions so that they work because they want to, not because they have to.

Before her journey as a coach, Smita had extensive experience of 14 years as a corporate and business strategy professional with Fortune 500 companies. She is also a speaker at various public forums, a published writer, and an Amazon bestselling author.

You can learn more about Personal Empowerment Life Coach and Certified Executive Coach Smita D Jain’s ‘Empower Yourself’ Coaching Programs by visiting and book a strategy session at

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