5 Ways to Stay Motivated After a Crushing Setback

5 Ways to Stay Motivated After a Crushing Setback
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Did you know that if you keep a plant in a pot that’s significantly too small, the roots rise to the top?

Me neither.

It got me thinking about nature and how every organism has an instinctive will to live and will do whatever it takes to survive. Although humans have the same innate desire to survive, when we experience a significant setback, our natural instinct can often be suppressed and all we want to do is quit.

The pain of disappointment, as well as feelings of shame, loss, or embarrassment can feel like too much to overcome. At times like this, it can extremely difficult to stay motivated.

  • You wonder, “What’s the point?”
  • You get scared and focus on what else could go wrong.
  • You worry that you could make a similar mistake.
  • You consider quitting altogether.
  • In the back of your mind, you know you want to keep going, but you just don’t know how to.
  • You feel tired and deflated.

“The moment when you’re ready to quit is usually the moment right before a miracle happens.”

Setbacks are fair..

Setbacks do not discriminate; they affect everyone.

No matter the size of the goal you’re pursuing, you will encounter a setback at some point. Many setbacks are minor enough to bounce back from fairly quickly, but from time to time, you may experience a setback that crushes your confidence and kills your motivation.

Although everyone experiences setbacks, many go on to succeed despite what others would consider complete failure. There are plenty of examples online of famous people who experienced crushing setbacks before going on to achieve huge success.

  • Vera Wang failed to make the U.S. Olympic figure-skating team but went on to become an iconic fashion designer and now owns a billion-dollar business.
  • Steven Spielberg went on to win three Academy Awards after being rejected multiple times by the film school of his choice.
  • Stephen King has sold more than 350 million copies of his books despite having his first novel rejected 30 times.

Five ways to stay motivated after a crushing setback

At some point, everyone experiences failure. The important thing is how you respond to it. How will you react when an opportunity falls through or a project goes up in flames? Will you give up and throw in the towel? Or will you take that failure as a learning experience and press onward with even more determination? Staying motivated after a crushing setback isn’t easy. In fact, it might be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. But with the right mindset and strategies, it doesn’t have to be as difficult as you think. In this article, we’ll look at five ways to stay motivated after a crushing setback so that you can keep moving forward and achieve your goals sooner than later.

Have faith that everything happens for a reason

We’re not religious, but we do believe that everything happens for a reason. If you’re having a hard time staying motivated after a failure, try to think about why it happened. What reason could there be behind this setback that would be beneficial to your long-term goals? What could you learn from this experience that could help you succeed next time? Having faith in a higher power can help you keep your head on straight when you’re experiencing a difficult time. If you need to find your faith again, try to look for signs from the universe. You may be surprised by what you find.

Take responsibility—and use it as motivation to do better next time

When something goes wrong, it’s easy to blame everyone and everything around you. But the best thing you can do for yourself after a failure is own it. Take responsibility for what went wrong, and use that as your motivation to do better next time. If you didn’t get hired for a job, don’t blame the hiring manager. Instead, figure out what you could have done better. How could you have prepared differently? What could you have done to stand out from the crowd? Take this moment to reflect on what you could have done better so that you can do better next time.

Remember why you started

When you first started your goal, were you excited and motivated? Or have you lost that excitement over time? If you’ve lost that excitement, it’s easy to get down on yourself and start to feel less motivated to move forward. If you’ve lost that motivation, try to remember what got you excited about this goal in the first place. What was that one thing that made you want to achieve this goal? When you find that thing again—that motivation—you’ll feel that fire again, and it’ll be easier to stay motivated after a failure.

believe in yourself to achieve success
believe in yourself to achieve success

Recognize your effort and progress

Encountering a setback means that you’re trying and you’re taking risks. You’re not playing it safe and chilling in your comfort zone. You are putting yourself out there and you’re going after your goals. When you experience failure, it can be tempting to discount everything you have achieved before things went wrong.

Acknowledge how far you have come. Even if you’re only two steps into a forty-step journey, you’ve made progress. Review the steps you’ve taken so far and identify what you need to do differently going forward. Identify what worked well and what changes need to be made.

Resilience is key

Setbacks are inevitable; no one is immune from them.

The difference between someone who stays motivated after a setback and someone who throws in the towel is their response to failure. A setback is a form of feedback, which is essential for pursuing goals. How you respond to that feedback will determine the results you get.

People tend to lose motivation because they draw generalized conclusions from a single setback. They lack resilience and, as a result, internalize the failure, believe it is a reflection of who they are as a person, and use that to calculate the probability of future success. Their self-confidence diminishes and they feel all is lost.

You need to develop your resilience and change your perception of failure. View each setback as an isolated incident rather than a prediction of every result you will have going forward.

A setback does not mean it’s over

A setback does not mean the end. It could mean a change of plans or direction, or it could mean you need to take a break. There is something valuable to take away from every setback, and life has a way of serving up a lesson, disguised as different setbacks until it’s certain you’ve understood the key message.

never stop trying
Never Stop Trying

In the book The Art of Work, the author Jeff Goins writes:

When we’re farthest from our purpose, we are actually already on the path, headed in the right direction. This means that when you’re confused and failing when all seems lost and you are just about to give up, you are closer to your destiny than you realize. The message of the pivot is that what looks like a failure now is preparation for what’s to come, as long as you don’t give up.”

As long as you don’t give up. That’s the key message.

Setbacks can be frustrating, but you have to be patient and learn the lesson. This doesn’t mean that you stop taking action. You keep going. Remember what it is you’re working towards and, most importantly, why you want to achieve it. It’s much harder to stay motivated when you’ve given up and come to a complete standstill. It is always easier to gain momentum when you’re moving, no matter how small the movement. Just think about our progress as humans. If everyone quit after their first crushing setback, we’d still be living in caves!

So whatever you do, don’t quit, and don’t stop taking action.

Besides, you could be so close to your overall goal, you might only need to take a few more steps. You may just be on the brink of something life-changing!

Key Takeaways

  • Everyone experiences setbacks in life; they are not unique to you. Success and failure go hand in hand; you can’t have one without the other.
  • Resilience and perception are key to your ability to deal with and overcome setbacks.
  • When you encounter a setback, keep moving and take action. The road to success is a long and winding road, and setbacks are simply milestones along the way.
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