I had been working on my Doctoral dissertation for over two years. After much research, sleepless nights and fingers numb from typing this long academic essay, I submitted it to my academic advisor with much relief. A couple weeks later I received the shocking news from my advisor, “your work is not good enough.” In other words, I had to write the entire thing all over again – a huge setback. Like me, with my dissertation, you may be experiencing a setback and want to know how to overcome setbacks. Here’s how you do it.

Accept it

Accepting the things you cannot change is liberating. Not accepting things for what they are, will chain you to the past and evoke negative emotions that will keep you in a state of perpetual frustration.

To accept, therefore means to acknowledge things as they are in the present. It is like walking in the rain and allowing it to run down your back without getting worked up about why it is falling. Frankly, you cannot do anything about the falling of the rain, but you can definitely change how you respond to it. When you accept things for what they are you set your self up for growth, because “tough times don’t last, tough people do” (Robert Schiller).

Stay focused

Staying focused on where you are heading is key to overcoming setbacks. Having your mind focussed on your purpose and or goals, will pull you into the future when the going gets tough. So if you are currently experiencing setbacks focus on why you got started on your journey in the first place. See the challenges as distractions that seek to deter you from achieving your goals. If you do, you will rise above your setbacks. As Jack Dempsey once said; “a champion is one who gets up when he can’t.”

Adapt to change

With the exception of death and taxes, nothing else in life is certain. This means things are constantly changing around us and the best way to deal with these changes is to adapt. In other words, to overcome setbacks one has to adjust their approach or response to current situations.

During the setback with my dissertation, I could have given up. After investing so much hard work and time into the project I could have thrown in the towel. However, I told myself, “you didn’t come this far to only come this far.” Change had taken place and I decided then and there that I had to change in order for things to change. The result – I graduated six months later with a doctorate. I can guarantee you this therefore, if you change things will change.