Happy New Year, Will it be a Resolution or a Promise to Yourself?

Happy New Year! 

This is a note that I wrote for Team Canada; athletes, coaches, support staff and mission team. There will be many between now and the Tokyo Olympic Games. The final Olympic Team won’t be named until early in the summer, so until then – this message is going to those who are sure things, likely/maybes and long shots; it’s going to everyone who is dreaming of more for and from themself in 2020.

Quick question: How long has 2020 been the target of your radar?  

For me, there’s something incredibly special about Jan 1.  of an Olympic year. It’s different isn’t it? Kind of a “Game on!!!” 

When I was competing, my Olympic New Year resolutions had to do with me being ready to kick ass at the upcoming Games! I can vividly remember the impact of knowing that it’s finally My Olympic year. — Yeah!!! The dream is so close! Woah. The dream is so close. it’s amazing and scary all at the same time. What a rush!

My first Olympic New Year was 1992 (don’t judge!). I was so pumped about the potential of the year ahead; everything was going as planned. And then, about 12 days later, while I was being an idiot with a house mate, I felt the MCL in my knee blow, then I felt my heart break: What had I done? I was the reigning World Champion in 2 events: This was supposed to be my year. I learned right then that I have faith in something and I prayed. I prayed desperately that I wasn’t at the end.

Luckily – it turns out that rowers don’t really need an MCL for rowing. With a great knee brace and some adaptations for my weightlifting I was back training and on the water by the end of January. But I’d seen it. In my mind, I’d seen the complete destruction of my goal. I didn’t want that to ever happen again. 

I decided two things: 

  1. I needed to take my preparation on and off the water more professionally. Particularly off the water. By not thinking about the consequences of child-like rough-housing I had risked everything that I, and my teammates, had been working so incredibly hard for; and 
  2. I didn’t want to ever have to resort to praying for a miracle again. Not in training, not in competition and certainly not at the Olympics. I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t do that again. It was desperate – and we can’t win if we have to rely on desperate measures. 

Similar to other New Years’ resolution I made a promise to myself. But I needed this one to be more real than any I’d ever made in the past. I put it “in stone” by writing it down. I wrote it (in calligraphy, which was a hilarious (failed) attempt to improve my handwriting), put it in an envelope, sealed it, and put it in my journal that I took everywhere. 

In late July we arrived in Barcelona for the 1992 Olympics. I pulled out my well-travelled journal, the still sealed envelope and opened it up. I knew what it said – but I wanted to read it. 

I had promised myself to dig as deep when training as I wanted to when racing. I wanted to make my top potential the norm, not something I had to hope for on race day; no need to pray for anything extra. I also promised to be grateful. 

I knew I had kept my promise and through the Olympic Rowing Regatta, that norm was our golden ticket – twice.

A New Year’s tradition for many is selecting a resolution; a new goal to accomplish, a new habit to embrace or an old one to kick. You don’t need a new resolution – you’ve got an Olympic plan. You’ve already taken your dream, and by identifying a plan to achieve it, you converted it into a goal. But here is my second question – what have you promised yourself? (Also – if you are on a Team? What have you promised each other?)

That was a long way of wishing you the best and happiest New Year. 2020 is going to be an awesome one! Cheers! 


I welcome replies and questions. Agree with me or disagree with me I’m happy to hear it – but most importantly – if this starts a conversation with your teammates, your coach – or yourself – about what you are doing or need to be doing – then we’re on our way towards MORE. 

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