Sports give you a purpose.
It doesn’t matter if it was the next practice, the next game, the next tournament, the next championship, there was always a next.
Then one day all of that’s all gone.
There is no more next.
Your sports career is done, and you feel totally lost.
All of a sudden the only structure and consistency you had in your life is no more.
For your whole life you were an athlete. That was your identity but now there is no more NEXT.
No more practice.
No more games.
No more championships.
So now what?
Where does an athlete go from here?
Re-Create Your Identity
For many people being an athlete is their identity.
When people ask you about yourself you say “I am a lacrosse player” or football player or softball or whatever your sport of choice is.
This in itself isn’t a bad thing.
However, identifying as only an athlete can become a problem when those things are finally done. When the games and competitions are all complete, who are you?
There are plenty of examples of people who thought of themselves only as an athlete and have had something tragic happen where that is suddenly taken away. Those people have to find something else to put their energy into and assume a new identity.
The same thing happens once competition ends, so wouldn’t it make sense to prepare ahead of time?
I am in no way saying it’s bad to completely buy into the athlete life, what I’m saying is to not limit yourself to only athletics.
If sports were taken away from you tomorrow, what would you have left to connect with?
Having an identity outside of athletics provides balance to your life, which as an athlete is undoubtedly hectic. Being able to separate yourself from exclusively being an athlete will make it all the more refreshing when you do step back on to the field for competition.
But that still doesn’t answer the question of what to do with the competitive energy you’ve gotten used to pouring into your sport.
Enter the idea of the sport of life.
Your Sport Is LIFE.
Like we talked about earlier, your life has been built around the idea of “next”.
Instead of completely abandoning the lifestyle that you’ve gotten used to you can focus on using those engrained habits in the next chapter of your life.
I’m talking a mindset change from “I am going to be the best athlete on the field that I can be” to “I am going to be the best athlete at life that I can be”.
Instead of going to practice everyday to work on sport-specific skills you’re going to build daily habits of practice to become the best at life.
This idea and mindset doesn’t have to end at just one day either.
Build these daily practices around a weekly goal.
Now, instead of having a game once a week we have an ambitious but achievable goal that we are practicing daily habits to be able to reach.
Extend even further and we have monthly benchmarks similar to making the playoffs in your prospective sport.
Progress this and there are 90-day outcomes that you set which end up being your championships.
Having that outcome three months away is important to know the direction you are heading but everything roots back to those daily habits that are your practices.
Any athlete can recognize that if you aren’t showing up to practice you aren’t getting any better.
In your life as an athlete the ultimate goal was to win a championship, and that idea should continue for the rest of your life. By practicing daily habits, earning weekly wins, and hitting monthly benchmarks you will have a system to determine whether or not you won the championship at the end of your 90 Days.
This leads me to a point that, while it may seem simple, holds too many people back from ever achieving what they say they want to.
To win at this game, you have to know what a win is.
Determining whether or not you won is the key to everything in this system.
How can we know where we need to improve or what we did well on if we don’t even know if we won or lost?
A win for you is going to be different than a win for me or for anyone else for that matter. You alone have to determine what that win is, but knowing it is the most important piece of all of this.
Wake Up Warrior provides some guidelines for determining what a win is for them. They base their goals around what is called a Core 4.
Body, Being, Balance, and Business.
Focusing on these four areas, they set outcomes and reverse engineer what they need to do on a daily basis in order to reach them.
While it is not imperative that you use these same areas of life, it certainly is a good place to start if you are lost.
Keep in mind that the point of all of this is to get better and Win YOUR game.
No real athlete shows up to a competition and doesn’t care whether they win or lose. The idea in sports and in your life should be to win, based on what you determine as a win.
I have to be 100% honest with you and tell you that it isn’t going to be easy. But, if you’re truly an athlete I assume you wouldn’t want to play your sport if all you did was blow other teams out and there was never a challenge.
Accepting and Conquering the Challenge is what makes it all worth it.
Many people act as if they don’t want the challenge.
They don’t want to face the undefeated team or the highly ranked opponent because they are scared.
As an athlete, this challenge motivated you but now in the sport of life you don’t want to square up.
The fear of failure holds us back more than the satisfaction of victory pushes us forward.
Obviously, we always want to win but the reality is that sometimes you might lose.
But is that really such a bad thing?
“What is defeat? Nothing but education, nothing but the first step to getting better.”
If you accept failing as a lesson, then inevitably you will be closer to victory in your next competition.
Accept the defeat, learn from it, and move on, because when you do finally get that victory it will all be worth it.
When you do win you better make damn sure you celebrate it just like that sports championship. Take a lesson from any team that has been at the pinnacle of their sport before. Embrace the victory with those who helped you get there, be proud of what you’ve done, and then get back to work.
Life and sports aren’t really all that different.
If you are consistently improving, winning is inevitable.
Practice daily, win weekly, make the playoffs and then go win YOUR championship.
If you aren’t sure where to start, start by joining a team that run by coaches that will push you further than you ever thought possible.
There are others like you who want to part of something bigger than themselves.
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