You were confident that the promotion you've been eyeing was yours. You've managed difficult clients, significantly grew your audience, and have generally been an all-around productive worker. You knew that there was no way they would pick someone else - until they did.

Not getting the promotion you so desperately wanted can impact you and your work in several ways and can really put a damper on your self-esteem. I know how easy it is to spiral and start questioning your self-worth. But before you pack up and quit, here's what you should do instead.

Acknowledge your emotions.

It's okay to be angry, hurt, and disappointed, especially when you've been giving it your all. It's normal and healthy to be feeling down. Don't feel like you have to brush your feelings aside to please everyone. However, moping around or taking out your anger on your coworkers, boss, or even your job itself by quitting won't help either.

Instead, take some time away from the office to clear your mind. Vent to someone you trust and do something that makes you happy. It'll be hard to get work out of your head, but it's important that you do. You need this time to focus on you so when you return to work, you're not letting your emotions run the show.

Get feedback.

Once you've had time to calm down and think logically, talk to whoever was in charge of the promotion. Don't ask them why they didn't pick you. You will likely not get the answer you want and it signals that you don't handle rejection well.  

Instead, ask them what you could've done differently to get promoted. You will be showing that you appreciate constructive criticism and want to improve. I personally find it much more approachable and positive when someone genuinely comes from a place of wanting to learn.

Be optimistic.

I'm a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. Maybe you didn't get the promotion because it wasn't meant for you. As much as rejection can hurt at the moment, when we look back on previous rejections, we can see how it may have ignited you to learn new skills, manage rejection, and maybe even pursue bigger opportunities.

I've seen promotions make people miserable, usually because they didn't fully realize what the position entitled. In my own experience, I've found that not getting the promotion made me realize how little I was being valued. I also had a moment of clarity and decided to reanalyze my own career goals which led me to where I am today.

Get clear on your why.

Why did you want this promotion? Be honest with yourself on why you really wanted this particular role. Was it because your current role isn't giving you any new challenges? Are you not happy with your job and was hoping that the promotion was the answer? Or did you want more money?

It's imperative that you get really clear on your why. If you do need new challenges, offer to help your coworkers in other departments or take some time to learn a new program that would benefit your work. If you need the extra money, then negotiate for a raise.

However, if you're not happy, then find out what's not making you happy and ask yourself if you really want to work there. If you do, then there are ways you can fall back in love with your job.

Be prepared for change.

If the feedback you received seemed vague and uninformative, then there's probably more going on behind the scenes than you thought. Take the initiative to learn something new to help you get promoted in the future. Or if you believe that there's truly no room for growth, perhaps its time to start looking for other opportunities.

Not getting the promotion you wanted doesn't have to be the end of the world. It's all about perspective and how you choose to react to it. Ultimately, only you know what you want.

Whether that means staying to fight a little longer or realizing it's time to look for something new, do what makes the most sense for you.   

Published on: Sep 26, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.