All of us have set-backs, times in our lives when things don’t turn out as planned. We lose jobs, fall short of goals, or find ourselves off of the path we originally intended to follow. When this happens, we can often start to believe that we need to create a whole new plan, transform ourselves completely, or make entirely new goals.
However, if you are currently in this position, I will ask you to pump the breaks for a second. Before you go out and re-write your entire professional or life plan, consider the idea that you might not need a total life transformation, you might just need to plot your come-back.
People in the midst of a set-back can be pretty hard on themselves. Their brains seem to focus only on those things that they did wrong, decisions they regret, and perceived shortcomings. They say things like “I shouldn’t have done this.” ” I’m not good enough” or “I’m a failure.” And, with these thoughts, they go about the business of throwing the baby out with the bathwater and attempting to start over with a clean slate.
This tendency, based on the brain’s expert ability to pick up on threats, is not only inefficient, it is often very ineffective, setting the person up for yet another set-back. It can be demoralizing and frustrating, because it feels like everything you did before was for naught.
It doesn’t have to be. If you are willing to see your backstory as the set up for the exciting future instead of the last steps before a tragic ending. Creating a come-back story is not only more effective, it’s also more exciting.
In a come-back story, what you went through simply prepared you for the big win you might not yet see around the corner. The come-back story doesn’t throw out the past, it uses it to design the future. In fact, a come-back recognizes that, without the challenges of the past, the future would not even be possible.
Instead of thinking “I shouldn’t have done this,” a come-back focus would say, “this gave me the skills for something, I just have to be open to what that is.” The same with not being good enough or a failure. Come-back stories see those as “I know more about what I’m uniquely good at” and “I had the courage to try something challenging.” When plotting a come-back, all past experiences simply add depth to the story, they make it more interesting, and provide clues to the future.
What past events have provided insight for your next breakthrough? What superpower did that rough experience give you that you can now use in the world? How are your goals the same as they were before, even if they look and sound a little different? These are the questions that build a great come-back story and the answers can help you plot your next steps.
We all have set backs. Those challenges are what makes a good story. So, instead of throwing out the book, keep writing, things are just starting to get interesting. Your past story may have all the information you need to create amazing future chapters. The next chapter is much easier to write than an entirely new book.