John F. Kennedy is quoted saying, “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” This is especially true when dealing with transition of a career. Being a NFL football player provides unique opportunities that few will ever have the opportunity to experience. You experience the thrill of being drafted and signing your first contract. You experience the feeling of respect from friends and the community who like just being around you.
Being a professional athlete is a dream come true. The thing we tend to forget is that we aren’t the only one dreaming the NFL dream. Our spouse and family also have a dream that is directly tied to your career. When a person is going through the grief of loss or transition, it can be easy to focus solely on yourself, and only acknowledge what you are personally going through. We typically want people to understand what we are going through as we reflect on our career and cope with the “should’ve, would’ve, and could’ve.”
Most don’t realize that those that you are looking to for support are also going through a season of transition and grief as well. Acknowledging this fact can be a major key in being able to work through the common issues the players and their families face in discovering life after football.
Here are some keys to help you navigate transition with your family.
1. Don’t expect them to understand. Leo Tolstoy once said, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” Your spouse and family will never truly understand what it means to do what you do. So stop expecting them to. Rather than being frustrated with why they don’t understand you, focus your energy on what your new dream will be. We all understand Proverb 29:18, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Dreaming fuels passion and hope. During this time of transition, it’s more important to focus on dreaming a new dream, than being frustrated with why your family doesn’t understand your grief for the end of your last one.
2. Realize they are in transition as well. As we mentioned earlier, your family is in transition as well. They are used to seeing a disciplined, focused, self-motivated leader. Those attributes may be some of the very things that caused you to have the respect of your spouse and family. Now, not only are they dealing with the end of your career, they are also potentially coping with watching the person they love and respect struggle to find themselves.
Though all cases are unique, there are some common issues that players tend to deal with in transition. Seeing a loved one struggle with issues like, Loss of Significance, Financial Loss, Time Management, and Depression can be difficult for a spouse and family to witness. Especially when they are used to seeing a confident, focused individual. It is important to be honest with yourself with how you are feeling, and honest with your family. This is not the time to pretend like everything is fine, when they really aren’t. This could also be a great time to reach out to some of the resources available to your and your family through the NFLPA, Professional Athletes Foundation, and The Trust.
3. Find a common goal and vision for your family. The best way to move forward is to simply take the first step. Enjoy the process of discovering a new dream and goal for yourself and your family. It may not be something that happens overnight, but it is one of the most rewarding things that you and your family with ever do together. Don’t be upset that your career ended, smile because it happened.
You just finished reading Freddie’s “3 Essential Keys to Transition with Family” on the FreddieScott blog.
What would you add to the list? What do you have the biggest struggle with? Share your comments with us.
Now that you know some of the things you shouldn’t do, check out “What Every Husband Needs to Know.”
Listen to “Ten Questions Every Husband Should Ask His Wife” from our friends at Familylife Today… then ask them to your wife.