What to do with disappointment?
You are heading into a moment where you know you have to give everything you have both physically and mentally. The challenge is bigger than you but you feel that if you can hold on with everything you have there’s a chance that you will make it through. This challenge is important and if you succeed you will gain something you have worked so hard for, that thing you have desired with every ounce of your being. This time you were prepared, you left no stone unturned, there are no excuses, this is your moment of truth.
I’m often curious about what we need to do to be successful during those times in your life where you have to test yourself to your highest level. We often hear terms like ‘never give up’ and ‘fight to the bitter end’ that represent how we should deal with these tough times. We want to believe that in these moments we will push through, that we are the type of person that never gives up. I know when I’m teaching a fitness class and the hardest moment comes up I will sometimes ask my class ‘who are you right now?’ which seems to motivate a lot of people but there are questions that I’m more interested in when it comes to those times when we test ourselves; Who do you become if you do give up in that moment? What happens to you when you fail? How do you respond if you aren’t the person who could push through during their biggest test?
I was speaking to a young golf player the other day called Jackie, she is one of those golf prodigies that you hear about with big ambitions to make a life out of her talent and passion. She was telling me that she had the goal of entering the Australian Amateur Golf Open which is a huge goal for an 18 year old. To reach her goal she set herself a very challenging job where she had to take her handicap down from 11.3 to 5.4 in just one month, that is a massive improvement to aim for but she was 100% determined to do everything possible to achieve it. The day arrived for the cut off for entries to the Australian Amateur Open and Jackie had managed to get her handicap down to 5.6. She had missed out on her dream by the smallest of margins, she was absolutely heartbroken.
When I was talking to her I was fascinated to hear what affect missing out on the selection had had on her golf, from the outside you could look at it and say that to improve her handicap by 6 in a short timeframe showed a huge about of dedication, skill and growth in her sport, but Jackie didn’t see it like this, she told me how she experienced an overwhelming level of disappointment.
This disappointment planted seeds of doubt in her mind about her ability and she was questioning whether she was really good enough to be chasing her dreams. We can all see how she could be feeling this way but unfortunately this disappointment created a dangerous situation for her golfing dream, the doubt that she had in herself was leading to inaction on the work she would normally do to improve her game. This inaction kept her in a downward spiral as her skills started to drop away which created more doubt, leading to more inaction. Luckily for Jackie she had a good support network around her who supported her back to a plan that got her back on track but this is a real example of how the way we respond to our failures can hold us back.
If you aim for big things in life you are inevitably going to experience some disappointment. When you face your moment of truth and fail you can be facing one of the toughest emotional moments of your life and while we need to have healthy emotional ways to deal with our disappointment we also need to make sure we don’t allow this disappointment to cloud our judgement and take us off the path towards success. There are lessons and opportunities that can be gained from reflection that arises from our biggest disappointments and these can be valuable beyond measure.
Do you have times in your life where you gave up, where the disappointment you experienced ultimately held you back because you stopped doing the work you needed to do to maintain your progress? Maybe it’s time to rethink how you approach these times so you can learn to get back to the work that needs to be done and then you can move towards future success.
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