By Lisa Costantini | Jan. 13, 2016, 2:16 p.m. (ET)

In honor of Make Your Dream Come True Day on Jan. 13, we asked four Team USA athletes to share the advice that helped make their dreams come true. While sharing their stories, they also gave words of wisdom that you can apply to your own life. Now you have no excuse for not going after your own dreams.


Ryan Lochte, 11-time Olympic swimming medalist

What was the advice you used to help make your dream come true?
The best advice I ever received was to always stay true to yourself, to stay focused on your dreams and to set goals. And then my coaches have always told me that when you reach one goal, set another one. All of the advice that I have received growing up, I enjoy sharing with kids when I conduct swim clinics.

What was your dream?
My goal was to make the Olympic team. The first time I stood on the podium, it was the most amazing feeling in the world to be swimming for my country. It’s a feeling I will never forget.

How did you go about accomplishing it?
There are sacrifices that come along with accomplishing and fulfilling your dreams, but at the end of the day, it’s all worth it when you have an Olympic medal draped around your neck.

 

Samantha Tucker, 2016 Paralympic archery hopeful

What was the advice you used to help make your dream come true?
Change your self-image and let reality catch up. Become the person you want to be in your mind because your self-image drives all behavior. A negative mind will never produce a positive life, just as negativity in practice — self talk, negative coaching styles, focus on less-than-perfect results — will not produce the positive outcomes you are looking for. Your performance and self-image are always equal. Do this and you will accomplish your dreams in record time!

What was your dream?
In January of last year, I set out as a novice archer to make the national Para archery team. Six months after my fourth-ever competition, I made the qualification score. In September, I shot on the national world Para archery team at the Parapan American Games and the world championships. I am now rated second in the nation and 33rd in the world.

How did you go about accomplishing it?
First, I put my goal out publicly. I told everyone I knew and didn't know that I was going to make the national para archery team. Accountability is critical in achieving large and seemingly over-the-top goals. Then I read and applied proven mental training strategies and processes to change my self-image into that of an elite archer. I sought out mentors who are at where I wanted to be. I trusted their coaching, trained relentlessly and let reality catch up.

 

Gwen Jorgensen, 2012 Olympic triathlete and two-time triathlon world champion

What was the advice you used to help make your dream come true?
The best advice I've been given on my Olympic journey is from my coach, Jamie Turner. Jamie said to replace the word sacrifice with investment. He also helped me realize that I need to invest fully into triathlon. He changed my entire mindset on sport and life and it's made a huge difference.

What was your dream?
After the 2012 Olympics I had one goal, and that was to go to the 2016 Olympics and aspire to a gold medal. I have yet to achieve that, but I have surprised myself along the way by becoming a world champion.

How did you go about accomplishing it?
I found others to invest in me. My coach, husband and sponsors all believe in me and help me daily. My coach is at every workout analyzing and searching for new ways to improve. My husband quit his job to help support me in my athletic goals. Without their help, I would not be doing triathlon.

 

Joe Delagrave

Joe Delagrave, 2012 Paralympic wheelchair rugby bronze medalist

What was the advice you used to help make your dream come true?
The best advice I had is to set smaller goals in order to make the big goal or dream come true. Being able to set the smaller goals along the way helps you to feel like you are accomplishing things and helps you stay focused on the bigger task at hand.

What was your dream?
My dream that came true using this advice was the 2012 Paralympics in London. And I had set the goal of making the team back in 2008 before I had any business being a part of a national team.

How did you go about accomplishing it?
Accomplishing this dream wasn't easy because I had no idea what being an elite athlete entailed. Using the smaller-goals idea I set a ton of goals, including workouts, strength sessions, weight loss and eating goals. I think the smaller-goals concept allowed me to gain momentum and confidence. Four years later, I achieved the dream of representing our country in London. Imagine if I had set the dream or goal of London without setting smaller goals along the way! I think I would have easily derailed somewhere. Whatever your goals or dreams may be, don't be afraid of failure. Be bold and brave and believe in yourself!