What a question right? Some of you might have already asked this terrifying question and some of you are not there yet. It is not an easy task and the answer might not come effortlessly. So what are the steps to find your new passion? What can you do to get back the feeling of purpose and excitement and mostly the feeling of winning?
The very first step is about acceptance. You must accept that your sports career is over. Forever. Then you have to accept another ruthless fact that there is a fat chance that you might never find your second passion. The fact is that the majority of the population on this planet never even had a passion in the first place, so you are lucky that you experienced it at all. I’m not rejecting the possibility of you finding your new passion but I would strongly suggest to expect finding a less thrilling activity and then be happily surprised. Your new passion might give you 50% or 75% of the buzz and fizz you had when playing (insert yourself) and that’s okay. Just lower your expectations. For example: Just don’t imagine yourself during your first piano class having the same feeling you had when you played a final conference match during your freshman year. It just does not work like that. Most of the activities you find might be boring. Just remember “It’s okay”.
Do I want to become a coach?
The second step is asking yourself whether you like the idea of becoming a coach. If you think that passing on the knowledge about the sport you played for x many years will make you happy and enthusiastic, go for it. However, ask the other questions too. Do you like flexible hours? Do you like kids? Do you like to work with your body for the rest of your life? Are you patient? If that’s the case, the job is yours and your work will have a meaning for you and those around you. However if you see coaching as a means to an end for easy money, then it will never fulfill you and you will always feel like ‘something’ is missing in your life. Also you need to make sure that you don’t have any demons hidden in your closet. Some of you finished gradually and had time to process the facts about your end of the career. Some of you got injured, did not have a choice or got frustrated with the sport and the end was sudden. If you choose to be a coach, just make sure you know what kind of feelings you might have when entering court, field or pool. It might get ugly.
When it gets ugly and there are still some demons bugging you, you must follow this step. Get away. Get away as far as you can. Based on my current knowledge and my own experience it is crucial to distance yourself from the sport you were playing. The time really depends on the specific case. It might be a couple of months or even years but you need to step away and not touch it for a bit. All athletes identify themselves with their sport at some level. The more you are identified with your sport, the harder the transition is. After some time you will be able to come back and you might even enjoy the game again. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of getting yourself out in order to find something else and get in peace with the sport. Going to play soccer/ hockey/ basketball after you just stopped your career just because you don’t know what else you to do on a sunday afternoon is not the answer to find your new passion. You need to go beyond.
You also need to go back. All the way back. In your memory. Go back to the time before the sports insanity started and try to think of what it was that you were so happy around. It might have been acting, dancing, writing or whatever it might have been. What was it that made you feel like a king? What did you enjoy at age below 10? What was easy or natural for you? It might not be the actual thing you were doing but it could give you a pretty nice picture of your natural abilities and passion for something. For example you might have loved to be the one who always came up with new ideas in an art class or you loved to help organizing the valentine’s day party in the middle school. Were you a good analyzer? Did you like to feel busy or important? Do you see where am I going with this?
Know your qualities and weaknesses.
After you go back to your pre-career life, it’s time to take some inventory. What do you enjoy right now, what kind of situations make you feel energized and what energized you during your sports career? On the other side what was unbearable? I will introduce my very own case. I know that being around people gives me energy and even during the tournaments I loved to be around other players that I bonded with. It was an ultimate disaster for me to travel alone on the tour. I also played much better and won the majority of the tournaments that my friends were also playing. I love to talk and entertain. I can’t handle math and monotonous tasks. From these sort of things I get a pretty clear picture of what is suitable for me.
After you know what you like or don’t like, you have to put it into practice. In my extreme case, I have been experimenting for nearly three years now. Right after I graduated from college, I was talking a salsa class, a Spanish and a Russian language course and an acting seminar at the same time. Was it too much? A little bit. Did I find my new passion? Not really. Salsa did not replace the matches and acting did not replace the matchball vibe. What it did was that I can cross these things from my list and move on to the next. From scuba diving to weight lifting, I went left and right and I think that it really gave me a better picture of who I am and more importantly of who I am not. Experimenting is not limited to activities only and you could experiment with lifestyle, traveling, relationships, and more. I have visited more than 20 cities in 10 countries in 2016 alone, just to figure out where I would want to live and what I would want to do.I would like to emphasize traveling aspect at this stage because it does have multiple effects. It refreshes and opens up your mind. It naturally excites you, inspires you by being exposed to different cultures and you physically get away.
Build new relationships.
Just because you stop playing the sport that you loved so much, it does not mean you lose all of your social contacts. You just have to maintain them. Your coach will still recognize you, your massage therapist will still like your facebook post and your fitness trainer might still invite you for a sunday run. What is more important is to find new people to hang out with. Non- athletes. If you only keep hanging out with other athletes your mindset won’t change. I would start at school, local community, or a new workplace. Also if you have a sibling, try to get involved in his or her group to expand your horizon. Another option could be a bit uncomfortable for you, but hey you have nothing to lose right? You could go to random Facebook events, meetups or take some classes in something that you are interested it. That’s how you meet people. Go alone and suck it up.
Time for wrap up guys. It’s gonna be hard, it’s gonna be painful. Either way stay strong, patient, try to enjoy the ride with its ups and downs and don’t let your sport to define you. At last here is an inspiring motto that I would like to share with you:
“Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I need to listen to my life tell me who I am,”
Don’t hesitate to contact me about more insights on this topic. 🙂 Cheers !!!
Written by Patrik Rusnak