Dealing with Setbacks

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We show our true colors when things don’t go as planned. It’s easy to be kind, confident and happy when everything goes our way, but not so much when we encounter that unavoidable road block.

If you have a pulse, you’re going to hit road blocks. So how do you prepare yourself to deal with failures and letdowns with grace and character?

1.  TAKE A STEP BACK.

Think of all the times in your life when you thought it was the end of the world. How often did that turn out to be true? I’m guessing never, since the world is clearly still here. It’s easy to get trapped in doomsday thinking when you run into a real problem. The truth is, it’s almost never as bad as you think it is at that given moment. When you learn to reinforce this while you’re brain is in crisis mode, you’ll be able to take a step back and see the situation more clearly.

2. DON’T GIVE UP.

The self-destructive voice in your head I like to call your saboteur will take every stumble as a chance to encourage you to throw in the towel. Don’t listen!

It takes thousands of hours of work to reach success and mastery, and nobody gets it the first time around. Be patient with yourself, and keep plugging away.

3. REACH OUT.

Letdowns, failures, and detours can be embarrassing. The last thing you may feel like doing is going to someone else for help and support. But just remember, there’s no shame in failure, only shame in not trying in the first place. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how happy your friends and family will be to get behind you. You need only be humble and honest about your situation.

4. REVISE YOUR PLAN OF ATTACK.

If you’re constantly failing at the same task or project, there’s a good chance you need to change your plan altogether. The definition of insanity, after all, is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. Take hiccups as a chance to reassess your strategy. What’s not working? Why? How can you make it work? You may need to rein in your goals a bit, and this is okay. It’s better to make incremental steps forward than to have grand plans that you’re unable to reach.

Take comfort in the fact that setbacks are part of the process, and keep plugging away!

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Margaret B. Smith is the founder of UXL (www.youexcelnow.com), a career coaching and leadership consulting firm specializing in personal and professional development.  She spent many years in corporate business leadership positions, works with several non-profit organizations, and teaches at a local university.  This past year, she published The Ten-Minute Leadership Challenge, an instructive and interactive book meant to help aspiring leaders develop their unique skill set and become the confident business professionals they know they can be. It is available for purchase at Amazon.com

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