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  • James Walton

Setbacks, and How to Overcome Them

Has your day already gone differently than you planned?

Did your procrastination flair up again?

Did your carefully laid plans get upended?


Setbacks happen. That's the nature of setbacks.

How we respond defines how they impact us.


First - don't let perfectionism get in the way of progress. Jon Acuff says that the most important day in the pursuit of your goal is the day after you mess up. Often, we can choose to abandon the project or initiative because it's already less than perfect. Recognize that perfectionism isn't your friend and pursue progress instead.


Second, make allowances for setbacks. Railroad tracks run through the length of my hometown, making getting from one side to the other in a hurry risky. You never know when a 100-car freight train will come through, blocking all the intersections from minutes. I've sent the "running late, got stuck behind a train" text to the person I'm now late to meet dozens of times because I didn't plan for the train . Don't make the critical path in your project plan have 0 tolerances. 


Third, you are not your work. We all are deeply invested in our work. This is a good thing. But when it defines who we are, we risk allowing a setback to impact our identity, not just our productivity. Build in regular rhythms of reminding yourself who you are, why you do what you do, and that your value as a human being isn't tied to your work output.


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