Your Comeback Toolkit

toolkit-businessman-HANK-WEISINGERI’m sure there are times when your best-laid plans don’t pan out. You may seem to be going along just fine, when suddenly—wham! — A setback sends you veering off course. Your forward movement comes to a grinding halt and your motivation plummets. At such times, your self-esteem may crash as well, leaving you waylaid by feelings of fear, doubt, and hopelessness.

People respond to setbacks differently. Most, however, experience a setback as some type of loss—whether of direction, motivation, self-esteem, confidence, or pleasure in their job. Most also tend to go through the same stages in coming to grips with loss—disbelief, anger, wanting to turn back time, depression, acceptance, hope, and positive activity.

To regain your momentum, you must fully experience and move through each of these stages. You might experience several stages at once, or you might return briefly to a stage you’ve already passed. The only requirement is that you thoroughly work through each stage. This is where your comeback toolkit comes into play.

It’s not easy to deal with setbacks—they are emotionally arousing, draining, and taxing. The good news, though, is there are specific skills that can help you turn a setback into a comeback. The key is to remember to use them. Here is your comeback toolkit:

  • Tune in to your thoughts.  Many will be exaggerated and irrational statements-“ My life is over, I’m a failure.” Counter punch using rational thoughts that give you perspective: “It’s not the end of the world, I will have many other chances…”  Keeping setbacks in perspective prevent you from being overwhelmed and allow you to bounce back quickly.
  • Use your sense of humor. Doing so will help reduce your negativity, restore your perspective and the endorphins will energize you.
  • Practice Relaxation. This will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed, and stressed out and keep your thinking rational.
  • Engage in physical activity. Keeping active energizes you for positive action and prevents you from sitting home and feeling sorry for yourself.
  • Use Your Support Team. Don’t complain to them but go to them to help you problem solve.
  • Reassess Goals and Priorities. A setback becomes a great time to look for new life path.  Many times setbacks occur because of lack of motivation – we bring it on ourselves. Now is a time to be honest with yourself and decide if the course you are pursuing is what you really want.

Setbacks happen to all of us. I suggest you make a list of the tools mentioned and keep them in sight – you’ll be more likely to use them and it will be easier to turn a setback into a comeback.

I’m sure you have your comeback tools too – I’d like to hear them.

Hendrie Weisinger

Hendrie Weisinger

Hendrie Weisinger, Ph.D. is a celebrated and influential psychologist, pioneer in the field of pressure management, the originator of criticism training and the author of two New York Times bestselling books. He has consulted with and developed programs for dozens of Fortune 500 Companies and government agencies and has taught in Executive Education and Executive MBA programs at Wharton, UCLA, NYU, Cornell, Penn State, and MIT. His work has been featured several times in The New York Times Sunday Business Section, and numerous popular magazines. His article for The Wall Street Journal, So You’re Afraid To Criticize Your Boss, was selected as one of their 60 best management articles and reprinted in Dow Jones on Management. He has appeared on more than 500 radio and television shows including Oprah, Good Morning America, Charlie Rose, and was the featured expert for 5 consecutive days on The Today Show for their anger management special. His newest book and NY Times Bestseller is Performing Under Pressure: The Science of Doing Your Best When It Matters Most You can learn more about Dr. Weisinger and his new empowering E Workshop Experience, Performing Under Pressure at

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