EXCLUSIVE – Have You Had a Setback in Life? Try Our Relapse Prevention Plan Worksheet

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It’s natural to feel discouraged after reverting back to old habits, especially when you’ve worked so hard to turn things around.

    Your most powerful weapon is the wisdom gleaned from fresh failures. 

-Dr. Jason Holland, Lifespark

But try not to dwell there for too long. As painful as setbacks might be, there is much that can be learned from them.

Change often occurs in a process of starts and stops. So, the goal isn’t to prevent setbacks from ever happening, but rather to learn from them and continue to grow stronger.

If you’re looking to find the opportunity in a setback, try our Turning Setbacks into Comebacks Plan worksheet. This plan is designed to help you learn from your missteps and prevent you from falling into the same traps over and over again.

DOWNLOAD: Turning Setbacks into Comebacks Plan Worksheet.

To get the most out of this exercise, follow these 5 steps:

1. Go back in time and retrace your steps.

What led up to the setback? Where did things start to go wrong? See if you can pinpoint the triggers that led up to it. Write down everything you come up with in the first column of the worksheet.

2. Consider what you can say to yourself to help you stay strong when you’re confronted with this trigger.

For example, if ‘the couch’ is a trigger for sedentary behavior, you might tell yourself: You can do it; The couch will feel even better after exercising; or Just push yourself a little now and you’ll be proud later.

3. Brainstorm ways to minimize the trigger’s power.

Can the situation be avoided altogether? If not, can the frequency of exposure to it be managed? In the case of ‘the couch,’ it may not be realistic to avoid it completely, but perhaps couch sessions could be limited during the specific times when you’re trying to be more active. Get creative here and generate solutions to manage the unique circumstances that trigger unwanted behavior for you. Write down what you come up with in the third column.

4. Generate a list of people who can help you stay on track.

Who are your biggest advocates and supporters in making this change? Identify who these people are and think about how each of them might play a unique role in keeping you on track. Some may play key roles (e.g., joining you at a support group meeting) whereas others may be recruited for more minor roles (e.g., to chat with you when you need a harmless distraction). Jot down the names of people you can reach out to for support in the fourth column. Be as specific as you can. Think about exactly how and when these people can be most helpful to you.

5. Treat this plan as a living document that will expand and grow just like you.

If your plan doesn’t work right away, avoid the temptation to abandon the entire process and conclude that there’s no use in trying. It can take a few tries to get it right. Come back to the drawing board and develop a revised plan. Your most powerful weapon is the wisdom gleaned from fresh failures. Use them to your advantage and keep working to make your plan stronger and stronger!

If you give this exercise a try, please let us know how it goes in the comments below. We want to hear from you!

DOWNLOAD: Turning Setbacks into Comebacks Plan Worksheet.