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New Year, New Career? 4 tips on how to find that retired athlete job

Retired athlete job

The new year is here.

As a retired athlete, chances are you’re saying goodbye to an entire decade defined by one legacy, your sport, and opening up to an entirely new decade where you don’t know what’s next. Including what the heck this retired athlete job thing looks like.

I remember when I retired from soccer. I felt isolated and overwhelmed. I just wanted someone to tell me what to do, what to work towards, now that I was no longer playing soccer.

I wanted someone to tell me how to find a retired athlete job, a totally new career I loved as much as soccer.

I wanted someone to tell me I wouldn’t have to start from complete scratch. That I wouldn't have to work my way up again in an entirely new career.

I wanted someone to tell me I’d be okay if I ended up sitting at a desk eight hours a day.

I wanted someone to coach me on how to skip all the tough stuff and go straight to landing a successful second career, make a decent living for myself, and feel the same excitement I felt every time I walked out on the soccer pitch.

Fast forward some years, and it’s been a journey. But I’ve landed with two feet up and am incredibly grateful for the second career I've built, one focused on something I feel as passionate about as soccer - coaching.

4 Tips on How to Find that Retired Athlete Job

Here are 4 pieces of advice I wish I had known when I was looking for that job as a retired athlete:

1. Don't put too much pressure on yourself.

Career wise, don’t think about this next gig as the (retired athlete) job you’ll have for the rest of your life. Try reframing it as a job you’ll have for the next year or two.

2. Focus less on brute force, and more on ease, grace, and a little lightness.

Let’s get real, as an athlete, you’re pretty frickin’ good at discipline. You can make yourself get out of bed, off the couch, and get. shit. done. You can brute force your way through pretty much anything, which is a tremendous superpower to have. My advice is to continue to leverage that, but also give yourself, and your goals, space to come to fruition. You don’t have to force your way through it all. Do the work, and then let go a little and see what magic happens. Be patient. Laugh a little.

3. Compassion.

You may not get it right the first time. As athletes, we certainly know how to handle and learn from our failures. I challenge you – can you learn from your mistakes, with compassion? Instead of beating yourself up, can you acknowledge and appreciate the effort and intent you put into it, and with compassion and appreciation, identify your new goal or intention?

4. Simplify.

Lose the laundry checklist of 50 things the next job as a retired athlete needs to have (let’s see, like a good salary, growth potential, a good manager, in an industry you feel passionate about, a particular location with flexible working hours, x days of PTO and catered lunch twice a week, 401k matching, x sized company, cool people to work with who could be my friends……) Whew, I got tired just writing that.Instead, focus on 1-3 top criteria for the next job. It could be learning a lot in an area of interest (like health and wellness) with a good manager. Or, working for a small tech startup (<100 people) on something cool. I invite you to not get too caught up in the details and focus more on a couple of intentions for the next job.

To wrap it up:

And there it is. 4 pieces of advice I WISH my younger, retired athlete self had known when launching into that second career. Not sure what marketable skills you have for the next job? Check out this post on 6 marketable skills athletes should put on their resume for that killer job in life after sports.

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

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