“Happiness is a choice. You can choose to be happy. There’s going to be stress in life, but it’s your choice whether you let it affect you or not.” -Valerie Bertinelli
Just when you feel like life is going smoothly…
You are happy, peaceful, and on a roll…
Then you get into a car wreck.
Or you get fired. Your fridge breaks. You have to replace the furnace. Your basement floods. You get the flu, or a kidney stone. Your mother broke her hip.
Setbacks. We all have them.
When you least expect it, life kicks you in the Ass and reminds you just how unpredictable it can be! Of how there will always be some kind of stress in your life. Need I remind anyone (including myself) that all of these things are OUT OF OUR CONTROL.
There will always be roadblocks that come up that take you away from where you’re wanting to go. So what can you do when life knocks you down?
You can either have a pity party, beat yourself up, and play the victim role. OR you can change how you think and feel about it, handle it as best you can, SHAKE IT OFF, and move forward.
Fear can be a powerful thing. But if you can somehow take that power and let it push and motivate you, instead of stand in front of you or on top of you, now that’s an even more powerful thing.
Setbacks can also happen when we try to make a change in our life. And as most everyone would agree, change is hard…
One thing I encourage my clients (and myself) to do is something called SCRIPTING YOUR SETBACKS, which I first learned from an amazing interview conducted by Marie Forleo with Todd Herman… check out the full video here!
This strategy is exactly as it sounds; it involves thinking about what your major setbacks will be (or could possibly be) and scripting your preferred response.
To achieve the beautiful transformation we are seeking, and so setbacks don’t actually set us back, let’s follow Todd Herman’s 5 Prescriptions for Change.
1. Identify a clear and specific vision
What are you trying to accomplish? The goal must be small, immediate, specific and tangible. One of my goals is to become a blogger, and what that looks like to me is writing every day. Even more specifically, it means completing 4 blog post a month. “Tangible” goals ask us to consider specifically, what does the goal look, taste, smell, feel, and sound like? You have to see the path and be clear and specific about what you want to achieve.
For example, if your goal is to lose weight; lets say you want to lose 10 pounds.
2. Set trigger goals
Trigger goals are the tiny, micro-changes we need to set up for ourselves to achieve the bigger goal. Ask yourself, what is the very first behavioral action step I need to take to set myself on the path to achieve this goal?
We are talking about small wins, and believe it or not, you do receive small doses of endorphins and feel-good accomplished vibes reinforcing that you are achieving what you set out to do.
For writing, my trigger goal is that I will sit down at my desk in my home or office to write. The next step is to think about themes and topics I am currently impassioned by or can relate to. The next step is to actually begin to form the paragraphs, ideas, and to write. But I experience a small success just by sitting down at the desk in my writing room instead of getting on Facebook or watching Netflix, and just by sitting down I infinitely increase the potential likelihood of going on to write.
In our other goal, with losing weight, you can make trigger goals such as buying new gym clothes and tennis shoes you like. If you normally get tired when you get home, perhaps you can make a trigger goal of packing your gym bag, water bottle, everything you need the night before and drive there straight from work. This will make it much more likely that I will make it to the gym to work out.
3. Set improvement goals
Ok so since I am only sitting at the computer now and not yet writing that blog post, how do I get from where I am to where I want to be? Well, you set an improvement goal. Think numbers with a date attached. It can also be a document, but the idea is go from X to X+5 by date. My goal is to go from no writing once a week to writing 5 days out of the week. Plot it on a chart. This gives you a self-feedback loop to reinforce the behavior, but it also gives you information and a goal. Suppose I never finish that essay by the deadline? It’s not a judgment, it’s just information. And I can see where I went wrong and tweak my plan if needed, maybe I only wrote once a week, and I can set another improvement goal from there.
In our other goal, lets say our next step for the improvement goal is to get to the gym, and find classes you like. This makes it even more likely you will feel excited going to the gym. Another improvement goal would be to actually work out. This could include just trying out the equipment, even more specifically for 30 minutes, for example.
4. Gather a “good vibe” tribe around yourself
This one is pretty self explanatory. Tell your mom, brother, best friend, work colleague, pen pal, fitness friends, mentors; anyone who will encourage you so they can help keep you accountable. With writing, if you ned extra support, you can join a blogging community, connect with other writers, take a class, or blog about it. In our goal with losing weight, if you feel overwhelmed, hire a personal trainer or get a gym buddy.
The idea is to learn through osmosis and surround oneself with people who are in alignment with your vision as a growth accelerator and reinforcement.
5. Script your setbacks
Think of all the possible things that might get in the way of you accomplishing your goal. Todd advocates for the “positive power of negative preparation.” So, what am I going to do when I encounter a challenge? How do I avoid being derailed from my goal, even if I did not accomplish it (yet), I’m rejected, or criticized? The answer is: I prepare mentally ahead of time for how I will deal when things get tough. In this way, it won’t hit me as hard because I am prepared and more confident. This is so incredibly powerful because it is when I am at my lowest that it is the hardest for me to follow through with change and is easier to fall back into what is old and familiar, instead of what is new and uncomfortable.
In our goal with weight, if you will, lets say you live with someone who keeps a lot of junk food (potato chips, brownies..you get the idea) in the house. Plan exactly how you will avoid that junk food. Perhaps you can meal prep and make sure you have healthy meals and snacks on hand as an alternative.
You can even script what you will do or say to yourself when you do not feel like going to the gym or eating your wholesome pre-made salad instead of that delicious fettucini alfredo with bread sticks.
One thing I will add, is REWARD YOURSELF!
Don’t forget this part, it will reinforce your changes even more! What can you do to reward yourself (in a way that doesn’t derail your achievements) for doing well and reaching your goals? For me, I love bubble baths, getting my nails done, watching chick flicks and Disney movies, hanging out with my girlfriends, going on bike rides, cooking, drinking tea, and reading a good book!
Remember: predicting the worst (otherwise known as catastrophising) doesn’t make you a negative person, but rather allows you to be aware of what keeps you from reaching your goals, whether it’s your mindset, mood, PMS, sleep quality, anxiety, depression, stress, etc. and plan ahead to reduce the chance of something external (or even internal) interfering with your personal goals.
“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” -George Bernard Shaw
Now I would love to hear from you.
Do you struggle with change? What do you think about Scripting Your Setbacks? Have you done this before? What do you see as your major setbacks? How can you overcome them? Let me know in the comments below.
Thank you in advance for reading, commenting and sharing with love, compassion and kindness. You help make our cozy corner of the world wide web an awesome place!
Sending love and healing,