John is 32 years old. His whole life has been about football because he was lucky enough to realise his childhood dream of playing professionally for a top team. Just when he thought he’d be at the top of his game, he’s had to call it quits because of a serious injury.
John has no idea what to do next – or who he really is. Without football he has no identity and no future, or at least that is how he feels now.
John is not alone. All sports stars, and most people for that matter, have to change careers at some point in their lives – whether it is through injury, redundancy, family commitments or retirement.
How you’ll cope depends on your mind set and how you approach your situation. I’ve helped many former athletes and sports stars to find new opportunities and move on from a career in sports.
Here are 3 steps to help you find a new career
Step 1: Find out what drives you
Do you know what motivates you? What did you enjoy about playing football or doing whatever you were doing? Was it the money, the status, or interaction with your team-mates? Perhaps it was the power, the fans, the team spirit or the physical challenge? If you can identify what it was you really loved about your former career, it will be much easier to aim for the same highs in your next career, whatever it may be.
Take time out to think about your past experiences. What made the difference? What do you need to be happy? If you could repeat one thing, what would it be?
Step 2: Hang out with the right crowd
Surround yourself with the right people. But that doesn’t always mean the nicest. Make sure your support group is well balanced. You want people who love you for who you are – even when you’re no longer a super star. But you should also not shy away from people who challenge you to step out of your comfort zone. You need objective people who can help you without any personal interest or conflict as well as role models, people you can look up to, people who have already been through what you’re experiencing.
Steer clear of anyone who puts you down or enjoys seeing you struggle. Constructive criticism is fine, but you don’t want to be dragged down.
Step 3: Set goals – start small
Goals push you to achieve your objectives and give you confidence, whether in sport or in business. Goal-setting gives you something to aim for, a direction, and also provides focus and structure.
So even if you don’t know what you want to do, start small. Set your goals for tomorrow or next week.
Put aside a few hours to start thinking about what makes you tick and you will discover that your journey into the future has already started.
Few people like change. Transitions are always challenging and can be very distressing. If you need more guidance, contact me for an informal chat about how I could help you through the process.
Find out more about the Athlete Career Transition Programme here.