You spend a lot of your life at work — maybe even more time than you do with your loved ones. The long days — and, in some cases, nights — that we put into work can help us live a fulfilling life. Sometimes, though, your career doesn’t go as planned. You get laid off. You’re miserable. You strike out on your own, only to fall headfirst.

These experiences can leave us feeling bruised, with the bitter taste of failure in our mouth. But it’s possible to rebuild and start a new chapter after a career failure.

Career Failure: When Things Don’t Work Out

Brandon Slater spent five years working aboard cruise ships as a consultant, making a cushy six-figure salary. After five years, Slater was craving a somewhat “normal” life, so he decided to pivot and take a position in the company's office rather than on a cruise ship. While he had to take a 30-percent salary cut, he was excited to begin again and create a stable home, eat his own food, and enjoy a semblance of regular life.

But his initial excitement soon turned to dread. “I quickly realized that I was a pretty terrible 9-to-5 employee and became extremely frustrated with upper management disorganization and office politics,” Slater says. “Even though I was excelling at my position, I wasn't making very many friends on the higher end of the ladder.”

Struggling to Find Work? Get Help With Your Job Hunt >>

5 Tips for Starting a New Chapter After a Career Failure. Are you feeling defeated after a career failure? Never fear — you can bounce back. Check out these tips for starting a new chapter in your life. #careerfailure #startinganewchapter #startinganewchapterinlife

Within a few months, he was let go. Instead of wallowing in the uncertainty and feeling of failure, Slater committed to start fresh. He and his wife started an online business called Life’s Secret Sauce, which helps professionals level up.

Although his business is just starting out, he’s making an income and turning his career failure into a new chapter in his life.

Starting a New Chapter

It’s tough to start over in any situation, but it can be especially difficult when you’ve worked hard at something, then are suddenly back at square one. 

If you’ve epically failed in your business or have been let go from your job, it’s time to write your next chapter and start fresh. But how do you go about doing that? Here are some tips for starting a new chapter after a career failure:

1. Acknowledge What Happened, But Don’t Wallow

Success is a currency that everyone wants to have, so when you fail, it can leave you feeling broken, sad, and alone. If you or a loved one is struggling with depression because of a lost job, please reach out to the suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

It’s important to acknowledge what happened, but don’t allow yourself to wallow. Get help if needed, and try to think of it as part of the process. In fact, the most successful people you know have had their fair share of failure.

2. Look for the Silver Lining

It might be tough to see now, but shift your eyes from one closed door to the others that are open.

“I would say the biggest advice I could give to someone who's ‘failed’ is to look for the silver lining,” Slater says.

“Rather than jump into the next available job opportunity, take time to reflect on what's most important to you and your family, what are your interests or hobbies, and how can you move toward monetization in that field.”

Running a Business or Self Employed? This Online Accountant is Designed to Support You >>

3. Don’t Burn Bridges

When things turn sour, you can get mad and say or do things that aren’t in your best interest. These things can have lasting consequences and burn bridges. Try your best to avoid this, as you never know where a connection will lead you.

What not to do after a career failure | art by Jonan Everett
What not to do after a career failure. Art by Jonan Everett.

4. Turn Your Pain Into Passion and Profit

You might be hurting now, and that’s natural. But find a way to turn your pain into your passion or profit. How can you help others in a similar situation? How can you take what you have learned and lend your skills to something else? Do you want to start your own business?

If you choose to go into entrepreneurship, getting everything set up properly is important. We recommend consulting legal resources to help you get set up properly.

5. Remember That You Are More Than Your Job or Career

It’s important to remember that you are not a bad person just because you failed at one job. It has nothing to do with your personal character. A few years ago, I felt like a failure after I couldn’t find a job in my field. Now I’m successful. But after a recent professional disappointment, I felt like a failure again.

Whether you have nothing going on or are extremely successful, bad things can happen in your career. Just remember: It doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you.

Need a little extra guidance in your career transition? Check out websites like the Muse, LinkedIn, and Career Contessa.