Whether you lose your job or get passed over for a promotion, a career setback can happen at any time. How do you develop a strategy to forge ahead? Stacey Abrams knows a thing or two about overcoming career setbacks. Her actions can show us how to bounce back from a career setback stronger than ever.

You may know Stacey Abrams as the first woman to become a gubernatorial nominee for a major party. Or the founder of Fair Fight Action – an organization that helped to register more than 800,000 new voters in Georgia.

What you may not know is the road to the Forbes 100 Most Influential Women’s List for Stacey Abrams hasn’t been easy. Ms. Abrams has overcome her fair share of career setbacks before she became a rising star in politics.

Since high school, one of her goals was to become the governor of Georgia. In fact, she spent most of her life preparing for this position. Can you imagine her disappointment when she lost the 2018 gubernatorial election by only 55,000 votes?

After this major career setback, Ms. Abrams had to pick herself up and develop a clear path forward. How did she do it? Here are 5 lessons we can learn about overcoming career setbacks from Stacey Abrams.

1. Evaluate Your Feelings About the Setback

When Ms. Abrams lost the election, she took an honest evaluation of her feelings about the loss. A career setback can bring up different emotions – anger, shock, denial, hopelessness, sadness, fear and disbelief. It isn’t a good idea to wallow in self-pity. However, you should take time to assess the setback and your emotions about it. That way, you can reach for new opportunities without holding on to disappointments from the past.

2. Ask the Right Questions

Since governors are elected every four years, Ms. Abrams didn’t want to wait until the next Georgia election cycle before taking action. She had to reimagine her future. To develop her new strategy, she considered the following questions:

  • What do I want?
  • Why do I want it?
  • How do I get it?

Ms. Abrams knew that going back and standing still weren’t options. She knew she had to develop a growth mindset so she could achieve new goals. This meant that she had to embrace the challenges ahead and develop the skills to succeed. Persevering in the face of adversity is never easy, but it’s worth it.

4. Be Aggressive About Your Career Ambitions

One thing Ms. Abrams didn’t do was allow her setbacks to dim her light. She made the decision to shine even brighter and let the world know about her talents. When your career gets off track, it’s not the time to hide in a corner. Find a way to think big and set goals that push you beyond your comfort zone.

5. Pick up the Pieces and Move Toward Your Goals

After Ms. Abrams assessed the loss and decided what she wanted, she pushed forward against all odds. At one point, she had more than $200,000 in consumer debt. But she didn’t let her financial woes get in her way. She focused, got rid of the debt and move forward.  Whatever the obstacles, you must pick up the pieces and keep going.

Want to learn more about bouncing back from setbacks? Explore the following resources.

  • The Power of Setbacks: How to Turn Your Mess Into a Success at Any Age by Karen and Dennis Stemmle
  • Use What’s Left: 7 Strategies to Optimize Your Rebound From Setback by Dr. Ed Womack
  • Lead From the Outside: How to Build Your Future and Make Real Change by Stacey Abrams

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