Do not give up
Sometimes I surprise myself.
I have hard moments, hours, days, just like everyone else. These times can make me question if it’s all worth it, whether it’s sport or business, is it worth the time, effort, the sacrifices and all of my resources?
These are the times when it is particularly hard to hold your head up and carry on fighting, when you don’t quite believe in yourself and your mission enough to keep giving it your all.
I’ve learnt over the years that I have had 2 choices. One hard, one easy. Some choices are more difficult than others, but will make things much easier for us in the future. Some choices are lazy, that we make for ease, but create difficulties and elongated suffering in the future.
“Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life.” — Jerzy Gregorek
I recently wrote an article about identity, and how I had recently rediscovered mine. I’ve always been driven, motivated, but during hard moments, or periods of feeling lost, it can feel easy to give up.
Giving up can look different to different people. It could be moments where we just stop trying, or times where we half-arse things. We muddle along, uncaring but disgruntled, always disappointed and surprised when we haven’t met goals or received rewards that we believed we should be entitled to.
I’ve just come back from Rabat, Morocco for the first World Cup of 2023. A competition that I wasn’t ready for. I struggled in training, I couldn’t make everything come together. The first day of competition arrived, I shot 19. I dropped 5 targets out of the first 8. I had NO idea what was happening, I just couldn’t make it work for me. I was deflated and angry that I couldn’t hit as many targets as I wanted to. Next round out, I was on it. I was confident that I was going to put everything into this round and I did, until the last 5. I tried so hard that I ran out of steam and dropped 3 in the last 5 targets, I was heartbroken. Then I had another bad round. I was giving up.
I had completely written my competition off, but then I decided to fight.
I wasn’t willing to give up on this competition, despite my performance in the previous rounds. I found an extra gear, dug that little bit deeper and focused on the process. I pulled a 24, and then 25 out of what felt like thin air for the last 2 rounds and managed to semi-rescue my score, 109/125. I was so emotional, I couldn’t believe how I had managed to do it. I checked the scoreboard, 2 targets shy of the final. Turns out, I wasn’t the only one who was struggling. If I could have found that extra gear just one round previously, I could have made the cut. Disappointing, but what a comeback.
But this wasn’t the first rescue mission.
One of my coaches joked last year and had referred to me as ‘The Comeback Queen’. I laughed and found it sweet, as I’d had such a bad start to a competition. My first selection for the main team in 2022. I shot a 20 to start and was heartbroken, I didn’t want to waste my opportunity. After 30 minutes of moping around, getting a pep talk off my coach, I was off to shoot my next round. I fought hard the rest of that competition, shooting 25,23,23,23 to finish on 114/125. Another travelling score for British Shooting and an international PB for me, it also got me into the final. I was over the moon. And emotional.
Later in 2022, I was at the World Championships. They were really hard for me. It was a really tough week. I had shot a GB selection shoot the weekend before and shot 100/125. The worst score I had shot in years. I wasn’t ready to go to the Worlds, and I cried in the car the whole way to the airport. I couldn’t hit a barn door from the inside during training, I had no self belief and I was panicking. During that competition, I shot 23,21,23,25,22 and finished on 114, 2 targets shy of the final. Before the competition started, I had already mentally checked out, I cried in my room every night during the competition but managed to wake up each morning and put my game face on.
As athletes we always set out with the intention of winning gold, but considering the lack of self-belief I experienced during this shoot, the idea of being this close to the final at my first senior World Championships was a real pinch me moment.
I’m sitting here, now returned home from Morocco, reflecting. Are these comebacks a fluke? What happened? Where did that gear come from?
My strength is not giving up. I often forget about it and sometimes think that is a fluke. It’s not. My strength is my mindset and that I am able to keep fighting. Others can see it, and it’s about time I recognise it within myself. Recognising it means that I can add it to my ‘tool-kit’ and I will believe in myself as others do. We might have moments when we are down, but we must remember that we are not out.
In shooting, we have to fight for every target, treat them as individual targets instead of rounds of 25. We must keep going, and we must do so with intent. Doing things half-heartedly won’t help us achieve our goals. We must stop focusing on a score, but break the competition down into tiny steps, like with anything in life. It is so easy to get caught up in what others around us are doing, instead of focusing on our own journey. We need to remember that the only person that we need to compete against is ourselves, and as soon as we can do that, incredible things will happen.