The Great Benefits Of Setbacks

In some of my most private of moments, I’ve automatically drifted into thinking about the setbacks I’ve encountered and what it took to get through them. In the context of leaving a legacy these setbacks have been necessary to refine my perspective on what precisely my purpose is, the unique components I’m made of and what tools I need to reach my goals.

I’m glad I went through the down moments because they’ve toughened me up physical, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. My definition of a setback is the involvement of any action, whether it’s intentional or unintentional, that leads to an undesirable outcome.

For example, an intentional action would be working really hard to gain a position in your school’s sports team but you fail. An unintentional action could be shuffling into an uncomfortable position, while asleep, which leads to an awfully painful neck upon waking. The point I’m getting at is the fact that setbacks are a normal part of everyday life and we should always expect them. Sometimes, they can arise as an ‘RKO out of nowhere’ (I enjoy saying with my far-from-perfect American accent). Should we dwell on negative outcomes? By no means! What we must do with a setback is focus on its benefits – there are always two sides to every coin and a lot of time we’re just usually too hard on ourselves and give into our perfectionist tendencies.

You see, we should just go all out without worrying about outcomes because we’re never in complete control of any situation. Doing your best is what you should be focussing on because, in my experience, I’ve found that setbacks are caused by what I categorise as direct and indirect factors.

Direct setbacks include factors we can influence once we try again (you can definitely hugely influence these factors, especially since it took Thomas Edison 10,000 failures before he succeeded!). Indirect setbacks are caused by factors we have no control such as height, talent and the ever-changing environment. These are things we should just forget about. Don’t blame yourself or anyone for them. Nevertheless, there’s great value to be obtained from the experience of direct setbacks since we have full influence over them and a great potential for growth.

Let’s explore the value of setbacks in this relatively short post.

Builds your character

Life is a series of experiences, each one of which makes us bigger, even though sometimes it is hard to realize this. For the world was built to develop character, and we must learn that the setbacks and grieves which we endure help us in our marching onward. – Henry Ford

What else can build character more than overcoming a setback? Setbacks are essential for your personal development and really shows what you’re made of. I remember attempting to do pull ups for the first time and I could barely do a third of one full repetition. It was strange, as most setbacks appear to be at first, because I’m a naturally muscularly built fellow (my dad’s fault) and it would be expected of me to do pull ups with ease. I learnt that with every endeavour we should never assume things can’t go wrong no matter how certain we may feel. The brain’s thoughts are usually not based on reality so being objective about an undertaking is important.

[Tweet “Setbacks inspire you to make a real and lasting change. – @LegacyMode”]

I understood that continuous improvement is a must, I never stop looking for ways to improve regardless of how far I may have come. It’s this continuous improvement which builds character. Character is our unique selling point; it’s what moulds our outlook on life and it’s what we’re judged by. People without character are seen to be boring, so embrace life’s tests and be grateful for the opportunity setbacks give you to refine things about yourself that aren’t up to scratch. This allows you to fully become yourself well-equipped to adapt to new situations as they arise in your life. A setback is a catalyst which will help you to achieve exceptional results while reaching your goals.

Develops your resilience

A successful entrepreneur can’t be afraid of failures or setbacks. An initial setback can be a great opportunity to take a new and more promising approach to any problem, to come back stronger than ever. – John Roos

As the saying goes what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Every superhero, whether real or fictional, all have in common a story of hitting the rock bottom before they succeeded. This gives me inspiration because I always remember there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and I’m driven to reach my targets even when I’m knocked to the ground. I’ve already been knocked the ground by vehicle and the experience toughed me up, lessening the impact of negative situations on my state of mind.

If you don’t expose yourself to the risk of setbacks then you don’t grow and when a serious eventuality comes around, such as the death of a loved one, you may end up losing your mind and none of us wants to be in this position because it would make your life extremely miserable. It can also bring down the morale of those close to you.

[Tweet “Setbacks develop your ability to cope with hard times. – @LegacyMode”]

I prefer to sort my issues or struggles within myself and through persistent meditation I get to the root of things and use the experience as a weapon to fight against upcoming dark times. In life, just as there’s day and night, there’s happiness and sadness, our job is to develop the tools to and the protective shield to get through the resistance of down moments without falling by the wayside (cases of suicide and drug dependence). When a setback comes around the opportunity to become a stronger self is priceless.

Increases your creativity

If we experience any failures or setbacks, we do not forget them because they offend our self-esteem. Instead we reflect on them deeply, trying to figure out what went wrong and discern whether there are any patterns to our mistakes. – Robert Greene

A major plus of setbacks is that it gets the problem-solving juices flowing which leads to growth. A setback makes you question things. When you find a solution you become at expert at dealing with your current situation and because of this, setbacks are a powerful source of inspiration for radically making a difference in your life. In this way you become a source of wisdom to help others in their journey, which leads to fulfilment and positive emotion.

As a fervent solution-finder, I’ve been able to tap in solutions which dramatically improve my outcomes compared to the first approach I thought would be ideal. This shows the importance of allowing yourself to explore alternative methods or better ways to approach a task, because it will help you to receive something better than what you asked for or expected. This approach makes a setback worthwhile rather than thinking you aren’t good enough to win and giving up when you have a chance to make a life-transforming breakthrough.

[Tweet “Setbacks are essential for creativity and adaptability. – @LegacyMode”]

Teaches you to be grateful for what you have

I’m going to have setbacks and failures; I’m not going to see change right away all of the time or most of the time. But everybody I’ve ever respected has failed at one thing or another. I’ve definitely fallen on my face. But I’ve also had a comparatively easy life. – Cory Booker

When you suffer a setback it’s important to realise what you do have going for you. We can’t have it all; none of us can be the best at everything so we must relax and not be too hard on ourselves. Gratefulness usually stems from indirect setbacks because you begin to appreciate what could be taken from you in areas you don’t have full control over such as your health or what can be lost during natural disasters.

Most of us have a caring family and friends, a healthy physical body and a clean water supply. This helps to put a setback into perspective and shows you it’s not the end of the world. With this kind of mindset, you stay positive and understand that setbacks help you to value the most important things in life. This has helped me to detach myself from outcomes but find enjoyment in the fact that I’m experiencing life, a life given to me for free without any effort of my own, and how marvellous a life is. When you’re grateful you’re rich and this boosts yourself self-motivation to keep you going. Remembering how far you’ve come already will remind you that you have what it takes to achieve your personal goals.

[Tweet “Setbacks remind you to be grateful about what you have in life. – @LegacyMode”]

Helps you to leave your ideal legacy

I’ve had disappointments and heartbreaks and setbacks and roles I didn’t get, but something always came along that either made me better or was an even better role. – Lee Majors

The people who are remembered for all time are those who didn’t give up when they were tripped up. These are the ones we look to in awe when speaking of figures who changed the face of history. These same people are no different to you and I. To achieve such a status in your community you have to endure the struggles of following your passions and not look for an easy way out. If you want to live a meaningful life you have to pay your dues, and never give up on your goals because it’s only through persistence you have impact on others. When you stand firm in the midst of troubles you’re able to bring honour to yourself. If you run away and don’t face your situation head-on you don’t allow yourself to evolve to truly understand the meaning of your purpose, or reach the positions in life only you’re most suited to reach.

[Tweet “Setbacks are temporary but your legacy lives forever. – @LegacyMode”]


When you start living the life of your dreams, there will always be obstacles, doubters, mistakes and setbacks along the way. But with hard work, perseverance and self-belief there is no limit to what you can achieve. – Roy Bennett

Setbacks are a part of everyday life and are extremely primed to catapult you to a higher level. Use them to reflect on your personal development and look for solutions to your situation in order to grow, and through this process you have the opportunity to build your character and resilience for storms that are bound to come your way. You’ll be a stronger self and well-equipped to turn a negative situation into a positive one. This will increase your wisdom and intelligence which are some of the great tools to follow your passions authentically.

With authenticity you’re able to inspire those around and when you inspire those around you the world changes for the better. Just consider how great setbacks actually are. Be encouraged and keep going, you’re going to make it, but the catch is that you can’t give up or you’ll stay in a setback position unable to progress into all you were born to become. Take advantage of setbacks because you never know what great heights they may lead you to.

Have you taken full advantage of setbacks in your life? Comment below.

If this post resonates with you why don’t you share it. Maybe the outlook of this message will inspire someone else to start living the life they were born to live.

Image credit: Dissapointment II / Evan Lavine / Flickr

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