How to move forwards even when life throws you a setback

According to, resilience is the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events. In Spanish (my native tongue), resilience is not a common word we tend to use, on the other hand, "perseverancia" or perseverance is used more often instead.


Perseverance is defined by the Cambridge dictionary as "continued effort to do or achieve something, even when this is difficult or takes a long time". When thinking about it, resilience and perseverance seem to be long-lost sisters, right? No matter which one you prefer to choose, the essence of resilience/perseverance plays a key role in order for us to experience success.

But reaching that state all the time can be hard, especially when we face unexpected setbacks in life. I believe that the key to tapping into that state of resilience and perseverance is to find our own way to reach that sweet spot, that harmony between effort and rest. Or, to put it in other words, finding the balance between "productive stress" and those pockets of time we dedicate ourselves to restore. 

Oh, and I am aware that it might feel easier said than done... especially with how the world is right now.

The thing is, we don't need to always give our 200%. We don’t need to push ourselves to the point of burnout every month in order to hit a target or a deadline. We don’t need to become workaholics or overly focus on productivity.

What we need is to learn how to listen to our body, to cultivate self-compassion and to be kind enough to ourselves to step back from certain sensations and situations so that we can replenish our energy and get back once again once we are rested and ready to continue.

In the same way, artists need a break in order to create more art.

In the same way, singers need to rest their voices in between concerts.

In the same way, Olympic athletes need rest days and “cheat meal” days to recover from their training, gain more strength and step back to their training or competitions in even better conditions.

In the same way, nature needs transitional seasons like autumn or spring to be fully herself.

And as we learn that it is OK to rest, while we try to give ourselves a break, we also need to acknowledge the obvious: not everyone rests the same way. Not everyone has the same opportunities nor the same days. None of us is the same.

But we need to find a way that works for us. Because we all need a break from time to time.

If my words resonate with you and now you are thinking "OK Carla but where do I start?", here are a few things you can start with:

  • Replacing minutes of mindless scrolling on your phone in between calls with trying to get some sunlight. No matter how busy we are, we can always look out of the window or take ourselves outside for at least five minutes to look at the sky.
  • Breaking down big tasks into smaller, more digestible ones. Sometimes the thought of a big task can be extremely intimidating. But when we break things down we are not only taking away some emotional pressure but we are also setting ourselves for success.
  • Reward yourself even for the small baby steps/milestones. These rewards can be as small as mentally telling yourself “Well done Carla for XYZ”. No matter the size, rewarding yourself sprinkles dopamine and these dopamine trails will not only feel really good after your completed task but will also motivate you to take your next step.

I feel like I am repeating myself but I really want you to remember this OK? So bear with me... 

When the task ahead feels overwhelming, maybe even like a big mountain we have to climb, don’t look up and aim to the peak during that first climbing session. Instead, you use your beautiful laser beam vision and narrow your focus and set yourself the goal to make it to the next gap in your climbing route, this is your first baby step.

Once you get there you applaud yourself for doing your best and embrace the feeling of being where you set yourself to be. If you need time to recoup energy, drink water or even create a different plan now that you have experienced that first part of the journey. When you feel ready to continue your journey again, you start again into the next part of your route.

This is how I help my clients. To find their own way to build resilience/perseverance. To explore what works for them and what doesn’t. To focus first on baby steps so that they can sustainably move forward. To get where they want to be on their own terms and to learn how to keep going even when we haven’t spoken for a while.

If you want to know how I can help you do the same, get in touch.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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