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Episode 81 - Overcoming Setbacks [Your Year Series Pt. 15] 


Welcome to Episode 81


Overcoming setbacks in pursuit of our goals is important to plan and prepare for. We discuss the contextual nature of human emotions, illustrating how being all-or-nothing leads to craving what we lack. Rhiannon advocates for planning ahead to manage setbacks effectively, cautioning against overcommitment, which often results in resource strain, diminished quality, stress, and the neglect of relationships.

Highlighting the importance of positive optimism, she discusses the benefits of acknowledging reality while focusing on solutions. Rhiannon encourages breaking down unrealistic goals into achievable steps and celebrating smaller wins. She stresses the significance of doing activities purely for joy when facing setbacks, explaining their impact on productivity. Moreover, she recommends expressing gratitude, adapting to life's non-linear nature, and learning from failures to build resilience.

Balancing realism and optimism, Rhiannon believes, is crucial for pragmatic and hopeful goal achievement. By providing practical insights and strategies, she aims to help listeners navigate setbacks, fostering a long-term path to success.

In this podcast, you'll learn:
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Episode Transcript:


EP #81


“Do I need a life coach?” You’re listening to Episode 81, with Rhiannon Bush


Welcome to the Do I need a life coach? Podcast. We’re here to discuss the ins- and outs- of the life coaching industry and give you tools to use, to see for yourself. I’m your host, Rhiannon Bush. Mother, management consultant and a passionate, certified life coach.



The way we feel things as humans is contextual. For instance, the only reason we know it’s daytime is because there’s also nighttime. That’s the same for good / bad, happy / sad, wet / dry, healthy/unhealthy, pumped up and peaceful. Without the context it’s meaningless. For all new mums out there, you never get to sleep in. And I remember missing sleep-ins terribly because I just never get to do it anymore. But when I reflect on life before being a mum, I only slept in if I’d been out late the night before. And even if I had the option to now, I’d feel like I was missing out on being with my family, even if that happens every day, and I’d rather get up out of bed and be with them, than sleep in. So in all honesty, I feel like a walking contradiction but at the same time, I know too much of something is exactly that… too much. And if I didn’t know what it was like to have the option to sleep in, I wouldn’t miss it.


When we’re all or nothing, we crave the one we don’t have. So, why am I telling you this? To reinforce the last episode about planning ahead, when we know what to expect and can make a plan, we can deal with setbacks more effectively. Because we’ve got time and space to work it all out and it’s scheduled, we can see it. But committing to your goal so fully and completely that you over-commit yourself and spend every waking minute working on your goal, will only set you up for failure.


Why? Over-committing often leads to failure due to several reasons:


  1. Resourcing: It can strain our time, energy, and resources. When you spread yourself too thin, it becomes challenging to devote adequate attention and effort to each commitment.

  2. Quality: When you're juggling numerous tasks or responsibilities, the quality of your work declines. Rushing to fulfill commitments often leads to errors and decreased productivity and quality of those outputs.

  3. Stress: Over-commitment often results in heightened levels of stress. Trying to meet multiple obligations simultaneously can cause anxiety, overwhelm, and burnout. It pushes us too far out of our comfort zone and so we end up giving up and sabotaging our efforts.

  4. Prioritisation: We struggle to prioritise what’s most important and what tasks we need to complete that will give us the biggest impact and the fastest. Over-commitment leads to chaos instead of clean structure that gets the outcomes we want to get.

  5. Expectations: Over-committing often stems from setting unrealistic expectations about what we can achieve within a specific timeframe. This false expectation creates disappointment when we consistently fail to meet them. We must learn how to set realistic expectations which is why in Episode 69 I said whatever timeframe you have for your goal, double it.

  6. Relationships: If you’re a social person, over-commitment will pressurize your time. Often, the first things to go from our schedule are friends, family and social activities because what we get from those relationships is intangible, and as a society we typically value that less when we’re ambitious and aiming to achieve. What our social relationships give us is often more valuable than anything else we have in our lives, so when setting goals, it’s even more important to make sure social time remains in your weekly schedule.  



Learning how to say no will help you maintain a schedule. Setting realistic expectations for yourself will enable you to manage your time effectively and so enjoy achieving your goals opposed to feeling like you’re slogging it out, and focusing on tasks that will give you the biggest impact will move you closer towards success than tasks that are unimportant.


Just a friendly reminder… Everything isn’t great all the time. Wait, what? Aren’t you a life coach who’s meant to exude positivity and “of course you can”? This sounds negative, doesn’t it? But actually, when we look at life as sometimes being bad or sad, and we look at it through that lens, it feels better because there’s a level of acceptance. I’m reading a book called The Budda and the Badass by Vishen Lakhiani… and this also came up in the Danish Way of Parenting by Jessica Joelle Alexander and Iben Dissing Sandahl. They both, while be it in different contexts, talk about Positive Optimism. And positive optimism is about seeing the silver lining of a situation, because things aren’t great all the time, in the long-game, not the short.


Lakhiani talks about having a positive mindset and a positive outlook to achieve success, both personally and professionally. He talks about facing challenges, fostering resilience, and navigating obstacles more effectively because with finer-tuned positive optimism we can see the negative situation as a temporary state. So even when the chips are down and we feel like we’ll never get there, we will still remain focused on our goals.


Being sad, down, angry, annoyed, defeated, deflated… all temporary. Who you are the majority of the time is what counts, and then everything else is just a moment in time. For instance, I believe most people are inherently good. I believe people care and people genuinely want to connect and help one another.  So when someone who doesn’t, while it might offend or surprise me, it’s a moment, or an individual, it’s not the whole or the general consensus and that allows me the space for empathy to wonder what that person is  experiencing to cause them behave like that, because in my word that’s not the norm, that’s not how we behave and so what’s going on for that person? Can you imagine how I would treat that person if I believed all people were bad? Or if I was distrusting? How closed off I’d be and how I’d jump to conclusions and judgements? Also, how I could easily make someone else’s behaviour mean something negative about myself. Choose positive optimism my friends.


If it helps, think about positive optimism as realistically optimistic. It involves balancing a positive mindset with a realistic understanding of situations which is important because we don’t want to lead ourselves down a path where we’re trying to look positively at something that’s not, or lie to ourselves into believing that that’s true. In the book, Alexander and Sandahl talk about someone who hates flying, but loving to travel and go some place new. While they’re not lying to themselves about hating to fly, they focus on the benefit and silver lining of loving somewhere new. Focusing on the positive.


Other examples I can think of is… well.. anything we don’t want to do but know we should or have to because it’s helping us to achieve or get us to where we want to go – studying, avoiding eating sweets, working out. What are some of the things you need to do in order to achieve your goal? What are the good things that come out the other side of doing those and why are you doing it? Focus on the positive.


To reap the benefits of positive optimism, acknowledge reality. Notice and accept the current situation or challenges you're facing. Understand the facts, limitations, and potential obstacles without denying their existence and then focus on solutions. Instead of dwelling solely on the problem or problems, shift your focus to possible solutions or ways to address challenges. Try to do something that makes you feel good to find better and more creative solutions. This proactive approach will help you maintain a positive outlook while dealing with the reality of the situation.


As we’ve discussed many times, if you set unrealistic goals that’s ok but break them down into realistic and achievable steps. Set realistic expectations for yourself given the time we have. Allow yourself to make steady progress and stay focused on the positive outcomes and benefits of achieving your goal and celebrate the smaller wins along the way.


When things aren’t going well, do something fun. This will help you look at the positive in the long-term and stick to your goal. Another question for you – what do you do just for fun? Not because you’re trying to be the best, or rewarded, but just for the sheer love of it and how it makes you feel? Write as many of these activities down as you can. Because when you’re experiencing a set-back from your goal, going and doing something that makes you feel great will help you to shake it off, pick yourself back up and keep going. My list includes playing in the big yellow park with my kids, swimming in the ocean even when it’s cold, coffee with my parents, singing very loudly in the kitchen, doing a yoga class, going for a walk. All of these things are healthy, they don’t cost me anything, and there’s no negative impact off the back end.


Now you may be questioning what this has to do with goal setting. The thing is, we’re significantly more productive when we’re happy and having fun as I mentioned in the last episode. By having more fun, we will move closer to our goal, and enjoy the journey because of how our brains work differently when we’re enjoying ourselves. It’s also good to take time out when we’re achieving a goal and we’ve suffered a setback, to re-set, remember, take the lessons and keep going.


Another way to feel good is to consciously bring your awareness to things you’re grateful for. Express that gratitude to people you care about.


For all the talking we’ve done about structure, Episode 79 and 80, having structure allows us to adapt and be flexible. Our lives aren’t linear and to be realistically optimistic, we need to be able to adapt and change according to the situations we find ourselves in and adjust our approach as needed.


Sometimes it can take some time after the event to learn from it but to build resilience and overcome setbacks, analysing what went wrong and taking the lessons from failures or things that didn’t go quite right is highly beneficial to faster come-backs and progress.  


Balancing realism and optimism allows us to be pragmatic and also hopeful as we achieve goals. It helps us to stay the course and remind ourselves of why we want to achieve what we want to achieve. It also helps us take the lessons and put less pressure on ourselves because we can understand that how we feel in the moment or the setback itself is temporary. It sets us up to succeed long-term.


I’ll see you soon.




Hey! Before you go, I always find reviews really helpful when looking for new information or insights…


I you’ve found this podcast valuable, please take a minute to write a quick review about what you’ve found most beneficial for you, so other people can benefit from your insights, and listen in too. I would LOVE that!

Also, if there are any topics you’d like me to cover specifically about life coaching or the life coaching industry, visit to contact me. Thanks for joining and I’ll see you in the next episode of Do I Need A Life Coach?!



Please note, this transcription may not be exact.

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