Success and failure are an unbreakable union but how should you persevere when your goals feel so out of reach? Here is performance athlete Alice Hector’s guide for staying the course.
You no doubt have a goal you’re currently working towards. It should be a tough challenge that, at times, makes you question both your decision to take it on and your ability to finish it off.
As I look back on 2015, I can say I’ve fallen short of my targets in triathlon. It was a year of swapping coaches, injury, burnout, bad race choices and, well, you get that the list of excuses could go on forever. However, that doesn’t make it any less disappointing. It sucks to think all the hard work’s had so little return. It has me doubting myself at times and pondering what fulfilment a different life could bring. Is it time to ‘get real’ and move on? No chance; and if your year sounds like mine, use the following page as a mental playbook to make yourself better.
Don’t expect overnight success
As long as your goal isn’t to sprout wings and fly to unicorn land, if you consistently do the things required, it will happen. Triumph takes time. The overnight successes we hear of in the media make no mention of the countless hours of anonymous practice behind closed doors. That daily process of constant good work will bring results, but not instantly. Accept that there’ll be a few dips along the way. Those experiences are important, since they show what doesn’t work – and we can learn from them.
If you’re in a competitive environment, it can feel like everyone else is riding a smooth road of joy on his or her way to high achievement, whereas you’re on this highway to hell, which leads eventually, you fear, to a dead-end. However, this is far from the case.
Don’t give up
Successful people never have an uninterrupted journey to the top. They’re successful because they don’t give up. They’re smart and adaptable too, and if something isn’t working they look for clues and make the changes.
Need some proof? Just look at Michael Jordan. After being cut from his high school basketball team he locked himself in his room and cried. He went on to be the most successful basketball player in history, but the challenges were always there, which is where his most famous quote came from: “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I’ve been entrusted to take the game-winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
Kelly Holmes always had immense potential, and enjoyed a stellar career on the track over 800m and 1500m, but was plagued with injury. There was always the ‘what if’ factor. A calf injury late in her career saw her spiral into depression. She resorted to self-harm and it was only when her body started to heal that she began to recover emotionally. Aged 34, in the twilight of her career, she finally set the world alight and won two golds at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
By working through setbacks, you have the power to ensure that your success is as inevitable as failure. When the going gets tough, keep your wits about you, hold on tight and try to embrace that bumpy ride, because at the end of it you’ll come stronger, fitter and better than you were when you first started.
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