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How do You Deal With Constant Setbacks?

Everyone experiences hardship and setbacks. No matter your personal or processional circumstances, everyone goes through difficult periods – but some are extremely difficult compared to others. Sometimes those setbacks, failures, and moments of desperation, keep firing at you, and you feel like you can’t keep your head above water.


Everyone experiences hardship and setbacks. No matter your personal or processional circumstances, everyone goes through difficult periods – but some are extremely difficult compared to others. Sometimes those setbacks, failures, and moments of desperation, keep firing at you, and you feel like you can’t keep your head above water.

How do you deal with those times that feel like you go one step forward, then two steps back? How do you keep going, when it feels like everything – including yourself – is coming up short?


“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” — Unknown


It’s simple to say, but not simple to do. The starting point lies here:

  • Problems you can control.
  • Problems you cannot control.



Setbacks simply delay your progress. 

In sports, setbacks can be detrimental – an injury can lead to losing out on making the team or completing, which then leads to losing your sponsorship and other opportunities, which can derail your career. However, most setbacks can be used to stage a comeback; a stronger, deeper, more determined version of who you are is on the rise.

If being the best snowboarder, BMX or motocross rider is your ultimate goal, the dream that keeps you up at night, the thing that drives your ambitions and makes you feel alive, then you have to realize the only thing that can stop you is you. No matter the difficulties you face, you will only use them to your advantage and become stronger and better because of it.

How do you do that, though? How do you keep coming back when it feels like the world is against you, and you might as well just call it a day? 


Using a Setback as the Launching Pad for the Comeback

Athletes around the world have faced setbacks – both mentally and physically -many of which could have been career ending, but they keep coming back, even when the odds are stacked against them. How? 

You can feel hopeless when experiencing the heartbreak of not reaching a goal you worked so hard for. The uncertainty afterwards can lead to so many unanswered questions.


 “Should I keep going?” 


“I’ve put so much into this goal, and still haven’t made it. Maybe ‘m just not cut out for this, or maybe it just isn’t meant to be.”


“I’m scared to try again and fail.”


These feelings are common and difficult to avoid – not just in sports, but in nearly all aspects of life. Building a business that fails, an idea that never pans out, a relationship that ends – these moments can make or break you, and force you to look deep into yourself to find out just what you are made of. 

Instead of crumbing under the pressure, of breaking down and giving up, use your sadness, anger, hopelessness as the fuel you need to keep going. Feel the burn and use it to build resilience. As much as we try to avoid difficult times and situations, always try to find a way to not have to go through difficult times – even if it means giving up on our dreams. It’s those difficult, gut-wrenching times and trials that build mental toughness and strength that you grind into the grit that you need to keep going. 

Resilience and confidence aren’t found, they are forged. 


How do You Embrace Setbacks and Use Them?

Many people do not know how to cope with such a mentally and physically straining problem. Everyone has their own style and way about things, but there are three main steps that anyone – athletes or not – must use in order to be able to turn a setback into a comeback. 

1. Get Real

 It’s time to get real with yourself and your situation. Ask yourself questions – what went wrong? How could I have avoided it? How can I avoid it next time? 

You need to figure out what went wrong, accept it, and then learn from it and move on. For example, was it a preventable injury? You’ll need to objectively look at the whole situation, that take a look into the future and create a plan so that you try and eliminate that possibilities of that happening again. 

You’ll need to understand that this is what it takes to be great – you need to compare yourself to those quotes and make sure you show up for the work. Not just in the physical arena, but the mental jungle of preforming at your absolute best. Constantly review things that need to be tweaked and improved, and then it’s time to get to work. 


2. Check Your Attitude 

“Stay positive” an overused cliché, right? Not really. One of the important parts of moving forward after a difficult situation and set back is not loosing your focus – and starting positive is undeniably linked to that. Not only does it make the journey more enjoyable, but it creates a better atmosphere for you. We’re not saying it’s easy by any stretch, as it certainly is hard to feel positive when you’ve sustained an injury or have self-defeating feelings. But regardless if it’s easy or not, it has to be done. And even the scientists have done research and found out that when smiling, even if it’s fake, makes people happier. Whereas scowling subconsciously makes people angrier and frowning makes people more depressed. 

All in all, it makes the challenge of keeping a positive outlook on things a little bit easier, and helps you clear your mind of negative thoughts.


3. And Now for the hardest Part – FOCUS

 The steps above will help lead you to where it all starts to come together – focus. Keep your eyes on the prize, and focus on your goal, process and everything little detail that can help or hinder you on your journey. Eliminate ruthlessly, and remember, this is your time. What doesn’t  help you, get rid of it. Make a new plan of action, and act on it. The hardest part when dealing with a setback is staying focused, so you need to realize that it’s all about recentering yourself, refocusing, getting back on your feet, and facing your darkest fears.

Remember, every single professional athlete has failed numerous times in their career. It’s a fact. Whether it’s out in the competition field or at home practicing, at the gym or park, every athlete has faced personal and professional, public and private setbacks – and has overcome every one of the to be the world-class athlete they were born to be.  


If you want to be the best, you need to go WIDE OPEN and do what it takes and never back down. It’s as simple as that. 

WFO Worldwide

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