How To Find Your Motivation Again After Setback
One thing that I promised myself I would do this spring is let you in on some of the things that have been going on behind the scenes with my running. While I wrote this in regards to how I adjusted my mindset after my marathon disaster, I think that this could be applied to most disappointing life situations.
As with all things when it comes to mindset, both understanding and accepting the situation and the circumstances that surround it, are key to your ability to overcome it. Even though the events surrounding could be entirely out of your control, how you choose to process and react is in your hands.
Allow yourself to grieve.
I can’t stress this enough. It harkens back to the days of “real men don’t cry” or “walking it off.” You’re allowed to show emotion and that is ok. In fact, it’s more detrimental to your psyche if you close off and don’t let that emotion out. Keep it inside and you’re likely to let it ooze into your subconscious where it will fester and grow. Allowing yourself to grieve is one of the many steps of fully understanding and coming to terms with the situation.
Post marathon I struggled deeply with this. I felt that many people expected me to be fueled with rage or determination. But, truly all I wanted to do was cry. I kept forcing myself to keep running and show up at workouts - one of which I actually stopped in the middle of - because I felt that I “needed to move on.” Only once I was able to actually ask myself what it was that I wanted — to grieve — was I able to work through these feelings.
I will say, however, that the grief needs to have a scheduled end. This end might look different to everyone so I’m not going to sit here and tell you to take two days, a week, or 4 weeks to grieve. How long you take is less important than making the conscious decision to invest time in yourself to fully feel your emotions, allow yourself to process them, and when you’re fully ready, move on.
Ask yourself - What did this teach you?
The next step is shifting your motivation is understanding the why. So ask yourself: What did you learn? Each setback is an opportunity to grow. Each failed attempt, each unintended and regrettable outcome is a way to adjust your thinking and focus on a new path. What if Steve Jobs had quit after his initial failure with Apple? Or if Alexander Fleming hadn’t noticed his discarded petri dish - the result of a failed experiment - was growing penicillin mold. Sometimes, it’s possible that a setback was a blessing in disguise, a happy accident. It could also be that this setback was meant to teach you something about yourself or spur you to greater pursuits.
I’ve done a lot of soul-searching in the days post marathon. I take full responsibility for my actions that day and have moved past it the best that I can, by accepting my mistake and hoping to use it as a warning for others. I’ve focused on hitting a new personal best in my next marathon, something that I wouldn’t have been inspired to do had this situation not happened.
I think it’s possible that each unwanted ending is actually a new beginning. You just need to understand the why.
Make a goal & celebrate the tiny achievements
You’ve grieved. You’ve processed. Now it’s time to look forward to the future. But don’t let setting a goal cause you anxiety. Celebrate the small steps. For me, it’s a well-run workout. But it could be any variety of other dots on the road to success. What matters is that you’re taking small, executable steps towards a goal that matters. But don’t let yourself get so caught up in the bigger picture that you forget to enjoy the journey along the way. Sometimes I find that the journey is as much fun as the destination.
Let others in
I can’t speak to this enough from my experience with getting back into running. Having a support system is crucial. Whether that is a best friend that you can trust, a family member, or simply someone to hold you accountable, having the extra bit of support is critical. If you’re reading this and feel that you have no one to turn to, reach out to me! I think that everyone should be surrounded by at least one person in their corner. That additional perspective, word of encouragement, or a simple sounding board, can do wonders for your mental psyche.