Steps to Take After a Career Setback

March 15, 2021
LegalLee Blonde sitting on steps of a courthouse advice on what steps to take after facing a career setbacksteps to take after a career setback

Good morning! It’s the start of a new week which seems like a really good time to chat about
career growth. A couple of weeks ago I shared on my instagram stories how I had a blogging career setback.

It took me a long time to get to the point, both in terms of my confidence and in terms of making a living off it, to call what I do with LegalLee Blonde a ‘career’. The past year or so I’ve come to a place where I do very much see blogging as a career. I recognize that I’m lucky enough to have two busy, fulfilling careers both as a lawyer and as a blogger.

One ‘consequence’, if you will, of seeing blogging and what I do here as a career is that I have goals and ideas for what I should be achieving and with that comes disappointment when things don’t go as planned. While I can’t share the specifics of the setback due to an NDA with the brand, the long and short of it is that something I had wanted so, so badly and was so excited about fell through. I was given some reason as to why but a lot of it I don’t really know which was / is frustrating. More than anything when this happened I was sad. I cried (… which doesn’t say much because I cry at cute kids in radio ads or old ladies on TV), but I was upset and angry and generally just felt defeated. I took to instagram stories to share my ‘process’ for dealing with a career setback and was surprised by the amount of interest in the process. I was asked if I would share more about it, so, here we are!

Below are some steps to take after facing a career setback.

1. Journal about how you feel and why you feel that way

While it may seem ‘unproductive’ or like a pointless exercise I urge you to try this as your first step following a career setback. It’s easy to get wrapped up in feelings of being angry or sad without getting to the root of what specifically is causing that emotion. For example, are you sad because you feel like you really earned this thing you didn’t get? Are you angry because you don’t know the why, the reasoning, for the setback? By writing about your feelings on the situation you can start to get a better handle on what the root of your emotions is which will help you determine your next best course of action.

2. Come up with action items to move forward

Once you’ve identified the root of your feeling and identified what is most upsetting or anger-inducing you can more clearly set out some action items to move forward. I’m all for a good cry or wallow when you need one, but once that’s done picking yourself up and moving forward with action items is cathartic and healing.

Action items are based entirely in the root of why you’re upset, there’s no formula I can give, but some examples of ones I’ve made in previous situations are:

3. Talk to a mentor or colleague 

If you have someone you trust, there is so much value in getting real-world feedback on what you’re going through. Give yourself a moment to vent, but also be willing to ask for constructive criticism or a different perspective. A trusted colleague or mentor may have some concrete suggestions for what to do next.

4. Find a project or task in your work that you enjoy & start working on it

Nothing like a reminder about why you’re even in the career you’re getting the setback in to boost your spirits a bit. Take a look at your work load and start in on one of the tasks you enjoy the most. The reminder of why you’re working towards this career and why you’re pushing through the setback can make a big difference.

5. Do something unrelated to your work that makes you smile 

Last but not least, do something completely unrelated that brings you some joy. Obviously what this will look like really depends on the circumstances; for example if you’re mid-work day on a deadline when you have this ‘setback’ you can’t exactly head down to the beach or a spa lol. Something as small as going for a 15 minute walk and getting a delicious coffee drink works just fine. If you are able to take more time and space, do something bigger or more significant.

There you have it, some steps to take after a career setback. That’s my process at least; and it works pretty well for me. I hope this helps you. Know that no matter what field you’re in, there’s bound to be challenges and setbacks and it’s how you move forward that makes all the difference. I’m here as your digital cheerleader if you ever need a reminder of how awesome, capable and wonderful you are.


22 comments so far.

22 responses to “Steps to Take After a Career Setback”

  1. Lizzie says:

    I’ve been there many times and it’s definitely heartbreaking! These definitely help but what helps me is the hope that it just wasn’t meant to be and something better will come along. This is usually the case, no matter how much we wanted something <3


  2. Rach says:

    These are great advice! I had definitely encountered career setbacks and it can be so soul crushing.

    • Lee says:

      Thanks Rach! I know it can feel so disheartening and also isolating. I’m hoping by talking about it and sharing some steps it can help make it feel more normal for people.

  3. Lovely says:

    These are brilliant suggestions! I say learn from the experience and focus on the positives.

  4. Stephanie says:

    Friend, I’m so sorry that you had to walk through that. I don’t know the specifics, but I do know that I can relate to those emotions over a partnership falling through or something in my blogging business not working out properly. In fact, the past 3 months have felt like one giant setback for me, since my rebrand and how the first web developer I hired royally screwed everything up for me. I’m going to be taking into account what you’ve suggested here for my own journey.

    • Lee says:

      Thank you so much Steph, you are so kind and supportive. UGH i followed a bit of your journey with the web developer issue and I’m so sorry for what you went through, what a mess. I’m glad the new site is launched though, it looks AMAZING and the way you can click under the page break for summaries of the books is such a great layout (I hope that makes sense, Im not sure of the terminology for that layout!) I hope these tips help you moving forward! XO

  5. It happens more often than people care to admit. These are great tips…thanks for sharing! xoxo, Sarah

  6. man oh man the ups and downs of making money blogging can be so hard. but we gotta keep on trying if we want to make it happen! a lot easier said than done, i know. gotta keep constantly reminding myself of that too!

  7. Denise Kokinis says:

    These are really great tips! Definitely encountered some as of recently, and doing something totally unrelated was just so helpful for me!

    Denise| Denise Marie

  8. annaefox01 says:

    I found these tips to be incredibly insightful. Thanks for sharing girl.

  9. Amanda G says:

    Ugh, the absolute worst feeling, especially when you give it your all. I love your tip on creating an action plan to move forward. I try to use setbacks as an opportunity to learn and what I can do better the next go-around. Thanks for sharing these tips!

  10. Stephani says:

    So sorry about your setback. I’ve been there and it is so sad and frustrating. It can be hard to get out of that sadness and feeling of defeat. These tips are great! Thanks for sharing!

    Xo, Steph

  11. Kristina says:

    Aw hang in there girl! These are great tips!

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