In late August, while we are absorbed by back to school activities and enjoying end of summer barbecues and late sunsets, we cannot ignore the coverage of the Republican National Convention. We know that soon someone will be elected president and that the other candidate will lose. We just finished watching the Summer Olympics and saw athletes get the gold, but we also saw the disappointment on some of the participants’ faces when they did not reach their goals.
In all competitions, there is a winner and a loser, but clearly, the loser often only misses by a small margin. Our perception is that winning is the only thing that matters and let’s face it, candidates that run for president fade into obscurity while the president of the United States becomes infamous. Similarly, athletes that win gold medals wind up on cereal boxes while the others go back and practice for another four years.
In our culture, a lot of attention is placed on winning. Still, those who do not win had monumental experiences. They were up on the international stage, they tried their best, they flexed muscles they did not know they had, and the experience counts for something in their lives. Whether you train for a physical event or are engaged in a competition of another sort, winning is not everything. You know the clichés about winning, but the truth is that if you never tried, you would not have had the experience, and the experience itself is priceless.
When you go for a run for the purpose of eventually completing a marathon, you are making your mark, even if you never make it to the race. You are taking good care of your body. You are fueled by enthusiasm. It is the present moment that matters, not the possibility of winning a prize in the future. Sometimes goals help us to hone experiences that add to wellness and our general zest for life, but they need not be blown out of proportion. Even if you do not win, the process of training is invaluable. Think about all you have gained by participating in life. You will find that even if you do not reach your goals, you have a wealth of positive experiences. This is especially true when it comes to physical activities. Goals are motivating, but understand that the experience is what really counts.