Overcoming Setbacks: Why Feeling ‘Back Here’ May Mean You’re Actually Progressing

Craig Stanland
3 min readDec 4, 2023

Growth and progress are not linear.

Once you understand this, you free yourself from the pressure of believing it.

Something came up for a client the other day, and it’s something I’ve experienced 1st hand.

Growth. Growth. Growth.

Progress. Progress. Progress.

Then it happens.

A screeching halt — followed by the sinking feeling of falling backward, followed by one of the most frustrating sentences ever,

“I’m back here again.”

“Here” isn’t really a place; you can’t find it on a map. But you can certainly feel it.

And it sucks.

You experience all this growth and progress on your goals — and BAM — you’re back “here” again.

It’s frustrating and can be enough to stop you altogether.

But there is something wildly significant to understand when you’re back “here.”

Growth and progress are not linear.

Your current “here” is higher than your last “here.” Your next “here” will be higher than your current “here.”

Growth and progress are a series of ups and downs, with each up being a little higher than the last up and each down is a little higher than the last down.

Imagine a stock that started trading in 1980. It started at $10 a share and now trades for $500 (not a bad return for our pretend stock).

If you were to put its performance on a graph, there would be ups, and there would be downs.

Draw a line across the ups and downs — it’s going to be up and to the right.

So, each “here” is actually several levels above the “here” before it.

It doesn’t look or feel this way when you’re in it. Instead, it feels like you’re right back where you started.

You’re not.

When you’re “here,” it’s easy to look at how far away something is.

How about this?

In these moments when you feel like you’re back “here,” take a breath and look…



Craig Stanland

I write about my journey from corporate success to federal prison and finding joy, mission, meaning, and fulfillment beyond professional and financial success.