Dealing with setbacks

One topic I’ve been thinking about lately is how to best deal with setbacks. When something you’ve worked hard for falls through it can be difficult not to let disappointment and frustration take over.

For the past year or two I’ve worked at switching gears in my career to something I love, and I have dealt with several setbacks. Though these challenges have been disheartening, I feel like they have helped me learn how to deal with disappointment and have made me more resilient. There are a few techniques I’ve used to deal emotionally with the frustration from experiencing a setback.

One thing I have always admired about my dad is his ability to stay positive no matter what the circumstances. I can’t even count the times he’s said, “let yourself dwell, but not too long.” When I’m feeling really down about something that has fallen through, I try to set a time limit on how long I’m allowed to dwell on it. This might sound silly, but it’s really helpful because a) I don’t feel bad for dwelling or feeling sad during my allotted time and b) I have a mental time set by which I need to put my disappointment behind me.

Another thing I try to do when feeling really down about a setback is use my frustration to come up with ideas on either another way to attain that goal or reframing the goal into something new. I used to stick to my goals doggedly and then get very discouraged when my chosen path didn’t lead directly to attaining that goal. Now, I’m more flexible in choosing another path or changing my ideas on what I want to achieve.

Finally, I try to stay in the moment and not pin my happiness on a future achievement (i.e. when I have X career, I’ll finally be happy). I’m typically a pretty happy, in the moment person from day-to-day but maintaining this mindset is infinitely more challenging when facing a discouraging setback. When this happens, I try to focus on the things in my life that are great right now.

What techniques do you use to deal with setbacks?

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