Wunmi Adelusi: How to Heal From a Career Disappointment
Over the past few months, myriads of questions surrounding the disappointments we encounter on our career journey have been swirling in my head. I’ve been asking myself, how do people recover from the disappointments they experienced? Is there a concept called career healing, a phase where people get to heal from those disappointments? I understand that in the journey of life, there are experiences that catch us off guard, rendering us a bit off balance, and I wonder how long it takes to recover. Healing, it seems, is a multifaceted process that varies from one individual to another.
When the notion of career healing first crossed my mind, I found myself wondering if anyone had ever mentioned the idea of embarking on a career-healing journey. It was then that I comprehended a fundamental truth: every time we experience hurt, no matter how minor, we engage in some form of healing. Therefore, undergoing career healing is entirely valid.
The healing process, I believe, starts when we try to replay past experiences in an attempt to identify a decision that might have been wrongly executed. While it is normal to explore these thoughts, it’s also crucial not to dwell on them because the past is in the past and it is meant to teach and guide us, not break us. As Paul Onwuanibe, the Group CEO of Landmark Africa said at the just concluded WIMBIZ 22nd Annual Conference, “The important thing after a setback is to survive, then to thrive, then excel but never try to thrive immediately after a setback.”
Acknowledge the feeling
The first step in healing is recognising that the pain exists. This acknowledgement is a powerful catalyst for the healing process and liberates you to talk about your disappointment without feeling ashamed. The more you articulate your thoughts, the lighter your emotional burden becomes.
Focus less on yourself
Disappointment can make you feel helpless and isolated. However, the moment you shift your focus to helping others, even while dealing with your hurt, you’ll begin to feel empowered. Being of assistance to others in areas you’ve mastered can provide a sense of fulfilment and purpose. Everyone wants to be valued and appreciated, and this feeling can gradually diminish the hurt or disappointment.
Equip yourself with new knowledge
Knowledge is indeed power. Every time I dedicate myself to learning something new, whether it’s reading a book or attending a relevant conference, I feel a surge of strength. The hurt begins to dissipate, replaced by a renewed sense of “I can do it.” Most importantly, it boosts my confidence to attempt once more what initially led to disappointment or made me question my abilities.
Seek wisdom from mentors
In my recent career disappointment, I longed for a connection with others who may have faced similar situations – that feeling of being let down by a system or process you strongly believe in. During this period, I reached out to one of my trusted career mentors, hoping to gain some guidance and insight.
As we delved into the whole scenario, my mentor shared a perspective that left an indelible mark on me. He explained that the higher we climb in life, the more inevitable such experiences become. His words of wisdom were simple yet profound. When I asked if it was wise to avoid pursuing opportunities out of fear of future disappointment, he encouraged me to view this situation as a valuable learning experience, an opportunity to recognise when not to accept opportunities that don’t align with my core values.
After our conversation, I felt empowered and listened to. The most important lesson I learned is that I shouldn’t avoid roles or opportunities out of fear of failure. Instead, I should focus on determining whether my values align with the endeavour before moving forward. Mentorship is an invaluable resource on this journey. When we turn to mentors, we benefit from their decades of experience, knowledge, and wisdom. Their guidance and insights serve as a compass, helping us navigate through the most challenging moments of our careers.
The key is to understand that disappointment is a part of life, whether it is career-related or not. Sometimes you’ll set goals and not smash them, and that is okay. By acknowledging this, you will not only heal but also emerge as a stronger and more resilient professional.
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