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Dealing with disappointment

Last Thursday I had the misfortune of going to watch Southampton FC get dumped out of the Europa Cup, which was a hugely disappointing night. Obviously though, like a lot of situations in life it was completely out of my control, and nothing I could have done would have made any difference, so although disappointed I tried not to dwell on it too much. A few days later it’s not really something that’s on my mind anymore, although it’s still a minor irritation I’m over it.

How does this in anyway relate to being a software developer? Well things are going to happen in your career that there is nothing you can do about, things will change, some examples I’ve seen are:

Redundancy – This is a hard one to deal with, you’re happily working somewhere doing what you do and suddenly (it often is because even transparent companies like to hide things until the last minute) you’ll find out that you are out of a job due to the company cutting staff.

Missing out on promotion – Some of this may be partly your fault, maybe you messed up the interview or made another mistake, but often it could also be a case that the other candidates were just in the right place at the right time

Pay-rise/Bonus – You’ve been working hard all year and then before review or bonus time it’s announced the company hasn’t been as profitable as predicted so there will be no rises or bonuses

Project cancelled – The team have been working hard on something you are proud of and then it’s decided elsewhere in the business that the project or functionality isn’t required anymore and you need to throw it away

If you let them all of these things can be quite devastating and can have a real impact on your career, you need to be in a position to learn to deal with the disappointment. Each of the scenarios requires something different but I would recommend trying to be a position where your skills are current so that concerns like redundancy are not the worry they could be. I’ve been made redundant twice in my life and fortunately I’ve ended up doing better as a result both times, so something that can seem bad may be the push you need in a new direction.

If you’ve missed out on promotion then maybe you need to work on the areas required to be promoted, or your interview techniques, or depressing as it is, marketing yourself in and out of work to raise your profile.

If you are working at a company where you are constantly missing pay-rises, your projects are being canned, or you are on a Death March, then depending on your loyalty, it may be time to think about moving on anyway. Again the key thing here is for your skills and confidence to be in a place where you feel you’ll be able to successfully find a better job.

It’s worth looking at disappointments as an opportunity to change your priorities, use it as a reason to change direction. I imagine in Saints case that means focusing on the EFL Cup, or Premiership, but in your case that could be making more steps on the path to your dream job.

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