“Failure is not the end of your story, it’s the beginning of your comeback story”
The American alligator once neared extinction. By the 1950s, demand for their hides and unregulated hunting in the United States had almost wiped out the species after a millions of years on earth.
In 1967, the species received federal protection as an endangered species that couldn’t be legally hunted for years. By 1987, the government removed the animal from the endangered species list and now three decades later, alligator populations have fully recovered, “making it one of the first endangered species success stories,” according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Who doesn’t love a good comeback story?
Humans aren’t being hunted like the American alligator, but just like the alligator, we all face setbacks or unexpected challenges at some point in our lives. We can choose to allow the setback to become a permanent fixture in our lives that keep us in the place of sadness, failure, defeat—or we can ask ourselves, “What did this teach me”, and move forward.
6 steps to turn a setback into a comeback!
- Acknowledge it: Allow yourself to feel sad, worried, disappointed, upset, etc., but for a limited time; this is a dangerous place to stay for too long. Each setback you face is different (some more difficult or impactful for others) but being authentic with your emotions rather than pushing them under the rug allows you to eventually move into the forward focused mindset.
- Eliminate Blame: You can’t keep blaming other people or the world in general. Yes, it’s true that someone else might be the reason you were presented with your setback (humans in the case of the alligators), but blaming them doesn’t change the fact it happened.
- Talk to someone: I’m not suggesting you need to seek counseling every time life presents you with a setback. However, talking can help. It can be your friend, a family member or a co-worker you respect and value. Keeping things bottled up inside isn’t healthy for any of us.
- Write down what you are thankful for: We can’t change the past. What has happened has happened. Taking time to not only focus on this obstacle in your life, but write down the things in your life that you are grateful for. Writing them out so you can SEE them.
- Give yourself time: A broken body or a broken heart is not going to heal overnight. Process what you have been presented with and know it will take time to work through. The stages of grief don’t have a timeline. You will bounce around between the stages and some will take longer than others. You might even feel a setback during these stages if you have moved from Denial to Anger and then back to Remember these stages don’t have to be (and usually aren’t) linear. Take your time.
- Keep moving forward: Expect setbacks in life. If we expect them, we can learn to be adaptable and can move forward that much quicker the next time life throws us a bump in the road. Obviously, we don’t usually know when we are going to be presented with a setback, but if you are prepared to adjust to the unexpected, it can help you move forward a little quicker. Here is an activity that can help:
- What is a setback that might happen in your life or has happened?
- What are 3 feelings you might experience or are experiencing during that setback?
- What are 3 ways you have productively dealt with these feelings in the past?
- What are 3 ways you can adapt to accommodate this setback?
So, the question lies, “Are setbacks really setbacks? Perhaps they are just growth and learning opportunities?”
It sounds nice doesn’t it “I just had a huge growth opportunity today” vs., “Well crap, that was a huge setback!”
Setbacks can be as minor as a headache when you have a busy day or as impactful as a job loss or a divorce. I know, not easy to say when you are dealing with a life altering setback, but sometimes, it’s about perspective.
You might not get assistance from the United States government like alligators did, but you can come back too…and stronger than you ever imagined!
Be authentic with your feelings, express yourself, pivot where you need to and keep moving forward!
Remember, You Got This!
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