accepting setbacks

Working toward a new goal can be extremely stressful. We strive for perfectionism and, yet, we falter and backslide and end up feeling like quitting. We may even feel tempted to go to the extreme in the opposite direction of the original goal. Accepting setbacks is an essential part of making resolutions. You’re more likely to succeed if you plan for them. Read on for some tips to help you prepare.

1. Reflect. What triggered the setback? Was it stress or were you influenced by those around you? Sometimes, we give in because we’re angry and somehow believe we are hurting the person we’re angry with by sabotaging our own efforts toward improvement. It’s important to identify the root cause and learn from it. Learning from mistakes helps one feel slightly less like a failure.

2. Accept. Accepting setbacks as part of any goal (or just life in general) is essential to overcoming challenges. We are not superhuman, so it’s inevitable that we will encounter obstacles along the journey. Realize that you are not the first or last to experience this and things rarely go as planned.

3. Track. Make note of strategies that have helped you to get back on track in the past. Being proactive and preparing for the worst can prevent a complete derailment down the road. Keep a journal or have some go-to quotes or self-pep talks on hand to offer some positivity and a clear mind. Taking a hot bath can also hit the reset button.

accepting setbacks

4. Seek inspiration. It’s important to remember those throughout history that, because they refused to allow challenges to stop them, rewrote the future for so many. Civil rights leaders immediately come to mind and, while your goal may not hold that level of significance, using them for inspiration can help power you through.

5. Seek support. Enlisting the support of an accountability partner can be the extra push you need. This is not simply to keep you from making mistakes, but to help you recover when you do. We all need someone to remind us “I’ve been there, too.” There’s nothing encouraging about feeling alone in your situation. Depending on the goal/resolution you are working toward, programs sometimes offer coaching, which can serve a similar purpose. Support doesn’t end there, however. This can also be a great time to implement therapy as part of your self-care routine. Therapists don’t simply help you through struggles. They can also help you identify and remove barriers to improving your quality of life. 

6. Don’t procrastinate. Get back on the wagon as quickly as possible. I am the worst for saying “I will start back on Monday.” So much pressure gets put on Monday that we often set ourselves up for failure. Remember, it doesn’t have to be a new year or a new week for a new start. There’s no time like the present.

It’s great to have goals and resolutions, but if you find yours results in stress rather than motivation, try aiming lower and start with something small, like decreasing your waste or managing your time more efficiently. A goal should inspire, not exhaust, and accepting setbacks ensures this. It also doesn’t have to be grand. Small changes often make the greatest impact.