You prepare, you plan, you go to execute....and you miss.
Deciding to go for a goal is a big deal. Committing to what it takes to get there is a big deal. Whether it be a fitness goal, educational goal or any other goal, a swing and a miss out right SUCKS. There are a few things that happen when you have a goal and miss.
1. Vulnerability: First thing is you decide you want to go for it. In order to do that, you must truly believe you are capable of it. At this point, you are also telling people about your goal. Now, you are putting yourself and your goals out there. You are being as vulnerable as vulnerable can be. That's scary.
2. Time: You have to commit time to this goal. You have to train, you have to study, you have to put the time in. You miss weekend plans, you are going to bed early, you skip out on pizza night, all because you have a goal that you are committed to. Time is your most valuable possession but you are dedicated to this goal and you are willing to do what it takes.
3. Effort: It is not always an easy task to do the thing that must be done. Whether it be studying when you don't want to, waking up early to run before the sun comes up in order to get your weekly milage in, skipping happy hour to avoid extra high calorie drinks....You are putting in the effort to reach your goals and it's not always the most favorite of choices, but it must be done.
4. Go time: You arrive at the race, test, event, whatever the ultimate goal is, you arrive, you try and you miss. You. Miss. The weeks of effort. The dedication of all your time. The number of people you told and will now ask you "Hey, how was it?" And you need to face them and tell them you missed.
Let me pause here and tell you my story.
I missed qualifying for the Boston Marathon by 93 seconds. Everyone I worked with knew my goal. My entire family and all my friends were at the race. There were signs and bells and even T-shirts made to cheer me to the finish line of qualifying for the Boston Marathon.
I would wake up at 5am on Saturday mornings to get my long runs in. I would get to work 2 hours early, at 4 am some days, to use the treadmills before I clocked in to do speed work. I would bother friends and family members for a ride to different routes I wanted to run on the course, I was obsessive and willing to do EVERYTHING to reach this goal.
At the time, the qualifying marathon time for my age group was 3:34:59.
I crossed the finished line at 3:36:33.
I know disappointment. To want something so bad and feel like you did everything in your ability and still swing and miss doesn't feel good. So, after you don't quite get there, what do you do? Well, you have a few options but here are my rules for getting over monumental (or a small) disappointment.
1. Grief. Allow yourself to be upset. Seriously, you are human, it's ok to be upset. So, allow yourself to feel those feelings. When I crossed the finish line realizing I didn't qualify, I sat down and cried.
2. Anger. Now comes the anger. You dedicated time, effort and a part of your life for this. And you didn't get the outcome you want, or thing you deserved...what the hell. Feel it. It's ok to be angry. Just don't unpack and stay there. Feel the feelings for a few days, then you must move on.
3. Acceptance. Ok, you finally come to terms with what happened. Now it's time to sit and take an honest look at your plan. Did you give 100% effort or cut corners? When I took a look at my training program, I can honestly say I could have given more effort on my speed work. If I had a 45 second all out effort programed, I would often give 41 seconds. I don't know if it actually made a difference, but I knew that was something I would change in the future.
4. Proud. BE DAMN PROUD OF YOURSELF. You know all those things I mentioned- effort, time, vulnerability? YOU WENT FOR IT. So what if it the outcome wasn't what you had hoped for. You did something most people wouldn't dream of doing, you were braver and more courageous than most. Hold your head high and be proud of what you did.
5. Revenge. Decide what to do next. Are you going to go back for revenge or are you ok with where you ended? There is no wrong answer at all, this is something you need to decide for yourself. It is a commitment and sacrifice sometimes to reach different goals, are you willing to do that again?
6 Weeks after I missed qualifying for Boston I flew out to Sacramento, California to run the California International Marathon. I decided to keep my training base and just go for it...again. Historically the race I chose was known for great weather but when I ran it was a straight up monsoon running through puddles up to my knees. I didn't care, I was determined.
6 weeks after what I would consider an epic failure of a race, I qualified for the Boston Marathon with 44 seconds to spare.
Everyone deals with disappointment differently. Just know that you are allowed to have many different feelings. Allowing yourself to go through the stages and feel all the feels will only help you get through it quicker.
Don't forget the most important piece though, having a goal and actually attempting it, win or lose, you are badass. Not many people would allow themselves to attempt a goal that they weren't 100% sure they would accomplish.
Remember: If it scares you and excites you, it must be worth doing ;)