How to Feel Confident After a Career Stumble

Take it from someone who’s been there.

By Phoebe Neuman

Any kind of career stumble – whether it’s a big pitch that didn’t go well or losing your job all together – is usually destined to knock your confidence back a few notches. And that’s exactly what happened to me this time last year, when I was laid off from my glossy magazine job. Though the layoff itself didn’t blindside me, what I struggled with most was my wounded pride.

I was always so proud to have “made it” in a competitive industry, so to have that status yanked away from me unceremoniously left me feeling completely insecure.

What I learned in the four months it took me to find a new full-time gig really boils down to one thing: feeling confident in my value regardless of my employment status. So if you’re going through a career stumble, or trying to navigate stormy weather at your current job, repeat after me: your worth is not tied to your work. Read on to discover how to keep your confidence through any work storm.

photo by hannah haston

Camille, work, blazer, wardrobe, clothes, style

photo by hannah zahner

Understand it’s Not (Always) About You

This is important so I’m going to say it again: Your worth is not tied to your work! Losing a job or going through a rough patch at work can feel intensely personal. But it pays to take a step back and remember that the boss you just don’t see eye-to-eye with or the client you can’t seem to please is (likely) not out to get you specifically. Try to process your career stumble from a business perspective and do your best to check personal feelings of anger or shame at the door.

jessi afshin's darling diary morning journaling

photo by divina stennfeld

Take Time to Reflect

That said, you should take a work mishap or losing your job as a chance to do some self-evaluation. What lead up to that layoff or you dropping the ball? Likely you’ll be able to trace some breadcrumbs back to being unhappy with your current role for one reason or another. Once you get to the root of it, give yourself some space to figure out what needs to shift in your work life going forward for you to be the best version of you both at the office and at home. (Reading something like The Working Woman’s Handbook is a great way to get to the heart of your career goals and figuring out how to make them happen.) Then, give yourself the permission to chase those dreams.

photo by hannah haston

Get Real About Your Finances

It’s no secret that not feeling in control of your money is a confidence killer. So regardless of if your career stumble involved you losing your job, it should put some fire under you to make sure your finances can weather a work-related storm. Drag out your bank statements and make sure that you’re spending your money where it really matters so you can shore up against any future rocky weather. Aim to have at least three months’ worth of living expenses in the bank. That way, you can feel confident exploring some other career options (or even just hitting pause for a few weeks!) if that’s what you need to do.

home office, work, career, chic home

photo by molly winters 

Be Persistent

If your career stumble has inspired (or, you know, forced) you to look for a new job, go into the search mindfully. It can be tempting to apply for every position that looks remotely up your alley, but make sure to prioritize the ones that will put you on the path to those career dreams we talked about earlier. Though you may need to figure out a short-term solution to keep the lights on, don’t let it discourage you. Stay confident in the talent you bring to the table – and keep fighting until you find your place at it.