Setbacks, financial or otherwise, can feel like a giant punch in the gut when you're clocking the 25th mile of a marathon. Once the momentum is disturbed so jarringly, it can be a huge challenge to correct course and keep moving forward.
However, it's not impossible — and you're still in a better place than when you started at mile marker one.
So how can you keep moving forward after dealing with an unexpected setback? Start with these tips.
Are you really dealing with a setback or a new opportunity?
Analyzing situations, for many of us, is an either or proposition. Something is either good or bad, and once something is considered "bad," it is only very rarely able to switch camps. So we continue reacting to this "bad" thing in a way that confirms it's negative affect on our lives.
But what if that "bad" thing wasn't so bad after all? What if losing that job pushed you to find a better position at a different company? What if that late payment just made you aware of your need to be more financially organized? What if that bad business deal led you to cut toxic relationships from your life?
Before you label something as a setback, take a moment to think about the good that could come out of it. If you really have to stretch your imagination, then by all means, stretch away. Even situations that seem awful have a silver lining. Find yours.
Stop thinking of your journey as linear
When we're working towards an end goal, we often think of the path as evenly spaced and straight. In our minds, with enough perseverance and determination, we will continue to make measured and consistent gains towards the finish line.
So when said path reaches a point where the pavement turns to gravel, there aren't any mile markers, and we have to double back to correct our course, we suddenly feel as if we've made a mistake and time is being wasted.
It's not. These detours are just apart of the journey. Sometimes we have to stumble and fall along the way in order to grasp a powerful lesson that was absolutely necessary in getting to where we want to go.
Come to terms with this powerfully chaotic journey by referring to your "setbacks" as realized opportunities. And drop the guilt while you're at it.
Recognize the dip and move on
There's no use in wallowing in a bad financial mistake or decision. It will do little (or often times, nothing) to change the outcome that has already occurred. However, there is much to gain in taking an honest look at what happened, what triggered it, and how you would reshape the situation if it were to arise again.
Anytime I am working to come to terms with a poor decision I've made or a goal I feel like I'm missing the mark on, I try to have my internal dialogue reflect what I would say to a friend in a similar situation.
If we berated our friends like we tend to do to ourselves, they would most likely stop being our friend altogether. Good friends treat each other with kindness and understanding, and, hopefully, offer a point of view we haven't yet considered.
Once I've approached the situation with this in mind, I'm generally able to take the lesson and move on with it.
Let it go. That's the only way forward movement can resume.
Motivate yourself from where you are
Goals are meant to be revisited. If you feel so far off path that thinking about your original goal only brings up feelings of guilt and overwhelm, it's time to establish goals and a plan of action thatpropel you, not repel you.
Do you need a new starting place and ending place that spark that excitement again? Great. Start with where you are, and shelve the thoughts of where you thought you'd be at this point. Those really only keep you stuck and farther from where you want to be.
Sometimes setbacks occur because we need to rethink where we were going, our attitude about a certain area of our life, old thought patterns or beliefs that we've let fester – the list goes on and on. Let this be a stepping stone to greater awareness and don't play into the idea that it's a stumbling block.
Get back on your feet
Think about a time when you were faced with a similar break in your path to achieving a goal. That outcome of that situation likely tied directly to your reaction to it.
Do you want to repeat that outcome or create a new one? That is entirely up to you.
Kayla Albertis a proud Colorado native and personal finance writer for ReadyForZero, a company that is helping Americans manage and pay off debt online. She enjoys sharing tips on saving money and getting out of debt. You can follow @ReadyForZero and @KaylaAlbert33 on Twitter.