“Nothing in life is less important than the score at halftime.” – Amy Trask
How many times have you turned off a game at halftime – only to find out later that your team rallied and ended up winning?
It happens. Do you remember that one time TCU rallied from 31-0 at half in the 2016 Alamo Bowl to beat University of Oregon? Or what about “The Comeback” when the 1992-93 Buffalo Bills dug themselves out of a 28-3 halftime score (then 35-3 third quarter deficit) to beat the Houston Oilers on their way to the Super Bowl?
And recently, the 2017 Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots, who trailed the Atlanta Falcons 28-3 in the NFL’s championship game, only to rally and pull off a historic 34-28 victory to hoist the Lombardi Trophy as the game’s best.
Contrary to what many fans believe, the game isn’t over at halftime when the teams head into the locker room. Many times, it’s just beginning.
How often do we start after a new goal, only to be derailed a week later? We want to lose 10lbs so we plan to workout 4x this week and eat healthy each day. But on day 5, we are stressed and stuck working late at the office so instead of eating the protein bar in our desk, we go with coworkers for pizza and beer.
We wake up the next morning angry that we failed the night before – and instead of getting “back on the wagon” and eating clean today, we give up and think “oh well, I’ve already screwed up. What’s more bad food going to hurt?”
Instead of a single slip-up at one meal, we end up throwing in the towel for the next 3-4 days. Those 3 slices of pizza on day 5 become multiple days of eating crap that cause us to regress much farther behind.
All because we mentally relaxed (or gave up) after one small mistake.
One mistake doesn’t mean it’s over.
Does one flat tire mean it’s time to get rid of that brand new car? Of course not! Yet, we take that thinking into most other areas of our life.
I missed the gym today because of work. Another day off won’t hurt.
I already messed my diet up by eating those Girl Scout cookies, I might as well go to happy hour for beer & pizza. The day is shot.
I failed at my first business. Maybe I don’t have what it takes to start anything in the future.
The momentum with which that negativity can catch fire is (scary) powerful. Just like positive momentum snowballs with action, so can negative self-talk and negative momentum. Understand that one setback doesn’t define you, just as one victory won’t permanently help you. So the sooner we recognize that negative self talk – and stop its momentum – the more quickly can shift our focus to the positive rebound.
Starting strong is great. Everyone loves a fast start, but life is all about how you handle the second half.
How to Have a Strong Second Half
1. Understand every story has more than one chapter.
Ask any coach and they’ll tell you that it’s important to start every game strong. You want to be the one who punches your opponent in the mouth first (instead of taking the first punch). It helps you set a tone for the game, and in theory, make your opponent play your preferred style instead of theirs.
However, that same coach will tell you that what matters more than how you start – is how you finish.
Key takeaway: You might trip coming out of the gate, but that doesn’t guarantee you won’t win. Just ask Heather Dorniden.
2. Plan your powerful rebound and finish.
Have a specific plan for where you’re trying to go. It can be running a multi-million dollar business, competing in the CrossFit Games, getting a full scholarship to the college of your dreams, or working your way up the career ladder to be president of a national brand. Know the end goal you’re wanting to achieve.
This perspective will allow you know what the next step is after a setback, and it will allow you to gameplan if you need to slightly change direction.
Key takeaway: think about your setback less like hitting a rock floor and more like flying into a trampoline. Use the rebound to soar even higher than you were originally planning.
3. Maintain focus on the end goal & final whistle – not just the first half’s end.
Contrary to the “experts,” a slow start can be overcome by a powerful finish. Business has provided us countless examples of individuals that achieved their major success later in life. For example, Vera Wang didn’t start release her first dress until 40 years old. Ray Kroc was past his 50th birthday when he purchased McDonald’s in 1961. And Wal-Mart legend Sam Walton didn’t open the first Wal-Mart until he was 44 years old.
Lasting success can take longer to achieve, and many times it’s only through trial (and failure) that we are able to find the path where our passion & career can merge.
Key takeaway: If you view failure as simply a stepping stone toward a future success, you view it much differently than if you believe it is the final nail in the coffin
It’s the difference between viewing a flat time (that you can fix & continue back on the road) & throwing a lit match inside your car to watch it explode as it drives off a ravine.
The halftime score doesn’t matter. The final one does.
Your story is being written every day – but it isn’t final yet. Every hero saves the day after it looks like the evil villain has all but won. Underdogs defy the odds after being punched in the mouth. And you have the opportunity to have a stronger second half in life and write the legacy you want to be remembered for.
1. Understand that your first five chapters doesn’t have to define your entire life story.
2. Use the fall to rebound even higher – think of the trampoline.
3. Focus on playing until the final whistle sounds – instead of mailing it in after the first half.
Keep competing, until you win.