“You’re never too old to work for your dreams.” This was the power-line quote in Dara Torres’ interview following the 50 meter freestyle race in the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. She won the silver medal in that race, losing the gold by only 1/100th of a second. Dara repeated this sentiment in numerous interviews following. I froze and cried to hear this 41-year-old mother, competing in her record 5th Olympics, make this declaration with a victorious smile. Torres and the other athletes who competed can attest to countless hours of practice and hard work in preparation for the reality of their Olympic dreams.
Last month, I wrote about destiny and discovering one’s life’s purpose. I’ll continue with this theme in a slightly different direction. I believe that our purpose and destiny are discoverable. I also believe we have to work to achieve them. TV and video readily show us the glory moments of others. These special stories highlighting individual athletes during the Olympic Games allude to the rigorous practice hours spent, but unless we’ve been there, we really cannot imagine what goes into preparing for and reaching the dream.
What are Dreams
Dreams are those lofty ideas that we hope to accomplish. Perhaps when you listen to many of the athletes following their victories, you’ll hear things like: “I dreamed of this all my life;” “This is my dream;” “I’m living my dream.” This didn’t just happen for them. Their dreams weren’t simply pleasant, out-there thoughts; they had to take action to make them reality.
Make It Happen
Dream. What’s in your heart to accomplish? Once you have a clear picture, shape it into a statement, “I want to…” Then ask yourself, “What is required for me to accomplish my goal?” The answers to this question can become steps and goals along the journey to that big dream.
Get Rid of the Negative Talk
Take out the obvious deterrents: “I don’t have enough money,” “I’m too young,” “I’m too old.” Focus on the steps it will take to get there and walk out those steps one by one. The youngest Olympian on record was about 10 years old (Greek gymnast Dimitrios Loundras 1896, Athens Games). The oldest Olympian on record was over 72 years old (Oscar Swahn, who won his sixth Olympic medal at the 1920 Antwerp Games).
Believe It’s Possible
Attitude, preparation, perseverance, support, motivation and accountability are keys to accomplishing our goals and, ultimately, our dreams. We have to want it and believe we can do it. We have to commit ourselves to the process of making ourselves ready. Whether it is physical, mental, or both, we have to prepare. We have to persevere, press through, and stick with it. It probably won’t be easy, and being committed can mean we will give up other things along the way.
We’ll need support. Find people who believe in you and who want to see you accomplish your goals and reach your dream. We need accountability. We need the reminders of why we are doing what we are doing. We need someone to help us along the way, encouraging us and helping us stay focused. We need someone to whom we are answerable. In sports, leadership and life, this person can be a coach.
No two stories are the same, so we can never say: “they could do it because they, had this” or, “I don’t have that.” We never know the journey or path someone else has had to walk to get to where they are. We don’t know the price they paid; or the cost required for their success. We often just see their glory moments.
Reaching the Goal
Remember that life is a journey and not a destination, but we measure that journey one milestone at a time. Step by step, we can accomplish the goals that are set before us. Stay in tune with God and be obedient to the work He has for you to do. Follow sound advice about how to make it happen. Be willing to work hard. Remember, God is the one who is supposed to get the glory. “One of life’s highest joys is to be used as God’s instrument at your fullest created potential. Realize that you’ve spent much of your life preparing, and remember that you’re never too old to work toward your dreams.”