Welcome to Life Setback Research Project.

This project considers preliminary research considerations, types of setbacks, and Life Talk audios connected to the research project. The Life Talk Topics audio lectures are available under the tab “Academy.”

The research project is guided by one research question: Why do people pursue setback? This project is ongoing. The full research project is available as audio lectures under the “Setback Curriculum” tab and also on YouTube.

Why Do People Pursue Setback?

Research considerations include preliminary questions to guide the development of an annotated bibliography and/or literature review, research hypotheses followed by a research proposal, and questionnaire(s). For now, consideration of assumptions is necessary. 

Let’s begin with a simple definition.  All research activity is based upon this question: Why do people pursue setback?

Working Definition

Setback is essentially defined as something that happens to delay or prevent a process from developing and/or delay or prevent progress (Cambridge English Dictionary).

Preliminary Questionnaire

The preliminary questionnaire gauges initial goal-setting and capacity for goal completion.

The following list of questions is something I use in my Composition II classroom and that I believe has application to other contexts. 

These questions are meant to gauge the students’ understanding of goal-setting and goal completion.


Provide an example of a time you were reaching towards a goal but encountered a setback?

What was the goal? ___________________________________

What was the setback? _________________________________

How did you resolve the problem? __________________________

Did you complete the goal? ______________________________

These questions presuppose that you understand what goal-setting means and that you are committed to the goal you set. 

If you deviate from the initial goal, and get distracted by experiencing a setback, but still complete the goal, then this means that accomplishing the initial goal is important and worth preserving.

However, if you deviate from the initial goal and remain engrossed within the distraction/problem, and adopt a different goal, then this means that accomplishing the initial goal is not important and not worth preserving.

Research Goals

The following research goals are connected to life setback research and is ongoing.

These are the following preliminary research goals connected to the Life Setback Research Project.

Goal #1: Create survey items. 

The development of future survey items and measures will derive from some aspect of the above questionnaire, directly and indirectly. 

Items will include references to status of setback, categories, approximate length of setback, and expectations about recovery from setback. 

The development of research goals should aid in the development of preliminary research hypotheses.

Goal #2: Write a literature review. 

Scholarly sources must reference the keyword “setback.” 

Preliminary research into the topic reveals scholarship on resilience studies, not necessarily on the concept of setback.

Goal #3: Review personality theory. 

Personality may contribute to why people often commit to or abandon initial goals. 

The Big 5 Personality Trait scale will be a primary source.

Goal #4: Review additional theories. 

It is not clear which theories will work with this topic.

Goal #5: Create a bibliography of source materials. 

This will help to create a list of supporting evidence.

Preliminary Assumptions

Setback as Intentional or Unintentional?

The following are preliminary assumptions that guide this research project. Validation and substantiation of preliminary research assumptions is in progress.

Assumption #1: We Do Not Set Realistic Goals

Based upon this definition, setback may be intentional or unintentional. I think in every respect setback is intentional. I believe that we all pursue setback when we fail to adopt realistic goals, apply strategies with informed knowledge, and listen to instruction.  

Obedience to an instruction is at the heart of why we pursue, enter, and struggle in setback.

Regina Y. Favors

The platoon leader says to the platoon “Forward, March.” If the platoon does not march forward, then the platoon will remain in formation. Anything that does not move becomes stagnant. 

Similar to water that doesn’t move and begins to stink, if a person refuses to move forward, their life will stink or reflect a condition of ineffectiveness. There is no sense of yielding substantial results.

Assumption #2: We Do Not See Outcome

This further means that when we pursue setback we do not see outcome. We do not see result. We do not see what is in front of us as worthy of grabbing onto it and remaining with it. Instead, we reach back. We reach backwards to convenience. We reach backwards to familiarity. We reach backwards to what felt comfortable.

If a person decides to cheat on a marital or romantic partner, the person is pursuing a setback. The pursuit of something he or she believes worked in the past. Otherwise, why choose cheating as a solution to a current problem? Thus, setback can be solution-oriented.

Assumption #3: We Preserve Outdated Philosophies

Think about racism.  A new breed of people are entering the world. 

If racism is outdated and we have overcome it, then why do we see 21st-century individuals with the very same attitudes and belief systems of people in the 19th-century and 20th-century? 

It does not make sense. However, it makes all the sense in the world. People hold onto racism because it is their blanket that warms them when they feel the world is cold. The “cold” is subjective. People who use racism may use it for a number of reasons that may not actually relate to racism at all. Racism is just the face, the filter people use to manage their lives.

Assumption #4: We Do Not Self-Regulate

Consider emotional self-regulation. 

If you see a person who has to “tell somebody off,” “cuss somebody out,” or fight overall, that is telling. That person is stuck somewhere in their childhood. That person is “set back” emotionally, mentally, and psychologically. The animations that come as a result of telling somebody off also reflects their physical setback. 

People do not suddenly change patterns and habits that work. Otherwise, why bring those patterns and habits forward from childhood to adolescence to adulthood? For some people, fighting works.

Assumption #5: We Do Not Prefer Stability

Consider people who lack stability. 

These are people who jump from job to job, move from relationship to relationship, and move from residence to residence. They cannot stick with anything and they do not pursue anything as well. They will pursue a job to make someone happy or simply for show but not for the sake of stability and responsibility. 


The person who says “I want to be rich” is not necessarily a person who is a worker. The person works because no one will take care of him or her, but the person is not necessarily working out of a need to work or a desire for work. 

It is not a base desire of many people to work; if we all had the opportunity, we would not work and fully pursue our passions. However, work leads to creating, managing, and sustaining personal responsibility. Taking responsibility is ensuring stability.

Assumption #6: We Are Not Lifelong Learners

Consider why people disdain learning. 

People like to look smart, but they do not want to do what it takes to be smart. People will self-promote and ride on their current smartness, but they will not add to their knowledge base to pursue mastery of a subject matter. 

People who rely and depend on their IQ and talent will refuse to move beyond mere recognition that they have a high IQ or that they are talented into a context of becoming a lifelong learner. Standardized testing is a system that “teaches” that learning is no longer necessary. K-12 teachers are required to “teach to the test” and not teach learning.

In addition, teachers who teach to a specific population and/or demographic are major culprits in “holding students back.” Some teachers, whether they operate from a system of racism/inequality or bias of any kind, will suggest by their “lack of teaching” this one thing without actually saying these words: 

“I don’t feel you can learn this, so there is no need for me to teach you this.”

Assumptions from my Spanish teacher

My personal experience is one that has left a mark on me., and it is something I consider as I teach my own courses.

A high school Spanish teacher did not teach from the board; he did not converse with the predominately black students. He just told us to do the chapter problems and if we needed to know the answer to look at the back of the book.

That experience, along with exposure to public school ideology of teaching students the habit of learning just enough to pass and not inspiring lifelong learning, is one of a multitude of reasons why people settle and why people embrace setback.

Assumption #7: We “Need” Debt

Financial irresponsibility is at the heart of why people remain in setback. 

Debt and giving in to momentary impulses is a more likable, agreeable concept than pursuit of financial wellness. People operate with the assumption that debt moves them forward. In reality, debt holds you back. We all operate on borrowed time, and debt is a false currency that we use to trade time for things. In other words, we do time when we do debt.

These are some of the assumptions implicit in the question, Why do people pursue setback?

Types of Setbacks


Someone can experience an academic setback by failing a course. 

This is a universal experience. We all have failed at least one course in our lifespan. Even if you haven’t failed an academic course, you may have failed to adhere to an instruction from an authority figure. An academic course is merely a collection of instructions and directions that must be obeyed and followed. 

When a person fails to obey an instruction and/or follow direction, a setback is created by default.


Business industries experience economic setbacks. There may be a setback with a product line and/or sales and promotions. 

Business adheres to the principles of supply and demand. This affects costs and losses. Setback may include inventory issues. A business that cannot supply will ultimately lose demand, offending loyal customers. 

Because the business and economic systems are interconnected, it is likely that a company’s product line will affect the larger economic system, which ultimately affects the workforce. 

A company that cannot produce or doesn’t have enough capital to ensure sustained production will leave employees affected, thus also experiencing a setback.


One of the most recent financial setbacks was the recent financial crisis involving subprime lending.  This crisis had a negative impact on low-income borrowers. These were borrowers who wanted a piece of the American Dream through home buying. Banks and mortgage lenders wanted to create mortgages and then subsequently sell them to investment banks. 

The borrower lacked knowledge of the system. The bank and lenders held knowledge hostage. However, the borrower did not seek out knowledge of the system. 

Therefore, there was a learning curve missing. A system is supposed to work. When it doesn’t, there is a link missing and something is out of rhythm.


The current criminal and legal climate has focused largely on unfair convictions and increase in police brutality of African Americans. Such actions of the police and the larger criminal justice system have resulted in the rise of protests and various movements. 

In addition, sexual harassment has been prevalent in various contexts, resulting in multiple resignations by powerful men and convictions. These issues have resulted in #MeToo, #TimesUp, #BlackLivesMatter, #BlueLivesMatter, #WhiteLivesMatter, and various additional movements.

The problem here is that there is a missing learning curve. 

One issue falls under criminal. Another issue falls under legal. Yet, another issue falls under free speech. In addition, participants of protests often do not know the issue at hand. They know of the issue because they have seen some news report. But they do not know the laws of the land. 

They do not know police policy and procedure. They do not know certain policies regarding conduct in the workplace. They do not know free speech laws for government and non-government employees.


Spiritual refers largely to the Christian faith. This means that this statement is biased because the researcher is a Christian. 

Faith is different from religion. 

Collectively, Christianity is perceived as a religion within the secular institution. However, within the church, Christianity is understood as a faith because of our faith in Jesus Christ that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He died for our sins and we cannot enter heaven without accepting salvation and being born again. 

The perceptions of Christianity as place holder within multiple religious contexts and as a “spiritual walk” personal to the Christian are two different belief systems. This, by default, creates a setback because the Christian is subject to both the dictates of democracy and theocracy.

For the Christian believer, sin is defined as simply disobedience to a divine law. When the believer disobeys God and God’s laws, this suggests either ignorance, abandonment, or willfulness that exceeds ignorance. 

“Disobedience to an instruction immediately creates a setback.”

Regina Y. Favors

The setback is similar to an academic course that a student fails and must retake. The Christian believer cannot advance spiritually, mentally, emotionally, psychologically, and financially when there is disobedience on his or her record. 

That disobedience has to be repaired. This means that in order to move forward, the Christian believer must return to the last instruction failed, obey it, and then move forward. The setback creates room and opportunity for correction.


Mental is different from psychological. Mental deals with the mind and mental health. Psychological deals with the study of behavior. They are grouped together here because there is a cause-effect relationship between mental and psychological. It is the mind that tells the body what to do. 

This means that if there is a setback, if a person is experiencing a setback, then the setback is in the person’s mind, first.


Journaling Exercises

The Life Setback Research Project includes journaling exercises using the acronym RAW: Reflect, Assess, Write.

RAW is also connected to the Life Talk Topics audio lectures and focuses primarily on encouraging people to assess why they continue to remain in toxic relationships and perpetuate them within multiple areas of their lives.

Through RAW, you will learn how to reflect on the impact people have had on your life, assess and critique their contributions, and write yourself out of toxic, close encounters.  RAW is useful for recognizing that you are in a setback and further helping you to write towards comeback.

Remember that we are 100% responsible for our decisions, and we are 100% responsible for moving ourselves out of setback and moving ourselves towards comeback and ultimately recovery.

Sample Task

Sample Task: Applying RAW

Target Task

Consider that one person who has had the most negative impact in your life and why the person is very significant for you to address now.

View the following Life Talk Topics and Rebound Relationship Special Topic available on YouTube. These videos are also available under the Academy and Seminary tabs:

Life Talk Topics: The Drunk Driver Never Gets Killed

Life Talk Topics: I’m Not Going Your Way

Listening to these audio lessons will help you gain insight into how we emotionally and psychologically and physically get into cars that are going the wrong direction or associate with people who are going the wrong direction. Take notes if necessary.

After you have finished listening to the audio lessons, complete the following journaling activity:


What impact has the person had in your life?




Visualize their face and their contribution. What do you have to say about the person? What are some adjectives you might consider in describing the person? Use those adjectives to help you form your response.




Do you consider the person to be a problem in your life? What problem do they bring to the relationship? Journal response.




Is this person in your life for a reason, a season? Do you want the person in your life to be for a lifetime? Journal response.



This journaling activity using RAW helps you to conduct an inventory of your life, decisions, and potential goals. View the last audio lesson below:

Life Talk Topics: Taken Inventory of You

This audio lesson is useful for simply conducting a checklist of your past and potential decisions.

RAW is not complete, but it offers insight into the need for self-reflection regarding the people we permit in our lives.

A full development of RAW is forthcoming.

Copyright © 2019-2021 Regina Y. Favors – All Rights Reserved.


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