Recover from setbacks
How good are you at recovering from setbacks?
And why is it that some people recover from setbacks very quickly - or so they'll have you believe. Where as other people take days, weeks or even months to recover?
What about you? Where are you on the scale of "getting over things" when things don't go as you expected?
The reason for this question is to get you to think about how you can make yourself more "resilient" to setbacks so that you can get more important things done and recover quicker when things don't do to plan.
Because setbacks are an inevitable part of life. Things go wrong - they just do. And sometimes people promise you something and then don't keep to their word.
How do setbacks make you feel?
Do you say "Oh well never mind - let's go for plan B?" Or do you get upset and sulk for hours or days?
You have to learn to not take setbacks to heart - or what seems like a minor setback or disappointment can prevent you from ever achieving the success you desire.
Learning new things - and not quitting over setbacks
When you're learning something new it always starts off exciting - but then the setbacks inevitably come along. It's then that you need your mental strength to keep you going.
Setbacks are pretty inevitable when you're learning something new because - well because you're in new territory - so not surprisingly you don't know what you're doing - because you haven't done it before.
Now you might think that it's just you who's struggling - but that's probably only in your head.
Everyone has setbacks to some extent - though some people are better at hiding their struggles and pretending they're doing just fine - when actually they're not.
Have you ever been in this situation?
Have you ever been in the situation where you've been listening to a presentation and the speaker asks if anyone has any questions? You have a question relating to something you really didn't understand, but it seems everyone else has understood because no hands are going up.
You "pluck up the courage" and ask your question. But you now imagine that everyone is laughing at you and thinks you're totally dumb to ask such a stupid question.
Then one by one everyone joins in. Because actually nobody understood - and now they're really glad you asked. But only you had the foresight to ask - which gave everyone else the confidence to join in.
Your perception that everyone would find you dumb was totally false - In reality your brain made up this story which was never even close to being true - except inside your head.
Crazy that isn't it? How human beings would rather not know something important than risk feeling a little silly.
I mean just imagine a world where absolutely everything was super easy for everyone to do? Imagine if walking a tightrope over Niagara Falls was easy. Or what about if flying a jumbo jet was super simple. Imagine if ski jumping was as easy as strapping 2 planks on your feet and taking off.
Life just isn't like that though. It's a lot more difficult.
It's the important things that set us back the most
Usually it's the things that are most important that people actually avoid doing the most - why?
Because never even trying to do something appears a better option than trying and failing.
What this means is that people don't want to "risk" something not working. Because then they'll have failed and their dream will be over. So they avoid ever finding out whether it will work or not. Because they perceive that not knowing is a better option than trying but failing.
Sounds crazy that the most important things we need to do are "avoided / stalled / postponed for another day". All because they summon up feelings of abject terror inside us. Our fear of failure takes over our minds.
Us humans have been programmed over millions of years to avoid scary situations. Cave men had lots of problems that we just don't have any more. But nobody remembered to tell our minds that the scary stuff has gone away.
So our minds actually encourage us to avoid anything scary. Even if the scary thing is super important to get done and if successful can change our lives - AVOID AVOID - just in case.
How many times have you had something really, really, really important to do - quite often something that could prove life-changing? But you come up with every excuse under the sun to avoid doing it - why?
Because you're afraid that if you try - and fail - then you'll feel really bad about yourself.
So you avoid doing the important things by instead doing ultra menial tasks to make yourself seem busy. Such as making yet another cup of tea, whatsapping your friends for the hundredth time or painting your nails.
Persistence is the key to your success
Persistence is the real key to your success. Persistence or perseverance or just plain old not giving up is more important than talent. Because absolutely anyone can do absolutely anything they set their mind to do so long as they go at it for long enough.
It might take you longer than somebody else - but so what? Who's counting?
So how persistent are you? I mean when things go wrong - what do you do? Do you give up? Or are you like "a dog with a bone" and keep going until successful.
I believe that being persistent is THE KEY INGREDIENT to allow you to overcome the inevitable setbacks that everyone faces. If something isn't working then go find a different way around the problem and keep going.
It's a sad fact that most people aren't persistent and give up relatively easily. They quit at the first sign of any problem and go and do something else instead.
So they keep moving from one "favourite thing" to another - and often bail out just at the point where they're close to achieving success. It's as if their minds sabotage their success - AVOID AVOID - just in case.
So if you can learn to be persistent and keep going. Even when it's becoming uncomfortable for you and your survival system is encouraging you to give in (and release you from the uncomfortable feelings) - you'll become a BIG success.
95% of people will give up. Learn to be among the 5%.
What about these people? Persistent or quitters?
Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Richard Branson in business.
Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Cristiano Ronaldo in sport.
Florence Nightingale, Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela in world history.
These are of course some of the more famous people that we all know about. But there's thousands of anonymous others who are equally successful.
Do you think these guys were persistent? Or do you think they quit as soon as things started to get uncomfortable?
I'd certainly never think of these people as "lucky". I wouldn't say they got where they are due to random lucky events.
Lottery winners are lucky and the popular press would have us believe that the way to success and happiness is to "win the lottery".
It could happen, but probably won't. So be persistent - because everyone can choose persistence and it means that you're in control of your own life.
Learn to ignore the feelings of pain
Your feelings of pain are simply not real. Your mind is tricking you because it wants you to give up. It wants you to give up because it likes the old you who's not looking to take risks by trying new things.
For the avoidance of doubt - we're not talking about any sort of physical pain here. We're talking about that "churning feeling in the bottom of your stomach" when you're attempting to do something new. An example might be public speaking for the first time or parachuting out of a plane.
So if you can start to see the uncomfortable feelings as nothing more than some "left over legacy from when we were cavemen" then you can start to ignore the pain or at least understand why it's there and keep on going.
Most people will give in to this pain. They'll quit. Or use alcohol or something stronger to make it temporarily go away.
And so if you can learn to ignore this pain - you will become one of a small minority of people who can push through the pain and achieve the things in life that you strive for.
Back to the original question - how are you with setbacks?
If setbacks are inevitable then you can learn to recover quickly from them. Because if you don't then these setbacks can derail you from ever completing anything important and make you quit too easily.
You'll keep bouncing from "the next big idea" to the next and to the next - just because eventually everything worth doing gets hard.
It's one thing to quit because you've now realised that the thing you thought you wanted - you actually don't want any more. In fact I'd positively encourage you to quit under these circumstances and not keep going with something you've now realised you don't actually want.
However if your reason for quitting is solely because it's become too difficult - then this is when you need to be resourceful and work through the current difficulty and not simply quit.
Or in your heart of hearts you'll know you didn't stop wanting to achieve the thing you were passionate about - but at the time it was just so much easier to quit.
Avoid becoming this person
Sally always wanted to learn a foreign language. She often went on holiday to Spain and thought that one day she might like to live there. So learning the language seemed a good idea 🙂
She did some research on courses in her area and selected an evening class at her local college. She bought the textbook and was super excited turning up to her first lesson.
There were 14 other eager learners in the class - and they all relived their stories of past holidays to Spain and why they were attending the class. They all agreed that they deserved a big pat on the back for doing something new instead of watching Coronation Street on a murky night in January.
Lesson 1 was pretty easy and all Sally's "new best friends" were also finding it OK. "Hola means Hello in Spanish. Right got that - this seems pretty easy!"
However by week 6 the class was down to 9 people and Sally's enthusiasm was waning a bit. She was desperately trying to remember how to count to 20 in Spanish and the teacher was also expecting her to translate around 100 words such as potato and menu and window etc. "This is getting harder" she muttered to her classmates. Several of them nodded in agreement.
By week 12 the class was down to 7 people. It was now becoming harder. The teacher was now expecting them all to count to 1,000 and translate around 250 words. And she was even (shock horror) giving them homework so there was no escape even at home time.
"Trying to remember all these new words isn't something I'm a natural at" Sally said to herself "so it's really not my fault I'm struggling - maybe I should quit".
By week 19 the class was down to 5. But Sally wasn't there anymore. She had given up. It had become too hard.
The 5 people left in the class eventually became 3 who all passed with flying colours and are now well on their way to speaking Spanish. Their holidays to Spain are so much better as they practice their new skills. Some have even followed their dreams and moved there.
In her heart of hearts Sally knows she quit too easily - but hey as well as not knowing Spanish Sally can also proudly boast that she can't do crochet properly and she can't quite make children's furniture.
"All these damn classes turn out to be too difficult" she told herself. "So of course not my fault".
"Key Learning Points"