by Andy Moore
Most sports careers will be coming to an end when athletes reach their mid-30s, leaving them with at least 30 more years left to work and a lifetime still to live. It may not be an issue that plagues the public conscience, but for sport-stars, deciding what comes next can be difficult.
The quicker athletes start preparing for life after sport retirement, the better. However, this is easier said than done; the psychological intensity of driving to be faster and stronger can blind from the need to strike a work - life balance. But one day competition’s scaffolding will fall away, possibly when least expected, so the identity beneath needs to be as strong as possible if the former athlete is to go on in in life successfully.
As an athlete, you need develop a more open mind-set to change by first acknowledging the fact that your job and life’s daily demands are constantly competing for your attention. You are more than what you do; what you do won’t be there in a few years. Start taking more time for yourself, maybe 30 minutes each day to start looking into ways to develop your CV. Whether this means attending an educational course a few days each month to work towards a qualification, or listening to a language-instruction course during the morning commute, respecting the need for nurturing the ‘you’ outside sport demonstrates that you are taking the issue seriously. In the short-term you will escape the stresses of your routine, while long-term you will become more responsive to new approaches for your personal development.
Friends, colleagues and coaches - people who have always been there to support you - should be ready to listen to you about this. Write down what you want to do and commit to sharing your ideas with people you trust.
Having a handle on your finances will also have a big influence on how well you deal with retirement, and financial security begins early in your first career. The bottom line is: save. A lucrative contract for wearing the latest trainers does not make you Sheikh Mansur. Resist the temptation to cash-out on the latest sports car and remember that you’re an athlete, not a financial investor or business mogul. Take advantage of free financial advice but be very cautious when choosing a financial advisor. Respect your money and don’t be too quick to give newcomers your financial trust.
Ultimately though, what price do you want to put on your well-being when your first career terminates?
Remember that no athlete ever got to the top by only focussing on the game in front of them. Life is only different in this regard, in that it’s more crucial and more difficult to prepare for than any other adversary that’s loomed on the horizon.
Preparation cannot be started and finished overnight, so start now. Step away from who you are as a sportsperson and initiate the culture change that will create a new ‘you’ to take up the baton for life’s second leg.
About The Author
Andy Moore is director & co-founder of Athlete Career Transition.
Andy experienced the transition from captain of the Wales rugby team to CEO of a public company the hard way. A trip climbing Mount Kilimanjaro with 14 other former Welsh captains was the inspiration to establishing ACT, with the ultimate goal of helping other athletes make the transition from sport to business.
Andy enjoyed 10 years as a professional rugby player and now leverages almost a decade of experience in business to create real long term value to organisations by matching and integrating elite athletes into top businesses.