You may be cruising along comfortably at work or in your relationship when – bam! – something unexpected jerks the rug out from beneath you. Setbacks happen in every life – and usually when you least expect them, right!

Research shows that setbacks and challenges occur frequently, both our personal lives and at work. In fact, it has been estimated that some major challenge shows up in the life of every person and/or organization every two to three months on average. The way you address these challenges, will ultimately determine your success or failure.

In fact, these apparent setbacks can be seen as a potential blessing in disguise. Along with the challenges they present, they also contain potential for enormous personal growth. The Greek philosopher Epictetus said that circumstances neither make nor break a person; they only reveal one to oneself.

Perhaps you find yourself backed into a corner with no solutions apparent. Or you feel as if the stream of challenges in your life never end; no sooner do you solve one problem, but you are confronted by another. What to do?

When you feel overwhelmed by challenges, it is important to remember that the ultimate purpose of life is your soul growth. Challenges will inevitably arrive within the scope of your learning and growth; the only part of the challenge you can control is your response. Your personal level of responsibility – your ability to respond – will help you rise to the challenge and continue to grow in knowledge, experience and maturity.

To stop the pain of resisting setbacks and focus instead on realizing your full potential, it is essential to learn how to effectively respond to setbacks. The better you become at solving problems, the more success you’ll experience.

One of the fundamental secrets to success is to focus single-mindedly on solutions rather than on problems. The more you think about possible solutions, the more creative you become and the more in control you’ll feel.

Success has a lot to do with your ability to solve problems. Right at this moment, you have within you everything you need to deal with every crisis you face. There’s no challenge you cannot meet, and no setback you cannot overcome by applying the appropriate strategy.

During times of setbacks and challenge, your natural response may be to withdraw or shut down. Instead, your primary responsibility is to rise to the occasion, face your challenges and strive to find a way forward.

Business coach and motivational guru Brian Tracy identified ten universal steps to manage and overcome setbacks, whether in your personal life or at work. These steps will get you out of any situation, so let’s take a look at them in more detail:

1. Stay calm. You have a wonderful mind that stores volumes of information you can access when needed. You also have access to a storehouse of emotions. Your thoughts determine the emotions you experience. When you don’t like what is happening, your first task is to control your thoughts and in so doing, to harness your feelings and emotions. Panic shuts down your neocortex, which controls your rational thinking process and pushes you into a fight, freeze or flight response instead. Don’t give in to knee-jerk reactions. See yourself as a winner and approach this problem as a test to see how you will respond. Frustrated expectations lead to negative emotions such as fear of failure and rejection. Recognize that you simply have not reached your expectations – yet – and that you do have control over how you respond to each setback. Interpret the challenge in a neutral way, and you will remain calm instead of hitting the panic button. Keep yourself calm by refusing to dramatize. This, too, shall pass! Instead of panicking, stay curious. Focus on how the challenge could be useful.

2. Be confident in your abilities. When faced with setbacks, the natural reaction is to feel stunned or to pull back. Don’t go there! Instead, remind yourself of previous times when you successfully handled challenges; recognize that you can handle this one, too. To rise above the problem, remind yourself that you can overcome it. No matter how big the setback, you can get up and start over. Yes, you can do it! When you focus on your toolbox of gifts and graces, you will become more confident.

3. Dare to move forward. Create a new vision; pluck up your courage to embrace it; then share it with supportive allies and go for it. Courage is not lack of fear, but control of fear. During setbacks, you need courage to control your fear and focus on new goals to get past the problem. Develop courage by facing your fears and doing the things you need to do. Courage follows courageous behavior. Decide what you need to do to survive and get past the challenge: reassess your options, get help to release past trauma, and then act courageously to move forward in the face of disappointment. Resolve to persist until you have solved the problem.

4. Get the facts. Accurate information will bring you calm, clarity and the ability to make optimal decisions. It will allow you to face reality, rather than the ghosts of what you’re afraid of. It is truth that sets you free, and not delusions, fantasies or stories. Avoid blaming; it is not constructive! The more factual information you have, the calmer you will feel and the more courage you’ll have for tough decisions. Focus on what you CAN do, not on what you CANNOT do; then remind yourself that whatever cannot be cured, must be endured. Never assume you have all the information or that all your information about the situation is correct; stay open to the facts. Facts don’t lie; once you have the facts, you’ll gradually find appropriate solutions and options to act on.

5. Take control. When experiencing setbacks, it is natural to respond with negativity or anger. These emotions are not constructive. Take charge of your emotions and thoughts, and then you will find the clarity to decide what to do. Taking control also requires that you take 100% responsibility for your life and responses to conditions. When you take full responsibility for your life and choices, you’ll also access your authority to make necessary changes. You will find the strength to move forward.

6. Cut your losses. To survive challenges, you need to be flexible. You must be willing to embrace change, even when it ‘s not comfortable. Don’t think in terms of win/lose; think in terms of the next step forward. About 70% of all decisions turn out not to be optimal, but they can be adapted or changed as you move forward. Knowing what you know now, what should you do differently to attract different outcomes? Get clear on that, then cut your losses and return to basics so you can start to rebuild.

7. Manage the situation. Setbacks are inconvenient, disruptive, scary and intimidating, but this is not the time to run away! Your survival is determined by how well you manage four things: you need to interrupt the dynamic, determine the scope of the damage, think in terms of solutions, and take action! To break free from fear, ask yourself what the worst possible scenario or outcome would look like; then apply your insight to the current situation.

8. Communicate constantly. A large portion of all problems are caused by lack of communication. During tough times, it becomes more important than ever for you to communicate to people around you what is happening and what needs to be done. Grab the bull by the horns and speak to others in your life about the situation you are facing. Confide in a trusted person or get professional help; the benefit of an outside perspective can be enormous during times of challenge.

9. Identify your constraints. To overcome setbacks, you need to identify constraints that are holding you back. Once your own goals and values are clear, it is easier to identify obstacles or limitations that keep you from moving forward. What is holding you back? When you identify that constraint clearly, you are able to resolve it. Research shows that a full 80% of constraints are internal (inside you) and only 20% are in circumstances outside you. By identifying constraints or excuses in your circumstances, you can eliminate them and step into your power. Relentlessly weed out these limitations and limiting beliefs, and you will become a magnet for success!

10. Tap into your Higher Power. Crisis is as good a time as any to start tapping into your Higher Power and access your limitless potential as a soul. Let this Higher Power within you burn through all obstacles and bring you to the outcomes you desire. When you’ve done all you can, your Higher Power will continue working to bring about the outcomes you desire: inner peace and optimal resolution of your situation. Take time to connect to your infinite soul, your Higher Power and your Eternal Source. Practice being still within and allow your Higher Guidance to speak to you. Sometimes your prayer may be answered as soon as you express it; other times, it takes more time. No matter how long it takes, keep believing, take action and you will see the outcomes unfolding in your life.

There’s no problem you cannot solve and no setback you cannot deal with when you focus on the resources you already have!

©Copyright Ada Porat. For more information, visit This article may be freely distributed in whole or in part, provided there is no charge for it and this notice is attached.