Setbacks are an unavoidable part of life. But if we don’t deal with them properly, it can lead to a lot of regret. So the sooner we learn how to deal with them, the better. Whether the setbacks are personal or professional, one thing is certain. Building resilience will be critical in helping you overcome whatever comes your way.
Setbacks bring up a lot of emotions. Often they can make us feel deflated and even helpless. Feeling like you’re not in control is not only unsettling but can also feel insurmountable. The key here is to quickly shift into a solutions-based mindset. This is where the resilience regimen comes in.
When we look at setbacks, we see them through various lenses. For instance, we examine the event in terms of the control we have and how long its impact will last. While some of us have a natural tendency to blame ourselves and get stuck in a sea of negativity, others quickly focus on how to turn things around. They triage the situation and through some postmortem evaluation, are able to learn from their mistakes, find ways to move forward and prevent the situation from happening again.
On the other hand, some of us need more help when trying to shift from being blame-focused to solutions-focused. Having a set of questions to ask yourself can really help you get clear on how to push through your setback and move forward.
It’s important that you’re able to realize that you’re not powerless. You may not be able to control everything, but the things you can control should be your focus and starting point. So ask yourself the following:
1.What aspects of the situation can I directly influence to change the course of this adverse event?
2. How can I make the most immediate and positive impact on this situation?
3. What can I do to reduce the potential downside of this event by even 10%? What can I do to maximize the potential upside? (If you look hard enough, there may be an upside to focus on. For example, getting laid off. It’s certainly a setback. But maybe it forces you to look for a job that you’ll ultimately be happier in.)
4. What do I want life to look like on the other side of this event and what steps can I take to get even a little closer to that end?
Just like anything that doesn’t come naturally, adopting a habit takes practice. Be sure you practice this type of evaluation as often as you can. If you do, your resilience is sure to get stronger, just like working out a muscle. The more intentional you can be about it, the better.
Another thing that helps is to write your answers down. When you force yourself to write down the answers to these questions, you force yourself to become more specific than you would be if you just think about the answers in your head. Writing them down also allows you to revisit them at a later time. Studies also show that writing your answers down gives you more command and clarity about the negative event.
It’s also critical to seek support. This is especially true if you tend to isolate yourself when dealing with a setback. However, it’s equally critical that you don’t mistake support with finding people to commiserate with, or who will be blame-focused. If you’re building resilience, that’s the last thing you need. Look to people you trust who aren’t too emotionally invested but can really be objective. Someone like a mentor or trusted advisor would be best.
Finally, remember that you’re not alone. Everyone, even those who are wildly successful, experiences setbacks. Research your heroes and learn from their stories of how they overcame various challenges and setbacks. You’ll find they have mastered the art of reframing failures. They accept that failure is what leads to growth. Instead of simply pushing past the failure, they embrace the experience as a learning opportunity. They triage and then look forward to putting what they learned from their mistakes into practice.