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We’ve all had them. Some little, some not so little.

Having to deal with a shoulder injury, surgery, extensive rehab and recovery; followed by elbow surgery, more rehab and recovery; has been a powerful teacher about setbacks. I seriously underestimated the 6 months of struggle and disruption and the power of the setback. It really threw me off my strength and fitness game.

Recently one of my clients was struggling mightily with their fitness and dietary setbacks and on the verge of giving up. Their struggle was real and showed a lot about their character as they reached out for support, didn’t give up and are fighting back!.

So what is one to do?
Here is my 4 step recovery plan that I think can apply to any setback that we have (or will) encounter.

Step 1.
Admit it and accept it
This is actually harder than it seems. Especially if we are prone to success. We tend to think of ourselves as bullet proof. But no one is immune to the occasional setback.

And there is a word you need to wipe out of your vocabulary whether it is in fitness or in life:

In fact, some would argue that if you’ve never experienced a setback, you’re just not trying hard enough.
Try this mantra: “I’ve had a setback… now let’s go!”

Step 2
Don’t make excuses
First of all, they don’t help. A setback is not a character flaw. It’s a circumstance. You don’t owe anyone an explanation. Excuses tend to pile up like overstuffed luggage. At first it seems you need all of that stuff, but eventually you will get tired of schlepping it around with you. If you unburden yourself of the excuses, your load will be a lot lighter and you will be more nimble in moving forward

Step 3
Hit the reset button
A setback is an excellent time to rethink, reevaluate and reset. You might call it a fresh start. Or a pivot. (If the pandemic has taught us anything it is how to pivot!) Viewing a setback as an opportunity is a powerful weapon. It gives us time to evaluate our priorities, think about what’s really important and set some plans in place to get there. Think about it, if you are just chugging along in life with no challenges (or setbacks) you might miss some amazing opportunities to explore the possibilities!
Remember the poem you learned in grade school by Robert Frost The Road Not Taken? (1)
Think about the possibilities!

Road Not Taken
Step 4
Come out swinging
If you haven’t made excuses and assassinated your own character, if you’ve seized the opportunity a setback has provided, you’re ready to create a new beginning. Ponder the possibilities. Is this the time to take the road less traveled? Find a new path? Try something different? Double down, buckle up and get back to it?
The power of reevaluation should not be underestimated.

So if you’ve never had a setback, congratulations! But if you have, I bet you experienced these four points of recovery in some form or fashion.
If you are struggling with a setback, I hope that this recovery plan will give you the perspective to stick that landing and bounce right back!


Author John

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