Thrive Global: What gives you energy?

Olivia Smoliga: The desire to fulfill my goals.

TG: What’s your secret life hack?

OS: Believing in yourself wholeheartedly.

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

OS: I close my eyes.

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

OS: About four weeks ago at a meet. I just reset! All it does for me is teach me something new about myself and how I can improve. 

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

OS: “Whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.” – Max Ehrmann 

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

OS: You’re right where you need to be!

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

OS: My parents.

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

OS: When I’m not laughing as often.

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

OS: I take a bath!

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

OS: Putting my ears underwater so I can hear my heartbeat. 

TG: How do you reframe negative thinking?

OS: I use the Restoic app. It reinforces how I want to optimally talk to myself through practice, meditation, self awareness, so that I know not to fall to a negative or anxiety inducing thought. 

TG: What brings you optimism?

OS: Visualization: if I can think about it, I can be about it.

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

OS: I started believing in myself more. When I changed the way I was talking to myself, I could feel my mood and presence shifting positively. I was meditating with Restoic and developed a self awareness that allowed me to focus on what I knew I could achieve simply because I was telling myself I could. It took about 3-4 months of practice, but I am always using it, every day.

TG: What has helped stay resilient through the pandemic?

OS: Practicing gratitude.


  • Olympic Gold Medalist Olivia Smoliga grew up in Chicago, IL. with her younger brother Matt. Only 4 years apart, their relationship boded an active lifestyle as kids - biking to 7-Eleven down the block for slushees, running laps around the park to see who could be faster, or who could run the most hills. Early on, Olivia was invested sports. Firstly, with dance - Irish, of all choices - even though her parents are Polish immigrants. She tried diving, gymnastics, volleyball ... all until she started to swim.

    When Olivia was 10 years old, she joined her first swim club, where she only really remembers getting water up her nose and in her ears. It wasn’t until she watched the 2004 Olympics on TV that the sport caught her eye as something magical.

    In 2012, at just 17, she competed in her first Olympic Trials where she placed 4th in the 100m backstroke, in the top 10 in the world in that event. But missing the team by 2 spots at the time, was heart breaking. It was her dream to become an Olympian, and she fell short. Staying the course, five months later, she was selected to be on the short course world championship team. There, she won her first individual title in the 100m backstroke and broke the American record in the 50m backstroke, getting silver.