Aug 062012

Roadblock by Scazon

Setbacks happen. One moment you are pressing forward, making great strides towards your goal. The next moment you find yourself slamming into a brick wall that appeared out of nowhere, at high speed. The impact throws you off your feet and onto your back. You suffer injuries and lose your momentum. Instead of moving forward, you now have to cope with this turn of events.

At best, it is a minor irritant. At worst, it can be a devastating blow, which you may not recover from quickly enough. But what matters is not what happens; it is dealing with it that counts.

Are Setbacks Stepping Stones or a Brick Wall?

Setbacks mean different things to different people.

Some people see setbacks as stepping-stones to success. To them, setbacks are reminders that their approach is flawed somewhere. Thus, they analyze their mistakes, learn from it and make the needed adjustments until they achieve success.

Others may have deep emotional investment in a situation, which they cannot manage properly. They may also have a lot at stake. In such cases, each setback can hit them like a ton of bricks. But the damage does not stop there. Because they cannot afford to fail, they do. Each setback discourages them further. This in turn has a negative impact on their future efforts leading to more mistakes and failures.

Such a vicious downward spiral is not easy to deal with. How then should those whose setbacks leave them dejected cope with the situation?

Sleeping by Stewickie

Coping with Setbacks

Think about it. When you are in a good mood, you see possibilities all around you. When you are depressed, it is hard for you to see an opportunity even if it appeared right in front of you. The situation itself does not change, only your perception of it and your ability to manage does.

When setbacks leave you feeling dejected, the worst thing to do is to press on. Trying to force the issue or deal with the problem when you are not ready will only worsen matters. When you lack the clarity and the objectivity needed to manage, how can you expect a successful outcome? In such a situation, it is best to take time out to rest and recharge. What follows is a few ways to cope with setbacks.

1. Healing

If a setback leaves you feeling dejected, you need to rest. Step back from the situation and heal. Do whatever it takes to help you feel better. At the same time, you must ensure that you take good care of your mind, body and spirit. You will need to call on all three later to help you face your setback. In the meantime, nurture and nourish yourself to regain your strength.

The process may take some time, but you should take as long as you need and can. If matters are urgent, find some way to delay events until you are in a better frame of mind to take action. It is not a good idea to act before you are ready. Why act if you are likely to fail?

For me, I usually take a nap to forget and recharge. In addition, I also leave things aside and focus on other interests to get my mind off matters. Make time to relax and enjoy doing your favourite activities. Spend time with family and friends. These are some good ways to heal and recharge.

2. Facing the Setback

Once you have rested sufficiently, it is time to face the setback. You have to examine it closely to find out what happened and why. Only when you have analyzed the situation and found the answers to these questions will you be able to take action to change things.

Think out of the box and be creative where possible. Sometimes, minor adjustments to your plans and methods are all you need. But other times, you may have to consider a complete or radical overhaul. Regardless of the adjustments required, you must plan carefully. Try to stay ahead of the situation and plan for various possibilities. This way, you will have the strength and the confidence to face things no matter how events unfold.

3. Overcoming Setbacks

Analyzing, planning and preparing is important, but not the end of the story. When you have done all you need to do, it is time to test your preparation against reality. It is time to see if you can move past your setback. The good thing about thorough preparation is that it gives you the confidence you need to deal with the situation.

Once you are really ready and eager for action, try again. But expect that things will not go exactly as you planned. Be ready to make the needed adjustments as events unfold. If you can manage this, you will be able to overcome any setback and changes you face as you move towards your goal.

Stepping Stones by Richard Carter

Taking Action

Whether we like it or not, setbacks are part of any process. More often than not, things do not go as planned. But as I mentioned earlier, it is not what happens that matters. What really counts is how we deal with it.

How do you manage setbacks? Are setbacks stepping stones or a brick wall to you? What are the steps and the actions you take to cope? Do share your thoughts and comments below! :)

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  8 Responses to “How to Deal with Setbacks”

  1. I think I pretty much follow all the steps you mention Vizier. I also talk to friends, family and the inner circle to help me get back on my feet or move through the setback.

    I definitely see setbacks as stepping stones forward. There’s a quote that goes something like 3 steps back, 1 step forward or something like that. The point being that you have to go back sometimes in order to go forwards. If you take setbacks as life lessons, then every setback is a set up for success:)

    Hope you’re doing well.

  2. Vizier,

    This article couldn’t come at a more perfect time. I’m in the middle of taking ownership of a set back I had 6 years ago that I ran from. But of course it effected me profoundly, including a bout with depression.

    What I realized in hindsight was how my perception thwarted everything. My lack of resiliency…or should I say….understanding that I could learn how to become resilient kept me in a muted, smaller space.

    Because I was so embarrassed, I didn’t open up to anybody about how I was feeling.

    Many lessons learned….all good ones. I’m much more resilient and take myself and life less seriously. Thanks for a really fine post. With gratitude-Fran
    Fran Sorin recently posted..How To Have More Fun: Watch Michael Bungay Stanier’s Video – The Eight Irresistible Principles of FunMy Profile

  3. Great post Irving – I love the title – I see them as stepping stones – it’s the way we look at the situation – like you said perspective……here is a great quote: “Every event in life has two possible outcomes: It’s either positive or it brings up something you need to learn in order to create something positive.”

    That’s how I like to see my setbacks!

    In gratitude,
    Nancy Shields

  4. I like your point on healing very much. It’s really the first step to dealing with a setback. Encountering one can derail a person and it is important to take a break so that it becomes easier to gain clarity. And yes, I totally agree that it is best to delay events especially if one is not ready. Actions should be taken wisely and in good time.

    Setbacks can happen because of unrealistic expectations. If it is due to an unrealistic expectation, I hope to make adjustments accordingly and take on another plan that will lead to better outcomes the next time.

    Great post on dealing with setbacks. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Having experienced a setback a few days ago, this post was especially timely and full of good advice, which I am now trying to heed! Love the photo of the sleeping baby.
    Galen Pearl recently posted..The Dance of FearMy Profile

  6. i have to remember this as i face the adversity and challenges. maybe if i see it as little stepping stones to the future i envisage it wont be that bad

    Noch Noch
    Noch Noch – be me. be natural. recently posted..happy birthdayMy Profile

  7. Irving,

    This point stood out for me in particular: “To them, setbacks are reminders that their approach is flawed somewhere.” The advice in this article is really brilliant. We tend to think we can always push ahead. It’s good to be reminded to pause and heal before attempting to deal with a setback. Much to consider here! Thank you.
    Sandra / Always Well Within recently posted..The Paradox of True HappinessMy Profile

  8. It’s important to learn from your experiences but that’s tough to do if you’re mired in self-recrimination. Try, if you can, to view the situation as an outsider.
    Candice Michelle recently posted..לייטמןMy Profile

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