Flexibility Doesn’t Equal Weakness: Coping With Setbacks

Setting goals, pursuing goals – it’s all part of the journey, whether it’s fitness or career-related. But what happens when the best-laid plans go awry?

Example one is a new runner training for her first 10K. On her way down a hill during a training run, she hyperextends and injures her knee pretty badly. She’s out for a while from running – and out of the 10K. Instead of wallowing, she does yoga and strengthening exercises to prevent that from happening again, and when she’s done with a short course of physical therapy, she’s better able to control her stride running downhill.
Example two is a woman with a promising career in a tough field. But the economy hits a slump; her life situation has changed. When she’s laid off, she realizes that her career in that particular field isn’t right for her, not just because of her life situation but she’s actually pretty miserable every day. That leads her to explore other options and find something she loves in another field – and she becomes very successful and happy in the process.
Neither of these women are weak. They’ve had to be flexible in their approach (literally flexible, in the case of the runner), but they’re picking themselves up and taking a new direction. Along the way, they discover new pockets of strength that propel them toward their goals.
I tend to have an all-or-nothing mentality. I get very focused on a goal: running a half marathon, landing a new client. If I don’t meet that goal or hit the milestones I’ve set for myself, I get disappointed and discouraged, and I’ve been known to wallow. I can’t think like that anymore – and I try really hard not to, because it’s not going to move me forward. I just have to revise my plan.
My current goal is to get my half marathon time down to 1:45. The problem with this is that I have a tricky knee and have been advised by fitness professionals and medical professionals to limit my running to 3-4 days a week. I’m fine with that. I supplement with strength training and ballet; I stretch a lot; but most importantly, I’m ready to dial back on the speedwork if I find myself popping Advil every 4 hours. That’s ok. It’s not showing weakness; it’s showing strength to accept limitations and work around them. I accept that, with my limitations, I will not shave a full 10 minutes off my half marathon time in the next few months. And really, the only person I’m competing against is myself, so anything better than a 1:55 is still pretty awesome.
Setbacks? Yes, they happen. But letting them define you is what will equal weakness.