The Importance of Preparing for Setbacks

Just rewatched the following video from Marie Forleo:

Originally, I thought this video was just a rehash of the same old advice. On my second time watching it again after months, I’ve realized that’s not the case. Something stood out for me this time that I thought might valueable enough to share.

Don’t Become an Ostrich

Preparing for setbacks is something that I have recently stopped doing. I have grown into an ostrich that shoves its head in a hole and thinks, “If I don’t see my problems, they don’t exist and therefore, they can’t ever harm me! Hahahahaha.”

Obviously, that is not the case. (Don’t waste your time trying to tell an ostrich that. They can’t hear you when their head is in a hole. Speaking from experience.)

This avoidance tendency probably stems from low self-efficacy (i.e., “one’s belief in one’s ability to succeed“) In my case, my confidence in my ability to handle potential problems was waning. So I avoided thinking about those problems.

“Besides,” I told myself, “Why go down that rabbit hole when the problem has a chance of not even materializing?”

Problems ALWAYS materialize. If not the one you specifically thought of, then something else. If we don’t brainstorm and prepare for some of them (which may still help us out if a different kind appears), what might’ve been a great success, ends up being something that we just scraped by with. (And sometimes, it becomes something we failed at horribly.)

I think what this video helped me realize in regards to preparing for setbacks was that:

There are Consequences to Not Facing Your Fears

Herman gives a great example: In the field of sports, there tends to be a lot of trash talking. So when athletes, who may be going through struggles in their careers or personal life, run across animosity from the opposition, they need to be prepared for it. Otherwise, if they react adversely, their actions might cost their team a penalty, which then might cost them the game.

That line of reasoning, where Herman clearly connects the dots between our action and the resulting chain reactions, made things crystal clear. In order to achieve your goals, you really do need to:

Go Down that Rabbit Hole

Best way to understand the importance of preparing for setbacks is to:

  1. If you’re absolutely, deathly afraid of facing the problem, skate over the problem. Go ahead. It’s ok. Don’t even glance at it.
  2. Start instead from the moment after the problem occurs. What’s your natural reaction? Follow that forward.

Where does it lead you? If it’s not to a place where you want to go, you will realize the initial problem wasn’t as bad as where your lack of action led you.

Automating Actions = Decreasing Decision Fatigue

If a setback is anticipated and the reaction pre-scripted, there would be no need to make a decision when you’re already knee-deep and run down. And that makes a huge difference. It will reserve your energy so you can not only keep going, but also eliminate the need to expend more energy cleaning up a mess you could’ve prevented.


If you face your problems now and pre-determine your reactions, you can avoid a potential catastrophe/failure/dead end. Instead, you can confidently move forward, knowing that you will automatically react to issues that come up in a way that keeps you moving along your path to your goals.

Good luck on your journey!




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