Five ways to recover from a setback

One evening as we were preparing for dinner, we had an unusual thing happen at our house. The owl in the photo crashed into our upstairs window. This owl has lived in our neighborhood quite a while.  According to my research, owls have a map of their territory in their brain. And we know that they are experts at flying in the dark.

Owls are also known to be wise. So why did this owl make the stupid mistake of crashing into our house?   Didn’t his internal map of his territory include our house? He lives along the creek, just one house over from  us.

He was stunned and couldn’t move for the longest time. Luckily for him, we weren’t owl predators. Clearly though, this was a mistake by a bird that is programmed to know his territory and fly safely at night.

So that led me to think about why such a magnificent and wise bird would make such a mistake.  That led me to dive into my mistakes and what I’ve learned.

Over the years in my career and business, I’ve made many mistakes and had some difficult setbacks. Some really knocked me off my feet and the biggest ones gave me the opportunity to grow, expand my abilities and on occasion, start something new. This is the real value of mistakes and setbacks if you will view them as a learning tool in your life.

From being laid off to “seeking other opportunities” to simply not handling a sales call effectively, I’ve beat myself up about every one. Finally, I realized that being so hard on myself is a detriment to my life and my ability to make a difference through who I am.

So over the years, I’ve developed some strategies to recover from mistakes and setbacks. My goal is to not get knocked off my feet and to use mistakes and setbacks as a way to look at who I am and who I am being.

Think of mistakes and setbacks as a message from your soul or your higher self that it is time to expand and grow. When you look at it as an  opportunity, it lessens the sting over time.

How I wish someone had shared that wisdom with me in my earlier years. I had such a strong belief about right and wrong that I was devastated anytime I didn’t achieve 100%. As a result, I agonized much longer than I needed to when I had a setback or made a mistake.

Here are the recovery strategies I use to get back on track. I won’t say that I still don’t experience agony and frustration though. However, I do get past it better and move on, a bit wiser than before.

Five ways to recover from a mistake or a set back

1.Take some personal time to regroup – If you’ve had a major setback or made a major mistake, take some time to regroup. A few days away at the beach, extra time at the gym, visiting a friend or favorite place to get your mind off your problem is a good strategy to clear your mind. You might consider working on a home or volunteer project for a few days.

The key is to not take too much time. You need enough time to release some of your emotions and restore your self-worth. If you start to feel empty and wanting to know what is next, you need to get back into action.

2.Talk to your mentors and friends – Going it alone is a certain formula for distress and possibly a spiral downward into isolation and being stuck. If you are reeling and feel the hurt of a mistake or unforeseen setback, you need to have people in your life to listen as you share your experience. One of the benefits of this is that you will find you have company in this area. No one is without his or her share of mistakes. We are not as emotionally competent if we are not able to admit our mistakes. You may also want to engage a coach, someone who will be a completely objective source and will help you restore your focus.

3. Write down your story – Your emotional investment in what happened can consume your thoughts and feelings to the point that any new possibilities are shut out. Take time to write it all down. Getting it all out on paper so it doesn’t hold as much power over you starts the healing process.

You will get the most out of the situation if you will write about it from different points of view. Even though it is difficult, try writing as though you were one of the other people involved and see what emerges. You may find some insights that will be helpful as you move forward.

If you aren’t willing to look at what happened, you will most likely make the same mistake again.

4. Get back in the game – Football players have no choice but to get back in the game. I always admired Brett Favre, former Green Bay Packers quarterback, because he was able to laugh at himself when he made a mistake and of course, get right back to the line of scrimmage and start playing again.

Have you seen the dejected face of a team kicker when he misses a critical field goal? The best thing that can happen for him is to get another opportunity. And even better is to be encouraged by teammates that he can return to success. (See #2)

Getting back in the game is also a mind game. The faster you get back in your game, the faster you will recover and be able to move on.

5. Start something new – Occasionally, you may need to change your routine and where you are. The pace of life and work now draws us into faster and more radical change than ever before. That may require you to start something entirely new and different or change your approach. This is evident in the number of people who are leaving traditional jobs and starting their own businesses.

If you are in a situation where you need to make changes to keep going there are some key questions you can use to open up possibilities:

–       What else is possible?

–       Where can I make a contribution that will expand my life and my living?

–       What changes can I make for a fresh start?

–       Where can I bring the most value?

–       What can I learn from this and apply to my life?

By going through these five steps, you will not only feel better about yourself, you will also be able re-engage with life and work with your self-confidence on the rebound.

What happened to the owl?

We turned the porch light on to watch the owl and take photos. The one above is from our neighbor.

Finally I realized that to help the owl, we needed to shut off the light to help him recover and get oriented to the dark so he could fly again. After dinner we went upstairs to check on him and happily he was gone.

Just like the wise owl, you can recover from setbacks and mistakes and get back on your path. By taking time to work through these five steps, you will learn and adapt more quickly which in the long run is a bonus to your career and your value to your business or your employer.

If you’ve recently experienced a setback, contact me for a complimentary call. I will connect with you to schedule a phone appointment.

Whether it is mentoring people to lead more effectively, improve their own performance or step into what is next, Kathy Garland is passionate about guiding leaders to achieve business goals and reach their highest potential.

© 2014 Kathy Garland