Now that Christmas has been and gone, we begin to phase into the new year - a time of new beginnings for many as resolutions are pledged and goalposts set in place. For each and every person, ideas and plans for the future will differ, but for a steady stream of dream-chasers and ambitious goal-setters, the ultimate resolution epitomes a career change.
According to UK-based job site Monster, January is the busiest job-searching month of the year - a notable statistic perhaps inspired by reflections of the past year gone.
Whilst the opportunity for a new career endeavour can be exhilaratingly exciting, it can also be one of the most daunting changes in life. Never is this more the case than it is for athletes and professional sports players, who for the majority, have not ventured off the fields, tracks and pitches to consider a role within the corporate workplace.
Though as we well know, retirement from sport is not a choice - it is instead a destination that all athletes, however prestigious, talented and skilled they may be, will eventually find themselves at.
For athletes, early retirement is simply part of the package of elite sport playing, a prerequisite of pursuing an alternative career in athletics. If, at the start of 2021, you find yourself questioning your plans for the future, know that you will not be alone in this.
Athletes from around the globe will be amongst the masses of those seeking out new career opportunities this year. As you begin to imagine a life away from sport, it’s likely you’ll find yourself navigating through a challenging period of soul-searching. Identity crisis is a common theme experienced by many retiring athletes; you can read more about that here.
Are you at your comfort zone? Many athletes pursue sports with an ultimate goal in mind. It may be the thought of winning bronze, silver or gold at the Olympics or excelling at championship level in your chosen sport. Perhaps your end goal was to compete at a certain game, event or race. Not all athletes will triumph at the very top, some will fall just short of qualification to compete, and such, will accept that they have leveraged their athletic skills to their fullest extent. Maybe you too find yourself here. If so, this is the place to question whether you continue to chase the dream or retire to move onto the next big adventure awaiting you. Perhaps you have been fortunate enough to qualify, your cabinet full of trophies, medals and awards, your self-esteem bolstered by your unrivalled sporting success. Maybe this right here is your comfort zone and the starting point of a new, exciting and rewarding career. Only you can decide where your comfort zone truly is, and if you are ready to take on the challenge of career change.
Are you considering your options? Despite the rigorous training schedules and practice hours invested into performance and competition, athletes are never as one-dimensional as the sport they pursue. Like any other, you are a multi-faceted human being, with interests and passions that fuel your fire outside of athletics. It’s not uncommon for sports professionals to consider available options away from the sporting field, even at the pinnacle of their careers. If you have started to question which subjects, passions and interests drive you on a personal, mental and emotional level, you may be already starting the preparation for career transition. These could be interpreted as telltale signs that you are readying yourself for life after sport, eager to grasp the opportunities the corporate workplace has to offer. Alternatively, you may not be quite at the point to let go of your sport and the desire you still have to perform, compete and play, but are setting the foundations in place for when you are.
Which skills will follow you? There’s an abundance to choose from, but which skills will truly transform your transition? As a professional athlete, you’ve perfected your sport, and through doing so, you have developed a depth of invaluable workplace skills. Regardless of which career route you will eventually take, these unique skillsets can be applied to most roles, not only positioning yourself as an ideal candidate at the initial recruitment phase, but also positioning you well for future advances in your career. As an elite athlete, you can bring so much diversity, knowledge and practice and it’s worth your time to consider which skills and talents you’ll most want to showcase during interviews and your various other recruitment efforts.
What opportunities are there? In a word, several. Athletes are not restricted by their sport, and while many retiring sports professionals will move on from competing to coach, mentor or continue to work somewhere within the athletic arena, many will venture far away from their initial passion. At ACT, we’ve placed elite athletes into a varied range of corporate workplace roles, demonstrating that the opportunities for future work, are indeed, limitless. Analyst, business development, marketing and communications roles are just a few of those we’ve been able to identify and source for the retiring athletes we’ve worked with so far. Your future is outlined only by your passion, ability and personal strengths - you are in complete control here. Be brave, be ready, be open and the opportunities you’ll discover along the way, will be immeasurable.
As career transition specialists, we understand this transformative journey more than most. We know the questions here are barely touching the tip of the iceberg when it comes to things to ask and consider, and that you’re likely to experience a rollercoaster of emotions as you transition through to the next chapter of your life. With this in mind, we’ve developed our very own athlete transition programme to support with the challenges that can be expected, and our holistic approach to retirement and transition has bolstered the success of our athletes. You can find out more about the iconic sports stars we’ve placed here.