When you’re going after a goal and you find yourself faced with a setback, you essentially have a choice: give up on this goal (for now at least) or get over the setback.
I’m of the opinion that there is no shame in letting go of a goal if it is no longer something you truly want. I’ve spent too many of my months and even my years going after something a past version of myself wanted. I won’t tell you to never stop going after a particular goal but I will tell you to never give up on your dreams and your growth. It’s your path, you’ll need to find your way. So, when you do find yourself facing a roadblock on your path, I will share what I have done to get over it and push forward.
First, you must contain your negativity. Self doubt is the killer of dreams. You face a set-back – let’s say, an injury – blame yourself and give up on your dreams. Don’t let that happen! Injuries can be more mentally difficult for an athlete than they are physically. When you love your sport but can’t train because of injury, it can be devastating to your morale and motivation to continue. You must resist that internal negativity as best you can. In the case of an injury, one way might be to find some other aspect of training you can focus on while you heal. I once injured my right big toe while training for a martial arts belt test board break. Instead of giving up on my goal to test that season, I instead focused on my left leg and trained to complete the break with my other leg. I tested on time, broke the board with my left foot, and ended up becoming an even better martial artist precisely because I spent dedicated time focused on my non-dominant side. The experience helped me learn that overcoming adversity makes you stronger, often in unexpected ways.
When going after your goal, take small steps and celebrate the small wins. When you progress slowly, your progress is slower but your set backs aren’t as dramatic. When you do fall, getting back to where you were is easier because you took small steps to get there. You can build back up by following your own footsteps. This one can be tough for those of us who want to reach high goals, so it’s important to celebrate each and every step along the way. Did you complete your first week of your couch to 5k program without missing a workout? That’s great! See each small step of progress toward your goal as worthy of celebration, even if it seems tiny. If you did something that moved you closer to your goal, that in itself is a victory!
I have the mindset that setbacks will happen. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Given this, it’s important to have a Motivation Toolkit ready before you really need it. The truth is, when the going gets tough, sometimes you just need to put on your big kid pants and get over it. What kicks YOU into action? Everyone is different; what kicks my butt back into action may not work for you and what turns on your engine may do nothing for me. Here’s where a bit of self awareness goes a long way. Learn what works for you and see if you can find a way to save it so you can pull on your motivation when you need it. Maybe it’s a motivational speech or playlist that always helps or maybe it’s the “support” (or tough love) of an accountability partner. Whatever works for you, it’s important to have something in mind for when things get tough.
When the going gets tough, the tough get going.
I know it isn’t easy to get yourself moving when all seems lost. It was never meant to be easy. Growth means pushing past the boundaries that once stopped you. Keep moving forward; you can get over it and you will.