Picking Yourself Up After A Defeat

2013-07-20 19.32.20This weekend I remembered the tag line of that iconic old TV sports show, Wide World of Sports – “the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat” – as I sat on the ground just a mile or so shy of my goal. I had planned to power walk a half-marathon overnight with Phyllis but my plan was derailed just after 3:00 a.m. The Moonwalk raised funds for breast cancer screening and I still met that goal. But I fainted from the overwhelming heat and humidity in New York City that night. Instead of joining Phyllis as she crossed the finish line to cheers half an hour later, I sat in an ambulance convincing the Paramedics, Emergency Medical Service workers, and Emergency Room physician who was on the phone that I was OK and didn’t need to be taken to the hospital.

The experience reminded me that while we can plan for success, sometimes things don’t work out as expected and we need to pick up the pieces, overcome our fears and continue to move forward. Today and later this week, I’ll be going over some ways I coped with my disappointment and how I focused on the positives – feel free to use them yourself if and when you face obstacles in reaching your goals.

Accept your feelings. It’s natural to be emotional when you aren’t able to achieve what you had set out to do. You may be feeling sad, angry, embarrassed, frustrated, regretful, guilty, disappointed, annoyed. Experience the wide swath of feelings without being judgmental or denying them.

Evaluate what stood in the way of your success. Was there a flaw in your planning and preparation? What about your execution – were you able to exert enough effort? Were you lacking in the ability to attain your objective without extra training or help? Did an unexpected outside event or circumstance throw you a curve?

Brainstorm new ways to act in the future. Learn from your experience. If you want to go for the gold again, you may need to formulate a new strategy. Use your temporary failure to craft an improved plan for success. That may mean starting again from square one or just making slight modifications and building on your momentum and accomplishments.

To look for the positives to be found even in a disappointment, check back on Thursday as I reflect upon the lessons learned after mile 12 of my half-marathon Moonwalk.

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