Turn Career Setbacks Into Success

When we start new career journeys, we can be so focused on success. But the road to success is not often linear. As we find our way forward, the path can be filled with setbacks. It can be “make it or break it” when you start to experience obstacles. So it’s important to learn how to turn career setbacks into success.

The truth is, we all will experience obstacles on our way to create the next chapters of our education careers, but only those of us who keep going will be successful. Career setbacks are normal, and while they don’t feel good, they can actually be good for us and help us grow.

Feeling frustrated about setbacks you’ve experienced? Use these tips to figure out how to deal with setbacks and failures and find your way forward.

4 Ways to Turn Career Setbacks Into Success


Instead of feeling 100% defeated by rejection, reframe it as redirection. Feel all your feelings, then decide which direction you’ll take to move through them. Remind yourself that setbacks are part of the path forward and that each setback moves you closer towards clarity about your next step.

Also remember that literally everyone experiences setbacks. There’s a reason so many leaders in business and innovation talk about the failures on the path to their success. Failing at something is an important part of learning and growing.

Reframe rejection as completely normal and celebrate the action you took to get into a position where you could experience. Then keep going to turn career setbacks into success!


A growth mindset is key when trying something new. Through the career setbacks you experience, you get the opportunity to learn new things. Be intentional about what you want to work on as you try new things.

For example, maybe you want to get more comfortable talking about your skills. When you apply for jobs and go on interviews, practice talking about your experience with confidence. Through the process, you’ll make progress towards your goals whether you get hired for the job or not.

Celebrate the risks that you take and the components of your job search that are within your control, too. As much as possible, try to let go of the aspects that are out of your control. Focus on the personal development that is happening as a result of going after your dreams.

Often, it’s your mindset that will determine your ability to turn setbacks into success. Stay positive and keep working.


Why are setbacks necessary in life? Because if it didn’t work out with a particular opportunity, it likely was not the best place for you to be (at least not right now). Sometimes a rejection that feels like a professional failure can actually just be an important part of guiding you to where you’re supposed to be.

Focus on finding the right fit. When you go to interviews, you’re not the only one being interviewed. You’re also interviewing the organizations too! Not every opportunity is going to be right for you— and that’s okay. Through the application process and yes, even through rejection, you can get clarity on your next best step.


No matter what types of career setbacks you experience, tune into what you really want. Stay grounded in your mission and vision. Then stay the course! Something more rewarding may be on the way.

The difference between people who experience success and people who do not often boils down to not giving up and overcoming self doubt. Remind yourself of other challenges you’ve overcome and focus on the skills you want to develop. Envision the next chapter of your career, then try to step into that energy now.

This is without a doubt the best way to turn career setbacks into success.

Get Support to Deal with Career Setbacks

It’s easier to take risks and try new things when you’re part of a supportive community.

At Educator Forever, we’re here to cheer you on AND give you the knowledge you need to kickstart the next phase of your education career. Whether you’re interested in finding flexible jobs in education or want to start your own education business, we can help.

Join the Beyond the Classroom course to get clarity on your career path and be part of an inspiring community of educators.

By Erin Wheeler
Erin Wheeler Career Consultant