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How to Deal with Failure

We gotta talk about something I’ve seen a lot recently, from watching the competitors in the Crossfit games, to training my clients, to my own personal workouts. It’s something that’s tough to bounce back from mentally and physically. And it’s something every single one of us will face.




You set out to do something, you set out to accomplish a goal, you set expectations of yourself and you fall short.


And it sucks.


I don’t care if your goal is to win the Superbowl, PR a 5k or to lose 5 pounds, when you fail to accomplish your goal, it sucks.


But here’s the thing that I want to remind you and that I need to remind myself from time to time: Failing to hit your goal does not make you a failure.


Next time you miss the mark, in a workout or in life, here are a few things to remember:


Your failure doesn’t define you.

The toughest part for me is when I’m working out with a group or a coach and I fall short of expectations. When this happens, it can feel like you didn’t just let yourself down, you let them down as well. But as a trainer, a workout buddy and a mentor, I’m going to tell you this with absolute certainty: Nobody remembers whether you beat your goal or not; they remember your effort. And the funny thing is, when you win, they aren’t celebrating your accomplishment, they’re celebrating your effort. You aren’t defined by your workout wins and losses; you’re defined by your grit and your toughness and your effort.


You either succeed or you learn.

When it comes to fitness, I’m pretty good at a lot of stuff. But let me assure you, it didn’t start that way. This stuff never came easy. I wasn’t some naturally gifted child athlete that just happened into training as the next logical step. It took work. It took effort. And it took a lot of learning experiences. For all the personal successes I’ve had, I’ve failed at least as many times. Here’s the catch, though, failure isn’t really a thing. It doesn’t exist. It’s simply an opportunity to learn. It only becomes finite if you give up. So don’t give up. Use this experience as a chance to learn something new about yourself. And then try again, because…


There’s always another chance.

I’m especially hard on myself when I go after a tough workout or run a race and I don’t hit the number I was expecting. Of course I have high expectations, and so should you. But one thing I’ve had to learn is that you get a mulligan practically every day. Fell short of your 5k goal? Cool, there’s another one next week. Missed your bench press PR? No worries, you get another shot next week. Didn’t hit the weight loss target? All good, stay on track with your nutrition and re-measure in a month. Don’t give up and you’ll find there’s another chance just around the corner.


Kevin Snodgrass