How to stay positive after setbacks

Setbacks are completely inevitable if you’re an entrepreneur. If everything is plain sailing, then you’re probably not challenging yourself enough!

Even when we’re not talking about business, life sometimes just throws stuff at you and it’s not easy to take.

So, how do you handle challenges? How do you stay positive after a setback?

Emotional control is a key skill as an entrepreneur – you could be having a great day, but one phone call or email could ruin everything and how you react to it can put your business in jeopardy. 

As an entrepreneur, you need to be at your best so you can make rational decisions, perhaps lead your team through this difficult time and bounce back quickly. Therefore, it’s imperative that you learn how to keep your emotions in check during adversity.

I thought I’d put together my top 5 tips for what helps me stay positive during times of adversity, and how I bounce back even stronger.


One of the most powerful skills I’ve learned in business is how to reframe situations. I used to see setbacks as major failures. I’d feel down and disappointed with myself and negative emotions would fill my head.

Now, I have learned to see things a different way. Reframing is a technique used in CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) that helps people reinterpret their thoughts and beliefs.

So, now when a setback happens, instead of only seeing the negative and blaming myself, I try to shift perspectives.

  • What positive outcomes have come from this? (There is always at least one!)
  • What did I learn that will actually save me time and money in the future?
  • What solutions are there to the challenges (rather than “problems”)?

Sometimes it’s even about the language that you use. So, rather than focusing on issues and problems, they’re just challenges to overcome. It won’t be easy, but there will always be a solution.

Practice Mindfulness

I’ve never been a “woo” person and the word “mindfulness” has been used so much to refer to things that are just not me.

However, I do believe there are so many things you can do to help you train your mind to handle setbacks better.

Mindfulness is essentially just a way of you being more aware of yourself and your surroundings. It can help to reduce stress and enhance focus – exactly what you need when you’re in a difficult situation.

I had never really done meditation before and definitely did not think it was for me, but I downloaded the Balance App and started with their basics and really noticed a difference.

You can get a year’s free membership to try it out too!

Even if you just learn how to breathe mindfully and practice doing this in situations where you just need to calm and clear your head, it will work wonders.

If this is too much for you, then just go for a walk with nature.

I have been doing this recently without any headphones or looking at my phone. It allows me to just soak in the surroundings and be at one with my thoughts, without trying to absorb all this external information. It’s really quite powerful.

You can also try getting a gratitude journal, where you can actively think of things you are grateful for, helping your mind stay positive.

Be Social

Entrepreneurship can be quite lonely, so it’s important that you don’t get lost in your business and spiral when things go wrong.

It’s important to have friends who are completely external from your business who can just take your mind off things and you can just chat about life!

This is a true distraction which will help you reset your mind and come back to the challenge with a clear head.

Of course, it’s also really beneficial to have fellow entrepreneurs that you can go for a drink with to chat through the challenges that you’re facing and you can brainstorm together.

Either, you do not need to be alone during these times.

Get Healthy

Sometimes, the issues in my business are things that I don’t really have much control of. This is quite difficult to handle and so I like to turn to something I can control.

During these times, I decide to take care of myself. After all, if I have a challenge to overcome, I want to be my best self.

I start eating healthily, I take a break from alcohol, I exercise regularly and I sleep more. Doing these four things really transform the way I feel and my outlook.

I have more energy and I feel more positive about tackling whatever comes at me.

Why don’t I do this all the time, I hear you ask? Well… the cakes and champagne just call out to me too hard to maintain this healthy diet all the time!

Find the Lessons

The number one question I ask during the toughest spot is: “How can I ensure this never happens again?”

Of course, sometimes I cannot be sure it never will, but I’m gonna do my best to make sure it doesn’t!

Every situation has a lesson that can be learned and I break down what went wrong and how I can learn from it.

  • Did I trust the wrong person?
  • Was I lacking in knowledge somewhere?
  • Did I react with my emotions rather than my head?

What were the reasons it went wrong and how can I improve on it?

If you’re able to find the lessons from each setback, you will realise that this is all part of a learning journey rather than a terrible thing that has happened. This is exactly what we call the growth mindset and it’s what every entrepreneur should aspire to have.