Set a goal? Didn’t Reach It? Now What?

Set goals. Turn dreams into reality. Dream it. Breathe it. Visualise it. Manifest it. Write it down. Make a plan. Set mini goals. Break it down.

We are told so many things about ways to achieve goals.

But what happens when you don’t achieve your goal? What’s wrong? Was it the goal, was it the plan, was it you or was it something else altogether?

Whatever way you say it, when you explain to yourself or to someone else why you didn’t achieve your goal are you making excuses? Or are you stating reasons? And what’s the difference?

I had a goal of breaking 1:50 for the Gold Coast half marathon last weekend. I didn’t make it and have spent a couple of days contemplating why.

Probably what is hardest about this is that it’s public. If I hadn’t told anyone that I wanted to beat 1:50 then I could have said after the race that I did ok, that I was happy with my time and just deal with it myself. But I didn’t. Everyone knew.

We get told to set goals. But what happens when we don't achieve them? Is there a difference between making excuses and stating reasons for failure?

I ran past some of my running buddies at the 20km mark and they knew I wasn’t going to make my goal. The 1:50 pacer (another friend) had gone past and I wasn’t with him. When I saw them after the race, I didn’t want to give them a list of excuses why I didn’t achieve my goal.

And it got me thinking about excuses and reasons. What’s the difference?

My hamstring injury, my lack of good training in the 4 weeks leading up to the event, are they just excuses for not getting below 1:50 or are they the reasons I didn’t get there. And does it matter?

To me it does. I don’t want to make excuses. I had a goal. I didn’t achieve it. I felt shit. But I also don’t want it to affect the big goals I have coming up. So I need to try to make some sense of it.

Have a search online for goals. There’s lots of motivation, there’s lots of inspiration, there’s lots of great quotes wrapped up in pretty pictures. But there isn’t much to help deal with failure, or not achieving goals.

We get told to set goals. But what happens when we don't achieve them? Is there a difference between making excuses and stating reasons for failure?

I look happy here, but I’m anything but!

So what happened?

It’s a 21.1km race. I was on target for the first 10km then just couldn’t do it anymore and slowed down. Every kilometre, as my watch beeped to mark the passing of another kilometre I felt the goal slipping away. My best time, which I ran 4 years ago was 1:50:08. That was at a time when I wasn’t training for a half marathon. I was training for the full marathon and hoping to crack 4 hours. But I got injured and dropped back to the half. That year my only goal was to finish. I had no time pressure. And I was stoked with my time. A few people commented that I was so close to getting into the 1:40s, but I didn’t care. I just wanted to run. And finish. And I did.

So this year I decided it was time to crack the 1:50. I trained hard, I ate well, I did what I thought I needed to do – well, for the first 8 weeks of my 12 week program. Then it fell apart as I had other constraints on my time and something had to give. And it was training, and nutrition.

We get told to set goals. But what happens when we don't achieve them? Is there a difference between making excuses and stating reasons for failure?

Sometimes I want to do everything. FOMO.

Straight after my event, I went and volunteered as a marathon Motivator.

We get told to set goals. But what happens when we don't achieve them? Is there a difference between making excuses and stating reasons for failure?

The Motivators in action

It was a great way to put off dealing with my disappointment for a few hours. Turns out, according to my watch, that I ran over 40km that day! Some of it in a purple cheerleader costume and a flouro wig.

We get told to set goals. But what happens when we don't achieve them? Is there a difference between making excuses and stating reasons for failure?

By the time I got home, I was exhausted. Tired, hungry and still not ready to deal with my disappointment. The answer? A different type of marathon – a Netflix marathon and half a dozen episodes of Suits.  Because watching Harvey and Mike is a great distraction from anything.

Where to from here? I’m actually leaving the sub 1:50 goal behind for a little while. It’s important to me. I’d still like to achieve it, but I had already set some goals for 2018 that will require some investment this year to be able to get there.

So what have I learnt? Should I lower my goals so they’re easier to achieve? Ha! I’m not about to do that. But what I do need to do is prioritise what I really want to achieve. I will still have lots of goals, but I’m going to have to decide which of my goals are the most important and do what I can to achieve those and be a bit more relaxed about the others.

And to be honest, I know that is easier said than done.

We get told to set goals. But what happens when we don't achieve them? Is there a difference between making excuses and stating reasons for failure?

Less than 1km to go. Gotta smile at your friends.

There was one thing that was really good about the race. And that was, I wanted to quit. I wanted to stop and walk. I wanted it to be over. I had had enough. I really just wanted to walk, and stop, and end the race. But for some reason I couldn’t. I couldn’t walk, I could only run. My mind wasn’t letting me quit. And that’s something I’m going to take to my big goal for next year – complete Cairns Ironman.

So I’ll take this quote for now –

 

We get told to set goals. But what happens when we don't achieve them? Is there a difference between making excuses and stating reasons for failure?

1 Comment

  1. Hi Amanda,

    I completely understand your disappointment. I didn’t achieve my marathon time a few years ago (on my first one!) and although I went on to complete several 50km ultra-marathons it is still on my list to get under 4 hours for a marathon! One day I will but I am in no hurry!

    You still achieved a great time and should be very proud if yourself for getting back out there and supporting everyone else.

    Well done!
    Melanie

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