5 Step Fall Back Plan in Case Your Career Doesn't Go as Planned

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Facing a setback is always frustrating, especially when it comes to your career. It's easy to let inconveniences get to you, but in the words of Napoleon Bonaparte: “You become strong by defying defeat, and by turning loss into gain and failure into success.” So how do you channel your inner Napoleon and achieve a comeback? A well-developed fallback plan is always good to keep in your repertoire. Here's a five-step plan that you can use to keep moving forward. 

1. Take a step back: 
In order to figure out why things are the way they are, it is important to first remove yourself from the situation. Instead of responding emotionally, respond analytically. It’s easy to let frustration cloud your mind, but responding with emotion won’t do you any favors. Instead, think: what am concerned about? Why did this happen?  And what can I do about it now? By answering these questions, you will have a clear head and you can develop your best response.

2. Learn:
Every setback is an opportunity to learn. Let’s say you were overlooked for a promotion at work, or you missed hitting your quota. What skillset do you need to develop in order to achieve these goals? There is a plethora of online courses at your disposal that not only cover a wide variety of skills, but can also include certifications upon completion that you can use as leverage to advance your career. Additionally, take a look at people who have achieved what you would like to. What are they doing differently? What skills are they proficient in? They can serve as great examples to model your own career off of.

3. Network:
Maintaining existing relationships and creating new ones is essential in developing a career. Beyond openings doors for employment opportunities, connections can be a great opportunity to advance your position. This can even be true if you leave or are let go from a position. In this case, don’t be afraid to ask your employer what you could improve upon. Remember, a critique is not a personal attack, and quality criticism can be even more helpful than praise!

4. Consider Alternatives:
Now, looking at alternative careers is not the same as giving up. If you’re truly unhappy with where you’re at, and you’re struggling to get where you’d like to be, maybe it’s time for a change. There is no shame in this; sometimes one step sideways can lead to many more forward. Remember to cater to your skills and abilities to find the perfect career for you.

5. Bounce Back:
After going through the previous four points, there’s only one thing left to do: Bounce back! This is not the time to be timid; you have assessed your situation, you have learned from it, and you are ready to try again. Once bitten twice shy does not apply in this scenario. Readjust your goals, and don’t hold yourself back.

In addition to this five-step plan, there are a few more key points to keep in mind when facing a setback. The first is to keep an adequate emergency fund. This should be three to six months’ worth of expenses set aside to cover you in case of an unforeseen circumstance. Say you’re suddenly laid off, or you’re injured and can’t work. This fund serves to cover any expenses you may have while you’re out of work. Second, resilience is an important trait to have. If things aren’t turning out how you planned, don’t take it personally. Learn to overcome hardship and learn from your experiences. Remember what Napoleon said!


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