Reality Blog Challenge: How to Move Forward After a Setback

pen in hand plus a notebook - getting creative

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts…” Winston Churchill


I didn’t see that coming… WOW!

After all, Francisco knows me.

We work together on the Homeowner’s Association Board of Directors. We closed two real estate deals together a few years ago.

This was no cold-call scenario.

I hadn’t planned to bring up my new business, but he approached me… “So Val, what are you up to these days?”

Like a kid holding a shiny First Place trophy — I smiled big and stood taller, “I’m actually a copywriter now… specializing in case studies.”

Francisco smiled back, “I’m sure my company needs case studies… maybe for our commercial electricity programs. I can recommend you to our marketing team.”

I played it cool, “Great, I’ll follow up with you next week.”

I rushed home… pulled out Casey Hibbard’s AWAI Case Study Writing Mastery & Certification handouts — and prepared to impress Francisco with my expertise.

That was May 23, 2020.

Over the next three weeks, I sent two emails, left two voice mail messages, and texted once. He didn’t respond.

Francisco knows me… yet I didn’t even make it to the proposal stage.

Analysis Paralysis

After the initial disappointment, self-doubt burrowed deep in my psyche.

Did Francisco know I didn’t have any clients? Had he guessed I’d only written one Spec Challenge case study? What should I have said… or done differently?

I was paralyzed — so I did what any new freelance copywriter would do. I took more AWAI courses.

And while I waited for my confidence to grow, I didn’t tell anyone else I was a copywriter… until August 2020.

The mental shift happened when I completed the AWAI B2B Biz Launcher program with Ed Gandia in July.

With what I learned in that program, I spotted more than a few self-sabotage techniques in my behavior.

So first… here’s my list of what not to do —

  • Do not claim failure
  • Do not question your decision to write
  • Do not doubt your writing skills
  • Do not succumb to negative self-talk
  • Do not embrace imposter syndrome
  • Do not assume a prospect will become a customer
  • Do not wait any amount of time — let alone three months — to put yourself back out there

Beyond the Business Launch

There were Biz Launcher outcomes I could touch, like a functional website… or a list of every relative, friend, friend of a relative, acquaintance, and former colleague to contact about my business.

However, my biggest a-ha takeaways for long-term success as a freelance copywriter were:

  • protect my mindset
  • take daily action

These two things helped me move forward after my setback… and will protect me from spinning my wheels after future setbacks.

My actions are now framed by a principle described in the book, The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy — reap a big reward from a series of small, smart choices. This principle, combined with daily rituals to tackle prioritized tasks, has helped me increase my productivity. I call this my “action principle.”

Tier One tasks include client onboarding, client work, managing project schedules, and updating CRM entries. Tier Two tasks are the marketing activities — from LinkedIn posts, to networking and discovery calls. Other tasks are mostly low-hanging fruit.

Here’s an overview of my daily small, smart choices —

Morning Ritual

  • Complete morning meditation
  • Say my “Why” three times
  • Work on Tier One tasks
  • Take a 20-minute exercise break
  • Stop for lunch

Daytime Ritual

  • Sort emails after lunch
  • Take a “nappuccino” (caffeine then a 20-minute nap) break about two hours after lunch (Daniel Pink says this combination is the ideal technique for preventing sleepiness and enhancing performance in When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing.)
  • Work on Tier Two tasks
  • Log daily accomplishments and wins during the last 10 minutes of the workday (because progress motivates)

Nighttime Ritual

  • Confirm the next day is one of my six workdays (If I’m not careful, I find myself working every day!)
  • Update the planner for the next day
  • Create reminder alarms for scheduled activities or appointments
  • Add to the Gratitude Journal (one person and one thing)
  • Send a brief thank you email, or text, to one person
  • Turn off electronics 30 minutes before bedtime
  • Read a mindset-improvement book for 15 minutes
  • Complete bedtime meditation

The Magic Penny

These are the small, smart choices I’m consistently making…

Some days I do better than others.

But even when I’m struggling to stay consistent, I remember… better has no destination, better does not mean perfect, and better has no finish line! (Driven, Douglas Brackmann)

When I get weary of doing the same things over and over, I look at the index card taped to my desk. The Magic Penny story (The Compound Effect) is on the card.

Here goes… if I were given the choice to instantly accept a lump sum of $3 million cash… or to receive a single penny that doubles in value every day for 31 days — which should I choose?

Not gonna lie. I’m thinking — take the lump sum and run! Who knows where I’ll be in 31 days?! 🙂

But if I take the penny, it grows like this —

  • Day 1 = $0.01
  • Day 5 = $0.16
  • Day 10 = $5.12
  • Day 20 = $5,242.88
  • Day 29 = $2,684,354.56
  • Day 30 = $5,368,709.12
  • Day 31 = $10,737,418.24

Our small actions have the same compounding effect.

Give it some thought…

Whether you’re dealing with a setback or not, you have the power to make huge gains in your life. You just have to ask yourself, are you willing to consistently make small, smart choices?

Valeria Collier Vick

Valeria Collier Vick


  • I love your thought-processes and exact systems Valeria! Congratulations on overcoming rejection stronger and more focused than ever before, and thank you for sharing your story.

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