Setback or Set up?

How do we pick ourselves up again when faced with a setback?

Even the most upbeat, energetic people have times in their lives where it just seems all too much. Being a native Houstonian, and having been through many hurricanes, floods and other disasters, Harvey was the worst of them all. Houston has never seen anything of this magnitude and the consequences of Harvey will be with us for a very long time. Everyone sees this as a huge setback. It absolutely is one.

There is not a single person that I have spoken with, worked with or heard about that is “back to normal” in their own lives. Those who have been directly affected are putting their lives back together at home and at work one day at a time. They are doing their best to manage their own personal trauma as well as their family member’s trauma. They struggle between helping themselves and helping others. Then, there are those who had minimal personal loss. Those people are giving back in every way they know how, both with their time and resources. They are living their own lives, volunteering and trying to regulate their emotions of guilt for all that others have lost and are going through during this time. Visually, our city looks completely different; it’s a giant mess. The various smells on any given street are pungent. The sounds, rather than birds chirping and leaves falling are of the clean up by homeowners and city workers as well as contractors. The sounds are turbulent.

As soon as the Harvey relief efforts are in full force, we are confronted with the horrific travesty in Las Vegas. Imagine, people simply living their lives and enjoying music that suddenly have now lost their lives, are injured and/or suffering emotionally. Yet, Again, those who were not directly affected, trying to make sense of their own emotions and why they were spared.

These setbacks are just 2 examples of how unpredictable life can be.. There are so many more horror stories currently on the news that could take up pages and pages. As a mom, wife, family member, friend and professional, I am faced with setbacks on a regular basis. We all have them. Big or small, they are setbacks. They are our own setbacks.

Before I present the challenge, know this. I do not ever profess to know the definitive answers to anything. There is not a universal answer to this question. There is only the challenge of looking inside of yourself and changing one word. My challenge is to drop the word setback from your vocabulary, as of this moment. The challenge I give to myself and would like to offer to you is this. Instead of setback, SET UP, is the word I request we all use start using beginning now. I am taking the challenge as well.

Start by think of a former or current situation that you saw or see as a setback? What is this situation trying to set you up for? Ask yourself these questions. So begin the challenge with Step 1: What was the last thing that happened to you that felt like a “setback”. Write it down.

Step 2

On the same sheet of paper answer these questions.

1)What does this feel like for me? Name an emotion that the situation brings up for you. How is this a SETUP?= Being able to identify emotions. This is a skill that we all need in our lives.

2) What will we do better in our lives from now on as a result of this situation? Direct the thinking pattern to “how will I handle things better next time. How is this a SET UP? It has set us up to direct our thinking to current and future ways to do it better and differently.

3) What have we done to contribute to this situation? Nothing is not an acceptable response. This question forces us to look inward and identify some personal responsibility. How is this a SET UP? This gives us the tools to identify that in almost all situations, we have some role and responsibility. Developing this skill lets us connect better with others because we are able to own our part, which in turn gives other people permission to own their part.

4) What would I do different if I could have a do over? If you could start from the beginning of this situation, how would you handle it? How is this a SET UP? It gives us the opportunity to vocalize and visualize how it can/could have been done. Say it out loud to the others affected by you in this case.

Setback or Setup? You get to choose. I choose to see things as a Setup. Will you join me? 


  • Allison Goldberg

    Certified Life Coach , Corporate Coach and Published Author

    Allison Goldberg, Certified Life Coach, Corporate Coach, Published Author of How to Simplify Your Life in 30 Days, Regular guest on television, radio and podcast shows, Public Speaker, Facilitator and guest writer for several online publications. Life Coach Allison Goldberg uses a unique approach, coined Whole Life Strategy, with her clients to help them create structure and strategy to achieve goals. She sees clients in her Houston, Texas office as well her other clients all over the world via skype and email. Life Coach Allison has been profiled in the Huffington Post, written for online psychology and other mental health publications. She has been a keynote speaker as well as the featured Speaker for organizations and companies in Texas as well as other states all over America. Life Coach Allison has made television appearances and been on radio segments . Allison has a degree in Communication from the University of Texas.