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How to Deal with Disappointment

Not achieving your goal is hard. Most of us will have to face this at some point in our athletic careers. It hurts and can be unsettling. It will undoubtedly set off a train of questions that need to be addressed in order to learn and move on.

Here are my thoughts on how to cope with disappointment:

Allow yourself to feel the myriad of emotions that curse through your mind. It might be a bit of a roller coaster but sit with it, allow this to happen in the knowledge that this will pass. It’s part of the processing. As these, sometimes initial irrational thoughts knock you about, you will start to settle on the ones that feel right.

Talk about it. You may need to do this at length and feel the need to go over and over the same points, go with it. This is a method of healing. It is however, in my experience, best not to make any decisions at this point. You are too fragile to make the most balanced of choices. Wait till the next phase before you do that.

After the initial period of naval gazing the fun can start. This is when growth can happen. It’s now that you can look at what you will do differently and where the gaps were in your preparation. You will start to also look up, see the bigger picture and look to what lies beyond.

Write down the things that you believe lead up to your withdrawal. Along side that list write the changes you can make next time to support success. Have another look at your motivators. Have these changed in light of your experience, or have they been made sharper? Do you need to be more honest about your ability, time constraints, or other limiting factors? If so, allow these to influence your next challenge choice so that you are better able to succeed next time.

Bear in mind that this one moment doesn’t define you. This is one step in a long journey. The mark of a person is shown not by one step but by the countless steps they take along the way. It’s the summation of their life that makes them who they are.  So whilst we are all allowed to initially harbour negative thoughts and be hard on ourselves and possibly others (if we were in a team situation). Great is the person that looks defeat in the eye, appreciates it for what it is, acknowledges it and uses it to return stronger and more determined.

Remember: “The road to athletic greatness perfection is not marked by perfection but the ability to constantly overcome imperfection and disappointment.”


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