5 Proven Ways to Overcome Setbacks, Disappointments and Epic Fails

How to bounce back after failure

blockadeIf you are on a path to become a better version of yourself, you’ve already discovered that not everything you try will work.

Whether you’re looking to take your fitness, business or spiritual enlightenment or other areas of your life to a new level, you’ll reach obstacles with you don’t always handle with grace and ease.

What can you do to ensure that you stay on your path of high performance, growth and self-actualizing even as you encounter these “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”?

Use these five proven ways to overcome and you will prevail.

  1. Keep perspective. Recall the fact that you have overcome setbacks before, and you will prevail over this one, too.

The only way to change yourself is to challenge yourself.

This isn’t the first time you’ve attempted something new. You’ve been down this road before. Learning to drive is an example. Remember how awkward that was at first?

As you grow, of course, your challenges will get harder, yes? It will help to remind yourself, “Naturally, this is harder. I’m improving this area of my life and trying things I’ve not tried before. Of course, I’m going to feel the struggle of growth.”

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Helpful to recall the wise words of Goethe: “Everything is hard before it is easy.”

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  1. Challenge your old automatic negative thoughts. These are called “ANT’s” by Daniel Amen, MD, clinical psychiatrist and neuroscientist and author of Change Your Brain, Change Your Life.

Dr. Amen says that some people will experience mistakes as physical pain. As in, their brain’s pain centers will reflect activity when they imagine failure. Naturally, they want to avoid trying something where they might fail.

Others, Amen says, will experience mistakes as motivation. Of course, they’re eager to try this new activity.

As you push back against your old automatic resistance to new experiences, consider Carol Dweck’s research. Dweck, a Stanford psychologist found that people with a growth mindset realize they can learn from mistakes.

As you try new things, be ready to see what doesn’t work as a “mis-take.” And like a director would reshoot a scene in a retake, you can re-take your attempt, applying new approaches to improve your result.

Amen suggests, when those inevitable mistakes happen, “Get curious, not furious.”

  1. Practice Plan B Optimism. I cover realistic optimism and how to leverage it in many areas of your life in my upcoming program “The Heart and Science of Success.”

Here’s an approach to help you right now.

While it’s important to be confident about your ability to reach your goal, it’s equally important to have a Plan B.

When you reach an obstacle on your path, what will you do?

Copious research proves that people who anticipate ahead of time what they will do when they face unplanned bumps or even mountains in the way are much more likely to surmount the obstacle and press on to their goal.

  1. Employ “Long Time Perspective.” Harvard sociologist Edward Banfield studied why some people move upward economically, and most do not.

He wondered if it were their upbringing, education or IQ.

No to all of the above.

The secret to upward mobility and economic security is “long time perspective.”

The longer your vision is for the future, the more you can connect your choices now to what you want in the future.

Kelly McGonigal, author of The Willpower Instinct, recommends that before people binge, they ask themselves, “Do I want to binge every day, just like this for a year, and bear the consequences of that binge?”

Picture repeatedly doing the action you’re thinking of doing now. Does it move you closer to, or farther away from your long term goal?

  1. “Play poorly well.” Jack Nicklaus, widely considered one of the greatest golfers of all time said this:

“The worse your performance, the more you must work mentally and emotionally. The greatest and toughest art in playing golf is to play poorly well.”

Even when you’re stinking at what you’re doing, and just like everyone else, you’ll have off days, too, do the best you can in that moment.

Only you will know what the best of your worst is.

Exercise what Stephen Covey called “Integrity in the moment of choice.”

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