You didn’t land that coveted job … You get that dreaded pink slip … You were passed over for the promotion you really thought you deserved … You make a decision that winds up losing money for the company …

Few career paths are linear, and smooth sailing comes only between waves. Resilience allows you to navigate the inevitable bumps, twists and turns along your path to professional success. And twists and bumps don’t necessarily mean you’re on the wrong path. Rather, they can serve as an opportunity to reflect, re-evaluate and, possibly, recalibrate. Learning to bounce back from a career-related misstep or an unexpected shift is vital to achieving your career goals.

Resilience isn’t an option in today’s competitive business landscape; it’s a core — and critical — professional competency. It allows you to recover from a hiccup, challenge or failure relatively quickly, and to process the experience in a way that encourages growth. Building career resilience is fundamental to moving forward, achieving the results you want, and doing so in a way that feels masterful.

6 Ways to Cultivate Career Resilience

Like any other skill, resilience can be learned — and strengthened — as you continue to practice it. These strategies can help you develop resilience in the context of your career:

1. Focus your attention — Arnold Schwarzenegger once said that when body-building, he would focus all of his attention on the specific muscle that he was working, thinking of nothing else but that muscle. In that same vein, you can focus on resilience.

Become a vigilant observer of your reactions to your perceived feedbacks. Then, focus your energies on encouraging yourself to respond to your triggers, challenges and even perceived failures in new, more productive ways.

2. Reflect — Take a long, hard look in the mirror. With a non-judgmental, objective lens, consider whether there are things you could be doing differently in an effort to achieve different — better — results?

Is it possible that you got passed over for that promotion because, even though you’ve been at the company longer than your colleague who earned the position, you avoid “non-mandatory” company functions? Do you volunteer for projects above and beyond your current job description? Are there other ways that you could (but don’t) show initiative? Examining your own attitudes, perspective, thoughts and behaviors will provide insightful clues along your path to cultivating career resilience. Honing your inner game will drive your performance to new levels. Step one involves developing an awareness around your thoughts, moods and perspectives.

Related: Our Accountability Mirror™ and MindMastery™ workshops will help you explore the ways you might be standing in your own way, train you to break nonproductive patterns and facilitate success. The transformation is real, and the results can be game-changing. 

3. Forgive and let go — We are often our own harshest critics, especially in hindsight. Recognize that there will always be things you didn’t know … until you knew them. Harboring resentment, whether directed at yourself or others, keeps you stuck. Forgiveness is an essential step in moving forward, and in building resilience.

forgive yourself and others

4. Choose gratitude over resentment — When you hit a snag, you are in control of your perception of the experience. You can choose to view the experience from a place of resentment, blame, excuses and denial, creating a state of mind that, makes you feel powerless and complicates the situation. This mindset increases stress and obscures your ability to bounce back. By contrast, choosing to evaluate the situation from a place of gratitude and ownership and responsibility helps you see the opportunities and empowers you to act, thereby building resilience.

5. Have courageous conversations — After getting passed up for a promotion, a pity party might feel indulgent, but it won’t help you course-correct. On the other hand, sitting down with your boss and asking what you could do differently could be game-changing, particularly if you approach the conversation in the spirit of growth and development.

Related: The Cost of Avoiding Crucial Conversations

6. Persevere — If your ideas always seem to fall flat in meetings, you might assume that your opinion isn’t valued. Is that true, though? Or do you need to refine the way you pitch these ideas? You might need to try helping others see what’s in it for them, emphasizing the collective value to the team. Perhaps you need to tweak your nonverbal communication so that you present your ideas with greater confidence.

When the stakes get higher — let’s say you go on interview after interview, but still haven’t received an offer — it can be increasingly harder to bounce back from each perceived rejection. But building resilience requires — and allows — keeping at it … trying, trying and then trying again.

Resilience is a state of mind that cultivates both confidence and optimism.  And coupled with gratitude — for the opportunity to reexamine your path and maybe course-correct — you can be intentional with your goals and ensure that you are moving forward in a way that feels rewarding.

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Other Posts You Should Read:
Considering a Career Change? 9 Questions to Ask Yourself
The Cost of Avoiding Crucial Conversations