Transitioning to life after sport is challenging for everyone, even the greatest of all time.
This refreshing and relatable article walks through an interview with Abby Wambach – who has the most international goals of any player, man or woman, in soccer history – where she talks about how she has both struggled with and embraced her recent retirement from the sport.
Where do you begin once retirement hits? Like many of us, Abby spent most of her life investing in her sport, being absorbed by one goal. In a way, that type of lifestyle can slow down growth as an adult in other areas outside of sport. When the sport is gone, you have to start over, which can be both very scary and exciting at the same time.
Regardless of what level you play at, everyone experiences these times when life is completely flipped upside down from what you once knew. You may feel stuck and seek out different ways of dealing with it – some healthy and some may be unhealthy. Abby compares competing on the world stage and extending your body and mind’s limitations, day after day, in pursuit of those goals to an addictive chase. Like any addiction, the recovery stage can be extremely difficult. The reality is, those adrenaline rushes you experienced scoring the game winning goal or sinking the shot in overtime will be impossible to recreate for most of us who will never again do something at that high of a level.
One of the first steps is to accept that you are starting over and life won’t be the same. That is especially hard after playing at a high level where you have such huge expectations for your successes and goals, and it is hard to not continue to have those same levels of expectations. For Abby, she is setting her sights and aspirations on new endeavors, such as being an analyst for ESPN. She’s trying new things to figure out what she likes and is open to the prospect of new challenges and new learning opportunities to grow in this new stage of life.
The beauty of it is that there is much more to life that you have not yet experienced. Be patient and enjoy the journey!