So, I was going to say former athlete, but if you are anything like me, you know that once you are an athlete you’re always an athlete. Physical limitations and injuries may sideline us for a bit, but eventually we make our way back onto the field. It isn’t a perfect science (and I wish some of these weren’t true or necessary), but embracing them is much easier than resisting them at this point, and that’s good for everyone.
I wonder if you can relate to any of these confessions too?
- I STILL HAVE COACHES: I humbly admit: I need direction. I don’t necessarily need someone to yell at me anymore but having a training program or fitness class helps me stay on track. I haven’t had an actual coach since I stopped playing, but through coaches at the gym I get direction physically and through mentors/friends outside the gym I get direction emotionally, spiritually and relationally. Working hard individually is fantastic and I love doing that too, but knowing I can ask questions (and that there is someone who can answer them) is a great asset in life.
- I STILL HAVE GOALS THAT WON’T QUIT: Some days I think training for the Olympics would be an easier feat than trying to “train for life.” See when you are still playing to win, you have external forces working to produce a desired result. Eventually, we internalize a certain goal and if we are motivated and driven enough, we won’t quit until we’ve achieved that goal. When you stop playing, the external forces are fewer and fewer which means if we don’t have something to internalize, goals may seem a bit abstract, especially if we are injured or restricted physically in some way. Internalizing a value may have more benefit for a lifetime athlete than internalizing a specific goal. These days I train because my brain needs the stimulus I’ve always given it and my body needs to stay healthy. To put it simply – when I do things in the gym, I can do things outside the gym too and though there is no “win” on the line, I enjoy training simply because I know it’s good for me. I’ve internalized that value.
- I STILL HAVE SPORTS DREAMS: It’s fewer and far between, but I still get sports dreams every now and again. I’ll be falling asleep and drifting off into that twilight place when I am suddenly jarred awake, shoulder jerking up to my ear because a ball is headed right for my face! Volleyball players know this too well. Ever been laying in bed falling asleep playing a mental game of pepper? Our bodies and brains have remarkable memories and sometimes I still get crazy volleyball dreams creeping into my psyche (yes, I’ve self-analyzed them).
- I STILL COMPETE: Let’s not confuse competing with winning. Even though winning still feels pretty sweet, it’s not my end game anymore. Most of the time the competition is between my ears. I don’t beat myself up over sports stuff anymore, it’s not useful, but I do love seeing what I can do when I put my mind to something I haven’t done yet or a new skill I’m trying to learn. I know where I need work and I know when I don’t enjoy things. My competition floor is basically me convincing myself I can do something even when I don’t want to or when I feel scared that I might fail – doing something even when I know I won’t win or when I know I’m the slowest or the weakest in the group. I may not look like a fierce competitor, but my goal is to keep going long after everyone else has stopped to increase my chances of being in the game longer.
- I DON’T HAVE A “WHATEVS” ATTITUDE: Everything has a purpose. Everything is intentional and most things are thought through. I do have some spontaneity in life and when I get caught up it’s pretty great, but mostly I view life with intention. The people I hang around with, the books I choose to read, where I spend my money, the way I spend my down time or time off – using my time intentionally is important to me. It helps me enjoy the time I spend with family and friends. If I’m intentional throughout the day and the week, I can be fully in the moments I choose to unplug and just enjoy the people in my life.
So, how about you? Any of these you can relate to? Anything you would add to the list?