Developing career resilience
Developing career resilience

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Developing career resilience

2.1 Dealing with setbacks

Dealing with setbacks is an important part of self-efficacy, self-esteem and resilience. If you encounter a setback do you see it as a sign you weren’t meant to attempt that task anyway, or can you see it as a chance to learn and try again, maybe in a slightly different way?

Activity _unit7.2.2 Activity 3 Setbacks

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

Watch the brief video ‘Personal best: setbacks’ with OU sports academic Caroline Heaney, in which athletes explore setbacks they have had in the process of achieving personal goals, and the ways in which they try to deal with them productively. Note down their tactics.

Download this video clip.Video player: Personal best: setbacks
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Transcript: Personal best: setbacks

Setbacks can be thought of as challenges or obstacles or hurdles on your path to achieving your goal. And I think it’s important to think of those as natural obstacles or part the process of achieving a goal because it’s very rare that things run smoothly, and you will come against obstacles that you’re going through a goal-achievement process if you like.
Recently, the last couple of years, I faced quite significant setbacks in running. I had a few years where I was running really well and made, sort of, the international teams and things. And then it quite quickly went downhill because I got two stress fractures, one in each leg, which is quite – it’s not funny looking back on it, but it’s a good thing to come through. But at the time it really is quite a sort of devastating thing for a runner. And when you’ve kind of been on the rise for so long, suddenly it takes the plunge. So yeah, that’s my biggest setbacks.
I think it’s very important to have a positive mindset in how you respond to a setback, because setbacks almost represent a turning point. So, when a setback occurs, it’s either an obstacle that you’re going to overcome or it’s an obstacle that’s going to stop you achieving your goals. If you’ve got a positive mindset, you’re much more likely to approach that hurdle and overcome it and move on.
So, in terms of dealing with things which are outside of your control and maybe unhelpful, I’ve said this a number of times, but controlling the controllable. So, you can’t control everything, and that’s the beauty of sport. That’s the beauty of competition. And it’s the way that you deal with those things. But controlling the controllables is exerting as much influence as you possibly can on the things which are easy to do. And you can plan for things that may or may not happen.
And you can put things in place that will help you deal with them when they do happen as far as possible. So, I would never go into a race without a plan of how I might deal with a puncture. And I think knowing that you are as well prepared as you possibly can be despite the fact that you might never get that setback or it might happen and it might all go terribly wrong, but I can do as much as I possibly can. So, I carry more tools and more ways of dealing with it than others might, which might negatively impact on my speed because I’ve got to carry all this extra stuff, but in my head when I’m standing on the start line and I know that I’m as well prepared as I possibly can be, I find that is a boost and it helps me to shut down the negative thoughts of things that might happen which I’m not in control of.
Often how do I overcome setbacks? It needs me to identify why it’s happened. And so with being dropped, I wasn’t sure as to the reason, so it was helpful to talk to my coach, talk to my captain, find out those reasons and then, you know … Because I thought they were valid reasons, but they were things I can change, and they’re things I want to change because I wanted to be playing for that first team.
And so it drove me on. So, I actually played really well when I was playing twos for the next few weeks. And when I come back into it, I was playing better hockey because I’ve been spurred on, because I’ve been pushed down a level to actually play better. I wasn’t so complacent with my hockey.
I think coping with setbacks, one of the key things to do is kind of learn from it. So, it’s kind of that ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ kind of mindset. So, it’s important to kind of learn from your experiences and use them to your advantage.
And also being flexible in your goal achievement. So, you may have set out a target to achieve at a certain time, but a setback may mean you’ve got to be a little bit flexible, so being flexible in your goal-setting is also important.
End transcript: Personal best: setbacks
Video _unit7.2.2 Personal best: setbacks
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Some of the tips are:

  • Recognise in advance that setbacks are natural and part of the process. It is rare not to encounter them!
  • Respond with a positive mindset.
  • Control the controllable, accept it might all go horribly wrong but have fall-back plans and be as well prepared as possible, which shuts down the negative thoughts.
  • To find out why, have uncomfortable conversations, and learn from the setback.
  • Be flexible in goal setting.
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