What happens when you get to the big event and it is immediately apparent that you are going to have to adjust your original goal?
This topic is big on my mind right now. I've been talking with several folks, both friends and athletes I am working with, about how they've been faced with having to make some very big goal adjustments. From stomach issues to cancelled events … it can be incredibly challenging and frustrating (not to mention heart-breaking) when you have been training 9+ months and it becomes clear that the day is not going to go the way you hoped.
Here are the three most important things you can do for yourself when faced with the disappointment of having to adjust your goal:
It’s OK to be upset.
And it’s OK to feel angry, sad, frustrated, panicked, confused, resentful, betrayed …
What I mean to say is - it’s OK to feel whatever you are feeling. Don’t fight it. Give yourself some time to fully embrace and feel that uncomfortable feeling. When we fight against the feelings that make us uncomfortable and upset we don’t allow ourselves to do what we need to do to fully move through it, accept it, and move forward from it. It’s OK to be disappointed that you aren’t going to get your ideal outcome. Being resilient isn’t about never feeling upset; it’s about knowing how to feel those emotions and then regroup.
Focus on what is in your control.
Part of regrouping is the ability to shift your focus to something that is in your control. You might not be able to exert control over the situation, but you can choose how you react to it. You can choose to accept the situation, adjust your goal, and start implementing your Plan B. Remind yourself that you can do this.
However, sometimes your inner-toddler comes out and throws a fit – kicking and screaming and yelling; “But I don’t want to do it this way!!! I want to do it the other way!!!”
Don’t be stubborn. Make the adjustment.
And if you’re still feeling stubborn – go ahead and throw your tantrum on the ground. Literally. Throw your arms into the air and cry out to the sky above you, “Noooo!!! Why!!!!????”, and then fall to your knees, and start flailing and pounding the ground. I’m not kidding. You’ll either feel total relief when you're done, or feel ridiculous about half-way through and be ready to move on
This sucks, big time. It’s unfair. It’s a load of crap. You’ve worked so hard. And you did … you did work hard and it shouldn't have gone down this way, but it did ... and it’s not the end of the world. It can be extremely hard in the moment to step back and gain that kind of perspective, but it can really help you make the adjustment you need to. Think of 5 things you are unbelievably blessed with and grateful for even in the face of this huge disappointment. And then remember that you still got yourself to the start line. You still an incredible job on your journey to that day.
Being an athlete is part of you. It’s who you are and that encompasses everything it took to get you there on that day, it’s not just the day itself. It doesn’t feel like that in the moment, but it is still true. At some point you will be faced with a disappointing race. Embrace it. Learn from it. And relish the fact that you will get to try again if you choose to.