9 Helpful Ways To Deal With Setbacks And Failures

By Reniel


Last Updated: October 11, 2021

In a perfect world, everything should work as we planned it.

When we plant crops we should reap harvests, when we put in time and energy into a project everything should pan out. But it is not always so, at least, not without setbacks and sometimes complete failure.

That is why it is not only important to plan for success, we must also learn how to deal with setbacks and failure on our way to success.

Paulo Coelho once said,

An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. So when life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means that it's going to launch you into something great. So just focus, and keep aiming.

He was right...

Sometimes the obstacles and setbacks in our lives are actually the indication that something big is coming. Imagine you were playing a video game, and you came across a path with huge scary monsters blocking it, wouldn’t that instinctively be an indication that that is the path? Sure it would be..

The obstacle is often the way. 

Read this next: How to Regain Momentum After Setbacks or Failures 


9 Ways to Bounce Back From A Setback

1. Anticipate Failure

If there is one thing every adult knows is that failure is more common than success. So it isn’t personal – though we still manage to take it that way. The first step is to stop taking failure personally.

In fact, you should actively anticipate failure, and prepare for it, so that when it (might) come, you're ready. This is not to say you should be negative-minded, but consider that if you were anticipating a punch, you would have a better chance of evading it, or bearing the pounding force if it ever gets to you.

2. Fallback To People Who Encourage You

Family, friends, community are important. Life is like a ring match, and there are rounds.

Even if you are succeeding, you need people to celebrate with, and who can help you relax from all the stress that comes with trying so hard. But it is very crucial that they are there in case you ever face a setback.

Consider them a safety net, or springboard from which you can bounce back.

3. Accept Responsibility

Blaming other people for our failures is the sure-fire way to fail again and again.

When the fall comes, we should be willing to admit ways we didn’t get it right.

In the military, they say,

People don’t rise to the level of their expectations, they fall to the level of their training.

By being accountable, you begin to put back power in your hands.

4. Learn From Your Mistakes

It is not enough to blame yourself.

You must learn from your failure. Take your time to study the failure and write down what caused the setback. Take note of what worked and what didn’t work. Be scrupulous and thorough.

5. Ask Yourself, “What Next?”

Once you’re done learning, start looking for fresh opportunities if you don’t have the privilege of trying again.

Ask yourself:

  • where do I go from here?
  • what other opportunities lie in wait for me?
  • what can I do now?

It may not be immediately obvious to you, but the answer will come – one way or the other...be on the lookout.

6. Focus On the Future

Once you’ve figured out “what next?” to do with your life, it is time to focus on it and blind yourself from distractions, including your current situation.

Yes, you are at the bottom, but you don’t have to whimper and sob like a baby; stand up tall, raise your head, and keep your vision on your future. 

7. Double Down On The Things You Can Control

Mahatma Gandhi once said,

The future depends on what you do today.

As much as it is tempting to get lost in the thoughts about the future, you really can’t do anything about the future, so focus on what you can do now.

Therefore, double down on the things that you can control. Do everything within your power (in the present) to the best of your ability. This can be hard, long, and sometimes discouraging, but you must stick to it.

Sometimes you have to refine, iterate, and add to the things you are already doing to make them better and improve your chances of success. You must stay hungry and agile.

8. Seek Help And Support

Sometimes setbacks (especially outright failures) come from inadequacy.

Maybe you didn’t have the right or complete team, or maybe you didn’t have sufficient resources, or maybe you just didn’t have time. Whatever the challenge was, you have to ensure that it doesn’t repeat itself by finding people who support you and cater to your shortcomings.

9. Be Optimistic And Patient

There is no ignoring the role of chance and time when it comes to success. Sometimes, good things just take their sweet time, and there is nothing you can do about it. The ancients say, “Patience is a virtue," and they were right. You must also learn to wait for your own time to shine.

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.

Those are the wise words of Winston Churchill, and they were never truer in life. Both success and failure will come, but you must learn to leverage on both to better your life. Be like the bow and arrow and let the setbacks propel you forward.        

Photo by Sharath Kumar Hari on Unsplash


7 comments on “9 Helpful Ways To Deal With Setbacks And Failures”

  1. Great inspiration. Right on time. Have been going through a lot since I had accident in 2019. My life has not the same. But I thank God, I have a Great Hope that I will be back on my two feet again by God special grace. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Great article. Good example of the arrow. I will not give up. I will continue taking my test until I get my license. Thank you for those inspirational words this morning.

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