Careers and the Olympics – how to deal with losing.


Arnie with great quote


After all the fuss about who won what has died down, and that will probably take a while, it’s maybe worth thinking a bit about the losers.

There’s research that says the saddest medal winners are the silver medallists as they came so close to gold, and that bronze medallists are nearly as happy as gold medal-winners, because at least they made it onto the podium.(Prof Richard Wiseman, The Luck Factor,  p 135). No matter which team we supported, there were good examples of sad silver medallists who so nearly made it – for example, the British boxer in the last competition of the Games who thought he had won but didn’t. This is the same sort of reaction we often see when students get beaten to a job and do not see why they didn’t get it, because the feedback they got was so positive.

There are however logically many more losers than winners in the Olympics, so what can you do to get back your self belief after a setback?

Here some tips that might help you in your career thinking as well:

  1. Focus on what you did achieve so far – maybe it is a new personal best, or in the case of Careers, the fact that you got an interview and great feedback.
  2. Give yourself small goals to take yourself to the big goal – so for an athlete it might be correcting an slightly imperfect running style, in Careers it might be  making some new networking contacts in your chosen field.
  3. Give yourself time – Nick Skelton won his first individual Olympic medal aged 58 having previously retired from showjumping after a broken neck. Sometimes your route to the role you want might take time or a slightly different route, but the secret is to keep believing you can get there in the end, and take every opportunity to work towards your goal.

Finally, there’s an old saying ‘there is no failure, only feedback’ which isn’t as trite as it sounds.  Don’t beat yourself up if things didn’t go according to plan – pick yourself up and decide what to do next. It’s your future, so take control of it!

And if you don’t know where to start, have a look at the SOAS Careers website for some ideas or pop in and see us – we are open all summer!

Philippa Hewett








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