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Ask a leadership expert:
How to Recover from a Setback, Build Confidence and Start Again

By Jenn DeWall Confidence and Leadership Coach & Keynote Speaker & Trainer.

We all face setbacks in life. No matter how much you plan, prepare, or how hard you work—there will be unexpected twists and turns in life. Whether you missed out on a promotion, lost a job, ended a relationship, or had some other disappointment, learning how to navigate a setback is part of the human experience. A setback can be an opportunity to learn and grow as a person— even if it doesn’t feel like it at first!

Learn My 5 Favorite Tips for Recovering from a Setback

1. Acknowledge Your Loss. The first step to recovering from a setback is to give yourself time and space to acknowledge the setback, own it, and feel your feelings. Pretending you are fine or acting like it does not bother you won’t work in the long run. So, go ahead and give yourself permission to be sad, frustrated, or angry, but take a pause. While you are processing negative emotions, it is best to steer clear of making decisions, writing angry emails, or sending that late-night text! Taking a little time for yourself to process what happened is an important step in
getting back on track.

2. Embrace a Growth Mindset. Think about the most successful people you know. None of them got where they were going without experiencing setbacks or failures along the way. Embracing a growth mindset means believing that you can always learn and improve through effort and dedication. Believing in your ability to learn and grow will boost your resilience in the face of challenges. To recover from a setback, you must think that you can.

3. Connect with Others. When you are recovering from a setback, it is important to stay connected with friends, family, and colleagues. Solitude can be your enemy in challenging times. It can be easy to slip into negative thinking or shame when you try to do it all alone. Seek out people in your life who support you and believe in you, and let them help if they can. Your trusted friends or colleagues can help you keep perspective, provide a sounding board and help you brainstorm your next move. You can also reach out to a Coach, Mentor, or Therapist. You do not have to do it all alone!

4. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone. Sometimes the best way to boost your confidence and get inspiration after a setback is to try something new! Try learning a new skill or doing an activity that you have been afraid to try before. Take that voice lesson, go skydiving, or learn to cook an exotic dish! Challenging yourself with something new can only help you embrace that growth mindset, get you out of your head, and give you a fresh outlook on the future.

5. Keep moving forward. No matter what, continue taking steps toward your goal. It is ok if they are small steps! Changing course can be difficult, but action is the antidote to fear. Think of specific actions you can do each day to start making progress again. Keep a journal to reflect on what you’ve accomplished each day. Then think about what you will do in one day, one week, and one month from now.


Recovering from a setback can take time, but it is not impossible. We’ve all felt the frustration of a failure or setback, but I truly believe that learning from our setbacks is how we become stronger, more confident and ultimately more successful.

Jenn DeWall is a leadership speaker, facilitator, trainer, and podcast host. Jenn is a Millennial leadership and workplace culture expert based in Denver, CO. Do you want to create a culture of belonging? Contact Jenn today.

Are you looking for an engaging keynote speaker, workshop facilitator, or trainer? Book Jenn for your leadership needs today!

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