Managing Setbacks

My first personal trainer left the gym to open his own boutique fitness center.

I signed up for his e-mail newsletter. In it he wrote that setbacks are to be expected.

On some days you don’t have it in you to go at full speed. Hitting your target goal might not happen.

This is where it’s imperative to remember that a slip-up in the short-term doesn’t matter.

Think in terms of the long view. It’s how you respond to a setback that determines whether you succeed in the end. Not the slip-up itself.

Remember to be critical of the behavior and not of yourself. People who blame themselves for a setback often don’t recover. Blaming yourself is a recipe for remaining stuck.

One thing matters most: having the sense that you have control.

Not allowing yourself to be blown around by the wind like a weather vane.

My mother keeps reminding me that I lost 20 pounds when I was younger. She keeps telling me that I was round and chubby [her word] when I first started taking medication. She refers to the fact that I decided to see a nutritionist. The woman was an M.D. with a private practice in nutrition.

The moral of this story is: you don’t have to accept a setback and give up and do nothing.

Resilience is called for. The ability to bounce back from a setback. Successful New Year’s resolution setters in the Changeology book viewed a slip-up as temporary. They recommitted to changing their behavior.

They viewed the setback as an opportunity to strengthen their commitment. They saw it in a positive light forgave themselves and learned from the experience.

Step 3 Perspire lasts at least 6 weeks. I’ve ended the first 3 weeks of this Step. For 3 weeks in a row I’ve been able to carry out my goal.

In coming weeks I’ll talk about Step 4 – Persevere.

Just remember: a setback isn’t the end of what you can do.

It’s temporary. And should your original goal not work out at all that’s when choosing to do something different can make all the difference.

I like to quote the Ulta advertisement: the Possibilities are Beautiful.

There is no one right road to go down in your life.

I will talk in more detail about resilience in the future.

Author: Chris Bruni

Christina Bruni is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Left of the Dial. She contributed a chapter "Recovery is Within Reach" to Benessere Psicologico: Contemporary Thought on Italian American Mental Health. As well as an author and activist, Bruni is an artist and athlete.

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