There are many times in life when we think things are tracking positively and progressing in the right direction and then BOOM, we experience minor or major setbacks, disappointment, change and uncertainty. Let’s look at dealing with setbacks …
The hope for this article is to help you manage set-backs in life, whether that be not achieving a goal you set out to achieve, like a job promotion, buying your dream home by a certain age, fitness goals, setting up a lucrative business for example, or set-backs as a result of something as wide-spread as the Covid-19 Pandemic. We will also reinforce some of the essential self-care strategies you can adopt in your day-to-day life, with a heavier emphasis on self-care during a pandemic.
In life, we might set goals for ourselves, in fact as the great Professor Jordan Peterson once said, “there is very little positive emotion without progression towards a goal”. Goals provide meaning and purpose in our lives; without meaning and purpose, life can be pretty darn miserable – “He/She who has a why to live can bear almost any how” (Nietzche).
Sometimes the process of progressing towards a goal goes really smoothly, but more often than not you will encounter significant challenges or obstacles along the way – demons (metaphorically speaking) will try their best to throw you off course.
How many times have you worked really hard to achieve a personal goal only to find yourself feeling defeated, hopeless, helpless, worthless because your plan got derailed following a significant set-back (that demon got the better of you)? I have no doubt the answer for ALL of you reading this is MANY, MANY times. How have you personally dealt with set-backs in the past? Some of you have probably managed things relatively well, some of you may have managed things poorly, some of you may have even experienced significant deterioration in your mental health as a result of your set-back.
Here are some strategies to help you manage a personal set-back and get back on track towards achieving your goal/s (some of these strategies might appear a little abstract when considered in relation to COVID-19), some might not even appear relevant, but try your best to apply them to your current circumstances. Following these strategies, I will dispense highly relevant self-care strategies to help you during a pandemic, so hear me out.
Set-backs go hand-in-hand with trying something challenging. Set-backs are almost certainly unavoidable, so it is important to expect them at some point in time and then accept them when they come along.
In a strange way, set-backs can be viewed as a positive thing – it means you are trying something difficult; you are extending yourself. Embrace your set-backs knowing that you’re striving to become a better version of yourself or achieve something that you truly value. Also realise that less than 20 percent of people successfully achieve their goal the first time around.
In relation to COVID-19, feeling stressed is an understandable response to something that is quite simply outside of your control. Expect to feel stressed and a little overwhelmed at times and accept it, knowing that you’re certainly not alone and that others share your feelings. When you check in with your family, mates, colleagues, speak openly with them about how you’re feeling and take note of how they are feeling too – it is highly probable that you are both in the same or a very similar boat.
Allow yourself time to experience disappointment
It’s a natural thing to feel disappointed if you weren’t hired for your dream job for example. Allow yourself time to acknowledge your feelings of disappointment, but don’t dwell too long on this feeling and certainly don’t throw the towel in. Try your best to redirect this emotional energy towards progress.
So, you didn’t get your dream job, accept this, reflect on where you may be able to improve next time and as quickly as you can move on to “now what am I going to do to put myself in a better position to get that dream job in the future”. “He/she who endures, conquers”.
Think tomorrow, not next month or next year
A sudden change can no doubt be difficult to work through. When you have too many things running through your mind, too many decisions to make, too much information to digest it can be overwhelming and feeling overwhelmed often leads to lack of action or stagnation because doing nothing seems easier in the moment than making big decisions.
Instead, ask yourself, “What can I do tomorrow to make progress”. Also remind yourself that in most instances, set-backs won’t last forever. Sure, it is still important to have a long-term vision or direction, but achieving small things on a day-to-day basis eventually leads to significant achievement. “How do you eat an elephant? One small bite at a time!” (please don’t take that literally, elephants are quickly becoming an endangered species).
With respect to COVID-19, try to dispel thoughts of “When is this going to end”, “What if this lasts forever” and focus on a daily or weekly routine – this is explored further in the self-care section below.
Call for help
This is certainly covered in more detail in the self-care section below, but the quickest way to get back on track is to call someone you trust and ask for help. Forget your pride and openly admit that you are having some difficulties. “You cannot heal what you don’t reveal”.
Ask for immediate assistance, whether you consider the issue to be small, medium or large. With help from a trusted ally, get back into a safe, secure environment where the risk of further difficulties is contained.
“If at first you don’t succeed (first you don’t succeed), dust yourself off and try again, you can dust yourself off and try again, try again”
– Aaliyah, “Try Again”
Article By: Luke Foster, Psychologist
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ARTICLE COURTESY OF LIVIN