6 Ways to Turn Setbacks Into Success

As you start settling into 2016, you may have been experiencing some rueful reflection regarding 2015. Pretty much everybody I’ve dealt with over the past year has shared what a challenging, topsy-turvy 365 days it was, myself included! From a Co-Active Coaching perspective, however, there are many ways to “move through the muck” and make something truly powerful out of those tough times. Consider exploring these six (6) ways to turn your setbacks into actual successes with very little effort. 

  1. Learn the Lesson. Setbacks aren’t forever. They often happen to get us to slow down, take notice, change a behavior that no longer serves us, and/or to learn a life-transforming lesson. Take out a sheet of paper now and review the setbacks from last year. Ask yourself two questions: 1) What did I learn here? 2) What was I meant to learn here? Taking the time out to reflect on the learning is a surefire way to make sure they won’t happen again.
  2. Magnify the Message. Think fortune-cookie: Tucked inside every setback is a powerful little message for us. You know how it can be tough to get that fortune out of the fortune cookie and it’s such a mess once you actually open it; well, the same is the case for setbacks—you have to go through the drama, nonsense and pain but once you’ve moved through it, there’s often a beautiful message for your life that you may not have seen otherwise. Take out a sheet of paper and write out two (2) columns. One column is entitled “Setbacks”, the other is entitled “Message”. For each setback, reflect on the messages you gained and how they actually radically transformed your life.
  3. Opportunity versus Obstacle. From this point forward, let’s see all setbacks as opportunities rather than obstacles. When we have a perspective-shift and are able to ask, “What’s the opportunity in this setback”, we’re able to navigate through our problems and sticking-points much easier and much faster. It’s as Captain Jack Sparrow so poignantly states in Pirates of the Caribbean: “It’s not the problem, it’s your attitude about the problem!” When we change our attitudes about obstacles and see them as opportunities instead, we start training our brains to be more solution-focused versus problem-focused.
  4. Bad Day Not Bad Life. The reality is: some days are better than others. Just because we have a “bad” day or a series of bad days, it does not equate to a bad life. Take out your journal now and write out at least 10 ways you’re having a great life. Think thankfulness here. (Perhaps you have wonderful friends, an excellent family, a job that pays you on time each month…or that you actually have a job!)
  5. Teach Your Truth. One of the ways I’ve learned how to overcome setbacks is to actually talk about them and to share my experiences along with the ways I taught myself on how to move past them. Teaching my truth has not only been cathartic for me; I’ve found it’s very validating for others as we learn we are not alone in our setback situations. The other benefit of teaching our truth is that others may brainstorm other ways to overcome such setbacks—ways you may have not considered! What a win-win for all.
  6. Seek Success in the Setback. Sure, perhaps you may not have attained all your goals, however, it is still possible to put your focus on what you DID do right; what worked and what is still working. Seeking success in the setback changes focus, gets your perspective back on the “prize”, and moves you back into creative and action-taking mode rather than wallowing in self-pity. Take out a piece of paper and divide it into three (3) columns: 1) What Worked; 2) What’s Currently Working; 3) What to do/think/feel now. Remember while doing this exercise:  What could be working is your attitude, mindset, your feelings about your goals, the support-systems you have, etc. In other words, what’s working doesn’t have to be something physical, it could be a feeling, a positive idea you’ve had or your sense of spirit.

Feel free to refer to this post often and repeat! Share with your support-system so they can be of the same mindset to continue to rally around you and your goals throughout the year. For additional questions or coaching support, contact us here at Extreme Dream Training; we’d be more than happy to explore tried-and-true methods to get you turning your setbacks into successes in no time. Here’s to a rockin’ 2016.

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About Laurie Santos

Owner and Founder of Extreme Dream Training. Certified Life Coach, Master Reiki Healer, Certified Law of Attraction Expert, Certified EFQM Assessor. Surfer, expat, lover of animals, poetry and silence.


  1. Your blog/emails and other writings are always on point and seem to coincidentally come in times when I truly need to hear this amazing info! This is definitely a great time to reflect on all the positives we have accomplished rather than the things we’re still working on. We’re always so hard on ourselves and ready to to have the negative talk to ourselves but we won’t get very far if that’s all we concentrate on. Thank you for this invaluable information as always!!

    • Oh Julia! Thanks for reading and commenting; I so appreciate your feedback and more than anything, I’m happy this post helped a bit and you are SOOO spot-on: it’s über-important to be gentle and tender on ourselves. It’s rare that we just give ourselves credit for trying and for just being human—being human ain’t easy 😉 Do stay in touch and thank you so much for writing! Hugs, Laurie

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