Are you a former athlete who has struggled to find success and fulfillment in your life after sports?
If so, then I think you will agree with me when I say:
The transition to life after sports is hard!
Or is it?
Regardless if your competitive athletic career came to an end in high school, college, or in the pros, you benefitted from a formula for massive success and fulfillment in sports.
This simple formula consists of 5 key success factors that you already have experience with…
…except that you never learned how to apply them to your life after sports.
In this article, I am going to remind you of this formula, and teach you how to use it to reach your highest potential in life, just like you did in sports.
As a three-sport athlete in high school, a two-sport athlete in college, and a former professional athlete, my transition was a mess.
When I “retired” from competitive sports, I was lost, struggling, lacking confidence, and completely unprepared for a life post sports.
I was attacking life with the same drive I had as an athlete, except something just didn’t feel right and my results were far from what I had experienced in my playing days.
What I came to realize was…
I didn’t understand the rules to the new game of life after sports.
Can you relate?
It took me over a decade of struggle, failures, finding myself broke and broken before I found a way out.
The way out was so obvious, yet for years I could not see it.
However, once I did… It was a game-changer!
Let’s be clear, there is no doubt the challenges of transitioning away from sports are a major issue.
However, the real hidden issue that very few are willing to talk about is….
Most former athletes are accepting mediocrity and settling for less than they are capable of in life.
I know I did!
5 years after I played my last professional game, I was seeking something, only I didn’t know what.
I had moved to a new city and took my first job doing something other than sports. Quickly I found myself unfulfilled, bored, and struggling to understand how to find that high like I once had in sports.
I ended up taking a new job, in a new industry, hoping that would energize me.
Now I was in a brand new industry, starting over again, doing work I had no passion for.
To make matters worse, I wasn’t getting very good results in my job.
For six more years….yes six…I settled for a job I didn’t like, had no passion for, and didn’t get results like I wanted.
I was officially stuck on the sidelines.
Was your goal in sports to be a mediocre athlete who was comfortable sitting on the sidelines?
I’ll bet the house your answer is no.
So what happened in life after sports? Why have you settled for less than what you are capable of?
I settled, until I could not stand it any longer. So I began working on myself, attempting to understand how to get into the game of life on my terms.
This was not an easy process and I stumbled for years until I finally uncovered a secret formula.
Only, it wasn’t so secret.
It had been staring me in the face for the past decade and I ignored it.
Do you want to know this secret formula to finding meaning, fulfillment, freedom, and how to create the business and lifestyle of your dreams?
Get this….you already know the secret formula and used it to achieve massive success in your athletic career.
So if you forgot, like I did, let me remind you.
As an athlete, you thrived on the 5 important factors for success in sports.
I’ll briefly break each one down so you can see how these 5 factors, or 5 P’s, helped you as an athlete and how you can apply them to your life today.
If you were like me, you may have tried various sports before locking in on one or more that you really enjoyed playing. You most likely developed a passion for becoming your best in them.
That passion helped you get through the 6:00 am workouts, the grueling practices, the blood, sweat, and tears. That passion for the game and your craft, drove you to adopt a mindset of doing whatever it took to reach your highest potential.
You may have never thought twice about the sacrifices you were making because you were doing something you loved and fulfilled you.
What about now in life after sports?
If you don’t know what your passion is, don’t sweat. Although I didn’t have clarity on my passion for a long time, I know now it does not have.
My success in finding my passion didn’t come from sitting around thinking about it….
It came from taking massive action, analyzing that action, and making adjustments.
I failed three businesses during this time. However, after analyzing each failed business, brought me a step closer to finding what I was most passionate about.
Where is that passion? What have you on fire the moment you wake up in the morning?
You absolutely do not have to fail a bunch of businesses, or take over a decade to figure it out. You simply need to start taking action.
You must start playing the sport before you know if you like it or not.
Start taking action and pursue your passion with the drive of a champion.
When I was young, I wanted to be a professional athlete. My goals, decisions, and behaviors were based on this purpose. I had a fire and a fight in me to live my purpose, and eventually, I ended up putting myself in position to get that opportunity.
It would have never happened had I not declared my purpose and combined it with belief and faith.
Your purpose is your core aim, the reason you are here on this Earth. It helps you set goals, make decisions, and develop a sense of direction.
Purpose helps influence your behavior and create meaning in your life.
You have meaning and purpose as an athlete!
Today my purpose is to create the world’s largest community of former athletes making a greater positive impact in life than we ever did in sports. All my beliefs, habits, decisions, and actions are based on this one purpose.
My purpose in life is also to be the very best father to my three children. Thus, I make sure my beliefs, habits, decisions, and actions are in alignment with this purpose.
What is your purpose in life after sports?
Of the 5 keys, this is the one most former athletes are good at. You know how to work hard in order to perform your very best. It’s a habit you developed in sports that most likely transferred to your life after sports.
Keep in mind, however, in sports you had a playbook and a coach who helped you perform at your very best.
Where is your playbook in life today? Who is coaching you and holding you accountable?
When I first launched my coaching and training business, I wanted to improve my speaking skills. Having already had success speaking I knew I could improve, but wasn’t sure how.
Since I was passionate about speaking and it aligned with my purpose, I knew I needed a playbook and a coach to help me improve my performance.
Remember…as an athlete, you couldn’t have stepped onto the field and performed your best without a playbook and a coach.
So where is yours now?
The key here is to be intentional and create a playbook for your business, career, relationships, parenting, health and wellness, etc. I understand this takes time, however that’s where having a coach will help you speed up the process.
This is another of the 5 keys to success most former athletes have given time and attention to.
In sports, your focus was on the points. In other words, winning and losing, stats, and results. You wanted success on the scoreboard.
Once your athletic career ended, points became profits…money!
Today, your points are income, savings, investments, and all the things money can provide.
When I started my very first business, I went into it for the money. My previous job didn’t pay the profits I was looking for, so I wanted to finally make real money.
Going into business strictly for the money was a bad move!
Sure you may make some quick cash, however in the long run it’s not sustainable.
Profits are important, they give the fuel we need to create the business, impact, and lifestyle we desire.
However, sustainable profits are the direct results of how well aligned all 5 of the success factors are. Just profits alone are not going to provide the freedom, fulfillment, and fun you seek in life.
This was the easiest for you as an athlete, and the hardest for you in life after sports.
Personally, this was the hardest for me. I had never been in a working environment where play was prioritized. Play was reserved for Friday afternoons after we shut down for the day.
When I realized how to incorporate play into my day-to-day life, it changed my business and my life.
As an athlete, you are wired for play. Sports is all about playing and working hard at the same time.
For some reason, you have traded in play for other things such as:
- Safety and security.
- Steady pay.
- Staying comfortable.
- Doing what everyone else is doing.
It’s ok to want these elements. However, it’s important to look at where they are preventing you from enjoying your life and ultimately, success in reaching your highest potential.
Play is a must for any former athlete to succeed as it is important for:
- Reducing stress.
- Improving brain function.
- Energizing your body and mind.
- Preventing burnout.
- Creativity and innovation.
- Improving your relationships.
Where is play integrated into your life? Into your business or career? In your relationships?
Make play a priority!
The formula for your success in life after sports takes time, focus, and effort. But having all 5 factors working together is your key to making a greater impact, and achieving greater success, in your life, business and relationships.
If you are ready to go “pro” in your life after sports, I encourage you to do what you always did as an athlete, be passionate, focus on your purpose, give an elite performance, achieve your profits, and play every day!
About the Author
A former professional and world champion athlete turned entrepreneur and master coach helping former athletes, of all competitive levels, transform their knowledge, expertise and influence into a powerful message, personal brand, and business.
Builder of The Recovering Athlete coaching programs with a goal of helping free other former athletes from the pain, struggle, and mediocrity.