This Friday, the opening ceremony of the Olympics will kick off in Beijing. Over the next few weeks, impressive athletic feats will be on display, records will be broken, and medals will be handed out. While the high level of talent and athleticism on display is undeniably impressive, the thing that stands out most to me in these Olympians is the level of discipline and determination they possess. That’s how they got to where they are today.
I really am awed by it. The relentless training, the strict nutritional guidelines, the single-minded focus required so that nothing gets in the way of their goals. I think the reason I'm so impressed by it is because I don't quite understand it. It’s impossible to relate unless you’ve experienced something similar yourself. You may have the physical capability to be the best in your sport, but reaching the performance level of most Olympic athletes would be impossible without the determination required to make it happen.
Although I find it commendable that someone could be so completely dedicated to a goal, I don't know if I'd ever want to be able to relate to Olympians to that extent. While it might be nice to feel so strongly about something -- to love something and be really good at it -- a lot of that success is due to other things having been given up. Relationships. Free time. The sacrifices are worth it to some people, but I don’t love any sport or hobby so much that I’d want to devote a majority of my waking hours to it.
I would, however, be okay with a stronger level of determination than I have right now. I've often thought that if I were more determined, it would be easier for me to set more difficult fitness goals for myself. Maybe I wouldn’t still be struggling to complete 10 standard push-ups in a row. Maybe I’d be closer to my unassisted pull-up goal.
A friend of mine who reads my personal blog told me not long ago that I seem almost surprised when I accomplish a goal that I've set for myself. In her words:
You still seem somewhat surprised at yourself when you accomplish goals, but the kind of goals you have set for yourself are entirely within your control. You just have to plan what you need to do reach your goal, and then do it. There's no magic to it. "Plan your work and work your plan" -- best advice I ever got.
She’s right. Although I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished so far, I’m not doing anything extraordinary. I’m physically healthy, so -- within reason -- I could be doing a lot of things right now that I’m not currently doing. At this point, I know I don't feel like I do enough -- not nearly as much as I'm capable of doing, at least. I’m not saying this because I want people to prove me wrong by listing all the things I currently do that maybe other people don't do. That’s just the way I feel.
Those Olympic athletes? They’re hardcore. They set their sights on something and don’t give up. Even though I'm okay with never reaching the same mental level, they have a lot to teach us about the power of determination.
Melissa has been looking at profiles of female Olympians in magazines and finds them inspiring.
Spin Diva loves watching the Olympics, and shares a link to a website that shows athletes preparing for the big event.
Maria Kang talks about how to get back on track when you’ve strayed from your regular training plan.
Women's Health: Get in Olympic Shape (the Q&A pages are really interesting)
BeliefNet: Top 15 Most Inspirational Olympic Moments
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