Back To Career News

When Setbacks Happen, Stay Strong Like an Animal


The next time adversity strikes your work plan, don’t crumble — take some inspiration from the animal world and make the best of things. Whether your spirit beast is a tiny ant or a clever bird, you can use these animals as guides on your journey to being a more awesome human.


(Photo Credit: Praziquantel/Flickr)

Be a Chameleon: Ready to Adapt

Do You Know What You're Worth?

You have to be ready for change, whether it’s a project that suddenly needs a new course or funding that falls through for your startup. Think like a chameleon that’s been thrust into a new environment. It’s amazing to watch these little lizards take all that life throws at them in stride. All the while they’re going red, green, blue, like it’s no big deal! (Yes, we know this video is a slight, commercial exaggeration, but it’s still fun.)

Like a Woodpecker: Know Your Goals

Before you get stuck wondering what the end results were with a project, make sure you have a solid understanding of your goals. If something goes amiss, think back on what you hoped to find out. If you wanted to see what your website users thought of a new layout, and they didn’t respond how you’d hoped, maybe you can still pull enough data from the experiment to make more well-received changes next time. Think like a woodpecker: he’s after some tasty bugs. “Tap tap tap … any bugs in this hole I just spend all this time making WITH MY FACE?” Nope? Move on to another spot and start all over.

Sloth It up! Keep Your Cool

Dude, you need to chill out. In the face of adversity at work, DO NOT lose your cool facade. Think about the wonderous sloth. He (or she) doesn’t care what’s going on. They’re all “slow and steady wins the race.” Even when they’re in the road about to get squished, things normally work out pretty well (sometimes with a little help from a friend). Whatever you do, don’t go nuts when things don’t go your way. You are a Zen sloth. You have a wise smile on your face. You can do this.

Take It Like an Ant: Don’t Take It Personally

Ants are the world’s best team players. They work together like a “super organism” to make things happen. If one ant, say, gets picked off by an anteater (it happens), the other ants don’t stop what they’re doing to mourn old Dave getting eaten. They keep their eyes on that half-melted Popsicle they were swarming on and work as a team. When things don’t go your way, don’t think, “Oh, the world has it in for me. I’m doomed!” You’re just like an ant: working towards a goal. Maybe it’s a big new client you want to land. If you don’t get the contract, don’t think it has to do with you. It’s business. It’s the big world full of ants. You’re just a part of your team, trying to get to that Popsicle.

Fly Like a Migrating Swallow: Know Your Internal Compass

Swallows are amazing. They go from Ireland to South Africa during their migration, without even a Google map to guide their way. Do you know where you’re headed? Check your internal compass like a swallow, and be in charge of your own trajectory. Did you get laid off? Where were you trying to go with your career? With a little introspection, I bet you can find a new way to get to your career destination. Forge a new path, but keep your eyes on your final destination.

Tell Us What You Think

What your workplace spirit animal? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Leave a Reply

Notify of
What Am I Worth?

What your skills are worth in the job market is constantly changing.