It has been over a decade since I set out to become an Olympian in the sport of halfpipe skiing. When I began there were only a handful of contests a year, and only a handful of competitors. There were no Olympic Games for us, just the idea of them. Many of us take on goals that initially seem insurmountable. Some of us achieve them, others fall short; but reaching a goal is not the entire purpose of having a goal. Besides loving skiing, the concept that has propelled me to continue over the years is the process of self-reflection & growth that comes with the journey and the notion of self-actualization. It is for these reasons that I have been able to come back from several knee surgeries, dislocated shoulders, broken eye sockets, wrists, elbows, and ribs; that is why I am continuing to fight through my current limitations with my knee, to pursue my goal of becoming one of the first Olympians in the sport of halfpipe skiing.
For some time, I got caught up in the winning- the piece of the pie that seems to illustrate one's success. It was in this time that my experiences had very little to teach me. Sure, I was acquiring feedback that confirmed that what I was doing was good- more sponsors, awards, and attention, but it only made me temporarily happy, until of course, there was even more of that, which there not always is. We enter this world with nothing and we are going to leave this world with nothing- material possessions, wealth, fame, and success will all be left behind. So why get caught up in trying to attain such things? Why allow those concepts to determine our worth? If we are too focused on the finish line we won't see the speed bumps and pot holes, twists and turns, that may set us off track. And if we only see them as obstacles in our way, challenges to merely 'get through' because we have to in order to reach our goal, we will likely burn out before we ever cross that finish line.
As I sit here writing this, I am sidelined from my sport once again because of a fractured tibial plateau. In the year before our sports' Olympic debut, returning from a major knee surgery in 2012, I have yet another obstacle in my way. But instead of getting frustrated this time, I am loving it. I have embraced this opportunity for what it is- a chance to be home, sleeping in my bed, going to my gym, eating home-cooked meals, focusing on health and healing. It is not often in the life of a professional athlete, that we really get to just sit back and enjoy our lives, there is always another goal to be attained, or record to be broken. But now I have realized that each step is a goal in itself, regardless of what that step may be. These steps are no longer just inching me closer to my ultimate goal, these steps make up my life.
This is the same for everyone, regardless of what it is he or she is trying to achieve. For me it has been rehabilitation and time in the gym, for my graduate school sister, it is writing papers and creating presentations, for the aspiring musician it is teaching music not just performing music, and for the photographer, shooting weddings not just landscapes. But learning to LOVE these other aspects of our journey that allow us to work toward our goals will make all the difference in the world. Putting these steps into the category of a "goal" themselves is a good start in making each step more fulfilling.
So, get out there. Chase your dreams! But don't forget to enjoy yourself along the way.