The Olympics is less than a month away.  Athletes will travel from all over this earth to compete in the name of their country. Some, like Michael Phelps, are veterans at this point in their careers. Others, like Simone Biles, are making the trip for the first time. All of these athletes are using these last few weeks to fine tune the work they’ve done over the past four years. A trip to Rio is about to make all the sacrifices they made worth it, but they are not the only ones who made sacrifices.

There are many athletes, like volleyball player Cassidy Lichtman, who are not going to Rio. They will not compete on behalf of their country. Their sacrifices will not result in their dreams. As their fellow citizens are flooded with joy, they are dealing with sadness and loss. When we work as hard as these people do to reach our dreams, the realization that we won’t make it will undoubtedly result in heartbreak. Yet, as Cassidy talks about in her own words, not making the Olympics doesn’t change who these athletes are. The sacrifices they made may not have resulted in the Olympics, but that doesn’t mean such efforts were pointless. Olympic athletes understand that their pride isn’t based on whether they made the Olympics or not, but that they even tried in the first place.

These athletes all had a choice to make before they started their path to the Olympics. They all knew more people would be staying home than going to Rio. They chose to pursue their dreams in the face of uncertainty. Such courage tells us more about these people than the fact that they did not make the games. Yes, their dreams did not come true. Yes, they have to deal with heartbreak, maybe even the most they’ve ever had. But they are not “failures” nor will they remain heartbroken. They had the strength to pursue their dreams and that strength remains, regardless of the outcome.

When it comes to your own athletic endeavors, whether they be on the Olympic stage or something closer to home, take a page out of Cassidy’s book. Give everything you have. Train as hard and as smart as you possibly can. The sacrifices you make will never be worthless. The journey towards your dreams will be filled with challenges. The courage to face these challenges will give you strength. This strength will build as you continue along the journey. At the end of the journey, whether you reach your goals or not, this strength will remain. Just like Cassidy will move on and find another dream to pursue, so will you with the strength you’ve gained from your own journey.

Premier Sport Psychology can work with athletes to help them when they don’t reach their dreams. Maybe your dream was to play Varsity your freshman year, but now you’re on J.V. Premier will help you develop a plan to make the most out of your situation and create new goals going forward. Perhaps you’re at the end of your career and you gave everything for your dream. Premier will help you transition from one lifestyle to another, creating a new identity along the way. Whatever your dream was, Premier believes that you are not defined by whether you reach your dreams or not. Your decision to even pursue them in the first place does.