Perhaps the greatest challenge that you may face post sabbatical is the endless rounds of interviews, that end with a polite...”.we’ll let you know...”. rejection is a challenging experience to deal with. And it may become daunting when you have to face it repeatedly, sometimes in a quick succession!.
This is an absolute pre-requisite for coming from a place of confidence, the right attitude is the first step towards getting out there and creating opportunities for yourself. Without this perspective correct, you will never cross the first hurdle of getting more doors open for yourself. Remember that people who recruit, also are responsible for the results that the recruit will produce and are most certainly looking for a winner and nothing less.
Rejection just like all other critical events in life is a subjective term. You can learn to interpret rejection in any way that you choose (and in that give yourself the most valuable gift...CHOICE). You may choose to look at it very harshly, intertwining it with your sense of self worth, thus almost certainly ensuring that you ‘ll feel immensely let down/dejected with every negative response from employers. If you have very rigid ideas of what it means to succeed, you will often feel disappointed.
Alternatively (and definitely the preferred option!) is to disengage mentally, your experience of rejection, from your sense of self worth, your self esteem. Tell yourself that rejection need not indicate your adequateness, your capability. And having worked in your respective fields earlier, you are the best judge regarding the other factors that influence employers hiring decisions. More than once I have heard of candidates who are so good that they intimidate the people in power and thereby cause your own rejection.
Every interview, every networking conversation, holds the possibility to learn something, maybe sharpen some skill, which due to your (much needed...ahem!!..gentle reminder on the attitude) sabbatical, have been forgotten. Ask yourself whether you are being too fixated on winning v/s losing. Again, shifting the focus of the mind from ‘ winning” to “learning” can help in converting a rejection into a learning opportunity. I believe the greatest achievement in life is the choice to be empowered, not paralyzed, by a disappointment.
I find that another almost sure shot way to convert a disappointment/rejection into something fruitful is to shift your focus from the end result/consequence to the process/journey that led to the end result. Another benefit of adopting a process-oriented approach is that it’s easier to be mindful when you focus on the action steps. Being mindful/paying attention to the journey/process leaves you with the empowered choice of discovering infinite permutations that are available to you in your journey to get back into the professional life. You then are free to follow any other path that you deem fit. I believe that life has a plan for all of us, if only we would allow ourselves to look in unconventional spaces that emerge in our journey, the plan unfolds most naturally.
Research has found that extroverted people who are open to new ideas and possibilities tend to deal with rejection more positively. The hypothesis is that your willingness to consistently engage with people and consider different opportunities, coupled with your ability to encounter adversity without falling into despair, positions you for sucess. It’s the difference between walking with your head held high and noticing a rainbow, and walking with your gaze on your feet and seeing only puddles.
So, make yourself a winner by rejecting rejection!