Getting discouraged by setbacks is one of the most common reasons people fail to meet their goals. Recent research at Rutgers University reveals that people who felt a setback was within their control were more likely to persevere afterward, as were people who got more frustrated by adversity. The results jibe with a larger body of work suggesting that if you approach setbacks and your ensuing negative emotions with the right mind-set, you will be more likely to bounce back.

Increase your feelings of control

  • Take a stance of actively learning about the process of reaching your goal. Every setback is educational and will help you learn how to succeed.
  • See the journey to your goal as an adventure. Any setbacks are interesting twists in the plot rather than damning verdicts on your abilities.
  • Reexamine your actions to find things you might have done differently.
  • Look at the chance to try again as a gift.
  • View persistence as a choice rather than a personality trait.
  • Seek specific critical feedback. Detailed information can help you focus on what needs to change.

Make use of your frustration

  • Let it fuel your focus. Use it to draw your attention to what can be done differently next time. Doing so will help you see setbacks as valuable information.
  • Look at the frustration as a healthy sign of caring about your goal.
  • Consider the flip side. If you are not frustrated, maybe you do not care enough about the goal or you are looking for an excuse not to reach it. Figure out what you really want.
  • Do not beat yourself up. Blaming yourself and feeling inadequate may prevent you from figuring out what to change on your next attempt.
  • Decrease stress in general. People have a harder time coping with emotions when they are stressed out.