The Thrive Questionnaire With Dara Torres

The Olympian opens up about her secret morning time-saver, her bond with daughter, and how competition helps fuel her creativity.

When you have the opportunity to ask some of the most interesting people in the world about their lives, sometimes the most fascinating answers come from the simplest questions. The Thrive Questionnaire is an ongoing series that gives an intimate look inside the lives of some of the world’s most successful people.

TG: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed?

DT: I let my dogs out then go into daughter Tessa’s room, wake her up, and make her breakfast.

TG: What gives you energy?

DT: I have always been a very self-driven person so I’m not someone who relies on coffee or pre-workout powders. I think the feeling of accomplishing something and moving myself in a better place via working out energizes me.

TG: What’s your secret life hack?

DT: That being competitive is the essence of self direction. I am always in a competition with myself or others and that gets my juices flowing big time.  

TG: Name a book that changed your life.

DT: My book, Age Is Just a Number, actually. The reason mine has is because I’ve met so many women and moms that confide in me their journey, struggles and successes. It’s changed my life. 

TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?  

DT: This is a great question because I remember a time when a cell phone didn’t exist. I won’t lie, my phone gives me access to a much bigger world. I am passionate about communicating. But no, my phone sleeps alone!

TG: How do you deal with email?  

DT: Poorly. It’s a weakness in my game. Between fan emails, spam and legit personal or business e mails I’m slow to reply. Text/DM is my vehicle. 

TG: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it? 

DT: That almost never happens, but if I did, I’d hope I would take it to reach out to friends or family I haven’t connected with lately. 

TG: When was the last time you felt burned out and why? 

DT: Being a mom to a teenager can definitely make me tired. I’m sure a lot of moms feel that way. We are always tired lol.  The question is how do we rejuvenate. I luckily have the pool and exercise to give me energy!

TG: When was the last time you felt you failed and how did you overcome it? 

DT: I feel failure all the time. Being so competitive it might be in a small task like being on time to pick up my daughter Tessa or deal w my taxes or whatever. Without failure there is no greatness. 

TG: Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace.

DT:  “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” By Eleanor Roosevelt. When I was training for the 2000 Olympics after seven years out of the pool, that was my go-to quote.

TG: How do you prioritize when you have an overwhelming amount to do?  

DT: It’s challenging because many times as a mom, entrepreneur, and known personality, I get pulled in many directions. But I always prioritize with my daughter first and build out from there.  

TG: What advice would you give your younger self about reducing stress?  

DT: That losing isn’t everything. And the other girls that your competing against are just as stressed as you are so you aren’t alone. 

TG: Do you have any role models for living a thriving life?  

DT: My mother. She is my role model in every way. She raised six kids. She’s had such great balance in her life. She’s beautiful on the inside and out.

TG: What’s your personal warning sign that you’re depleted?  

DT: If by the afternoon I have no energy. I listen to my body and how I feel and make sure I go to bed early or maybe take a day off from exercise.

TG: When you notice you’re getting too stressed, what do you do to course correct?

DT: It depends on what’s causing the stress. If it’s work I can compartmentalism. If it’s my daughter or family I stop and assess how I can fix it immediately. 

TG: What’s a surprising way you practice mindfulness?

DT: Saying “thank you!” Those two words can go so far and I think it today’s day and age you don’t hear that enough.

TG: How do you reframe negative thinking?  

DT: I’m generally very positive. When I get in a negative way I force myself to resolve that feeling and move on. No one deserves to bring me down. 

TG: What brings you optimism?

DT: Watching my daughter becoming a women and seeing the beautiful opportunities that lay in front of her.  

TG/DT: Fill in the blanks: People think I’m tough_, but really I’m a mush__.

TG: Tell us about a small change you have made in your life to improve your sleep. What did you do, how long did it take until it became effective, and how you sustain this habit?

DT: I was having a tough time going sleep especially as I’ve gotten older. it had been a while since I’ve had a great nights sleep. Then I was introduced to a company called Canibrands out of Canada which manufacturers CBD/non-THC-based products. they have a Canisleep product that has changed my life. I love it!

TG: Tell us about a small change you have made in your life to improve the way you connect with others. What did you do, how long did it take until it became effective, and how you sustain this habit?

DT: I have been a coached athlete my entire life. That being said I was always told where to go and what to do from age 10 to my 40s.  When I made a huge change from being this athlete that knew everything ahead of time to being an entrepreneur and taking risk and nothing as clearly defined it woke me up to the importance of the people that you surround yourself with. I knew having some of the best trainers and coaches around me that good people matter but that was set up by others. Now I was interviewing people and getting to know them so I could help better direct their success personally and that of the company. It’s be taxing but so worth it!

TG: Tell us about a small change you have made in your life to improve your focus. What did you do, how long did it take until it became effective, and how you sustain this habit? 

DT: I’ve always been highly focused, that’s all I knew as an athlete, but it was it was tunnel vision. Now I’m focused on a wider swath of things that aren’t just about me so I’m enjoying the broader spectrum. 

TG: What was the biggest turning point in your life?

DT: I’ve had so many, from breaking my first world record at 15, representing the U.S.A. in five Olympics, or winning 12 Olympic medals. But truthfully, motherhood is the most important accomplishment of all. 

TG: What’s your secret time-saver in the morning?  

DT: Have everything set up the night before so your morning goes smoothly (i.e my four dogs’ breakfasts, my daughter’s lunch, my clothes laid out, my daughters school uniform laid out, etc)… Makes my mornings much easier!

TG: What’s your evening routine that helps you unwind and go to sleep?

DT: After running my daughter, Tessa, around to her lacrosse practices, making some dinner, watching “Wheel of Fortune” with her, and then just relaxing on the couch reading the newspaper while she is doing her homework. I love evenings.  

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