How to Turn Your Worst Setbacks Into Your Greatest Triumphs

For the Last 8 Months, I’ve been sleeping on my parent's couch. (Hard to say, but it’s true)

But in all honesty, life couldn’t be better.

Okay, you might be wondering how have I adopted this mindset?

My life imploded into oblivion after my health continuously became worse.

Here’s what happened:

I sprained my neck about 3 years ago. The first year was hell and it put a lot of things in my life on hold.

I burnt myself out at a job where I was barely making enough to pay rent let alone anything else.

I was unintentionally exposed to bad mold from my apartment which led to weird health issues that were hard to pin down.

Every day I felt more tired than the last. When you go to bed tired and wake up tired you know something is wrong. (But the question is what?) Continuous Signs of Fatigue, Do I have CTF? The worst part is not knowing what’s wrong.

I attempted to make my side-business more than a side-business at the worst possible time. It worked at first, but after having some bad-egg clients, things got worse. (And cue financial problems.) My girlfriend was also having job issues, so I was helping her as much as I could.

I kept talking (complaining *cough cough*) circles around fatigue, ache, money, and other problems that made me and everyone else blue in the face. I started identifying who I was with the problems I had.

I felt isolated and alone. Unable to keep up with my friends, be that energetically or financially.

It’s difficult to be yourself, your whole self, when you’re tired, broken, broke, despairing and on the verge of tears.

All of these setbacks were a one, two, PUNCH on my psyche and on my desire to be the best version of myself I can be.

But here’s the punch line:

I wouldn’t change any of it for the world.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned the past few years, it’s
Your greatest triumphs come from your worse setbacks.

What separates those who use setbacks to their advantage and use them to surpass where they were, versus those who give up and never recover? (And how do we become the former rather than the latter?)

You are not your problems.

Having an injury or bad job, or health issue, or anxiety, or ______ (insert pain-point here) doesn't me you are that experience. Everyone has issues, even the larger than life characters we look up to, but that doesn't mean that's your identity. Pain is a shared human experience. It's not meant to be bottled up instead. It's meant to be shared and relieved by the hands of others. Pain is a touching point to guide, inspire, and related to others through there own pain.

Every moment in my life where I’ve been broken down and beaten to a pulp by failure and setbacks, Has been the path to my greatest success and growth. As much as I️ would rather not feel the anxiety, frustration, pain, illness and all the negative outcomes of facing setbacks, I️ now see the value and blessing of going through hard times. Once you see the blessings in disguise, you having something to focus on besides the pain itself. Knowing there is a kernel of truth in pain and that truth will help you achieve your wildest dreams is how we can take advantage our worst experiences and allow us to build an extraordinary life.

There are hard-earned lessons in pain. (It’s hard to see this during, and might be impossible to really know what I’m talking about unless you’ve gone through your own share of setbacks) There are also opportunities and abundance in pain too. 

Where am I today?

I’ve got a new apartment, one that I’ve always dreamed of. I’ve got a great job working on Pass It Down and working with Paul Cummings. My business started to thrive when I️ made it my side business again. My relationship with Gabriella and my family has improved. And best of all, I’m thinking less about me and more about you and how I️ can make an impact on your life and on the lives of others everywhere.

How did I get here? What do you do when you are facing down the barrel of a setback?

I️ asked for help. I️ reached out to friends to see if they knew of any work available I️ could take on.
I️ said yes to opportunities that came my way, big or small. I took chances. I created challenges for myself.
I pitched ideas to others to collaborate. Not all of them said yes, but one, two, three yeses are better than none. One yes is all you need to get going.
I️ invested money in going to the doctor and have started to unlock the solutions to my health and energy problems.

I’m still working on my health, my friendships, finances, spirit, creative pursuits (like this blog) and other areas of my life. But as long as I️ focus on improving in each area every day, and remember the lessons learned from my experiences, I️ know any setback I️ face I️ will be able to turn it into my greatest triumphs. And you can too with yours.

Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

Action Steps:

  • Share your pain
  • Look for opportunity and truth when you are facing down the barrel of a setback.

Related Wisdom:

"Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life's search for love and wisdom." Rumi

"The struggle of my life created empathy - I could relate to pain, being abandoned, having people not love me."Oprah

"A lot of what is most beautiful about the world arises from struggle."Malcolm Gladwell

"Life is a series of experiences, each one of which makes us bigger, even though sometimes it is hard to realize this. For the world was built to develop character, and we must learn that the setbacks and grieves which we endure help us in our marching onward."Henry Ford