Setbacks Don’t Mean Failure

Another month has past. Another semester has ended. And you did not accomplish the goals you set for your academics, career, family or finances.

You received another delay. Another setback that has you discouraged.

You are starting to feel like a complete failure. Why?

It appears that every time you establish a goal you fall short. Something seems to always run interference with you successfully completing the touchdown. You have been watching everyone else win at what seems to be everything. You have been watching everyone else proudly check off their to-do-list.

At first observing other people’s accomplishments was encouraging for you, but now you are starting to have a disheartened spirit. It feels like every time you get a breakthrough a rejection is just around the corner.

You are starting to doubt yourself.

We have all been there in some form or fashion. A series of setbacks can play games with your mind. There are at least two things to always remember when you find yourself questioning your ability or destiny to succeed:

  1. The most successful people have had many setbacks in life.
  2. Setbacks don’t mean failure.

DISCOURAGE: “To deprive of courage or confidence” (Webster’s New World).

Discouragement is a driving force to hopelessness. You should never feel hopeless about your situation. You should always be encouraged about your situation.

Yes, the disappointment does not feel good in the moment. Yes, you probably did give it your best. Yes, you might have sacrificed a lot trying to succeed. But, there is still hope. And you still have a promised future.

Three Things to Remember When Dealing with Setbacks

  1. Accept the Setback. Accept the setback for what it is. It is not an indication that you are not supposed to succeed at something. Often setbacks can cause you to be stuck on what you did not accomplish, and the feeling of disappointment holds you captive causing you to become overwhelmed with anxiety or fear. The setback is a part of your learning process to success.
  1. Learn from the Setback. After you accept the setback for what it is, you will be able to learn from it. You do not have to allow it to cause you to lose confidence in yourself, in God or your future. When we encounter disappointment, it can cause us to only focus on the negatives. But there are some pros to the setback too. Consider the timing, the method and even the blockage. Perhaps the goal didn’t manifest this time because it has an appointed time. You might need to try a different avenue or strategy to get to the finish line. And what if God was blocking it this time for your protection? We can’t see all the pros and cons awaiting in the future, but God can!
  1. Plan beyond the Setback. Moving forward is a part of the learning process. Now that you have accepted and learned from the setback, you are able to plan for the next round. Let’s be honest: There aren’t too many knockouts that happen in the first round. Each round appears to weaken you, but it is actually making you stronger if you are learning from the attacks or disappointments. You don’t have time to take a long break. You have to get right back in the game if success is what you desire to accomplish. You didn’t accomplish your goal one way, so you just have to write out a plan for another way. You keep rewriting the plan until it works. Failure is not an option!

“We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

Trust that God is using everything that happens in your life (yes, the good and bad) to work it in your favor. Be encouraged throughout the entire process.  Remember that “there are three stages in the work of God: Impossible; Difficult; Done” (Hudson Taylor).  Things might appear impossible and feel difficult to us before God finishes His work.


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