One of the most common challenges that my clients encounter is the disappointment of not getting a job that they really wanted. You get that dreaded rejection email, usually an automated one these days, and you're devastated. You've pinned your hopes on that one job and it doesn't work out. For some people, especially those who are unemployed, this is a major source of disappointment. It’s crushing.

Here’s what I coach clients to do in situations like this. Decide ahead of time how you are going to respond when the disappointment happens. Part of any job search is not getting chosen for some of the jobs. It’s going to happen. Nobody, not even me, gets hired for 100% of the jobs they apply to. So if you know that something is going to happen, you can get control of the situation by deciding ahead of time—before it happens—how you’ll respond and how you’ll feel about it. Things usually go better when we have a plan, right? You probably never thought about planning out your feelings, but you should try it.

And notice earlier that I said to decide how you’ll respond, not react. When you don’t have a plan for how you’ll feel, you are just reacting. It’s an “in the moment,” knee-jerk reaction and it’s powerless. But, you can get control of the situation and take your power back by having a plan for how you’ll feel and what you’ll do next when that inevitable rejection email comes. Or if no email comes. These days you don’t always even get the courtesy of a rejection. You just get to wait. Sometimes that’s worse. And it doesn’t mean that you are anticipating rejection or failure, it just means that you accept that job searching is a process and the right one will happen at the right time. You only need one job, right? So you only need one yes. It’s inevitable that you’ll go through some no’s before you get to some yeses. So knowing that, have a plan for how you’ll handle those inevitable no’s so it doesn’t completely derail you and prolong being able to find the yes.

By taking this approach, you can prevent setbacks and problems from damaging your confidence. It’s damaged confidence that holds us back and keeps up from reaching our potential. The more our confidence is hurt, the more we stay in this negative cycle and just react, reacting to all of our problems instead of actively solving them.

So here are three steps you can take to get yourself through problems and disappointments that come up in job searching:

Step 1: Acknowledge your feelings. Honor them. Don’t fight them. Remember, acceptance is the first step. So accept that the problem exists and accept how you feel about it. That way you are in a position to do something about it and consciously change how you want to feel about it. When I was repeatedly unemployed, I had to accept it every time. Sure, it was frustrating, and I was allowed to feel that frustration, but I wasn’t allowed to LIVE in it or make decisions based on it. See the difference?

Step 2: Look for the lesson. A huge mistake that people make in life is asking the wrong questions. Stop asking yourself, “Why did this happen to me?” and instead start asking, “What can I learn from this?” You may be asking yourself all of the wrong questions. That’s why you don’t have the solution. Ironically, the way to know why something is happening to you is to ask yourself what you can learn from it. Definite irony. I promise you, whatever the lesson is for you to learn, that’s why it’s happening! It’s not a mystery, guys. It’s happening because you need to learn or grow from it in some way.

Step 3: Take action. Do something about it. Don’t be idle. Every problem has a solution. And if it has a solution, then I guess it’s not really a problem, is it? So remember that your problem has a solution and the sooner you take action, the sooner you’ll discover it. As I mentioned before, sometimes that solution is simply a change in perspective. If you change the way you experience the problem, then you’ve changed the problem.

For more help, listen to my podcast episode on this same topic:

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