Recover from setbacks with a personal crisis plan
Over the past few months we’ve discussed different ways to build your personal brand; having focus, having a mentor, and setting goals are all important elements. These help you to build a robust career plan and derive real satisfaction from your professional life.
Positive affirmation and planning for success will serve you well on the way to a satisfying career in PR, but we can’t ignore the reality that things don’t always play out according to plan. Optimistic forward-thinking is vital, but life loves to throw a curve ball and there will be setbacks – how would we learn if there weren’t?
In your professional life, it’s useful to think in advance about how you might respond to these knock-downs. We like to think of it as having your own crisis plan. So, how best can you prepare yourself to recover from setbacks with a personal crisis plan?
To begin with, expect and accept setbacks. Know that your response to these challenges, and your ability to recover, are important in the scheme of you achieving your greater goals. As we said in a previous blog post, Now is the time for an optimistic vision, one of Warren Buffet’s crucial strategies for successful investment is to expect volatility, and profit from it. To do this, you have to look at setbacks as temporary disappointments, not as knock-out blows. The old saying, “You may lose the battle but you can still win the war” sums it up. It’s all about building resilience, which is an important part of building your brand if you want to have a successful and enduring career in PR.
Setbacks may be a result of your own decisions or situations beyond your control, but in either case your response should be the same: pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back on the horse. This is about building determination as you savour the opportunity to have another go, to do things differently, and to achieve a better outcome.
When disappointment knocks you down, you might be feeling lost, hurt, and doubtful of your own resolve and direction. Here are some suggestions to consider for your personal crisis plan that should guide your response and help you recover well:
- Find an anchor
Like a ship waiting out a storm, when you’re struggling with disappointment, disaster or uncertainty, find an anchor. You need to take hold of something solid so you can make a sound assessment of your situation. Your anchor has to be something in your professional life that you know is reliable, trustworthy, and perhaps comforting.
What happened? What’s the damage? You have to be as objective as possible here, which is why it’s important to anchor yourself in a safe position.
- Take time
Be realistic about your recovery timeline. Don’t try to resolve your problem overnight; a solid, planned recovery can take time. If you rush your decisions at this stage you may well set out again on the wrong track.
- Don’t quit! (Unless it’s smoking…)
When you encounter disappointment, quitting is usually the path of least resistance. One option may seem the best or easiest at the time, but you have to look at your options with a long-term vision and make decisions accordingly.
- Find optimism
Identify all the positives in your life. These could be anything from health, friends and family, to wealth, education, skills, or contributions you make to the community. Your frame of mind must be optimistic and hopeful to see setbacks as temporary problems that you can rise above. Optimism goes hand-in-hand with persistence. For an absorbing example of optimism in action, read this article written by Ray McLean, director of a Australian leadership training company called Leading Teams: Why I Choose Optimism
- Pull out the map
Review your career map. On a road map there are many routes you can take to reach the same destination – sometimes you take the mountain route, sometimes you take the coastal route – your career is no different. Select one ‘destination’ – one career goal – and work toward that to get you back on track. Taking things one at a time on the recovery route will ensure you don’t get overwhelmed by all that you had planned to achieve.
- Service the vehicle
Look after your body; you live in it, and you won’t get anywhere without it, let alone back on the right track. Alcohol, drugs and junk food can be a fix to distract you from disappointment, but will only ever offer superficial comfort. So do all the things those smug health-obsessed people do: drink lots of water, get quality sleep, exercise, eat well to fuel your body and mind. You don’t have to become a smug health-obsessed person, but you will feel better for doing what they do!
- Get some perspective
Keep your problems in context. There are people fighting to survive life-threatening illness, living in war-torn countries, and grieving the tragic deaths of family or friends. There’s nothing like a bigger problem to make your current problem look small and manageable, so remember that nothing is insurmountable, and “This too shall pass”.
Even when you follow a sound recovery plan, getting back on track will rarely be a linear journey. Family, friends and mentors can be good sources of support and encouragement in difficult times. When you feel things are coming together again, it’s important to reflect on how your problem arose and what you’ve learnt from it.
At Briggs Communications we provide career coaching and support to communication practitioners. Without a career plan you leave your journey to fate, and disappointments become game-changers. But, with a proactive approach, career coaching and planning, you will influence how your career in PR grows, and you’ll be prepared to recover from setbacks with a personal crisis plan.
A Japanese proverb sums this all up well: “Fall seven times; stand up eight”.
Co-authored by Briggs Communications and Astrid Leslie