Dealing with Setbacks and Bouncing Back

If there was ever a year that turned everything upside down, it’s 2020. Not only has there been a stop to ‘normal’ life, but job markets, stock markets and businesses all took a hit. What started off as a good start to a New Year and new decade came to a grinding halt. “This was the year I was going to push ahead with my long-term goals” and “this was my new start” is something I’ve often heard over this year. Unfortunately, COVID-19 didn’t care and created a setback for many individuals, businesses, industries and economies. It’s both understandable and acceptable if after everything, this year has left you feeling frustrated, tired and exhausted – after all we’re all only human and with so much change it would always be an emotional journey.

Every day this year it seems like we’ve had to adapt to do something new, and it could be argued that it’s forced us to be more ‘present’ than we’ve ever been, along with making us face up to change- something most people feel uncomfortable with. Whilst it might feel frustrating and upsetting to have experienced a setback, it’s important that we’re able to deal with these setbacks and bounce back.

Acceptance is Key

The first thing to dealing with a setback is to accept it has happened. By acceptance this doesn’t mean to say that you can’t be annoyed by it, but we must all understand there’s not much that can be done by you or anyone else to change what has happened this year. It’s important to recognise that even with our best efforts, we can’t always plan for everything and life isn’t perfect – COVID-19 has shown that. However, what we can do is do our best to adapt and consider what we can do both now and in the future, to get back on track.

Acceptance also means understanding your emotions and feeling them in the moment. This is far better than suppressing them or putting on a brave face, as sooner or later they will come out. But at the same it’s equally important not to stay stuck with these feelings and live with them in your mind constantly; you’ll find that if you do this over time it moves away from being a feeling to becoming a personality trait, which is not something you want.

Reframe the experience

The other way to deal with a setback and bounce back is to reconsider and reframe what the experience has meant for you. Whilst 2020 may have put on hold certain personal or professional goals, in other ways it’s created more opportunities to spend time with those closest to us, along with providing a break. For some of you this could have been the first break you’ve had in your career and with the majority of our lives spent studying and then working this could well have been the time off that you needed to focus on another area of your life. It important to understand that in life there will be stops and starts, however it’s how you see that time that can truly define what it means to you.

Having some time to pause may not only give you the opportunity to learn more about what you want from your life, learn something new or reconsider the track you’re on, but it could also be the pivotal point to taking a completely different direction if you learn you’re not living a life that completely serves you or works to your values. If this is the case don’t be afraid to start over or transition, especially if you know you will be happier doing something else. You will be surprised how something you thought you would really like a year or two ago might be something you don’t want to do in the future.

Focus on What You Can Control

A key way to deal with any setback is to focus on what you can control. Whilst the things that have gone wrong in your life, career or work this year can flood your mind, thinking about these things will not only drain you but also take away the power you have. Instead look at what you can do and surround yourself with positivity, whether this is your support group or listening to success stories; not only can you learn from how others have dealt with unexpected challenges, but you’ll also see even the most successful people have faced their fair share of setbacks.

Re-ignite Your Passion

When feeling particularly low about setbacks, instead focus on re-igniting your passion for your life, career, or business. Think about all the things you were enjoying and loved about your business, career or life before COVID struck. What were you looking forward to that you can still make happen in the future?

As with anything, whilst the end goal is important the journey to getting what you want is equally as important. So take this year as a learning experience, one that stretched and grew you in ways that you didn’t plan. Even with the most crippling of setbacks its possible for life to make a 180 degree turn with time, effort and the right mindset.

It’s important as part of bouncing back you keep pushing and adjusting, even if it feels uncomfortable. If there’s one thing that has become apparent this year it’s that we’re a lot more resilient than we would ever have thought. Keep this in mind and instead of staying stuck, use the negative feelings to take steps each day that will create change. If you keep showing up and paying attention to your goals, that focus and effort will result in you being in a better position in the future. After all, the best way to prepare for whatever the future may hold is to do everything to the best of your ability today and to learn from experiences, so that you can minimise any unexpected and sudden changes in the future. Remember you, and you alone, are responsible for your life.