How do you react when you have failed at what you have set out to achieve?
It hurts to know that you have failed. You can feel embarrassed, ashamed and you question your own self worth. In some cases you lose faith in your own ability to achieve anything that's even remotely out of your comfort zone. You say to yourself, "I am not going to put myself in that position again because I can not deal with the pain, it hurts too much and I'm a failure.
So how do you react? Do you just give up and say it's just all too hard or are you the type of person who reassesses the situation and becomes even more determined to achieve your goals?
Everyone has to deal with failure at some point in their lives, whether it's in your relationships with family and friends, working life or health and fitness goals.
In the past year I set myself a number of event based goals. Two significant one's were a half marathon - 21km and a Half Ironman -, which consists of a 1.9km, swim, 80km cycle and 21km run. This would be my first attempt at either event so it was going to be a daunting task and I was not sure what to expect.
For my first half marathon, I set myself a target of 88mins and felt it was going to be a huge challenge, but achievable. So 10 weeks out I started my half marathon training program, which didn't go according to plan. I suffered from a condition called compartment syndrome, which basically meant I could only run about 2km before my calves would seize up and I would be in extreme pain if I continued to run. So after countless hours of rehab and training, I felt had made enough progress to participate and even attempt to go for my goal time. In the end I failed to achieve my goal by 5 mins. I did not achieve the goal I had set myself of 88 minutes, I was extremely disappointed. I had set out to achieve a goal and had failed, I felt like I had let myself down. It took time for me to realise what I had actually achieved, this was the first time I had ever run 21kms. What an awesome achievement!
So, in regards to my next challenge - a half ironman, I had passed one test. I could at least complete the run, well maybe not? Remember I still had a 1.9km swim and 90km bike ride to do before I even got to the run.
My training was going to plan, I kept to my program - swimming up to 3 times per week, doing my long cycle on a Sunday and mixing up my sprint program and long distant running. Basically I was putting in the miles and I felt confident I was up for the challenge come race day.
It's Amazing how time can seem to pass so quickly, before I new it race day was upon myself and the other competitors. When I arrived at the venue the day before the event for check in, I had started to play mind games with myself. Looking at the swim course in real life scared me to death - seeing a 1.9km course in the water looks a lot different to relative safety of swimming up and down a 50m pool 40 times. Had I prepared well enough to complete this monumental task?
In the end I failed at my goal, I did not even complete the swim, which also meant no attempt at the cycle or the run. It was painful to watch the other competitors. Why did I give up?
I had not only let myself down, I had let down friends, family, work colleagues and worst of all my clients. It was devastating, how am I going to face these people and tell them that I have failed. I was so embarrassed.
Not everyone's failures will be event based like mine. They could be as simple as your weekly goals - like failing to keeping track of your food for the week or saying that you will do a group boxing session and fail to do so. These failures may not seem that significant on a week to week basis, but over time they will add up and have a direct impact on you failing at achieving your long term goal.
How will you feel then? Will you feel ashamed and worthless?
You have started on this journey for a reason, to improve you quality of life. So are you just wasting your time?
How can one redeem themselves after failure?
When I arrived home that day, I jumped straight onto my bike and rode 46km flat out, jumped off the bike and backed it up with a 10km run. Sadly for me, this did nothing to ease the pain of knowing I had failed to complete my long term goal earlier that morning. There was still that feeling the shame and embarrassment.
How can someone escape the pain?
Well I signed up for a triathlon two weeks later, a short sprint - 500m swim, 20km cycle & 5km run. The venue - the exact same place that the Half Ironman was held. The nerves were there and I began to question myself again, but I conquer my fears and I felt awesome. It was the start of my journey to redemption.
Since that time I have completed an ocean swimming course, the 1km Cole Classic ocean water swim and another sprint triathlon. In May I have signed up for the SMH Half Marathon and I will beat last years time of 93 minutes. All stepping stones on the road to redemption.
In my opinion, if you don't reach your goals on the first attempt you cannot give up. Question yourself, why did I fail? Reassess your goals and put action plans in place so that next time you won't fail. I definitely know I do not want to go through the same pain and embarrassment from failing again.
My next long term goal - to complete the 2016 Western Sydney Half Ironman. This time I know I have devised an action plan to conquer and redeem myself.
Nobody should ever give up, know that you have given it your all or you will regret it for the rest of your life.
*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.