February 13, 2024

Overcome Career Setbacks with Growth & Happiness

Overcoming major career setbacks has been a necessary learning journey that many of us in the gaming industry have had to deal with recently. We got hit with an unprecedented wave of layoffs in 2023, with more happening in the first few weeks of 2024. Promotions and raises have been reduced or postponed. The dry funding environment continues, and startups are struggling to develop and ship new games. And now there is a real threat building up, that AI can substitute humans in the fields of art, narrative, programming and other disciplines. 

Balancing the stress of daily life has never been so hard. Many of us are taking care of family members, work demands, higher cost of living, social media, millions of errands and commitments that we made to other people. 

With so much pressure and context switching how can we open room to new opportunities and take care of ourselves first? Here’s how to handle career setbacks, turning them into opportunities for professional and personal growth, and leading to a happier, more fulfilling life.

How to Handle Career Setbacks and Overcome Perceived Failure

In facing negative situations, remember that many successful people have turned early-career setbacks and career failures into springboards for future success. Each challenging situation and job interview can be a learning experience, contributing to your career goals and helping you cultivate a positive mindset.

Rather than viewing a career failure as a pity party, see it as an opportunity for growth, a chance to reassess your current situation, and redefine your path towards career success.

When I founded Playgig, I didn't know what game I would create, whether I would secure funding, or if cross-platform play was a feasible goal. My career path was filled with uncertainties, reflecting the inevitable setbacks and future challenges that come with pursuing significant career goals and aspirations. Despite not having a clear vision of the business's most crucial aspects or a concrete plan for professional growth, I moved forward.

This initiative involved more than just making a game. It included developing the company culture, navigating through tough times and obstacles in my career journey, along with learning from unexpected challenges, and seizing growth opportunities, all while keeping my personal life and mental health in balance. 

Embrace these moments as life lessons, understanding that every job opening or unexpected opportunity can contribute to a wide variety of experiences on your career journey, building a strong foundation for professional success and personal resilience

Successes and Setbacks: Radical Acceptance, Positive Self-Talk 

When an unexpected setback happens, you may be focusing entirely on the setback and not the successes that you've achieved thus far. 

If you’re facing setbacks remember that you don’t have control over the forces that are causing it. You only have control over how you react to them. For example, do you find yourself engaging in negative, or in positive, self-talk? Do you carve out time to reflect in a calm and silent environment? In my experience facing setbacks head on is the way to go. Once you receive the bad news, remember that you only have control over how you react, your thoughts and emotions.

Don't hesitate to interview. View interviewing as an opportunity to learn about current trends and future directions in your field, rather than focusing on difficult experiences of the past and the internal narrative of failure.

When communicating with others about what you’re looking for, engage in positive self-talk and avoid negative self-talk. Companies prioritize present plans and future aspirations, not the past. Limit discussions about your recent career changes, focusing instead on your aspirations and clearly articulating why these goals matter to you.

Matching motivations is what organizations focus on when choosing between candidates with similar skills. Demonstrate your genuine passion and your adaptive capability for the role, which goes beyond the tough situations you've endured to get this far.

This approach, inspired by principles of radical acceptance and positive thinking, helps navigate through intense emotions and difficult situations by finding a middle ground between negative thinking and unwavering optimism in daily life. 

Decluttering your Life: Organize for Opportunities 

Reassess your expectations. Remove clutter from your life (literally) spend time removing junk from your life. Clean the garage, your closet, your workspace, your phone and other electronics. 

Remove clutter from your mind. The more stuff you let go, the more space you’ll open for new opportunities that are aligned with your future self.

Experience the Situation to Flourish a Growth Mindset 

Calm down and do nothing. Allow yourself to do nothing. It’s better to do nothing when you’re in the middle of the hurricane. Let the universe play out and become an observer. What do you see? 

In this pause, use the time to reflect on your strengths and passions, reassessing your career trajectory with a fresh perspective. It's in these quiet moments that you can discover new directions and opportunities, turning this temporary setback into a strategic pivot point in your professional journey.

Love and Mental Health: Spend Time with Loved Ones in Your Personal Life 

Spend time with your life partner and loved ones. When we are in love, we feel happy. There is no better cure to the pain we feel inside than to offer our love to the people that truly matter. 

Nurturing relationships amidst difficult situations reinforces positive thinking and revitalizes your mental health, essential for navigating the ups and downs of your career path. 

Major Setbacks in Life Happen and You've Survived Them Before

Remember setbacks that you had in the past and how you always recovered, they are temporary events. Take advantage of hardship to appreciate the good things you have in life, look inside yourself and realize that very little is needed to let go of worries and find happiness in small things. Tasks aren’t better or worse, they’re just tasks. 

Find joy in your everyday tasks, book a trip, play your favorite sport and download new games. With time and resilience things will fall into place. Don’t rush into taking opportunities that show up first, talk to people in your network, carefully assess your options.

When you know that you've found what you were truly looking for in your personal life or career, then it's time to take decisive action. Remember, it's possible to step back and make changes, even in the face of setbacks in life or challenging situations.

Just as the classic hit "Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zeppelin suggests: "Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, and there's still time to change the road you're on." Whether you’re dealing with difficult situations like career setbacks, relationship issues, or other life challenges, look to the silver lining to maneuver towards better opportunities for growth and a happier life.

Adopting a positive mindset can guide you through difficult times and negative situations, reminding you that life’s path is flexible, and with a growth mindset, future challenges can lead to valuable life lessons.  

Every Professional Setback Presents a Learning Opportunity 

We are not defined by the job title we have. The company we work for, the failure of a business or a bad decision that we now have to deal with the consequences. We are bigger than all of that. You define how you want to react to setbacks and how you want to feel. Choose happiness. When we’re in love, we feel happy. Take care of your mind, your body and your heart. 

Let the new opportunities present themselves in front of you, take new risks, embrace life’s challenges as another fun task that can end up in a much more fulfilling life that’s beyond your career and you’ll see how that will attract people to want to work with you and invite you to join them in a new journey. 

In challenging times it's more important than ever to connect, share experiences, and support each other. I'm Bruno Schirch, Founder and CEO of Playgig, and I'm here to journey with you through the ups and downs of the gaming industry. For more career management strategies, video game development insights, or to follow my entrepreneurial journey. 

Visit my contact page to reach out directly, or join our vibrant community on Discord, Instagram, and X. Let's keep the conversation going and ensure we're all moving forward, stronger and more connected!