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7 Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Retiring From The Sport You Love

Retirement is a concept that many of us athletes shy away from. The superstitious ones are often afraid to even talk about it, to not jinx it!

But let’s get real for a moment. We know that leaving our beloved sport behind is more often than not out of our control. An accident, a new life situation, or a shift of priorities can bring questions that we have long avoided back to the forefront of our mind. First and foremost, the question “What the heck will I be doing with my life now?” automatically comes to mind. But this one isn’t really helpful, is it? It’s overpowering and it makes it hard to breathe... not a great way to feel in control!

To help you with the process, I have put together 7 key questions to ask yourself as a retiring athlete and key considerations to get your mind right. There are of course many more aspects of a career after retirement, but these coaching questions should lead you on your way to a good start.


What is your meaning and purpose?

List the ten things that give you the most joy in life. Be as specific as possible. Is there a trend that connects some of them? Ask friends and close ones for input if necessary.


What are your strengths?

What accomplishments outside of your sport are you the most proud of?


What are your non-negotiables?

Looking back at your pro career, what core values were not met during this time? What can you not live without anymore? List all the things that you had to sacrifice, that you are no longer willing to give up.


What are your goals?

Name 3 things that need to happen within the next year to make it a success, even if nothing else falls into place besides those 3 things. Forget about what "ifs" this is about the 3 goals or dreams that have absolute priority to call the next year a good one.


How can you take action?

Who do you admire? Who are your role models outside of sport or former athletes forging a new career? Reach out and ask them for advice! Use Athlete Network to find former athletes in your area or in a career that you are interested in.


What outside help do you need to obtain your goals?

What research do you have to do to get closer to your goals? Do you need to go back to school, finish a certification, or attend a course? Who could help?


How are your going to overcome self-doubt?

What could happen in the next year if you had no self-doubt? What would you be able to achieve if you believed in yourself outside of sport as much as you believed in yourself as an athlete?

I am curious whether this list of questions for a retiring athlete strikes a chord with you? Have you thought about your next transition yet? Maybe you are in the middle of it, and just feel like you are completely drowning in choices? Maybe the opposite is true and you have no clue where to go next?

Many of us imagine retirement from sport to be the metaphor for “having endless free time,” meaning time to meet friends, sitting in coffee shops, strolling casually through the mall, or doing other fun stuff we missed out on. I hate to break it to you, but more often than not this new found joy of freedom gets replaced by irritability, a perceived loss of purpose, and even depression.

When it comes to long-term career options, you need to dig a little deeper and explore your values, skills, and non-athletic talents, as well as a potential network of contacts to begin a career after a career. Ideally, you’d be looking at those BEFORE you announce your retirement from the active days. But hey, nobody is perfect! As we learned earlier, a retirement might be announcing itself rather than be a planned process.

Sometimes it helps to talk to someone. If that’s the case, reach out!

Based on an article on the Fit across Cultures blog