A setback is a setup for a comeback.

How do you respond when you are faced with adversity and setbacks? Are you a “Why me?” or a “Sh!t happens, why not me?” type of individual? Setbacks can be anything – it might be an accident, a relationship or marriage breakdown, loss of a job or business opportunity, or the death of a loved one. But it’s also a perspective and how you decide to handle setbacks greatly influences what happens next.

Despite these difficult and challenging times, you must believe that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and that a setback is simply a setup for a comeback. In the dictionary, ‘setback’ is defined as: “a reversal or check in progress”. I like to think of it as the universe giving us a check up from the neck up, a check in to ensure we get back on the right track for our soul’s purpose.

I recently came across the setback is a setup for a comeback notion when I happened across a book of that title at my friend Christie’s place, just after full lockdown eased when we were allowed one visitor to the home in Brisbane. Christie and I met at university and studied human resources together. We have shared a lot of ups and downs and have swapped lots of pieces of advice and literature on how to overcome challenges and have a good quality of life. One of these books was A Setback is a Setup for a Comeback by Willie Jolley.

At the time I read Jolley’s book, life was going well. The COVID-19 pandemic was getting under control in Brisbane and restrictions were beginning to lift. My husband and I both fortunately remained employed during the pandemic and we were on our way to purchasing our first home. Finance was approved and we were awaiting a contract from the seller. Our band had had its first gig since the pandemic hit. I had decided to relaunch my side hustle and focus my energy back towards HR Hot Tips. I wasn’t, however, working in my dream job.

Willie Jolley, author of “A Setback is a Setup for a Comeback” and “It Only Takes a Minute to Change Your Life”

So the universe decided to give me a check up from the neck up. The nature of my chosen career means I have delivered the message of termination of employment to probably close to one hundred people in my career. So it’s reasonable to expect it was about time it came back to me. My position was being made redundant; my day job as I knew it was going to exist no longer.

Not one to dwell on misfortunes, I tapped into various resources to help with my resilience, and one of them was Jolley’s book.

The underlying thrust of the book centres around Jolley’s acronym VDAD – Vision, Decision, Action and Desire – which in a nutshell means:

  1. Vision – is about checking your perspective and focusing on your goals
  2. Decision –  is what you are going to do about your situation
  3. Action – is taking responsibility for it all: your emotions, the outcome and what happens next
  4. Desire – is about commitment to winning and affirming your winning attitude and gratitude

VDAD can be applicable to all setbacks and help you steer your perspective. I’ve been able to apply it to my current setback to refocus my perspective and attitude. And that said, is it really a setback? Some ways to view it are:

  • I don’t have a job in a global pandemic
  • There’s something wrong with me personally to be selected for redundancy
  • I’m a low performer
  • My relationships and/or behaviour are poor

Viewing the situation as a setup for a comeback, the way I’ve decided to view it is:

  • The role was junior to my available skillset. I took a step down to gain experience in a new industry, but my strengths were not being utilised and I found myself dissatisfied
  • Redundancy provides the opportunity to seek out activities I enjoy doing, and picking up another side hustle.
  • They told me it wasn’t personal, and I know there were other forced redundancies. I have decided to trust what I was told and to believe that it’s business, not personal.
  • I was in the settlement period of the purchase of my first home with my husband. Had it happened as soon as one week earlier, we would not have qualified for the home loan and would have missed out on the home. The timing of the news could have been worse.
  • I transferred the house deposit to the bank, and almost had the same amount in my bank account the next day. I was expecting our bank account to be in the vicinity of $0 after the deposit was paid. How can this be a bad thing?
  • I have some quality, uninterrupted time to focus on what I want to do, such as relaunching 101 HR Hot Tips and investing more time in writing music, renovating the house and my own and my loved ones’ mental and physical health.

And applying VDAD practically in this situation means:

  • Vision – I have available resources to invest into my passions and I am crystal clear on where I am going. I am using HR Hot Tips to help people to build their confidence to secure employment post pandemic, including myself
  • Decision – I have decided to commit all in to my side hustle and other passions, whilst carefully selecting which HR Management jobs I will be applying for
  • Action – I am taking step by step intended, targeted actions to achieve my vision, and keeping a positive, engaged and driven mindset along the way. I am constantly investing in my personal development through various social media sources
  • Desire – the desire to grow people’s confidence to help them achieve employment post pandemic is what will keep me motivated. The gratitude gained from sharing my gift will positively impact many lives.

I am writing this blog so that in the future when I am faced with other perceived adversities I can draw on this strength to know that greater things are in store for me, and know you can do the same. I also wrote about responding to setbacks in HR Hot Tip #86: Life is Unfair – Deal With it and Bounce Back from Adversity and every now and then we just need a little reminder that everything we need is within us.

In closing, some lessons I have learned from adversities are:

  • Don’t compromise what you believe in. I have done this twice now in my career and it has ended badly for me both times.
  • Listen to your gut. I am not saying just quit but I am saying if your gut is telling you something it is obviously for a reason. Don’t ignore it (and read my blog on why you should quit here.)
  • There is so much we don’t know. I didn’t know a lot of the companies existed before I worked for them. All is not lost – you will find that what you’re looking for, and you may find what you’re looking for you you didn’t know existed.
  • Joel Osteen and Willie Jolley are also great provider of inspiration and faith-based statements that help us get through life. I am also a big believer in affirmations. Another positive book I read once a year is Treasure Yourself by Miranda Kerr. On the day I wrote this blog, the affirmation I flicked to, inspired by Louise L. Hay was “I am flexible and flowing. I welcome each moment as it comes and life opens up in wonderful and exciting ways. My experience of life is an adventure and I flow freely with it.” How appropriate to me right now!
  • There is no such thing as a permanent role. You have got to have a diversified revenue portfolio in the event your position is made redundant. A side hustle, aligned to your passion is necessary.
  • Disposition doesn’t really have an impact – people with no manners often outstay the bubbly and uplifting. Another reason you need a side hustle.

I can only conclude that setbacks are an illusion, a perception, an opportunity. You have the power to change your perspective and learn from them what you will. We will all be faced with adversities from time to time – the question is, what are you doing to do with them?  Upon reflection, with a positive perspective on setbacks being a setup for a comeback, the only true negative thing about being made redundant from that job is that I’ll really miss is the colleagues – the outpouring of support from them was so touching that I wish it was I who paid their wages.

You can check Jolley out on LinkedIn and YouTube, and you can purchase a copy of my book 101 HR Hot Tips: Handy Secrets for Success in the Workplace here.

(NB: Jolley’s book is faith based so if religion and God ain’t your thing then it might miss the mark, but he does make this clear from the outset.)


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