According to television personality and Strayer University partner Steve Harvey, “growth is a series of mistakes. That’s the only way you learn.” You must create your own path to success. While you may know what you want your outcome to be, few know the exact steps to take, and navigating anything with uncertainty means there will be missteps along the way. These aren’t failures, they’re setbacks, and they’re a part of the process. They’re the only way you learn.
Setbacks are difficult to accept, but with the right approach, most can be overcome. A poor grade on an exam, a mistake at a new job. Financial difficulties or a missed career opportunity—people grapple with these things every day. It’s natural to feel discouraged, and it is okay to allow yourself time to process a disappointment. What really matters is that you not let your setbacks hold you back.
Nothing to Fear
Allowing setbacks to hinder you out of fear of failing prevents you from succeeding. The key is to process your setbacks, allow yourself time to recover, and take what you’ve learned to continue down your path.
Back in May, LinkedIn asked over 80 influencers what piece of advice they wish they had known when they were 22. These prominent leaders and innovators all had their own paths to success, but many stories shared a common theme: the need to adapt and respond to setbacks. As Dr. Michael Plater, president of Strayer University, says, “Obstacles are a part of every individual’s growth towards success, not only for themselves, but ultimately for their families. You have to be willing to adapt to unexpected changes and look for opportunities to help others who might be struggling at times. Your true character shows in how you respond to the challenges you face in your journey towards success.”
Accepting Setbacks as Inevitable—Not Inescapable
Everyone falls at some point. Once you’ve learned not to be afraid of falling, you can accept and anticipate it. As a student, you know not every class you take will come easy to you. You’ll have to study harder for some things, and even then, you may find it difficult to excel. At work, you’ll have good days and bad days, and rolling with the tide is the only way to move forward.
Start each day by telling yourself, “today will be a good day, and if it’s not, that’s okay, because tomorrow will be better.” A positive outlook will help you control the outcomes of your day and retrace your steps to determine what you can do to improve on your next one.
Recharge, Reflect, and Reconvene
When you’ve hit a setback, you’re going to feel it. Disappointment hurts, no matter how determined you are to overcome it. Don’t deny yourself your feelings, or try to react in a way that is not natural to you. As long as you maintain your resolve, it is okay to give yourself time. If anything, taking a step back to gather your thoughts is healthy. It helps you decide what to do next, and do so with a clear mind.
Whether you have a week to retake an exam, or a few hours to correct a mistake on a report, use your time to figure out what went wrong. Take a break and, once you are fully recharged, continue where you left off.
It Takes a Village to Raise a Success
You’re not on this road alone. There are people invested in you and want you to succeed as much as you do. They are your network of support, and they are comprised of the people in your life closest to you—your children, your parents, your partner, your friends, and your mentors. When you hit a roadblock, don’t be afraid to ask for help. It shows courage, not weakness, to admit you need a helping hand. And the inspiration you receive from the people around you will encourage you to keep on moving.
If there are too many demands on your time, causing you to make mistakes and overlook things, ask for help to get things done. Maybe your partner can pick up the kids and cook dinner one night, or maybe a coworker is willing to assist you with some assignments. Strayer University has a Success Coach program—a team of dedicated professionals whose sole focus is helping students achieve their goals. Leverage the people and resources available to you so you can feasibly manage everything on your plate.
Remember, setbacks are speed bumps—they’re not the end of the road. With a bit of resilience and a positive outlook, very few are insurmountable. Even more importantly, the fear of setbacks should never hinder you from working to achieve your goals. That is the only real failure: refusing to learn and grow from your mistakes. As Steve says, “The most successful people in this world recognize that taking chances to get what they want is much more productive than sitting around being too scared to take a shot.”