UW Graduate School

May 25, 2017

When Things Don’t Go As Planned… Now What?

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As we’ve noted in past newsletters, this is the time of year where it seems everyone around you is hitting milestones, getting summer internships or jobs, being awarded fellowships, or graduating.  What happens when you find yourself in the midst of setbacks or what feel like roadblocks to your progress?

Maybe you’ve been applying for jobs and haven’t received calls for interviews.  Maybe all those fellowship applications are going unanswered.  Perhaps your committee or advisor decided to postpone a major exam until the fall quarter, throwing off the timeline of goals you planned for.  What now?

We consulted a few sources for advice, including the UW Resilience Lab. First, it’s important to acknowledge and sit with the emotion you’re experiencing (perhaps shame, disappointment, frustration, anger, or all of the above).  Recognizing your feelings is an important step for moving forward, otherwise it can be difficult to see through the emotion and be creative about next steps.

Second, talk with trusted individuals about what you are facing.  It can feel like everyone around you is successful, but you may be surprised at just how many setbacks and failures are experienced by all of us (including advisors and mentors). Talking with others can help validate your feelings and also help you see additional perspectives on what’s happening–as well as generate more creative ideas about what you can do to adjust, adapt, and move forward.

Business consultant and author Chris Winfield offers these tips to address what to do in the face of setbacks, highlighting how setbacks can be learning and growth opportunities:

– Give yourself time. Lifehacker recommends 24 hours just to let it out.
– Avoid making any big decisions, if you feel panicked or overwhelmed.
– Make peace with your failures.
– Cut yourself some slack (but don’t let go of the rope).
– Regain your control.

For more on these tips, see Winfield’s blog post.

Whether you are sailing through the end of the quarter or not sure what’s next for you, we stand with you.

Best Regards,

Core Programs Team

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