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By Rosemary Lichtman, Ph.D. and Phyllis Goldberg, Ph.D.

As the Beijing Olympics get underway, millions will be watching athletes from around the world compete in the summer games. Reflecting their own political controversies and worldwide tension, these Olympics personify the balance between reality and entertainment. They can fulfill your yearning for distraction from concerns about the current economic instability and stress as a Sandwiched Boomer, caring for your family-in-flux.

The Games provide color, drama and a demonstration of excellence - enjoy them. In addition to news about the venues, there are messages streaming from Beijing beyond those of who is winning and losing gold medals. Here are 6 tips about how to incorporate the deeper meaning of the Olympics into your life:  

1.Find your unique passion and develop it. There are hundreds of events at the Olympics, each representing a specific activity that athletes have chosen to pursue. They range from rhythmic gymnastics to javelin throwing, from fencing to sailing, from synchronized swimming to boxing. What brings you joy and the ability to become fully engaged? Recognize the creativity and excitement that emerge as you follow your dreams.  

2.Work hard and practice. Learning about the schedules of Olympic athletes reminds us that accomplishments don’t come easy. Repetition is the handmaiden of success. Set long-term goals with realistic, incremental steps to reach them. Give yourself credit when you achieve an objective and, as you set the next one, aim to move ever closer toward your goal. Strive for your personal best - and remember the most important competitor you have is actually you.

3.Expect to fail sometimes. And when you do, pick yourself up and start again. Every athlete who has made it into Olympic competition has suffered injury and disappointment along the way, but that has not been the end of the quest. They know that they can learn more from failure than success. You, too, can treat your setbacks as a teaching tool. As you do, you will become more resilient and adaptable.

4.Relish the support that comes from those who care about you. Individual athletes depend upon an entourage of people assisting them - coaches, trainers, family, friends, sponsors, and teammates. As you work toward your own goals, your cheering section may be more limited - family, friends, teachers, support groups - but whatever the size, accept their encouragement. Function as a team and be available to help sustain them when they need it. Athletes talk about the Olympic village and see themselves as part of that community. What is your community?  

5.Explore other cultures. With its symbol of five interlinking rings, the Olympics celebrate the unity of the athletes while honoring their individual nationalities. The athletes pay tribute to each other as they collect and trade pins with Olympiads from other countries. With a population of nearly one and one-third billion, China is composed of over 50 distinct ethnic groups. Many of the larger ones are represented in the show of diversity and solidarity at the opening and closing ceremonies. When you have the opportunity, get out of your box and learn about people who are different from you. This doesn’t have to mean travel to exotic places - it could just be a bus ride to a different part of town. Your openness to accepting others who do not share your background and experiences will enrich and educate you.  

6.Enjoy your successes when they come. Observe Olympic athletes when they stand on the winners’ platform with their medals, listening to their national anthems. Their pride and emotionality are palpable. Reward yourself when you reach a significant target and savor the feelings of power that come from your achievement. You deserve it!

So enjoy the spectacle of the Beijing Olympics but don’t let them lull you into remaining only a spectator, getting your lone exercise from a finger on the remote control button. Get into the game of life and become a winner yourself.

© 2008, Her Mentor Center

Rosemary Lichtman, Ph.D. & Phyllis Goldberg, Ph.D. are co-founders of, a website for midlife women and, a Blog for the Sandwich Generation. They are authors of a forthcoming book about Baby Boomer’s family relationships and publish a free newsletter, Stepping Stones, through their website.


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