17 Ways To Be Self Motivated After Setbacks

Watch the video for this Forward Steps post

You did it! You figured out how to be self motivated. It was no small feat and now you’re done… right?

Not so fast. Just because you learned how to be motivated from within doesn’t mean the chase is over and you’ve won the game.

Just as life has its ebbs and flows, people have their own ups and downs. You may be facing a setback (or three). In that situation, you have no idea how your mindset could change.

Forward Steps 16 Lessons for Success In LifeThat may sound daunting, however it’s important to be realistic. If you’ve gotten this far as a self-motivated individual, you’ve likely had to be realistic with yourself in the past. It’s not game over, you’ve just started a new level, a new phase of life that you’ll have to conquer. Check out these 17 ways to keep being self motivated after setbacks.

At the top of this post I’ve included a video of a speaker who has experienced more setbacks than we might ever imagine having in our own lives, yet he found a way through. I hope you’ll make time to listen to it also and share it with someone you know who has recently experienced a huge setback.


Below, are some healthy ways and tips that can help you develop the habit of putting yourself first without burning bridges or negatively affecting your energy, enthusiasm and motivation. Following them will help you achieve your goals, protect your mental and physical wellbeing and overcome even your biggest challenges.

1. Redefine your approach

If you did the same things for your entire life and never made changes to your approaches, you probably wouldn’t make much progress. When you feel like you hit a roadblock, view it as a chance to figure out a new way around it.

2. Spend time with people who make you feel good

Not everyone makes you feel great. Whether it’s a personality conflict or someone who brings you down, if you feel like you’re leaving a social situation with more negative feelings than positive ones, it might be a good idea to check out of it altogether. Those people definitely won’t lift you up and help you get back on your feet.

3. Give yourself some self-care

The first thing you may do when you experience a setback is get angry with yourself. You may turn from self-motivated mode to self-deprecation mode in a matter of moments. Don’t do that! Instead, remind yourself of all the great things you’ve done, all of your accomplishments and wonderful qualities.

Give yourself a designated period of self-care, because as soon as you beat yourself up about something, it’ll be much harder to get those inspiration levels back up later.

Self Motivated After Setbacks - Forward Steps blog quote 1500pxWhile you’re indulging in self-care, be sure to do at least one positive, uplifting thing daily. Reward yourself at least once daily. That doesn’t mean finishing a pint of ice cream or staying in bed all day. It means you should do something productive that makes you happy. Try taking a walk outside or cooking a healthy, delicious meal. Maybe you’d like to try out a new hobby or start going to the gym.

Putting yourself first isn’t only about goal setting and getting ahead. It’s also about taking the time for self-care. After all, if you don’t take care of your health, you’ll be unable to live your purpose or fulfill your life’s vision. Put yourself and your health first by starting a program of regular exercise as soon as possible if you aren’t already doing so. Engaging in a brisk daily walk is all that’s needed to improve and maintain your health.

A healthy diet is equally as important as your body’s need to exercise. Eating a nutritious diet is a huge part of taking care of your health and putting yourself first. If your diet needs a major overhaul, take it one step at a time and work your way up to your ideal diet. Remember, putting yourself first is about being kind to yourself.

Getting sufficient sleep is another essential component of putting yourself first. It is also necessary for boosting your performance and replenishing your energy. By getting enough sleep, you will be better equipped to face the hurdles of the new day with greater confidence, energy, and enthusiasm. Never allow anyone or anything come between you and the need to get enough sleep.

Sometimes you may be lacking the energy you need to live your ultimate life. Rather than trying to push through such times, it is better to maximize your relaxation and recovery. You can engage in activities that will help reduce fatigue and replenish your energy, such as meditation, yoga, massage, or a quick nap. If you find you run low on energy and motivation on a regular basis, start scheduling relaxation or downtime into your day. A consistent relaxation routine will keep you on more of an even-keel, so you don’t burn out.

Self Motivated After Setbacks - Forward Steps blog quote 1500px_1Apparently, you have 60,000 or more thoughts per day. When you feel you have a lot to do and you are overwhelmed with too many ideas, journaling will help clear your head. Journaling can also lead to better self-awareness, which is the foundation of putting yourself first. You can journal any way you wish—with paper and pen or by using an app. You might choose to journal every day or only when you feel overwhelmed or unsettled. Whatever works for you is perfect.


4. Let the past be the past

It’s called the past for a reason. You could spend hours thinking about what happened before your setback and how you could have changed it. Hindsight is 20/20, so the only thing that will happen here is it will make you feel worse. Be confident in your decisions, and don’t look back.

5. Make a public declaration for a short term goal

There’s nothing like letting everyone in on your dreams and goals. Most will jump to your side and be willing to help you in any way they can. You might choose to practice 30 days of fitness and clean eating or spend at least two hours every evening working on your online business. Whatever your goal, you’ll find that most will be excited for you and will motivate you to the finish line.

Facebook, discussion boards or a local networking group are great places to announce your intentions. It may be a little scary to know that if you fail, everyone will know, but that’s a “negative” motivational technique that may lead you to the success you desire.

Making a public declaration of a goal can put you on display 24/7. The people whom you reveal your desires to are going to be watching and waiting for successes or failure so they can cheer or chastise you.

It’s a courageous action to take when you make a declaration of a short term goal. You should be ready to take on all of the scrutiny that it’s sure to add to your life.

A public declaration is also one of the best ways to ensure success in any action or goal that you attempt to reach.

6. Have a “strat chat” with a trusted friend or mentor


A “strat chat” means that you discuss your ideas, plans and goals with someone who will share your energy and excitement. During a strategy chat, you can bounce off ideas and get a fresh viewpoint on the goals you’ve set with yourself and how to go about achieving them.

Self Motivated After Setbacks - Forward Steps blog quote 1500px_2Mentors are especially helpful in the strat chat because they are already helping you achieve a goal you want to pursue – either in your work, your personal trainer or other type of mentoring role.

You’ll want to be completely honest during your strat chat about what you think your weaknesses are and ask (and listen to) advice from the mentor or friend about the outlook on reaching your goals.

Take criticism with a grain of salt, meaning that you know yourself better than anyone, so you know what you’re capable of. But, do take the offered criticism into consideration. Sometimes a trusted friend can see things in you that you don’t necessarily see in yourself.

Changing what you need to change about yourself can help you become motivated to reach the goals you discuss during the strat chat and get there faster.

7. Create a physical state change

One way to motivate yourself to reach goals and achieve greatness is to get your body moving. A sluggish, unfit body can mean that your brain is also sluggish and isn’t operating properly to get you where you want to go.

If you’ve been a couch potato for years, it won’t be easy to begin a challenging exercise program – so, begin slowly. Heavier people should definitely begin a program by checking with a doctor first. They will be able to help you choose a program that’s right for your body condition.

Your newfound body movements will almost immediately give you a new lease on life and some motivational thoughts to make sure you’re on the path to meeting all of your goals.

You have to understand that it’s not you that failed; it’s just that you employed the wrong strategy. -Julian Pencilliah Click To Tweet

Try to choose a type of exercise that you’ll enjoy. Dancing exercises such as Zumba can be challenging and lots of fun and can provide you with a new body image you’ll love and gain self-confidence from. If you love to swim, find an indoor pool if you don’t have one in your own back yard.

There will be times when life gets in the way from your exercise routine. It’s important that you don’t become discouraged by the delay, but even more determined to shake off the limits that have held you back until now.

8. Read biographies about people who inspire you

Those who have led inspirational lives can inspire you to live an exceptional life. Reading biographies of those who have achieved much in their lifetimes is one of the best ways to encourage yourself and set your mind to achieving your life’s dreams.

Self Motivated After Setbacks - Forward Steps blog quote 1500px_3When you read biographies, try to imagine yourself in the shoes of the actual person you’re reading about rather than looking at it from a spectator’s point of view. Imagine yourself overcoming the same challenges, experiencing the same roadblocks.

If you imagine yourself becoming a world leader, biographies about Winston Churchill and Mahatma Gandhi will thrust you into the lives and minds of two men who influenced the world through some of the most complicated and threatening times.

Modern day biographies of Steve Jobs and Richard Branson may also teach and inspire you to achieve great things in business. The common thread running through most biographies of great people is the fact that they didn’t take “no” for an answer. They learned how to trudge on to the finish line by believing in themselves and their ideas.

Learning how the great achievers have pursued their dreams and even risked their lives can help you fast forward to a place where you’re ready to live your own dream and make a difference.

9. Make a bucket list of all the things you want to do for others

Is there a child in your life who deserves a great education? You may want to add ‘paying for that child’s education’ to your bucket list. How about paying off your parents’ mortgage so they can relax and have a more vital retirement?

Sometimes doing for others can be more motivating than what we want to do for ourselves. There may be a charity that helped you in the past or that you’re particularly fond of and want to help by donating time or money to the cause. Helping others can change your life for the better and help you improve in all areas.

Making a bucket list for things you want to do for others is similar to making your personal bucket list. You want to choose things or people you are passionate and enthused about and that will make you want to plan to achieve the goals.

10. Learn a new skill


Begin a new project to develop a new skill you’ve never given yourself a chance at perfecting. For example, you could take guitar lessons, learn computers, pottery, paint or choose from a number of things you’ve always wanted to do.

Learning a new skill is a highly motivational technique to prove to yourself that you can accomplish what you set out to do – no matter how difficult. You’ll look forward to the learning process and be proud of your accomplishments as you go along the path of learning the new skill.

Challenges are sure to pop up when you’re learning new things. It may be a small challenge compared to those you face in everyday life, but each challenge – no matter how large or small – will force you to see yourself in a new light.

You’ll realize that when you make up your mind to do something, you’ve got the determination and courage to do it no matter what the obstacles. That knowledge will spur you on to even larger achievements.

You cannot withstand continual setbacks unless you've seen a worthwhile vision. -Assegid Habtewold Click To Tweet

Motivation is always within you. You just have to wake it up by doing something you want to do and that’s challenging enough to overcome obstacles and persist to the finish line.

11. Change your routine


Getting up two hours earlier or going to bed later than usual so you can walk, read or study something you’re interested in can be extremely motivational.

It might take some time to get used to the new schedule, but if you’re accomplishing good things during your new routine, you should feel great about what you’re getting done.

Be sure when you begin your new routine that you’re actually getting things done rather than using the time unwisely, like watching Netflix or eating or drinking too much.

If planned correctly, you can learn new things and motivate yourself to accomplish much. If not, you’ll deteriorate into a rut that’s even more difficult to get out of.

It’s fairly easy and simple to change your routine and spice up your life. Some suggestions include:

– Change your commute time and route to work.
– Take a class that features something you enjoy or have always wanted to do.
– Go on a mini-adventure and do something challenging and never done before.
– Make new friends. Socialize with different people and hang out at different places rather than your old haunts.

Breaking your routine can energize your body and mind and motivate you to get out of your shell.

12. Practice gratitude

Take some time each day to reflect on the positives in your life. It’s easy to focus on the things we’d like to change and neglect to be appreciative for all we have. It is very important to have a realistic perspective on your life and identify the positives for the sake of your health and wellbeing. As you find the time to write down and reflect on all the things you are grateful for each day, you will reduce your stress levels and naturally find more and more to be grateful for in your life.


Putting yourself first is something you must make a conscious effort to do. You must fill your cup first, or you will end up with nothing left to give to others. Even when you face negative reactions from people who feel that you are selfish for putting yourself first, remembering the tips outlined above and applying them will give you the wherewithal to go on regardless and live the life that you desire.

When we have a long-term goal we are working towards, it’s easy to be so focused on it that we start to believe we won’t be happy until we reach it. It’s important to have long-term goals, yet not at the expense of your daily life. Staying in a place of gratitude for what you already have and what you’ve already achieved in your life can be a huge benefit in reaching your goals.

Neurologists have learned that feelings of gratitude actually change the way your brain works. When you are consciously aware of all the wonderful things in your life, you are happier and more content. When you are happy and feeling good about your life, it’s easier to believe that more good things await you down the road.

A life filled with the struggle to always be better will lead to a life of stress. Yes, you want to reach your goals. You want to unlock all the potential that’s inside you. Finding a way to balance this desire with gratitude for what you’ve already accomplished and what you have in your life today is also important. When constantly pushing yourself forward, it’s easy to believe you aren’t good enough today. Focusing on what you have to be grateful for today lowers your stress level and helps you enjoy the journey to your ultimate goal.

Put in the time, learn something new, challenge your perception and know that a setback is an opportunity in hindsight. -Val Uchendu Click To Tweet

Believing the grass is always greener on the other side is a sure way to ensure your dissatisfaction with life. It makes you feel like you may never get the life you want. This pessimism just makes everything in life harder. You may even just give up on your dreams because you don’t believe you can attain them. Keeping a grateful mindset offers you a way to enjoy life now and look forward to the future, once your goals have been realized.

Obtaining a grateful spirit doesn’t take a lot of time and effort, but it makes a huge difference in your life. Start by keeping a small notebook with you or using an app on your phone to note the little things that happen throughout your day that you are grateful for. Some people prefer to keep a gratitude journal by their bed and add a short list of things that they are grateful for that day. Give it a try if you feel you’ve been too focused on a goal and it’s making you unappreciative for what you already have.

13. Set personal boundaries

Setting person boundaries is a skill you need to master when learning how to put yourself first because you will need it a lot on every step of your journey. That is especially true if you tend to be a people-pleaser. Others are used to you backing down and giving them what you want, so you’ll need to stay strong. Look them in the eye and kindly say, “No, thank you”.

Even when they try to convince you to think otherwise, practice sticking to your decision by not get pressured into consenting. Setting personal boundaries is a vital skill because it enables you to defend your time and your rights which is an essential component of putting yourself first.

14. Using fear as a motivator

Fear can be an effective catalyst for motivation. For example, if your boss tells you to get your project done on time or you will lose your job, you can be sure you’re going to do everything in your power to get that project done. You may resent your boss for doing this, however you are probably going to do as they wish unless you are looking to get fired.

Another situation where fear will motivate you is when something crucial breaks in your home. It could be the furnace giving out in the middle of winter. You are at a point where you have no choice but to call for expensive repairs. If you don’t, you’ll risk the pipes freezing and being uncomfortable.

We all have a certain amount of fear-based motivation. Yet, is it the best way to get people to do things? In the case of the furnace, you’ll have no choice and have to chalk it up to being a part of life. But, in the case of your boss harping on to you, is there a better way for him or her to handle the situation? Can you continually work in an environment based on that kind of fear?

It’s questionable whether motivation based on fear is sustainable. If you are an employee and there aren’t many jobs available as alternatives, you may feel like you have no choice but to comply. However, sometimes, this kind of negative working environment gets people more motivated to get out of the situation. In other words, the motivation tactics may work in the short-term, but eventually, employers may experience a high turnover when those employees recognize there are other choices. The internet is a great equalizer in this regard as more people can choose to freelance on their terms.

There’s an old saying about how you catch more flies with honey. If managers would recognize they would get more loyalty out of people by offering incentives rather than scare tactics to get their employees to do the work, maybe turnover wouldn’t be so high. Unfortunately, these managers don’t learn this until it’s too late. And even then, will they make any changes? Often, they make the justification that it’s the employee’s fault and they decided to leave.

A broken candle still lights, a broken crayon still colors. -Amit Kalantri Click To Tweet

Think about the impact you have if you are a manager trying to motivate your employees. If you have used fear as a motivator, is it something that has worked for you in the long-term? Or, did you simply set an environment where people couldn’t wait to get away?

15. Choose your purpose

Having a clear purpose in life is essential. It is the simplest, most basic thing every person needs to live a fulfilling and satisfying life. Without a clear sense of purpose, you will end up living your life haphazardly. Your purpose also makes it easier for you to say ‘No’ to people and things that do not align with your highest good.

Being aware of your life purpose and living it helps you identify those things that you need to do and when you need to do them. By consciously reaffirming your purpose regularly, you will be inspired to multiply your efforts of taking action to see your purpose fulfilled.

16. Live by a vision

Putting yourself first also requires that you develop a clear vision of the life that you want to lead. A vision keeps you focused on the journey of your life. A clear vision will allow you to effectively prioritize your tasks and projects as the important things will align with your purpose and vision of your ultimate life.

To get clear about your vision, start by reflecting on these three questions:

Who do I want to be?
What do I want to do?
How do you want to feel?

If you are unsure about your vision, ruminating on these questions will assist you in getting clear about what you want out of life.

Brick walls are not there to keep us out, they are there to show us how much we want something. -Randy Pausch Click To Tweet

Setting personal goals is a wise way to ensure your vision becomes a reality. Goals make the realization of your vision much more achievable and will keep you motivated and focused on what you want out of life. After taking the time to set your goals, set aside regular time to plan how you will achieve each of them.

17. Take responsibility for your life

The ability to set goals and achieve them requires mustering up the courage to take responsibility for your life. That involves putting yourself first. By putting yourself first, you are simply making it a priority to take care of your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.

Creating the life that you desire is no one else’s responsibility but yours. You cannot do that if you keep getting in the way of yourself by thinking and caring too much about others. No doubt, caring for the needs of others is a natural human instinct, however it should never be to your detriment.

Many people are oblivious to the realization that they are the architects of their fortunes. They like to believe that putting the needs of others first, before their own, follows a universal moral code of conduct that you must adhere to, the failure of which makes them less human or less fortunate in life.

Put in the time, learn something new, challenge your perception and know that a setback is an opportunity in hindsight. -Val Uchendu Click To Tweet

There are various reasons why people believe that putting the needs of others ahead of their own is the best and only way to live. They may think people will stop liking them or that being a tireless caregiver gives them a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Some sincerely feel responsible for others or worse, they don’t feel worthy of making themselves a priority.

Whichever one of the above categories you may find yourself in, the good news is that you can reset your thinking. Sadly, many people today suffer from thoughts of negating their own needs for the benefit of others. It is, however, essential to know that this thinking is false. You need to unshackle yourself from them to successfully take charge of your life and fully accomplish your goals.

Rather than confining your thoughts to the preconceived notion of scary consequence that would supposedly befall on you if you put yourself first, it is much more reassuring to focus on the numerous benefits guaranteed by putting yourself first.

The importance of this is tied to many wholesome benefits some of which include:

– Being more productive
– Being happier and more joyful
– Having more energy
– Receiving more respect from others
– Improved relationships
– Experiencing less fear
– Suffering from less stress
– Feeling less resentment
– Experiencing less depression

These are the key areas where you stand to benefit if you learn to put yourself first.

You can always turn your setbacks into setups to come back stronger. -Brittany Burgunder Click To Tweet

As you draw up your goals and develop your vision, you may find you need to learn new skills to make your ideal life a reality. Take some time to identify those areas that you may be lacking in knowledge and skills. Then take proactive steps to bridge the gap between your present level and your desired level regarding your knowledge and skills.

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17 Ways To Be Self Motivated After Setbacks17 Ways To Be Self Motivated After Setbacks17 Ways To Be Self Motivated After Setbacks17 Ways To Be Self Motivated After Setbacks17 Ways To Be Self Motivated After Setbacks