Just imagine: you’ve been smart about it all. You’ve planned, you’ve budgeted, you’ve saved… you’ve dotted every i and crossed every t. You’ve said all the right things, met all the right people, and followed the proper trajectory on your path to ultimate success…
…and suddenly you’re behind 8 ball. Beyond things coming to a halt, you now find yourself in the conception stages of whatever it is you’ve worked so hard to achieve. Maybe outside elements changed minds or directions. Maybe a miscalculation caused you to reset to zero. Maybe life happened as life does and there was no way to ever see it coming. Either way, here you are, somehow back at the starting line of your chosen journey.
Whether it’s work, friendships, relationships (even between parent and child)… a setback of that magnitude is enough to send even the most grounded among us into a tailspin. It’s easy to yell into the universe about the utter unfairness of it all, particularly if you’ve taken painstaking steps to try and eliminate any potential for failure. It’s also easy to place blame: on those whom you believe contributed to the setback – on circumstances beyond your control – on yourself. Sometimes, in the eternal quest for balance, we decide that fault must lie somewhere to explain the current status of our existence.
Many of us fall into two categories when this happens: we either sink into a place for an undetermined amount of time to feel sorry for ourselves and declare ourselves the victim, or we blast full steam ahead to either try that much harder… often without full appreciation of the nature of our setback.
It doesn’t help that we’re surrounded by every possible meme that tells us ‘this too shall pass’ and ‘get back on the horse’ and ‘turn a setback into a comeback.’ How? When? Why? It’s easy to get caught up in the motivational soundbites of life without care for real-world solutions to our problems. Because of this, very few of us take the time to actually reflect on the space in which we find ourselves, and determine the next best steps to rise from that space.
When we choose reflection over reaction, we arm ourselves with the knowledge to understand where we are, why we are, and how we can move forward from what is versus what we wish could be. The first step is to see a thing as it is, instead of as we are. Doing so removes personal attachment from the problem, and helps give us perspective on the size and scope of what we are facing. Once we’ve identified the tangible borders of our challenge, we can explore viable solutions, identify potential oversights and missteps, and possibly turn our setback into a setup for success.
Sound easy? It’s not. Many of us are conditioned to simply react to any given stimulus. It takes time, effort and some degree of discomfort to reflect. Reflection demands that we be honest, particularly with ourselves. If we cannot tell ourselves the truth, we cannot hope to possibly be honest with others. Reflection asks us to see truth without judgement or consequence, and gives us the opportunity to learn and potentially grow from it. The more we practice reflection, the more likely we are to make it our first option instead of our last resort. When we recognize that setbacks are simply the physical manifestation of course-correction (no matter our planned trajectory), we can move through, move on, and move upward to achieve our goals.