A Big Idea To Turn Your Setbacks Into Major Opportunities

Jan 27, 2016 | Sensory Goodness

show up in every single moment life you're meant to be there

In the last 24 hours I’ve had a massive amount of conversations with people I admire about handling disappointment and getting back to passion. This might not sound uplifting- the part about disappointment-  but I can tell you that what I’ve gathered in the last day of digging through studies, lectures and the hearts and souls of people I deeply respect are the key to so much uplift I feel like I’m flying.

If you’re disappointed, if you feel disconnected from your own passion, or otherwise feel like you’ve been through a proverbial boxing match in some way… there’s something awesome on the other side of it…


We all sense the love that goes into things.

I see and feel when people are working with connection and passion, and I see when they’re going through the motions.  You see and feel it, too, even if you aren’t registering it confidently.  The work is different. The food a chef cooks with the same ingredients tastes different.  The vibe is different.

If I pulled up every blog post I wrote on certain topics and I compare side by side, the times I was most strongly connected, readers like you felt and saw and shared and commented on it reflect that it’s different.  Connection hits home.  No matter what you do with your days, what you produce will be a directly reflection of passion and connection, or your lack of it.

We aren’t always connected, as much as the idealistic unicorn-loving part of me wants to believe we can be…

Sometimes it takes a few drafts to get to a good one.  It can take a warm up round or two in order to get back in the saddle.  Go for a run after taking a few days off and you might not fly as fast… but by the end, you’ll connect with that endophin high.  When you fall out of the habit of being connected, sometimes you have to fight your way back, proverbially speaking.

It’s not about forcing… I think it’s more about practice.  Not every moment of practice is a joy, but when you have a reward in your sights, like my friend who rewards his daughter with her favorite toys for brilliant sports practices, it’s a little more of a game and less of a battle.  Knowing there’s something bigger that you’re working toward is a reward in itself.

Then there are times where things go totally wrong.   You don’t get what you want.  You’re knocked down, criticized, mistreated. It’s when the game really feels like a boxing match.

I’ve read all those quotes about failure, and “famous failures”, and I would sort of marvel from a distance. Michael Jordan not good enough for his school basketball team.  Steve Jobs fired from his own company. There are thousands of examples of people who flip failure into success.

But how do you do that when your spirit is broken and you find it hard to connect?

That’s the question I asked over and over again.

And the most brilliant words came today from my friend Richard Farrell early this morning, referencing the boxing analogy:  “Remember, all that matters is what you do after you get hit. To be successful and happy, you have to learn to fight hurt!”

I will never forget those words.

I’m honored to have friends like this.

While I certainly wouldn’t chase disappointment and upset, I realize I never learned to work with it.  I always harbored this idea that I had to fully return to happiness before I got back to living.  You know… sort of take a dive, go through a big process of getting back to my sparkling happy place, and then start again.  And each time it was harder to come back from the hard place because not only would I have to get all the way back to shining happiness… I had to make up for all the time I lost.

Every single thing that knocked me down was very expensive in many ways because I didn’t know how to play when I wasn’t at 100% .  I didn’t know how to show up anyway and stick it out.

But the people I admires know how to play through the hard times.

Learning to “play hurt” is a big deal.

The last gem I found in my big exploration of what makes some people shine in the face of a hard time has to do with decision.

I know when I’ve been in a really down place, decisions are not easy.

But, indecision breeds more indecision.

Christie Nicholson explains this in Scientific American really brilliantly, what happens when you linger in making decisions and turn life into much more difficulty:

“…So time equals difficulty, which then translates into importance, which leads to even more time spent deciding. The researchers call this predicament “decision quicksand.” Speaking of which, I think I’ll have the BLT. Or maybe the chicken salad. Then again, the burger looks good…

Even the classic book of self-help, Think And Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill, has a chapter dedicated to decisions.  Relatively quick, pointed, definitive decisions are explained to be the halmark of great success. With a decision you have a plan.  With a plan, you have something to do.  With something to do, you aren’t wondering.

What’s wild is that when you’re really not feeling great, that’s when you can make the best decisions to turn it all around.

I know you know this, but it’s worth the reminder if only to remind myself: the only way to know if a decision is right is to make it.   


That’s everything.

Decide big for yourself.  You don’t have to be your most sparkling and shining every moment of life, and if you’re able to still show up, even at the less sparking and shining of times, setbacks can be the beginning of the greatest comebacks – and the biggest leaps ahead- ever.


xoxo Dana




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1 Comment

  1. Lisa

    Oh yes. I have cancer. It’s not going away. I don’t know how long I’ve got -the doc said “hopefully years”, but I will carry on experiencing and learning and though I have some bad days, I also have some very good ones. I am meeting some great people through support groups etc and learning from them. I am using time I would normally be in work to be creative and do things I didn’t have time for before. Thank you for your wisdom….. x


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