When you’re trying to grow as a leader and become a high achiever, your journey won’t always be easy.

There will be times you have some career setbacks, and there will also be times you’re struggling with burnout.

While it can often be stressful and frustrating, you should know it’s normal and happens to most people.

So, what all leaders and high achievers need to know, is how to cope with career setbacks when they happen, and how to manage burnout in a healthy way.

How to cope with career setbacks

Focus on the positive

While it’s easy to focus on the negative and just feel sorry for yourself, try focusing on the positive. If it seems like there isn’t any positive, there are probably some small things you can be thankful for that you don’t even realize.

If you’ve been taken off a project, does that mean you have more free time now to focus on yourself, spend with your loved ones, or maybe even work on evolving as a leader? That’s an example of finding the positive in a seemingly negative situation.

Even if the current situation you’re in can’t be pinned into something positive, focus on the things in your life that are already positive, no matter how small or big they are – your health, a loving partner, loving family, great friends, great coworkers, previous success on a project, etc.

By focusing on the positive, you’ll be able to lift your spirits and get over the setback much faster.

It’s hard to get over something if that’s the only thing you’re focusing on, in a negative way (feeling sorry for yourself instead of thinking of ways to improve the situation).

There are tons of things you’re great at, so think about all of your strengths, instead of just focusing on your weaknesses, and that will help you regain your confidence.

Make a plan

If you need a bit of time to get used to the setback, that’s fine. Take the time you need. However, you need to start making a plan as soon as you can.

Making a plan on how you can fix the situation, or create a new and improved situation will give you a goal, it will give you something to think about, something to work for, and something to look forward to.

If you start working towards a new goal or working on making your new plan a reality, it will switch your focus from feeling sorry for yourself to working on evolving as a leader.

Learn from the situation

Another way to cope with a career setback is to look at it as a lesson.

There’s always something you can learn and take away from a setback, so you should always think of setbacks as lessons, not mistakes.

If you learn from it, you’re making sure it’ll never happen again, and you’re also turning the situation into something positive.

Accept it and move on

While feeling sorry for yourself is usually the immediate reaction to a setback, try to simply accept the situation and move on.

If there’s something you can do to fix it, do it. If there’s nothing you can do, you simply need to move on, think of it as a lesson, and start working towards your other goals.

A leader needs to know how to deal with all sorts of situations, both positive and negative.

How to manage burnout

Burnout is a state of both physical and mental exhaustion caused by stress from work and by working too much.

High achievers and hard-working leaders often have to deal with burnout, because they often put too much on themselves, and focus on work and evolving too much.

So, let’s look at some ways to manage burnout when it happens.

Ask for help

There’s no shame in asking for help when you need it!

If you have too much on your plate, or you don’t know how to do something and it’s causing you stress, ask someone for help, or delegate some work.

If you’re a leader, you need to know which tasks are worth your time and stress, and which are not. So, prioritize according to that.

If you have too much to do and can’t handle all of it, figure out which tasks can be done by others and delegate them.

Or, if you’re the one that needs to do it, ask someone for help, someone that has more experience in that area than you.

There’s no shame in doing that.

By doing that, you’re actually giving more time to the more important tasks, and by getting rid of some of the stress you’ll be able to do other tasks more effectively and productively.

Find a hobby

While it’s common for leaders and high achievers to focus on work 24/7, getting a hobby you like will do so much for your mental health, and for your productivity at work as well.

You can’t grow and evolve if you’re constantly stressed about work.

Finding some time to think about other stuff will help clear your mind and make you more productive when you’re actually at work.


Any form of physical activity is great for managing burnout.

By doing that, you’ll be able to get the stress out of your body in a healthy way, and it will help clear your mind.

Find a form of exercise that suits you – take walks (without thinking about work), go to the gym, go for a run, do yoga, do pilates, work out at home, dance, whatever gets your mind off of work and makes you let out all of the stress you’re under.

Take a break when needed

If the burnout is getting out of hand, it might be time to take a few days off.

We often feel guilty about taking a break when we have too much on our plate, but look at it this way – while you’re too stressed and dealing with burnout, you won’t be as productive, you won’t be able to fully focus on work, and you won’t be able to achieve everything you normally could.

So, take a break, and come back refreshed, stronger than ever, and ready to take on any task that’s facing your way.

While trying to lead others, it’s easy to put them first. It’s easy to put other people’s problems before your own, and it’s easy to put too much work and responsibility on yourself.

However, you can’t do a good job leading others if you’re stressed, or if you’re feeling bad about a setback.

So, putting yourself first in situations like career setbacks and burnouts will actually help you be a better leader because you can only grow while in a good mental state.

If you come across a career setback or burnout, try out these methods, and focus on getting back to your positive, high achiever self.

If you’re a woman in a c-suite or senior executive role and you’re ready to expand your leadership, better navigate politics and, gain clarity on what’s holding you back so that you can make a bigger impact in your career, apply for a complimentary consultation here.

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