For most of us, COVID has taken our routine and life as we know it and turned it upside down, like desperately getting those last remnants of salt out of the salt shaker.
For a lot of athletes, retired or not, COVID has forced us down a new, unclear path.
Maybe your athletic career is cut short, abruptly pushing you into retirement, leaving you in a spin figuring out what the hell is next.
Maybe your life as an athlete feels unsteady and unclear. Do you keep training for another year in hopes the Olympics actually happen? Or do you cut your losses and move on, with an anti climatic ending to something you poured your entire life into?
Maybe you'd already entered the next chapter of life as a retired athlete, and COVID has sent you into a tailspin of frantically trying to find a new normal and feel steady and sure of yourself.
In the midst of the frustration, unsteadiness, and lack of clarity, I'm a firm believer in the lessons we can learn, especially during challenging times. Here are 4 crucial takeaways for athletes during COVID.
4 Lessons From COVID Every Athlete Should Know
1. Right now is a great time for reflection.
One of the advantages (yes, advantages!) of routines turning upside down is that it can be a great opportunity to reflect. Reflect on where you are in life, the direction you are going, what's going well, and maybe what's not going as well. Similar to meditation, if you can take a step back and observe neutrally, without judgment, what's going on, you can better define where you'd like to go from here. So grab a comfortable seat, take a few breaths, and whip out that journal or notepad.
2. YOU get to define the path you are on.
Let’s get real, there is lots of advice and guidance out there, but ultimately, at the end of the day, YOU get to choose what you to do and who you want to be. That advice and guidance from others can be helpful to help ideate and come up with possibilities. And then it's up to you to get in touch with your best self and do what's best for you (what an empowering place to be!). I love finding ways to get in touch with that part of me full of wisdom. One of my favorites is closing my eyes for 10 minutes and visualizing my 80 year old self. I ask her for advice and thoughts.
3. You can never start planning for retirement from sport too early.
Really. I can't tell you how often I hear "I wish I had done more planning for life after sports earlier, before my sports career actually ended." I encourage you to get curious - what areas or careers do you want to explore? Can you take a few retired athletes out to coffee and learn what they did after retirement? Could you shadow someone at work? Attend a networking event or conference talk? It's NEVER too early to get curious and explore what interests you in life after sport.
4. You are not alone.
One of the biggest things I hear from retired athletes is that they feel isolated and alone going through that transition to life after sport. I want you to know, you are not alone. There are thousands, millions, of athletes who wrap up their sports career, hang up their boots, and forge their way into the "real" world, trying to make a living and find their next legacy. Reach out to a few former teammates to see how they are doing, find some online community resources, and talk to a life coach or therapist. SO many athletes have gone through the struggles of retiring, and you don't have to do it alone.
To wrap it up:
And there we have it. 4 crucial lessons this thing called COVID is teaching us athletes.
Looking for advice on how to launch that second career after sport? Check out this post on how to find that retired athlete job.
Kirby is a former pro soccer player, creator, and coach who helps elite athletes figure out what's next in life after sport. Learn more about her and her services at kirbymethod.com.