When we set out to achieve a goal or goals, there are usually those unforeseen factors that have been aptly named contingencies.
They can come when we least expect them and they can also come at times in torrents…. one after the other, one after the other and one after the other. They have a way of destabilising one and if care is not taken, can make one give up on his or her plans.
Does anyone ever fully plan for failure? I doubt it. Most people believe it cannot and must never come. So when it does come, it devastates them completely. They cannot understand what hit them!
Recovery for such people usually takes a long time and a whole lot of effort. Others know such things could happen but being human, are never really ready for it. So when it does come they are hurt but know such could happen and are not as devastated as the first group.
Do setbacks announce their intention to come? Not at all. Setbacks could be frustrating, especially so when you keep making attempts to get over them and nothing and nothing seems to be working. When it does appear one is about making progress to get out of the setback, something happens and spoils everything.
Setbacks could come in one or a combination of different ways: death of a benefactor or a loved one; fire, earthquake, flood or other natural disaster destroying one’s business premises; disappointment or betrayal by a perceived benefactor or loved one; armed robbery attack on one’s business; examination failure; loss of one’s job; change in technology in one’s business; arrival of new competition in one’s business type; loss of a large number of one’s employees to competition, etc.
Unfortunately in Africa, setbacks are usually viewed as attacks from one’s own enemies, both real and imagined. Some may go to the extent of visiting spiritual homes and witchdoctors with a view to finding out the source of the problems.
Unfortunately too, most of the so called spiritualists and witchdoctors capitalise on the person’s desperation and begin to point the person in the wrong direction of accusing siblings, in-laws, relatives and even friends!
There’s no doubt such evil things do happen in Africa because of the prevalence of idol worship and occultism there. But setbacks may not always be traceable to these sources alone.
So just how do we deal with setbacks?
The first advice I want to offer and it is a very, very important one: never get desperate about trying to overcome setbacks. Once you get yourself in that mode, it would be one wrong decision after another, more desperation and more wrong decisions one after another!
And if this cycle of wrong decisions persists, it could lead to depression, then chronic depression and finally a desire to take one’s own life when one feels that all is lost and nothing can be done to change or remedy the situation.
So you must never ever get desperate during a set back so as not to destabilise your mind and ability to think clearly.
The second advice I offer is found in sacred scriptures, Proverbs 3:5-6 (New King James Version), “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.”
Just like sacred scripture tells us, you cannot rely completely on your reasoning to get certain things done because there is a limit to human reasoning or the senses.
This advice is the most important in dealing with any kind of setback one encounters in life because you simply do not know what the future holds for you. Can any human say for certain what would or could happen in the next hour? Most certainly not!
Your absolute faith in God determines that and if you simply trust in Him and offer your fears, worries and concerns, He will surely come to your aid. How do I know this? Again, God’s word provides the answer in Hebrews 13:5-6 (New King James Version), “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For God Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you. So we may boldly say: “The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”
Dealing with spiritual setbacks especially from real enemies is by prayer and constant devotion to the word of God. Things such as spiritual setbacks may not be common in the Western world but they are prevalent in Africa and can only be dealt with in such ways.
Your prayer life must be constant and persistent because evil people are never resting in their desire to destroy someone. Our Lord Jesus Christ assures us in Luke 10:19, “Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over ALL the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.”
Notice Christ said authority over ALL the power of the enemy, not some. But you can only exercise such authority with prayer using the name of Christ Himself! There is no other way of dealing with spiritual setbacks except by spiritual actions too. So CONSTANT and PERSISTENT prayer is a MUST for anyone who is serious on overcoming spiritual setbacks.
The third advice is for physical setbacks. In trying to reach your goals, you definitely must have strategies in place and smaller goals in between as a way of encouraging one to go ahead. With persistent setbacks, you need to look at these strategies very critically to see what needs modification.
As simple as this sounds, it could make the difference between moving forward and remaining in the same spot more like a tree shaking its branches violently from the winds and not moving anywhere!
For example, a company selling milk was losing revenue greatly and in trying to find a solution looked at what their competition was doing. Their competitors were making milk and selling in sachets in addition to tins and sales were hitting the roof.
A senior person in charge of sales of milk in this company trying to improve sales said, “how can we begin to sell milk in sachets?” He was vehemently opposed to the idea of the company condescending to sell milk in sachets.
When sales plummeted further, the manager in charge of milk sales was relieved of his job and replaced by someone who immediately advised sale of milk in sachets and sales improved drastically! So in dealing with setbacks, you have got to get rid of pride and look critically at your past decisions and strategies. What worked well sometime ago may not work well again now.
I once heard a story of a guy who was a graphic artist before computers became very popular. His business was doing fine and he used to have lots of customers.
With use of computers simplifying the process and producing better results, this fellow refused to go and learn the new technology to help him improve his business and retain his customers.
He was scared of using computers or looking like a fool in front of others while using it. What happened? Technology overtook him and his business and nowadays, he feels sorry for himself and is quick to tell anyone who cares to listen how the advent of computers threw him out of business. How pathetic!
The fourth advice I offer is that you must never lose sight of your overall goal. Keeping your mind focused on what you want to achieve and where you want to be in life is very important no matter the setback you encounter.
Except a person born into wealth and trained in the proper management of it, there is absolutely no one who did not encounter setbacks on the way to achievement.
Even after achievement, other setbacks crop up but you must never forget what your goals are. You must muster that spirit of determination that no matter what happens, you will get there.
The fifth advice I offer is closely related to the fourth and has to do with avoiding dream killers: it could be loved ones, relatives, neighbours and friends. All in a bid to offer advice, they can make one lose direction in the pursuit of valuable and worthy goals. This is so because they do not really understand how to deal with setbacks, make temporary sacrifices and move on to the top.
I once saw an inspirational television story on the program Turning Point about a former chief executive of a company in Kenya who while attending a conference in the United States suddenly got an inspiration to return to school.
And he wanted to go to a bible school in the U.S. So he went back home, discussed and convinced his wife and left with his children for the U.S. His friends thought he had lost his mind, leaving a lucrative job as a CEO for study in a bible school.
When they got to the U.S., all he could afford was a one room apartment and all he could get was a job as a janitor! His wife and kids however supported him and at the end of his study, he had two offers: one from a strong brand soft drinks manufacturer and the other to become president of the college where he studied. He took the offer to become college president and today that school has been upgraded to become a full-fledged University.
He started with a vision and knew what he had to do to get there. He had setbacks along the way but never lost focus and came out the better for it. These are the ways to overcome setbacks on your road to achievement.
Never think for once that you cannot have setbacks. And never think for once that you cannot overcome them. With such determined spirit, you will always rise again.