How to Recover from a Setback

Whether it's a failed project, a co-worker conflict, or an unexpected layoff, everyone faces a setback at some point in their career. These unfortunate events can derail your plans and hinder your morale and productivity—but only if you let them.

Here are 5 principles to get you back on track:

1. Acknowledge the setback.

We all know what it's like to have the proverbial "elephant" in the room. It's neither pleasant nor productive, but not acknowledging it can cause even more problems than the "elephant" itself. When you confront the setback—and your feelings around it—you become much closer to accepting it and creating a game plan for moving on.

The comeback is always stronger than the setback.

2. Make forgiveness part of the process.

It's easy to blame others for the negativity and sadness you feel after facing a setback. But this only perpetuates more negativity, leaving you with a sense of internal hostility. Forgiveness isn't easy, but it's the best step you can take towards full recovery. A key element of the forgiveness process is to forgive yourself first.

A key element of the forgiveness process is to forgive yourself first.

3. Understand that it takes time to heal.

You're not going to wake up the day after a major setback and bounce back into your normal life instantly. Even though the logical thing to do is to move on right away, most of us are emotional beings and it takes time to fully heal emotionally from a major setback. During this period of healing, it's important to continue looking forward. Do your best to discuss a path out of the challenge, so you can start implementing positive steps that help you move on.

Time heals what reason cannot.

4. See the positive side.

Underneath every setback lies a silver lining. Recovering from a devastating setback requires you to identify this lining and use it to your advantage. For example, if you've just been unexpectedly let go from a job, think about your current situation as a fresh start. Try to see the value in the setback. What life lessons can you learn? What opportunities does it create that weren't there before? When you start to think more positively, you'll feel more optimistic about the entire situation and it'll be easier to move forward.

Be strong enough to let go and patient enough to wait for what you deserve.

5. Repeat the Water The Bamboo oath.

Last but not least, remember to repeat and internalize this oath: "No matter what challenges come my way, I will continue to Water The Bamboo." In my keynotes and seminars I have participants take this oath. Why is this so important? Because above all else, it helps ground you and remind you of the things that matter. It ensures that you'll continue the right path towards achieving your goals and successes, no matter what setbacks you face.

Strength grows in the moments when you think you can’t go on but you keep going anyway.

Please add to the conversation—comment below or on Twitter at @gregbellspeaks.