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Building resilience to overcome setbacks

Updated: Jun 26, 2020

Slip ups, setbacks and obstacles are part of life. We know this to be the case but yet still struggle to stay optimistic in light of a bump in the road. Often we perceive these obstacles as failures, impossible to overcome and lose the momentum to push forward. Does this sound familiar? I have experienced this countless times. I’m a planner. I like to plan ahead, set goals and steps to achieve them. I get motivated by this, and it helps me to stay in control.

However, when something happens that is not featured in my neatly structured plan, I can quickly get demotivated and want to quit. It’s not that I want to give up, but that little knock back can take away my energy to continue.

In the face of that setback, I’ve lost the ability to see the situation rationally. Even with as much work as I do on myself, I KNOW that setbacks occur and that I can’t control every eventuality but they still hurt. I practice regularly to build my resilience in the face of these obstacles, so that I can push forward despite any setbacks that may steer me away from my goals and dreams.

Things that help me with this that you might find useful:

  • Expect the unexpected - remind yourself that setbacks occur all the time, they are part of life and are not aimed at you personally. When you start to expect them, you find they don’t affect you as strongly.

  • Don’t dwell for too long - allow yourself to feel, but not for long. I let myself feel disappointed or hurt, but not for days on end.

  • Understand your feelings - tune into yourself to understand what you’re feeling about the setback. Turn this into a positive drive to help you move forward. Feelings of disappointment, pain, or frustration show me that I really want something - this helps me to maintain positive and motivates me to progress forward.

  • Learn from every experience - when you accept that all setbacks are learning experiences, you start to see them in a positive light. You see them for what they are (disconnect from any personal connection), can take the learnings, improve and go forth.

  • Write notes - once you’ve dealt with your emotions, note down what has actually happened. The facts. What went well, what could have been better, what would you do differently if you were in this situation again? You can then plan your next move with ease.

  • Be kind - watch out for the language you use towards yourself. Negative talk, berating yourself and cycles of self-doubt are not helpful in this (or any) situation. When you find yourself talking this way, try to catch yourself and turn the words into kindness. This comes with awareness and practice. Remember to look at all that you have achieved, your efforts and hard work.

We will all experience setbacks - even with military planning. Remaining resilient during these times, helps us keep moving forward. So if you’re experiencing a bit of an unexpected obstacle or are not progressing at the speed you had hoped - try these tips. We’re nearing towards the end of January when people with resolutions and new year goals can stumble and decide not to continue for the rest of the year. This doesn’t need to be the case. Keep going. Accept the setback and use it to help you move forward. I’d love to hear what works for you when facing setbacks.

Gemma Brown Coaching, Cambridge
Gemma Brown Coaching

Gemma Brown is a certified coach working with people to navigate successfully through transitions - be it career, relationships or life in general. Her belief is that when we confidently bring our whole selves to all areas of life, anything is possible. Transitions exist in both our personal and business life, and so often, the two fiercely overlap. Coaching with Gemma focuses on you as a whole, enabling you to identify your strengths, build confidence and to live a life with increased purpose and direction. Gemma is based in Cambridgeshire and carries out face to face coaching in the area as well as 1-2-1 coaching via Skype and Zoom. For more about Gemma, visit her 'About' page or contact her directly.

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