Only Celebrate When the Ball Is In the Back of the Net

You’ve been waiting for that moment for so long.

Maybe your whole life….

You have imagined what it feels like in countless dreams, and as the moment of accomplishment approaches, it somehow feels like an old friend. You have never entertained the possibility of letting that friend down. As the “ball” arrows towards the target, your arms start to raise in celebration. Finally, yesssss, get in there!

But then the ball rebounds off the post and into touch.

Assuming that you have achieved something before the deal is sealed is one of the cruellest of human tendencies. We want to believe in the best, but if we start to celebrate too early, there is a real danger that we will lose sight of any last-minute complications.

Just because we have put 99% of our efforts into achieving something doesn’t mean that that last 1% could make that crucial difference.

I am guilty of this, and not only about myself.

At the moment, my daughter is trialing to join one of the best junior netball teams in the UK. She has played a couple of tournaments and a few games with their A’s and has done okay. If I am honest, just getting into the B’s would be a huge step up from where she was, but I hope that she might be given her chance. The last official trial is tonight and she will then be told which team she is in.

I have already been envisaging her grinning face as picks up all those trophies (they win a lot), but she has a different attitude. She is ambitious, but she feels that if she doesn’t get into the A’s immediately, nothing is stopping her from achieving her goal a little bit later. As she pivots to take those last few shots tonight (in front of the panel of selectors), she won’t be thinking about trophies, she will still be thinking about doing her best.

I would be dreaming about trophies if I were her…. I’m glad that she is different.

You might think that after a few examples of premature celebration, the tendency would seem less appealing. Speaking from personal experience, it never quite works out that way. When you are a hopeless optimist (not a healthy approach), you will be left disappointed again and again. On the other hand, you might never have taken the shot in the first place, but let’s not complicate the discussion.

Celebrating success is an important part of life. However, celebrating partial success when you know that potential failure still lurks is no sort of life at all. If the ball is not in the back of the net, failure is always a possibility. Don’t let it consume your thoughts, but make sure that it is still in your thoughts.

Celebrating early (and in vain) can leave such a hollow feeling.

Make sure that you see through your dreams right to the end.