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Sometimes life just does not read the script that you have written for yourself.

You sat down and gave it multiple recitals.

You detailed your intentions and you even followed that up by acting. Doing everything you thought you needed, to bring your script to life.

But life heckles. It interrupts, grabbing the pages from your grasp and tearing them into chaotic confetti right in front of your face.

And whilst this confetti is messy and incredibly hard to sweep up, it is also a symbol of celebration, because setbacks can give us an exciting opportunity to begin again, and begin again stronger and more informed than before.

That being said, setbacks can be about as digestible as a bag of needles when they hit.

Therefore, here are 4 steps for setback recovery that will refocus, energise and motivate you to never stop pushing for what you want, and ultimately be more likely to achieve it.

  1. Feel Your Feelings

This blog is not going to be one of those that tells you to not be disappointed and to just move on from devastating setbacks. Moving on and pressing forwards is an important step in the recovery process, but it does not always need to be the first one you take.

When you are heavily invested in something and have worked tirelessly to achieve it, only for it to not work out the way you wanted it to, it is natural to feel completely crestfallen.

Do not punish yourself by fighting off these feelings. The reason you are feeling them in the first place is a good thing. It shows you care and that you hold a lot of passion for it. Moving on would be a whole lot easier if you didn’t.

The key to moving on is to do it in a productive manner, and not to do it behind a shield of forced ignorance. Those shields shatter in spectacular ways further down the line.

This is the time for processing, not finger pointing and acting in haste. Sit back, breathe and take a good look at where you now find yourself. Become at peace with the fact that you only have control over certain things, and that you cannot rewrite what has just been written. You can, however, write in all those spaces that exist ahead of you.

Your future successes will thank you for the time you spent recovering from previous difficulties.

  1. Take Every Lesson

There is a word in my previous point that is key to planning your way out of this unwelcome situation. That word is control.

You may consider what has just happened to be a failure, however a failure does not need to be an endpoint. A failure is abrupt. It can occasionally be mistaken for sirens that you believe are telling you to stop, drop, roll and get out of there!

However, it actually is a signal. An indicator that you have an opportunity for improvement and growth ahead of you to achieve that end goal you missed out on this time.

What things under your control could you look to improve, or do differently?

If you treat each disappointment with this forward-thinking attitude, you are pushing yourself closer to the success that you crave. Vitally important to this though is to be honest with yourself and to own your actions. Your ability to reflect and be self-aware is crucial to building your route forwards.

If you are still struggling from the issue, we discussed in step 1, then take the time to think about previous journeys you have taken out of difficult situations, and the things that helped you to get to where you wanted. It is also incredibly important to reignite your Why. This can be a rich source of motivation, inspiration, and confidence.

  1. Seek Valuable Advice

Notice how the title of this point says seek advice. Not seek pity.

We don’t want people who will just listen and tell you it will all be ok. Whilst this will give you some comfort. In reality, it will give you very little else. We want to connect with people who do. People who are always challenging themselves to leap over the hurdles that stop others in their tracks.

Proactively approach these people that exist in your network and create an atmosphere that enables you to discuss your paths.

With their mindsets being one that is solution-focused, you could gain an incredible amount from these interactions, including extra perspective on your current situation, advice on what approach to take next and also optimism and positivity that it will be worthwhile.

  1. Grab a Win

You may feel like this setback has brought you crashing down to the floor, but even at that height, you can still reach up and grab the low hanging fruit.

What is better? Two unanswered backward steps or… two steps backwards and one forwards?

A win is defined as a successful result. What that successful result is, is up to you. Allowing yourself the space and time to process a situation is a win. Learning valuable lessons to take forwards from a crushing setback is a win. Reaching out to a network of can-doers is a win.

Feeling defeated again and again can leave dent upon dent on your self-confidence and can feed self-doubt. Make sure that you are not feeling like you are getting into a negative rut.


How we react to setbacks define the people we become. They can be the reason to stop as much as they can be our reason to evolve.

These 4 steps can be the difference between the two, because it is a conscious decision that you make. Stopping and choosing not to evolve so that your ambitions are left behind in the past. Labelled as ‘what could have been’.


Developing yourself and your goals to overcome this problem, as well as potentially others that lay ahead, and grabbing all the potential that it holds for you.

If you liked this blog, have a look at this short video summary to capture the learnings…


Alex & The Excel Team

P.S. If you would like to discuss any of your learning & development challenges for 2021, call us on +44(0) 1628488 854.






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