I write this post on the heels of experiencing a setback. And honestly, I couldn’t have written this in the midst of it; it was just too raw. I was too emotionally attached to the latest thing that didn’t unfold as I planned or envisioned and spent far more time than I care to admit traveling down the rabbit-hole of woes-me. Can you relate?

It’s a rhetorical question, I know. After all, we may each deal with disappointment differently but none of us are immune from the vicissitudes of life. When it’s your turn to experience a setback or disappointment, well, it is just your turn. But man, when you’re in the midst of it, doesn’t it tend to feel like you are in the vortex – with no bottom –  all by your lonesome?

The Emotional Danger

The danger with setbacks is that the length of time you remain steeped in your emotional reactions to what is going on, is the same amount of time that you are “blind” to the teachable moment embedded in each disappointment. In other words, you prolong your ability to turn your emotional response into an objective evaluation of not just what’s going on but also on what comes next. Therefore, you can…

…potentially miss the “signs” (and message) the setback has for you.

What I realized with my recent setback was that I was misinterpreting the delay. I needed to recall the new-age adage: “Every delay is not a denial.”

Signs Posing as Questions=Message

What I also realized is that all setbacks slow you down…for a reason.

Perhaps the message is: you need to abandon ship.

Perhaps the message is: a call-to-action of a different kind (maybe a re-direction of your focus, energy, attention, and efforts).

Perhaps the message is: to simply accept the slower pace…just keep moving forward.

The challenge, of course, is discernment. You first have to be able to take a step back long enough to see your experience with renewed eyes. Second, you have to filter your experience through a series of questions (like those above) in order to determine how you should interpret the feedback you’re getting and what to do next.

The benefit of the above signs posing as questions is that they can help you bounce back from a setback. Likewise, they can help to put into perspective the inevitable disappointments you’re likely to encounter. And, as we round the corner headed toward the end of the year, these are perfect primers for evaluating the year thus far and prepping for a strong end to 2012. And, an awesome start to 2013!

When you reflect back on your recent setback or disappointment, what did you learn? Remember, your teachable moment is a teachable moment for us all!!! So, I hope you’ll share by leaving a comment… -;o)


p.s. have you experienced a financial setback as you deal with your debt? if so, click here to check out this free training video.

p.p.s. I had the pleasure of sharing the dais with Robert J. Wicks, PsyD who has written a great book about bouncing back from setbacks – “Bounce: Living the Resilient Life.

p.p.p.s. if you missed the last time I presented “How to Make Personal Finance…Personal,” well I’m doing it again next Tuesday (10/9) – a closed-door session for the subscribers of Beauty and The Bull Magazine (an investment magazine by women for women). But as a member of my community you’re welcome to join us — for free. Click here for the details.

Photo credit: Flickr, Ignacio Sanz

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