How to Comeback from a Setback aka a Sucker Punch
So I want to tell you about this thing called sucker punches but before I get into it, I must tell you that I totally adapted the term “sucker punch” from life coach, Brooke Castillo (she’s awesome, check her out). I was so inspired by her podcast episode 107 that I had to create my own blog post and share this with you. Ok so, as mentioned on her podcast, sucker punches are challenges, obstacles, or events that are thrown your way, unexpectedly, when you aren’t looking and you aren’t ready for them. They deliver a wicked punch to the gut, in hopes that the punch will be strong enough to knock you out and keep you from accomplishing your goals. Their hope is that you won’t comeback from their setback, that you will stay down and give up on your goals. Let me demonstrate.
Let’s say your goal is to run a marathon. You’ve never ran one before but have always dreamed of putting that 26.2 bumper sticker on your car. Plus, you want the overall health benefits of running so you think, “why not now?” and start putting action towards your dream. You wake up every morning at 5am for your morning run and you’ve been doing this for the past 7 weeks. You aren’t normally a morning person but you’ve committed to this goal and have disciplined yourself enough to roll out of bed the second your alarm goes off. No excuses.
The marathon is this upcoming Saturday and you are so pumped and ready for it. However, one morning, you were about a mile or two into your run when your tripped over a piece of sidewalk chalk left irresponsibly by the neighborhood 5-year-olds. And down you went. You fell to the ground, landing on top of a chalky sun wearing sunglasses and an upside down rainbow. You cried out in agony because you twisted your ankle. Or did you break it? You weren’t sure because all you could think about was the marathon that you will no longer be able to participate in.
What just happened?
You just got sucker punched, friend.
See, these sucker punches come out of nowhere. Hence, the name “sucker punch”. They are awful and their sole purpose is to knock you out so that you don’t ever achieve your goal(s). And what do most people do when they get sucker punched? They (We) stay down and for these reasons:
We doubt ourselves. We start to wonder why we are even doing this? We think things like: is the stupid 26.2 sticker even worth it? Am I cut out for this? I’m not
smart enough/fast enough/qualified enough/strong enough to do this. And that self-doubt, the enemy, creeps in and steals our dreams, convincing us that we didn’t really want it anyway.
We see it as a sign from God. When we are chugging along with our goals and something negative and unexpected happens, we think: maybe this was a sign from God. Maybe this wasn’t what He wanted me to do. And then we quit our goals under the guise that it wasn’t meant to be.
We feel helpless. We feel cornered. We feel that there is no way out of our situation. We feel that there is nothing that we can do to get us back on the track to accomplishing our goals. So we throw up our hands in frustration, telling the Force that be “You win. I give up.”
We are hard on ourselves. We feel stupid. How could we have let this happen to us? Why didn’t we see that sidewalk chalk lying there in the middle of the jogging path? Why didn’t we see this setback coming? We tell ourselves that because we were dumb enough to let this happen to us then maybe we don’t need to continue on with this goal after all.
So how do we get up from this? How do we turn our situation around? When it seems like there is absolutely nothing more that we can do, how do we continue to go after our goals?
How do we recover from this setback, this sucker punch?
I’m not saying this in attempt to just blow off your setbacks and your struggles. I am telling you to pray because it works. When I feel overwhelmed or unsure of my next steps and I just don’t have the answers, I pray. Prayer allows us to pour out our hearts, lay it all on the table to God, and then quiet our minds (Be Still Psalm 46:10). In doing so, we gain peace and clarity about the situation. We may not get the clarity that we need right away, but it will come. And in the meantime, we can use the quiet confidence that prayer has given us to get back up and dust our shoulders off.
Ask God to show you what you should do next and to show you what He wants you to do. And keep going in the direction of your goals. Ask God to reveal any messages/signs that are from Him. Don’t automatically believe that your setback is a sign from God. God is not a God of confusion and if you ask Him to direct your paths, He will clearly show you the way.
2. Trust and Surrender
This is the hardest for me to do. I like being in control. When I write out my goals, I have a Plan A, a Plan B, and a Plan C for accomplishing them. I have a backup plan for my backup plan. But sucker punches are sneaky little sons of biscuits. No matter how many plans I make, the sucker punches are there lurking, looking at my strategies and finding that weak point of entry where they can come in and attack. And when it does, I am left feeling vulnerable, defeated, and ready to throw in the towel.
But what I have learned is that these are the moments when God wants us to come to Him and trust Him. He wants us to surrender our control and trade it in for His. He wants us to keep going and trust that He is bigger than our setbacks. He wants us to believe, really believe that this setback is a set UP for a comeback. He wants us to know and believe that what was meant to harm us or discourage us or keep us off our path, HE can change it around for our good (Genesis 50:20).
We have to come to Him and we have to trust Him and we have to surrender our control.
3. Embrace the Situation
This is going to sound a bit cray-cray but we need to embrace what just happened. Doing so will release us from the idea that achieving our goals would happen seamlessly. We will release ourselves from the idea of perfection- that the process of achieving our goals was supposed to happen perfectly. I don’t need to tell you that life isn’t perfect and that stuff happens sometimes. But sometimes we get so caught up in the idea that as long as we are in control of something, everything will go just as we planned. Embracing the situation allows us to let go of perfection, welcome the unknown, welcome change, and welcome the unexpected.
4. Acknowledge that This Too Shall Pass (2 Corinthians 4:16)
This setback is just temporary. They are like traffic bottlenecks. You are going to get to your destination, your goal, but it may just take a little longer to get there. You may have to take a detour. But don’t give up. Stay in your car and keep driving. You will get there.
5. Don’t Beat Yourself Up About It
Wasn’t the sucker punch enough? Why are you kicking yourself when you are already down? Don’t continue to let self-doubt keep you down too. Know that you ARE good enough. You ARE strong enough. You ARE smart enough/pretty enough/fast enough.
You ARE just as capable of achieve this goal as anyone else.
Get back up and keep going.
Okay, now that we have gotten back up, we need to get back on track to accomplishing our goals. We have to re-strategize by evaluating our goals and seeing what adjustments need to be made to put us back on track. We will have to re-write our mini-goals and/or make new ones.
For instance, that marathon that was supposed to happen this Saturday isn’t going to happen. No biggie. We’ll talk to the physical therapist, see when he thinks we will be back on our feet (literally) and from there, we will be able to set a new date for running a marathon. Our goal is still the same: run a marathon and delightfully slap that 26.2 sticker on the Honda. It’s our mini-goals that have changed a little because now we have to add the mini-goal of setting up an appointment to see physical therapist 3x week for an hour each time….
I think you get where I’m going with this. If not, check out my post for some help with writing your mini-goals.
7. Focus on the Wins
It is so easy for us to get bogged down on what we can’t do or what we didn’t accomplish. But instead, let’s focus on what we did accomplish.
Going back to the running example, if you’ve never run a mile before in your life yet you were ready for the upcoming marathon, don’t let the setback ruin the fact that you accomplished something that you have never done before! You started running. You got up early every single morning to run. You have done something that you weren’t able to do before this incident and that is worth celebrating!
So as you create these new mini-goals and set up new action plans for achieving them, make sure you carve out some time to celebrate your wins.
Which leads me to my next point….
8. Treat Yo’self
After each little victory that you have (each mini-goal or set of mini-goals accomplished), do something nice just for you. Treat yourself to some gelato. Hit the spa. Drink some champagne. Go see a movie. Be good to yourself. You may not be where you want to be, but thank GOD you are further than where you were. And that is to be celebrated!
Here is the takeaway.
In the process of going after our goals and our dreams we are going to have some setbacks. We are going to be sucker punched. This happens to everybody and you are not alone in this fight. But this too shall pass. As long as you believe that God has got you, get back up, and keep going. You will come out victorious.
So friend, don’t give up.
Until next time, love like Jesus.
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