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  • Writer's pictureBecky Upchurch

Preparing for Setbacks

I used to be a runner. I say used to be because a series of (unrelated) injuries has made it so running is currently not a viable option for me. And while I’m okay with that, it has made me very aware of how unexpected changes can impact us…especially if they’re out of our control. You see, my being told I can’t run not only changed what I was able to engage in physically…it changed how I engage with myself mentally as well. Suddenly I was injured, and my internal narrative was around how I was “broken,” “fragile,” and restricted. As you can imagine, those thoughts did NOT exactly do wonders for my self-esteem. I became so focused on what I couldn’t do that all I could see was setbacks and limitations.

The thing is, there ARE things I can do to nurture my health and move my body. I can walk for miles. I can swim. I can do my physical therapy-approved strengthening exercises. But because I wasn’t prepared for the possibility of a setback, it took me a LOOOONG time to see them. And that is the danger of not preparing for possible setbacks in a proactive way!

I think every single one of us has felt “stuck” at one time or another. And while there’s nothing “wrong” with that, it can definitely be frustrating, disheartening, or a source of stress! The thing is, while yes, there are SOME things that are beyond our control and could never be anticipated, there are also a lot of times where the “unexpected” maybe wasn’t so unexpected after all!

For example, people who are following a training plan to run a certain distance may hit what is known as a “plateau” where they may have their ongoing steady progress (how far or fast they can run) suddenly stop…or in some cases even seem to “get worse.” As you can imagine, this can be a very jarring experience for someone, especially if they’re not expecting it! This is why it is SO important that part of your planning for achieving your goals includes an awareness of possible setbacks and a plan to address them.

And yes, the best action plans are goal- and person-specific…but here are a few go-to questions to help get you started:

  1. What unexpected things might come up that could affect my progress and/or mindset?

  2. Is there anything I can do to prevent those things from happening?

  3. How can I address them if and when they do?

  4. What support(s) do I need to have at-the-ready to help me?

  5. What strategies have I used in the past to address unexpected snags that have come up? How might those be applied here?

Wanting some more specific-to-you support around your action plan? My inbox is always open!

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