How do to cope when disaster strikes in your work career !

We spend a great deal of time in our workplace. Most of us work hard and try and move forward in our careers. It can take years of dedicated effort to slowly move up the “ladder”. Extra hours spent after work in the office, weekends spent at home working on the laptop, being available to be contacted during family holidays………all genuine efforts above and beyond the call of duty to make a success of our career.

We are asked by family and peers of how we’re getting on at work ? Our colleagues are aware of us and how we’re doing. Subtle but constant pressure is on our shoulders at all times.

And still, we work hard, we persevere, we commit to our job — that’s how we’re programmed. It’s what we do.

And then …….. DISASTER STRIKES !

Disaster can take many forms and strike at anytime. It may be that we mess up a clients account; we make a rash decision with drastic results; we get caught out by something attributed to us on social media; it might be something totally out of our control, but we are in a nightmare scenario totally out of the blue. We didn’t mean it to happen (who would?), but it’s still a mess.

How do we react ? What can we do to resolve the situation?

We feel terrible. We have an overwhelming sense of dread and foreboding. Our self confidence is rocked. Our self esteem is shattered.

Out of nowhere; it feels like our career is finished and our life is pretty much over. How can we tell our partner? What will our friends think? What will our parents say?


I have suffered such a disaster and it was totally out of my control. My business suffered an internal theft that ultimately led to the business closing, staff being made redundant and a number of debtors needing to be dealt with.

I will never ever forget how I felt in the moments after I realised what had occurred. I stood motionless, rooted to the spot as my world felt like it was caving in. My heart dropped, my limbs felt like a ton weight and I think I truly went in to panic mode for the first time in my life. I couldn’t cope; my business was dead, my life was over…………that’s what I was thinking.

The reality is different though. My life wasn’t over, the world wouldn’t end. It might certainly have felt like it would, but it didn’t.

It is the same for you. Your emotions when you are having a crisis at work will be racing around your body at hundreds of miles an hour. Your emotional self will be in full control; your logical self will have no voice in these early moments. It will be emotion, emotion, emotion. And emotion is not sensible; it has no pattern and it runs amok.

Thankfully, this will lessen over the ensuing days but you need to help yourself get things into perspective and you need to do it quickly. Stand back from the situation and endeavour to be “detached” emotionally from it. This is hard, but it is an essential part of the process.


The following steps will assist you cope and manage the situation you find yourself in:

  1. Share your news with your partner, your friends, your family — share it with someone. Talk about it openly with somebody. By sharing your story, it will immediately feel more manageable. The more you talk about it as well, the more your logical self will gain control over your emotional self.
  2. Break the situation down in to segments of action — what can/will you do to manage this? By breaking it into “bite sized bits”, you will feel more in control again.
  3. Work your way through your action list – one by one. As you “tick off” each one, you will continue to feel better about yourself and your circumstance. Your self esteem will grow as you are being proactive – you are dealing with the issue.
  4. Keep things in perspective – you’ve had a s**t thing happen to you at work, you’re dealing with it, things will improve.
  5. Look after your health. It is vital that you look after yourself physically. Mental strain will have a negative effect on your physical well being. Take exercise regularly — it will make you feel so much better.
  6. Look after your mental health as well. Take time out each day to “check in” on yourself. Find somewhere quiet (it doesn’t matter where); turn off your mobile, tablet or laptop and just relax. Breathe calmly, remind yourself of all the good things in your life, all the good people you have in your life who love you, the richness that you give to other people.
  7. Get outside into the fresh air and take in the beauty all around you. The smells, sounds and nature that you see and enjoy.
  8. Accept unconditionally that it will take time to deal with your situation at work and know and believe that you will deal with it.
  9. This event will be a learning curve for you and ultimately you will be able to use it in the future for your betterment. It is a chapter in your life — we all have them. You will be a more mature and wiser person as a result of this passage in your life.