3 Questions That Every Athlete Needs To Answer Before Retiring

Facing The Facts

I talk to a lot of athletes these days. Some high school, some college and some professional. The thing is that even though most them won’t outright say it, they really don’t want to entertain the fact that they will have to retire from their sport some day.

To me, it’s like “why fight the inevitable?

I mean every athlete knows deep down inside that it will happen, but they’re only hurting themselves in the long run if they are in denial about the fact that they will have to quit playing their sport.

I know it’s much more difficult than that and that unfortunately, most athletes will never actually “let go” because it has been who they have been most of their life.

I get it and more importantly, I can empathize with it because I’ve been through it.

But when they don’t face the facts and don’t understand that this is also apart of the game, it just makes matters that much more difficult for them when it does happen.

So how do you face it?

Well, whether retirement is close or far away, it really doesn’t matter because it’s going to come in some way shape or form.

But before it does, every athlete should take the time to answer these 3 major questions that will help them prepare for hanging their shoes up.

3 Questions Every Professional Athlete Needs To Answer Before Retiring

  1. Am I Walking Away From The Game Or Is The Game Walking Away From Me? This is a big one. You have to decide which one it is because walking away from the game is a hell of a lot easier than having the game walk away from you. Walking away from the game is on your terms, when you want and how you want to do it. Having the game walk away from you is the complete opposite. Click To Tweet

    It is unexpected, uncomfortable and something that you can’t really prepare for. The best is when you can walk away when you know you’re ready to. When you can prepare to leave your sport behind and move on to newer, bigger and better things. That’s what you want when you retire from anything.

  2. Am I An Athlete Or Am I Person Who Also Happens To Be Athletic? Subtle, but there is a major difference between these two perceptions. The first option boxes you in and the second gives you more options as far as who you see yourself in life. In reality, nobody is just an athlete. Not Michael Jordan, not Tom Brady and not Alex Rodriguez. All athletes, regardless of the sport that they play or level that they play at, are interested in things outside of that sport.

    They all have passions and other hobbies that they could see themselves doing in life. The key is to understand that your sport is not who you are, but only what you do. It is a small part of the individual that you are.

    Don't ever box yourself in and think that just because the world tells you to run, shoot and throw, that's all you're capable of. Click To Tweet

  3. Am I Really Ready To Pursue Another Career? This is last, but it is really not least. You have to intently ask yourself if you’re ready to move on to something else in life. If you have the choice to walk away and retire on your own terms, take an introspective approach and dive deep into what you want your life to look like in life after sports. There is a big difference between having practice, games, training and other things scheduled for you, to having to create your own schedule or having a 9-5 job in life after sports. It’s not just a big difference, it’s an enormous difference.

    Ask yourself if you’re ready for a major lifestyle change and a different environment. If you are, then, by all means, move forward, but if you’re not, don’t rush the transition. Take some time to yourself and enjoy a little time off to relax and regroup. You’ve probably earned it. Transitioning into a whole new career will take some adjusting and some getting used to, and as you probably know, it won’t happen overnight. You have to give life some time and let things happen when they’re supposed to.

It’s Hard But It’s Possible

These questions aren’t easy to answer and making the transition is twice as hard as it is to come up with the answers.

But the thing is that they are both are possible and plenty of athletes have successfully gone through this process.

When I had was going back and forth from playing professional basketball overseas, I hated it and I wanted a more stable type of lifestyle but I thought about what the alternative would be?

Get a job doing something I hate?

Go back to school, which I also hated?

Go back to living at home?

To me, none of these were remotely close to being an alternative for me because I didn’t want to choose any of these options. At the time, I loved the game, but the pro lifestyle wasn’t what I had imagined it to be.

I really wasn’t content with traveling from country to country, playing for sub-par teams having to perform with an insane amount of pressure every game because I could get cut and sent home at any time.

But in actuality, all I didn’t want is to go back home and have to face not being an athlete. Or even what people might say when they found out that I got sent back home.

That was almost as bad as death and that’s how many athletes feel whether you believe it or not. Not being an athlete and having that status, fame, and recognition in many ways is devasting.

So what do most athletes do?

They wrap themselves up in that identity, without being aware of the other things that they have to offer the world.

As soon as I couldn’t take the unstable, back and forth lifestyle anymore, I knew I had to let go of that identity and it hurt. It hurt a lot, but you know what…

In retrospect, I am much more well-rounded and an overall better person than I was before. I recognize my talents, skills, and value that I can give to others and to the world. I am much more self-aware of who I am as an individual, not just an athlete.

Being an athlete will always be a huge part of my life but I now know that it isn’t the only part of my life.

I am proud to say that I walked away from the game on my terms, the way it should be. And by answering those 3 questions, I can honestly say that I am more confident than ever in my decision to leave the game of basketball.

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