Doug Dvorak's Blog

10 Ways to Come Out on Top After a Major Setback

As is the case with everyday life, there are always unforseen setbacks in the world of business. They are an ever-present part of the human condition but in either scenario, it is how you overcome these hurdles that really matters.


After a setback, many people allow themselves to feel unmotivated, disappointed or even angry which usually only makes the problem bigger than it was in the first place.


According to some of the top motivational speakers in the United States, you should never allow setbacks to derail your life or your business. They routinely outline the following 10 steps as the best way to survive and thrive through these situations:


1. Expect setbacks


Setbacks are a part of the journey especially when you are reaching for something bigger and better. When you encounter one – and you will – it is critical you take it in stride and avoid falling prey to thoughts of Why Me?


2. Learn from your mistakes


It’s a fact of life that many of the setbacks we run into are self-inflicted. A critical first step is to acknowledge your role in the setback so you can overcome it more quickly and hopefully, avoid making the same misstep in the future.


3. Give yourself time


Overcoming setbacks and coming out stronger on the other side requires patience and time. Knee-jerk reactions and quick fixes often make the situation worse; at best, they will cause it to drag on longer than necessary. Allow your problems to be resolved in their own time by remaining patient and not dwelling on them in a negative way.


4. Limit your disappointment


According to many industry-leading motivational speakers, you should not allow yourself to languish in an extended period of disappointment after a major letdown. While it is perfectly normal (and healthy) to feel a little down, you need to put a time limit on how long you allow yourself to feel that way. As quickly as possible, you need to start thinking of ways to correct course and get back on track.


5. Manage your self-talk


Setbacks and disappointments can make you feel worthless and create self-doubt. But, if you manage your thoughts and stay focused on what can you improve, you will feel better about yourself, the situation and what’s in store for you down the road. Focus on the future and what you can do to engineer a comeback. Be sure to give yourself plenty of credit for all the other things you do and don’t let your inner voice focus on the one thing that went wrong.


6. Collect information


A good first step on the road to recovery is to take a thorough inventory of the events that resulted in the setback and write them down. It is important you write down everything that worked as well as everything that didn’t without getting emotional about it. Stick to the facts and you’ll do a better job of identifying any mistakes that you need to avoid repeating.


7. Find a way to prosper


Ask any top motivational speaker and they will tell you successful people always find a way to get better regardless of the outcome of any specific situation. As Nelson Mandela once famously said: ‘I never lose. I either win or I learn.’ In many case, trying a new approach or taking a risk is the best solution to whatever roadblock you’ve run into. Flexibility and open-mindedness are also important attributes during challenging times. Instead of focusing on what you can’t do, focus on how you can use your existing strengths to their best advantage.


8. Reach out for insight and support


You don’t have to go through failures alone. Connect with trusted advisors like a mentor, a coach or a contemporary that you respect to talk through your issues and receive a fresh injection of ideas. Oftentimes, these people have been through something similar and know what it takes to get through them. Use their experiences as a source of motivation and inspiration so you can keep your spirits up as you soldier on.


9. Create lessons for the future


Failures can be extremely valuable indicators of future success as long as you handle them the right way (think Nelson Mandela). When making decisions about your future, use your new, hard-won experience to anticipate possible problems and plan how to avoid them. Take the approach that while this may have been an expensive lesson, it was a valuable one that has made you stronger.


10. Take action


At the risk of over-simplifying, none of these steps will work if you don’t actually use them. That first step is often the hardest but it is one you have to take if you want to get anywhere. Start by taking out a notepad and a pen or by opening a Word doc on your computer. Even if you don’t write anything down on Day One, leave it where you can see it as a reminder that no-one’s going to pick you up by your bootstraps but you. Eventually (hopefully sooner rather than later), you’ll start writing and you’ll be on your way to getting back on track towards your goal.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Natasa Tomic is a journalist and content producer who specializes in writing about business and sales.


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