Lucas Brenner » Articles » How to Turn Setbacks into Thrust

Sooner or later, we will all have to deal with setbacks, no matter how hard we try. Difficulties and mistakes are part of life. That's why we should accept them and try to make the best of them.

In this article, I write about how I personally deal with setbacks and what you can do to make this experience as positive as possible.

See Setbacks as Opportunities

The first instinct when facing a challenge is to despair and mentally list every bad aspect of the situation. This is quite normal, as the human brain is designed to identify potential problems (and therefore survival risks).

However, nowadays it is better not to stress too much because of a setback. Therefore, you should replace emotional thinking with rationality as best as possible. After the first, mostly involuntary emotional reaction, rational thinking should kick in.

The setbacks that happen to you are actually opportunities. All problems, challenges and difficulties are opportunities to improve your and your work. Without setbacks, we would not be capable of peak performance.

It is only by being confronted with setbacks that we learn who we are and how we work best. It does not matter in which area of life you are set back, because we can learn everywhere.

Learning for the Future

To ensure that the setback was not “in vain,” we should learn as much as we can from it. If we encounter a problem at work and have to work overtime to solve it, we should find the root of the difficulty and either solve it for good or establish systems to minimize problems in the future. The same is true in our personal lives.

To reflect on the lessons of a setback, a diary routine is suitable. In your diary, you can openly write down what went well and what went poorly. You should regularly read the lessons derived from it, so that they remain in your memory.

However, you should not put yourself down because of your mistakes. It is perfectly normal for some mistakes to seem stupid or avoidable in retrospect. But that's usually because you know more today than you did yesterday. If you have learned from a mistake, that misstep has served its purpose and you can safely forget about it (but not the lesson learned, of course!).

Do Not Be Distracted

You shouldn't let your setbacks distract you and make you dissatisfied with yourself. It is human to be thrown back and have to start all over again.

You can't do more than learn from your mistakes. No one is perfect or can undo their mistakes. In order to live a positive and happy life, you have to let go and accept your mistakes.

The steps presented here cannot be checked off once and for all, but are a constant process. It is completely normal that you cannot always react purely rationally.

Nevertheless, you should try to deal with setbacks as positively as possible to ensure that you keep improving.