How often are you driven by how much you can or will make? How many times are you encouraged by how many zeros precede a decimal point? How often is your eye drawn to the big dollar sign listed in a proposal?
Few kids say, “When I grow up, I want to make X dollars.” There was a point in my freestyle skiing career, just before my last Olympic appearance, when I started getting sidetracked by the allure of the almighty dollar. Sponsors were all of a sudden interested in aerial skiing, and the money was pulling me away from why I’d started the sport. Target stores and Owens Corning both wanted their names plastered on my helmet, ski companies all wanted me to hold up their skis when I landed my jumps, and new businesses were popping up weekly asking me to flash my pearly whites in their latest ad campaign. With the way we Americans are conditioned, the appeal was overpowering.
One day I sat down to think about all my goals. The goals I had since I was a young freckle-faced girl. None of those goals listed a wad of cash. None listed big contracts. And none stated deals for big campaigns. I quickly realized this wasn’t what my pursuit was about. The money wasn’t going to ultimately be what made me happy. If someone asked me if I’d rather have an Olympic medal or a million dollars, I’d choose the medal. Even today, if someone offered me any amount of money for it, I wouldn’t accept. When I stood on my makeshift podium as a five-year-old girl, it was the medal I dreamed of. It was always this desire in attaining that goal that pushed me toward my ultimate success. I needed that inner child to remind me of my true passions.
We often forget what is most important to us at our core. Today, take the time to remember what you wanted to be as a young child or teenager, and why. Look at your current job, relationship or endeavor and find the parts that resonate with the untainted dreams you had while you were growing up. We often get distracted by money, by what other people think is most important, or by something else on our current path that’s secondary. Children naturally act out of their core passions.