Dealing with setbacks in your life and career

By Katrina Park


I was thinking about this topic as I was thinking about some of my own struggles.


When business ventures, careers, relationships, goals and dreams don’t go as we planned, it’s easy to be disappointed, frustrated, angry and a whole raft of other emotions.  But a setback doesn’t have to be the end of the story. In fact, a setback might be exactly what you need to get where you need and want to be.


We all experience setbacks. It goes hand in hand with taking risks and trying something bigger and better. Setbacks happen, so expect and accept them when they come.


There have been times when life has given me a big punch in the stomach, but you have to go on; you still have to get up, show up and front up each day.  Your responsibilities don’t stop. Life goes on, and so do you.  When you’re right in the middle of it you often wonder how you will get through it, but you do, and you will hopefully come out of it stronger and happier than ever.


“Remember that setbacks are only challenges in disguise”


What sometimes helped me get through these difficult times was when I thought about some of the amazing people I’ve met in my life who have been through unbelievably difficult circumstances and not only made it through them but found a way to turn them into something positive.


It’s also important to surround yourself with the right people to support you through these difficult times.  It can be hard to admit when you’re not in a good place personally or professionally and to then ask for help, but you must.


The different types of obstacles we face

Although setbacks, roadblocks, and defeats are all obstacles standing between where you are now and where you want to be, each one represents a different level of challenge.

The good news is, no matter which one you face–a setback, roadblock, or defeat–you don’t have to surrender. Think about how you typically respond to these different types of obstacles: What’s your normal reaction?

Do you cast blame?  Another common response to a setback, roadblock, or defeat is anger. You might feel a little frustrated or sad. And depending on the size of the consequence you face, you might also be a little (or a lot) scared about what lies ahead.

While all of these responses are normal and very understandable, these responses won’t help you get wherever it is you want and need to go. And what’s worse, they may stop you in your tracks.  Instead you need to make peace and accept the setback so it doesn’t keep you from reaching your potential. Accept it and move on.

While you can’t change what’s happened, you can choose to deal with it, and you’ll move forward when you do.


How do you move forward?

Cut yourself some slack (but don’t let go of the rope) – take some steps and actions, even small steps, to help you power through your low points. Go easy on yourself but still make sure you’re moving forward.


Manage your self-talk – setbacks and disappointment can create self-doubt. Manage your internal thoughts so you stay focussed on the future and what you can do next.  After all, a setback is a setup for a comeback.


Try to regain as much control over your situation as possible to help you avoid feeling helpless. Consider the actions you can take to help you overcome whatever obstacle is in your way.  Action is better than inaction.


When life knocks you down, get back up. And when it knocks you down again, get back up again. That’s how I’ve learned to overcome setbacks.  Embrace challenges and learn from the setbacks.