Handle Setbacks Like A Pro

Talking with a friend today, I explained my belief that every day it is important to move the ball forward in life. Some days it is an inch, some days a yard, and then some days there are touchdowns. He chimed in by adding that sometimes the ball also moves backwards…While I don’t like to admit it or even consider it setbacks indeed happen but when they do it is ever so important to handle setbacks like a pro.

Setbacks happen and when they do they can cost you more than just “yardage.” Often our egos and our confidence take a beating and bouncing back (if you can bounce back) takes considerable energy and effort.

So what do you do when a setback happens? How do you get your confidence back and get back on track? When you are challenged by a setback in life, here are five tips to enable YOU to handle setbacks like a pro:

  1. Acknowledge that YOU are not the setback. – A failure, be it in the past, or if it just happened does not define who you are or what you are ultimately capable of doing. Don’t’ make the mistake of assuming just because you failed that you are a failure. Failure happens to the best of us and It’s nothing personal. If you haven’t ever failed at something it probably means you’ve never tried anything! Just because you failed doesn’t mean that you are a failure. Cut yourself some slack.
  2. Take a break and walk away for a bit. – After a setback you might benefit from stepping away a bit and doing something different that you enjoy to distract yourself. That space away from the subject matter might be enough to give you the proper perspective to come back at a problem or a goal with fresh eyes, new ideas, and a different solution and approach. This is where the old saying of not being able to see the forest for the trees can be applied.
  3. Look at your past failures and successes. – Take inventory of your past successes and failures. Both may give you clues to why things went sideways in your current situation. Looking at your wins and successes will also serve to boost your confidence especially if you faced bigger or more daunting challenges in the past. Studying your past losses or failures might give you some insight on what not to do in this situation, what might of gone wrong, or maybe even reveal a pattern that you are not aware of that is hindering your achievements.
  4. Don’t beat yourself up! – When we fail or have a setback it is so easy for us to make the situation worse and harm our self-confidence even more by beating ourselves up. Often we are worst culprits when it comes to kicking ourselves when we are down. Don’t do that! Forgive yourself and resolve to move on.
  5. Get Back Up On That Horse. – Don’t just wallow there in the dust and in your own self-pity. Stand up, brush yourself off, get back up on that horse and commit yourself to succeeding whatever it takes! Commit to smaller baby steps if you have to and accept the fact that you might fall off again and “that is okay.”

Though we don’t like to think about it, setbacks do happen and when they do it is how we handle them that not only defines who we are but also defines the levels of achievement and success we are capable of finding. Every step that you take after a huge setback is evidence of your strength and resolve – and every win thereafter is a reward for your commitment.

How do you handle your setbacks? Can you handle setbacks like a pro?

Andy Wooten M.A. Counseling – Certified Life Coach – Aspen, Colorado

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