January 1, 2017, was one of the most significant days of my life. My conscious decision to live each day of the year purposefully and to be the best version of myself not only positively impacted me, but also the people whose lives intersected with my own. My commitment to strive to be my best self, the person I was put on this earth to be, allowed me to contribute to someone else’s life in a positive way. In fact, it saved a woman’s life.
I was asked to speak at church as I had been on several occasions in the past. Hoping to inspire the congregation to realize the abundant possibilities in their own lives, I shared my own story of 2016 with its many challenges, celebrations, and learnings. It was a year that allowed me to dream again and set new goals, my first full year after retiring from an almost 18-year career playing soccer for my country. I was no longer Karina LeBlanc, the Olympic medalist/World Cup athlete, I was simply, Karina LeBlanc, a woman rediscovering the world and herself.
For me, 2016 was a year of so many beautiful lessons — some harder to swallow than others. It was also a year that provided me with some of the best moments of my life. In taking the time to reflect and to think about both 2016 and 2017, I was excited about the unknown journey. I understood the power of vulnerability in a whole new way.
The athlete in me knows one thing: BE VISION CLEAR OF YOUR DREAM. I had to understand my dream and work on it with the end in mind. From early childhood, my goal was to be an Olympian. Each and every day I made decisions based on making that dream a reality. Details, were important in planning.
In fact, the smaller details were crucial in helping me achieve my goal. If I wanted to improve my vertical, I set a mark and then worked towards it with the end in mind. What did I need to do to improve? What equipment would help? What exercises would help? Who could help me improve?
After my retirement from soccer, I knew what I had to do in order to become the person I was meant to be. I had to be vision clear and I needed to have a plan. I challenged the congregation do the same.
Dec 31st, 2017
Who is it on that day you want to be?
What do you want your family to say about you on that day?
What do you want your partner to say about you on that day?
What do you want your co-workers to say about you on that day?
What do you want a stranger to say about you on that day?
See yourself in detail and have clarity about who it is you want to be.
Now with the end in mind, work towards it, starting today.
What do you need to do today to make that happen? Ask yourself that question every day when you get up. If you become vision clear of who you want to be, when things go off track, you will find your way back much easier.
Surround yourself with people who can understand your dream and hold you accountable.
I spoke from my heart and shared my truth. I challenged the congregation to ask themselves the hard questions that make us all uncomfortable. I encouraged them to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. I dared them to dream big again and to protect their dreams from the challenges that lay ahead. I challenged them to be the best version of themselves.
After church, several people approached me, many in tears, and told me how my talk impacted them. They shared their incredible and unique stories with me. I was overwhelmed. The realization that I had reached so many people was awesome and surprising.
The most emotional moment came when a woman walked up to me, tears already in her eyes, grabbed both my hands, and while shaking them, said:
If you ever wonder if you’re living your purpose, today you just stopped me from taking my life.”
I cried with her and held her. Never would I have known that when I woke up on January 1, I could impact another human being in this way.
The truth is, none of us do. None of us know the impact we will have on others on any given day. But I believe that living purposefully and being our best selves provides opportunities to connect with and to positively impact others.
I challenge you for 2017 to wake up every day and live purposefully. There are no guarantees as to how this year will turn out but it’s important to control what you can control and be the best version of yourself so that on December 31, 2017 what others say about you will be something that will truly make you proud.