Dealing With Setbacks

Inevitably when you start setting stretch goals, when you embark on doing new projects or try to move your business goals forward, setbacks are going to happen. That’s a fact we have to accept. A setback is not the end of your story. If you look at them as a failure, our distorted view means we’re looking at them worse than it is.

Setbacks are to be expected

So you might have guessed it. The first rule of dealing with setbacks is to expect them. That is in life and in business, they’re part of the territory.

Just as you’re just getting your business back on track, expect people will resign.

Just as you’re edging closer to your monthly revenue targets, expect that clients will cancel their contracts.

Just as you’ve landed a huge contract, expect that there will be a container ship jamming up the Suez Canal.

Just as you’re about to pull off your best quarter ever, expect that the following quarter may bring an earthquake, a pandemic.

To expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect

Oscar Wilde

Acknowledge the setback, then move forward

A long time ago when I worked with a psychologist, one of the things I learned from him was rule number 2 of setback club. Allow yourself to acknowledge your emotions. Whether it’s frustration, anger, disappointment, feeling let down, allow yourself that moment. But let it only be a moment.

Hit the weights down the gym, go on that rollercoaster so you can scream your lungs out, smash that plate. Do what you need to do and don’t dwell on it. It’s time to say, ok ‘what’s next?’ because if you focus on that gap or setback you’ll stay stuck and you’re not allowing your brain to do its best work which is to find a solution and a way forward.

Work through your setback with support

Next, if you want to move forward faster then get some perspective. Sit down with your coach, a mentor, a friend or someone who can be objective and thrash it out. Why? Sometimes it’s hard to break our own patterns and if you’re still stuck in the forest another voice can help you reason a way out.

This is why no matter what area of life or business you’re dealing with, the benefits of having a coach who can give you clarity and direction and unbiased support are far-reaching.

Playbook for dealing with setbacks

So here it is, my playbook for dealing with a setback for when you need to do some self-coaching.

Before you start, to remove your emotions from it, it sounds a little bit silly but talk to yourself in the third person. I don’t know if there is any scientific data to back it up but somehow if you speak to yourself like you’re speaking to someone you care about you can see the wood for the trees a little better.

1. Size it up.

Write the issue down on a single piece of paper. Write it really small and in lower case so that you’re not giving any more importance to it than you need to. Go with me, this really works and you might even find yourself laughing at the little teeny tiny problem looking so lonely and pathetic on the top of that blank white page.

See things the way they are not worse than they are

Tony Robbins

You need to be in the right state to look at this setback and size it up so you’re looking at it as it is and not worse than it is. Stand up, shake yourself about, listen to some great music. Do whatever you need to do to put yourself into a resourceful state.

2. What’s next?

Once you’ve sized up your problem in a tiny font on that blank piece of paper, now you’re going to write down a list of options. These are the steps you can take and what move you can make next. There needs to be more than two. Two things are a dilemma, three things or more gives you a choice and momentum.

The important thing here is to focus on what you can control. Don’t put anything on that list that’s out of your control, don’t do that to yourself.

3. Don’t think too far ahead.

With your list, prioritise the action steps and look at what you can do right now to make tomorrow a better day. Start right now with one thing. I am big believer that movement creates momentum and it takes one step, then another and another and before you know it you’re running right back on track.

This list, this prioritisation and your next action step is your strategy to get out of your setback.

I recently had a client who I am very proud of, his dream house came up for sale which was slightly out of budget. He used the strategy and the TAPS method in my Clients Like Clockwork® program to make $30,000 in a single day to make that dream come true.

Last week, we used this exact strategy in our Clarity & Consistency Club coaching call to help one of our lovely, wonderful members come up with 9 strategies to overcome a single obstacle in 6 minutes flat.

This stuff is powerful and if you give it a chance, what breakthroughs could you create for your life and business?

4. Watch your language.

In a lot of my coaching with clients, I have to hold up the mirror and ask if they would speak to a friend, a colleague or a family member with that language. Listen to your words and frame things in the positive, yes it takes a bit more work but don’t be a negative Nelly towards yourself. Give yourself a high five in the mirror and let’s crack on with some positive talk, do not underestimate the story you tell yourself.

Once you’re back on track and you have freed up some bandwidth to think clearly again, take a moment to understand not only the symptoms of what went wrong but the root cause. Is there anything you’ve learned, is there anything you can do better next time, is there anything you can do to mitigate such a setback in the future?

And remember, the bigger the setback the bigger come back!

If there is anything holding you back, keeping you up at night, I would love to help you. Let’s have a coffee and a chat and diagnose the root cause so we can find a way forward with my help or with any resources I can share with you.

PS. Tony Robbins talks about creating a breakthrough in any area of your life through - Strategy, Story, State and it’s well worth having a further read, here's a link.


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