Perfection is impossible. In work, in relationships, in life, and in whatever else you pursue, there are simply too many obstacles on the path to success. Somewhere along the line, something will not go the way you planned it.
The key to success is to see these moments as a setback, not a failure. Almost everyone you consider successful has had a setback at some point. Most people have setbacks regularly. By cultivating your resilience, you can turn your mistakes into valuable lessons that promote your future growth and overall success.
Anticipating Setbacks and Using Them as Opportunities
Moving forward in life requires regularly trying new things, pursuing new interests and skills, meeting new people, and accumulating experiences. Successful people know that each thing you try has a risk of failing. They acknowledge that setbacks are going to happen at some point.
From there, they can use a range of strategies to minimize the negative impact of a setback and achieve quick post-setback growth. These strategies include:
- Embrace Feeling Uncomfortable – Part of anticipating setbacks is not obsessively worrying about future mistakes. Fear can often hold people back as they try to prevent mistakes, but also end up preventing growth. When you accept that a little fear is natural, you can push past it.
- Admit When a Mistake Happens – A mistake will often feel like a failure, and many people have an instinct to shy away from that by ignoring the mistake or taking desperate measures to fix it. But when you admit to yourself and others that a mistake has been made, you can begin to learn from it and get the help you need to correct it.
- Allow Disappointment – It is alright to feel upset after a setback, but set a limit on how long you will allow an emotional response. When the time limit is up, you need to redirect the emotional energy into an actionable plan.
- Reflect on Mistakes – A mistake is a learning experience only if you gain the insight you need to not make the same mistake again. Take some time after the setback to consider where things went wrong and what might work better next time.
- Think Small – If you are focused on the big picture and end goal, a setback can seem enormous. Instead, view your mistakes in the context of smaller goals. This helps you recognize that the overall progress is still in place, but you need to change how you approach this one step.
- Manage Your Thinking – To avoid letting setbacks cause self-doubt and harmful thought processes, monitor the way you talk about your setbacks to yourself. Even in your mind, name them as opportunities.
Interpreting setbacks as opportunities is usually not a simple switch in your way of thinking. For most people, it is a skill that requires learning and practice to perfect – or at least to get right most of the time. But with each setback in your life, you have another chance to learn and grow your resilience.