It seemed like spring was finally here. The weather was warm and sunny. The cherry tree in our front yard was bursting with blooms. Tulips and Daffodils were popping up all around. We were outside in short sleeves and no jackets, desperate to soak in the warmth of the sun. And then yesterday happened. The temperatures dropped and the snow flurries came. We turned the heat back on in the house last night and I put on a sweater this morning when I got out of bed. In comparison, this small final gasp of winter was nothing compared to the winter weather of the last few months. And yet, it somehow seemed harder to take and more annoying than ever. It seemed like a step backwards…a setback.
There is something acutely annoying about setbacks. We’ve all been there. You’re making progress, gaining momentum towards a goal. And then, just when you start to feel good about your hard work…SETBACK!
I am currently having an exercise setback. I was doing so well with my goal to go the gym 3-4 days a week. I was starting to lose a couple of pounds and I felt more energized. But then life got in the way with too many commitments and the kids’ week-long spring break. My routine was disrupted and now I haven’t been to the gym in over 2 weeks. To be fair, I realize that 2 weeks isn’t really that long. But it feels like a huge setback to me.
The biggest problem with setbacks isn’t the setback itself. It’s the emotional reaction we have to the setback. As soon as I saw snowflakes yesterday, I immediately began my mental kvetching.
Oh no, here we go again. Winter is never going to end! A few days of warm weather and now this.
And every day that goes by without a visit to the gym seems like a tremendous failure. I begin to fear that I will never get back into the routine again. I worry that all my hard work thus far will be in vain.
Setbacks have a way of messing with our confidence. They cause even the most logical person to overreact. But before a setback sets you over the edge, it’s important to pause and honestly evaluate the situation. Yesterday it snowed, but today it’s supposed to be sunny and 50. Hardly a return to the weather of January and February, right? One final gasp of winter doesn’t mean that we’re going to have ten feet of snow. Two weeks without going to they gym doesn’t mean that I’ll never go back again. Setbacks aren’t failures. They are unavoidable parts of change. In fact, they aren’t only unavoidable….they are necessary. Setbacks remind us of where we were before and why we don’t want to return there again. Setbacks keep our egos in check and keep us from getting too overconfident when we’ve made a few good strides towards our goal. Setbacks aren’t an excuse to quit. They are a reason to refocus and recommit. Setbacks aren’t road blocks, just speed bumps in the ever twisting road towards our goals.