5 Steps to Overcoming Setbacks

A yoga teacher shares her insights into overcoming obstacles and rebounding from setbacks – personal, physical, financial or in any other aspect of your life.

I’ve received two pieces of advice from different mentors that have been useful for me during periods of crisis. The first offering was that when you are closest to turning the corner on a fundamental shift in life, that’s when the biggest obstacles will appear. This counsel has helped me remember that the really big challenges in life are signposts that I’m on the right track and getting closer.

The second recommendation was to realize that when you’ve been pushed back, you have a choice to either break down or break through. This advice has helped me recognize that I always have choices and power in any situation. While both of these understandings have been helpful during times of disappointment, having a few steps you can take to pick yourself up and get back on track helps diminish the feeling that you are a helpless victim to the twists and turns of the universe.

This is my no-nonsense, five-step action plan to pulling out of a setback whether it’s financial, professional, personal or physical.

You will be more confident in your ability to handle a crisis and you will be stronger for having persevered through it.

1. Trust the process
Once you’ve been knocked down, there’s no use putting your head in the sand and hoping it isn’t really happening. Accepting where you are in the moment doesn’t mean you have to stay there. However, if you were lost in the Amazon jungle, you’d check a map to determine where you are and plan your next steps forward. Emotionally, the same process holds true. You need to know where you are in order to start finding your way out.

Entering a crisis is like entering your teen years. You are going to end up on the other side one way or the other. Hiding from the process will not help you in any way. Trusting in the process and making choices for your best interest is a better approach.

2. Vent it out
Activate your support network and vent until you get it all out. Your support system can provide a sympathetic ear during times when it feels like you’ve been mistreated or misunderstood. After your rant is complete, the people in your network can offer an outside perspective and help you understand what happened and why it happened.

 3. Set your goals
Once you know where you are and, hopefully, have a greater understanding of how you got there, it’s time to decide where you’d rather be. Do you want a new relationship or to be on your own for a while? Do you envision yourself in a different type of job? Would you feel more secure with a healthier bank account balance or making investments?

You’ve had a set-back. It feels awful and maybe a bit unfair. However, it’s also an opportunity to make some positive changes that you might not have made if everything had kept rolling along with no upsets. Use your inner vision to see what you really want. No goal is too lofty at this step, so go ahead and get a comprehensive picture of your ideal situation.

4. Do a gap analysis
The gap is the distance between your ideal situation and your current position. You have a detailed understanding of your goal. Now is the time to get clear on what you have to learn, acquire or change in order to achieve what you want. You may have to employ some tough love on yourself at this step. The reality is that, if you want to be an Olympic ice skater, but you have never skated before, you have a gap of skills and knowledge to obtain your objective (right now).

5. Get a plan
At this step you may have to tap your courage, because some gaps are daunting. You need a plan to close the gap and get from here to there. It is necessary for all of us to earn the right to acquire the job, relationship, happiness, etc., that we want in our lives. We earn the right to have the life we want by putting in the effort to become competent in the places where we’ve identified gaps.

When someone lucks into a situation without having gained the skills necessary to own it, they will often lose what they aren’t prepared to hang on to. Consider the people who win the lottery and then lose all the money. They haven’t gained the skills to maintain their wealth. The good news is that no matter how big the distance is between where you are and where you want to be,no matter how much you may need to learn or change, it’s doable if you are willing to do the work.

As you process your setback, know that you will not be the same person, after you’ve come through it, that you were before. By actively working a plan, and taking control of your situation, you will be more confident in your ability to handle a crisis and you will be stronger for having persevered through it.




  1. Thanks for sharing this action plan which makes a lot of sense and is easy to identify with no matter what the setback. For those who have mapped their way out of the jungle, it’s even easier to identify that those five steps are on point and necessary. One can rethink the process and realize that you do the work to evolve into a stronger, better version of yourself! The setback may have been just the thing the universe ordered for your evolution.

  2. Kim Shand

    I’m glad you liked the article Maria. Thank you for commenting.

  3. I really needed this today. Thank you for reminding me to trust the process.

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