Finding Your Confidence After a Setback

A woman sits at a desk and looks at her computer

You can’t always avoid setbacks, but you can make the most from them. 

We’ve all been there. Setbacks are a part of life, from goal-setting, to careers, and even relationships. But they aren’t the end of the world, even though sometimes they can feel that way. 

Apple founder Steve Jobs famously once said that, “Sometimes life is going to hit you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith.” Easier said than done, right? But Jobs had his fair share of setbacks, just like anybody else. He launched product failures, struggled to find the right markets, and even entrusted his company to the wrong people at times. Still, he’s known as one of the greatest tech entrepreneurs of our time, and his advice holds true. 

Even if your setbacks aren’t as high stakes as the ones Jobs encountered, they can feel monumental, especially when you put your heart into your goals and dreams.

It’s understandable to feel crushed and not know what to do next. That’s where these tips come into play. 

Setbacks come in all shapes and sizes, and sometimes they leave us lacking confidence because our ability comes into question, leaving us thinking that maybe we aren’t as capable as we thought we were.

The truth is that we think this way because we care a lot, and even though we can’t always prevent or control all aspects of the setback, we can look for opportunity and find the best way to keep moving.

Make time to dwell, then move on

It can feel like the most responsible thing to do with a setback is keep moving as quickly as possible, but it’s not always the most beneficial. One can dwell thoughtfully and productively, as it’s not so much about pointing fingers, but acknowledging the gravity of the situation and allowing yourself to understand your feelings.

If you feel upset, why? Hurt? What’s the root cause? 

A period of time to focus on your thoughts and feelings is important. For starters, it will help you get to the bottom of the problem and sort out all of your feelings. Bottling it all up won’t get you very far. 

The trick is to give yourself enough time to think through the emotions, but not too much time that it feels like a full on pity party or downward spiral. Making time to dwell can give you enough space from the setback and may even help you find some distance that allows you to take the next step. 

Don’t think that the only way to keep moving forward is to rush through all the feelings. They’re there for a reason, and could even be your biggest asset in finding your footing and regaining your confidence. 

Phone a friend

Setbacks can shake us to our core and cause us to momentarily forget what we’re capable of, but it’s often just an illusion that we create in our heads. Even so, it can be hard to see through all of the smoke and mirrors we tell ourselves. 

Grab a trusted family member, friend, or colleagues to talk it through with. This should be a person you feel comfortable with, who you don’t feel judged by, and who will, most importantly, listen. Regaining confidence is almost always a matter of rediscovering faith in yourself, and it can be helpful to turn to somebody else who already believes in you to help you find it.

The best people to surround yourself with during a setback are the ones who are honest and supportive. They might not tell you everything you want to hear, but in the end you’ll know that if others believe in you, you can too. 

Reassess your next move

What’s the reason for your setback? Asking yourself that question can be a big help in figuring out your next move – the best move is one that gets you back to a place of confidence. 

Sometimes, a setback is born out of an unexpected event that would be difficult to plan for, but sometimes it’s a mixture of all kinds of variables. Figuring out the “why” will help you make the best possible next move – and it might not be one that you expected. 

When reassessing your plan, think about the following: 

  • What can be done to avoid the same setback 
  • What aspects were in your control 
  • What’s the ideal next step and how realistic is it
  • Is it possible to take a step back 

Debriefing is an important part to regaining your confidence for a few reasons. It gives you time to reflect – not dwell, but really dissect what happened and what’s next – and it allows you a place to be honest with yourself. It can be easy to blame outside factors, but the best type of confidence comes from trusting yourself and knowing that next time a similar situation arises, you’ve got this! 

Take a calculated risk

Doing something risky after you’ve experienced a setback almost seems unproductive. After all, what if you end up setting yourself up for even more failure? What we often forget is that we’re operating extra cautiously after a setback because we don’t want it to happen again or put ourselves in a deeper hole. 

The calculated risk you’re avoiding may only seem that way because of the challenge you’ve just encountered. It’s important to remember how necessary getting outside of your comfort zone is for success, and being overly cautious might not set you up for the growth you need. 

It doesn’t have to be a big move that keeps you going. It just has to be something a little uncomfortable.

It’s okay to take baby steps, because taking risks looks different for everybody and for every different stage. Along the way, you remind yourself of how capable you really are, and how even a little doubt can’t stop you from accomplishing anything you put your mind to. 

What are some ways you build confidence after a setback?

Written by Kara Mason

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