What I Learned From My Most Recent Failure

Lessons from failure

I ran my first 5k last year. I decided this year to make it a goal to beat my time at the same 5k event, the Purple Stride fundraiser for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. That race took place last weekend.

I didn’t beat my time.

I blame a few things for this- some abnormal circumstances on race day, my lack of persistence to begin training as early as I planned, and just flat-out not performing how I wanted to.

A part of me is crushed. I had planned this goal since January, and I’m really disappointed in myself for not meeting it.

After mourning the loss of this goal, I’ve been thinking about what I learned from this failure, and I think it’s all a valuable reminder. Here are 3 things this failure taught me:

  1. Long-term goals are more difficult to focus on than short-term goals. Throughout the first half of the year, I knew that the race was coming, but it seemed distant enough that I wasn’t too worried. I began my training program 3 times before finally sticking with it to completion. As the race approached, I became more focused and ran consistently. If I would have set better short-term goals at the beginning of the year to eventually meet the long-term goal, I would have been way more prepared.
  2. You can’t win ’em all. Honestly, if you meet every goal you ever set, you aren’t setting good enough goals. It needs to be difficult, and that means that you will fail sometimes.
  3. Setting goals motivate serious change. I hate running, but I ran 2-3 days a week for 7 weeks straight in preparation for the race. I would probably not have run at all if it hadn’t been for my goal. So even though I failed at the “goal,” my intent was to get into an exercise habit, and I did. The journey is sometimes more important than the destination.

Failure isn’t fun, but reminding myself of these three huge lessons helps me to put it in perspective. What have you learned from failure?

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