You have a goal.
Lose weight. Complete a triathlon. Run a 5k. Finish a huge project at work. See wood underneath the piles of papers on your desk. Start talking calming and quit yelling at your kids.
You outlined the steps to achieve your goal. Track calories and increase exercise. Follow your training plan. Stick to a time management program. Start an organizing system for your paperwork. Pray each morning and take deep breaths when you get upset.
You work the plan and see the beginnings of success. You are almost to your goal.
Then — a setback happens. A weight loss plateau or weight gain. Injury. Old time-wasting habits creep back in at work. Paperwork pile-ups suddenly appear out of nowhere. Your kids fight and you yell.
What do you do when setbacks happen?
I’ve achieved a number of goals in my life. I’ve lost 100 pounds. I’ve finished running and biking races and triathlons. I’ve raised children (and lived to tell about, and so have they). In the midst of all of these events, I’ve gotten stuck when set-backs happened.
Setbacks: 3 Steps to Take to Get Back on Track
If you are in the middle of a tough set-back, no matter the goal, here are 3 steps to take to get back on track quickly.
1. Plan for setbacks before you begin. This is different from glass half-empty negative thinking. This isn’t saying, “This goal won’t happen.” This is saying, “This goal WILL happen, but I’ll be realistic that I’m human and setbacks are bound to occur along the way. How will I handle them when they do?” Next time you set a goal, make a plan for setbacks from the get-go.
What if you are in the middle of a setback right now? You can’t go back and plan. Recognize this setback is a detour, but it’s one more step in the process of getting to where you want to go. Every experience goes into your what-works-and-what-doesn’t toolbox.
2. Re-assess your goal. Check in with your goal. Is the goal realistic? Is the time frame realistic? I spend time praying to ask God if this is the direction He wants me to go. Picture yourself having completed the goal. How is your life different? After I lost 100 lbs, I spent about 2 years quite unsatisfied because I was still a little bit overweight. I felt I had accomplished so much only to have those last 20 lbs just at the edge of my fingertips. Finally, I did lose the last 20 lbs once, only to maintain it for about one month. Maintaining that weight was unrealistic for me. I’m much more content now that I have reassessed my goal.
3. Work smarter, not harder. If you assess and decide your goal is the right one for you, the next step is to find ways you will work smarter instead of harder. When I first started endurance exercise, I spent a lot of time injured. A wise person told me, “Injury is opportunity.” I didn’t want to hear it at the time, but the truth is I spent most of my time overtraining. I needed to train less not more. If you are constantly injured, your body is trying to tell you something. If you continue to yell at your kids on a regular basis despite attempts to stop, something in your life is out of balance. Pray for God’s guidance. How you can work smarter? What can you learn from this situation?
What do you do when setbacks happen? What is some of the best advice you have received for when setbacks occur?
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