Everyone has a work setback at some point in their careers — whether it’s being fired, demoted, an embarrassing moment or an unmet goal.

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Everyone has a work setback at some point in their careers — whether it’s being fired, demoted, an embarrassing moment or an unmet goal. Instead of letting it take you down, you can bounce back with your pride intact and return stronger than ever.

Figure out the why it happened. After you’ve experienced a setback in your career, it’s imperative to take a little time to understand why it happened. Ask yourself introspective and analytical questions to get to the heart of the issue, and remind yourself that we learn much more quickly from failures than successes. Be sure you learn the lesson before you move on.

Ask for guidance and external feedback. It’s not uncommon to feel disappointment, frustration or anger when you find yourself in a less-than-perfect professional situation. It’s so easy to get stuck in your own head when this happens. To be sure you’re seeing the situation clearly, ask for an outside perspective. You may not feel comfortable going to a boss or colleague, but an external mentor can bring an immense amount of clarity and insight to a career obstacle. You can also speak with people entirely outside of your professional field whom you respect and value.

Don’t play the blame game. It’s easy to blame people (yourself included) when our careers don’t turn out as expected. Try to avoid this. It’s impossible to go back in time and prevent your current state, so start thinking of solutions and don’t dwell on problems. As you’re doing this, be gentle with yourself and those around you, recognizing you may not be in an easy-to-fix situation.

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If needed, find your new direction. Difficulties in your career can be a sign that you’ve been powering down the wrong path for too long. Those moments where you’re forced to take a step back and look around to see where you are and how you got there can be the perfect time to hit the reset button. If you find yourself at this place, I’d recommend taking a personal time-out to get yourself headed in a better professional direction.

It’s not easy advice to heed when you’re in the moment, but when people experience strife in their careers, they become better at their jobs, with more well-rounded perspectives and experience. Follow the above guidance to learn from a difficult situation and to find an improved path moving forward. The next time it happens (because yes, it happens to all of us more than once), you’ll be better prepared and bounce back stronger than ever.

Lisa Quast is the founder of Career Woman, Inc., and the author of the book Secrets of a Hiring Manager Turned Career Coach. Email her at lquast@careerwomaninc.com.