Without throwing all my optimism out the window, it’s a sure thing that setbacks are going to come up from time to time in our lives. But for an ambitious woman like you, I know setbacks are far from welcomed.
Stick with me while I share a little something I’ve learnt about setbacks.
They come into our lives to help us reassess where we’re at. Setbacks can come in many forms – a job loss, a pay cut, a plain and simple ‘no’ that puts a dent in our dreams, or even a self-imposed setback, like not being able to get rid of the ‘I’m not good enough’ mental block that stops us from moving forward.
For me, setbacks hit me hard. I’m talking about a particular type of setback: the setback that you can’t control. The one that is so far out of your realm of ownership and power that you literally can’t do anything to change it. The setback that shakes you at your core and then hits you again a second time when you realise that you can’t fix it.
But this is where a setback is one of the most useful things to happen to you… when you realise that you can control how you respond to it. Are you going to wallow for a week or are you going to do something about it?
You see, this is where the magic happens. In that beautiful moment that you surrender to the setback (i.e. it’s happened, I can’t control it) is that clear, calm space of serenity where you start to hear another voice: the voice of reason. It’s in this moment that you take back your power in how you respond. Will you let this setback destroy your dreams? Or will it make you more determined to reach your goals?
When I’m hit hard I use these four steps as the tools to move myself forward.
1. Allow yourself to feel it fully.
Sometimes dealing with a setback can be like dealing with grief. At first you might be shocked, in denial, or the reality might not have fully set in.
I know that I personally really feel the anger. Questions come flooding in like, Why did this happen to me? What did I do to deserve this? Why am I being served this when I’m working hard and doing everything right?
Journaling is a great tool to allow your thoughts to come out and really express everything that you’re feeling. And when I say journaling I’m talking about writing whatever comes into your head, even if it is in non-descript sentences that wouldn’t make sense to anyone else except you. Sometimes I like to do it on paper and other times I find smashing my laptop keys really effective (the latter certainly helps during the anger phase). Do whatever works best for you.
2. Then, let it go.
This is the time for surrender, surrender, surrender.
I freaking love this quote from Marianne Williamson’s book The Law of Divine Compensation (an incredible must-read by the way) that says:
“This simple shift in how we think can make all the difference in what happens next. How we think releases an infinite number of possibilities that could not have occurred had we not believed they were possible.”
The power of the mind…this is the point where you need to let go, and know that the universe has a greater plan for you, if you are open to it.
3. Move forward.
Now’s the time to embrace what’s next. Did the big fat ‘no’ you received from a potential employer spark off a list of other ideas for your next career move? Did the massive expense that you didn’t expect force you to sit down and really assess your finances?
Listen to what the setback is telling you. Trust the process and do the work that is needed to get yourself back on track…or on an entirely new track!
4. Make peace with the process.
So how long does this process take? It’s going to depend on how big the setback is and how it affects you, and it’s fair to say that’s different for every person. You might work through said process in a day, a week, or a month. Allow yourself the time you need to grow and learn. There is no right or wrong answer as to how long that might take.
I’d love to hear how you deal when life doesn’t go according to plan. What setback have you moved through lately? How did it play out for you?
Thank you for being here.