How to Bounce Back from a Career Misstep

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No one wants to make a career decision that ends in disaster. While mistakes happen, it’s entirely your choice on how you choose to deal with them.

What Does a Career Misstep Look Like?

Decisions, both good and bad, shape who we are. It makes no sense to look back and wonder what might have been. There are times where two paths diverge in front of us and we turn confidently in the wrong direction. The first step is recognizing when something isn’t right. Here are a few classic examples:

  1. You live in Connecticut and your spouse has a great job here that she loves. But when you see a job opening in LA, you feel driven to apply “just to see what might happen.” Within a year, your happiness, your financial stability and your relationships have somehow gone completely off the rails. 


  2. Your boss has criticized you for being too bold with your ideas. The next time you come up with a new concept, you decide not to suggest it. A few months later, your company’s competitor launches the same idea. 

  3. You don’t like your job. A better position opens up with another company. You decide not to apply for some reason. Life goes on. 
  4. You forget that your boss’s wife is in the hospital and you make a tactless and terribly timed remark. 

  5. You quit your marketing job and sign up for culinary school. Three years later you’re struggling with crushing tuition debt, you realize you don’t like cooking, you can’t find a job as a chef and you can’t get back into marketing because you’ve been out of the field for too long. 

No matter how you slice it, each of these moves can be categorized as a simple, boneheaded blunder with unfortunately high stakes. But they have something else in common, too: they’re all perfectly normal, perfectly human decisions that each one of us could easily make regardless of our IQ.

Learn how you can you put these kinds of career mistakes behind you and move on. Here’s some simple advice to consider if you ever find yourself regretting a career related decision:

  1. Face the facts. Some mistakes get worse the longer we try to run from them. If you moved to chase a job and it didn’t go well, there’s no shame in admitting you made a mistake. Accept that you’re human, which means you aren’t always perfect and you aren’t always in control. 

  2. Open up communication channels. If you hurt somebody, apologize. If you led your team over a cliff, call a meeting and begin the process of sorting things out. The longer you put off conversations and try to fix things yourself, the more tangled they may become. 


  3. Be resilient. No skill set or personality trait will serve you better in the workplace or in life. Rough patches happen, but those who show grit and flexibility will usually come out stronger on the other side. 

If you need help finding a path forward after an unexpected career shift or questionable decision, a visit to Livecareer can help you explore your options and gain some necessary perspective.

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