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Life After Sports
Impact-Site-Verification: 1443820805 Professional athletes retire young, typically leaving the game in their 30s. That’s younger than most professionals aim to retire, and in both cases, it typically leaves you needing to fill time and earn money for many decades after your official retirement.
We like to think of retirement as putting in 20 years, getting our pension vested, and then walking away and never working again. It can happen, but the reality is that people aren’t retiring in their 40s and 50s. That’s the age range in which 63% of us expect to retire, according to AARP.
In 2010, Pew Research reported that 12% of people work after retirement for a myriad of reasons. However, by 2019, the agency reported the majority of Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) were still working. The 68% of people aged 54-64 still working represents the largest elderly labor force in over 50 years.
To put this in perspective, Michael Jordan is 59 years old. It seems like his glory days were generations ago, but he’s in the age range of people still working into their so-called “retirement” years.
Of course, MJ doesn’t work – he owns his own NBA team, golf course, and real estate. But most people are aiming for just $1 million in retirement, not everyone has that, and even that may not be enough anymore. Most of us don’t “retire,” we simply transition careers.
Whether transitioning from the field to the office or simply changing offices, the steps to perform the move are the same. With inflation accelerating post-pandemic and virtual tools enabling small businesses to run online, there’s never been a better time to turn your hobbies, education, and experience into a sustainable business.
It’s easy to get caught up in everyone’s expectations of you as a kid and not truly know how to follow your dreams. Sometimes we know we’re good at multiple things or we love learning about a lot of new things, so it’s hard to define yourself by one thing. This is why people often make drastic career changes in retirement.
You can find retired doctors, attorneys, and engineers driving for Uber or working other odd jobs in the gig economy. Boomers tend to work more gigs per week than Millennials. If you’re already vested with healthcare and pension, benefits don’t matter, and you’re working simply to get out of the house and have a purpose.
But whether you’re working a gig or full-time, it needs to not feel like work. For it to not feel like work, you need to assess your skill set and determine what you want out of your ideal life.
Do you want freedom of schedule to never again wake up to an alarm?
Do you want to travel and see the world?
Salary is not the only deciding factor in what type of work you want to do. Even if you’re simply living off investments, it’s a good idea to learn more about them and make managing them your job. Whatever it is that truly drives you and that you love, pair it with what you know how to do to find the perfect transition career.
And you may want to stick to doing the same thing but for yourself. A therapist, for example, may leave the organization they work for to start their practice and get clients through BetterHelp. Sometimes simply going into business for yourself is enough to retire.
You are never too old to learn something new. That’s half the fun of starting a new career during retirement. You have the opportunity to pursue what you love, but you also must research as much information as you can about the industry you’re transitioning into.
On the HBO show Ballers, Charles (played by Omar Benson Miller) struggles to figure out what he needs to sell cars. Eventually, he transitions back into football through the back-end operational staff. This is a better job for his experience, but he still finds himself having to learn a lot to keep up with the new position.
Set up news alerts and scour social media to follow important news and leaders in your industry. They are the people you should be learning from, as they’re the ones fully immersed in the business every day.
Build a Strong Network
As you find your footing, you can start to make connections on social media sites like LinkedIn and Twitter while also looking for professional events. There are conferences, expos, and more going on around the world every day. Find the events near you and even related events that may require travel to start attending and making yourself known.
Many can be held virtually, which will get you put on the right lists of attendees and exhibitors looking for people like you. Also, bring business cards and spend the time to introduce yourself and get to know people.
Don’t make it about business – just focus on building your network with people who can help you open doors in your transitional career. The people you meet could be your future clients or vendors, so make friends and build your business relationships. The network you build is vital to the success of your new venture, as they’ll be your most visible supporters both online and off.
The biggest mistake people make is waiting until it’s too late to start the transition. You should have the seeds laid out as soon as possible. Start figuring out things you can do that will help move things along. Register a website, start some social media accounts, and at least get the ball rolling in your secondary career, even if you’re not ready for the leap just yet.
When you finally do start it, the length of time you let it sit will benefit you, as you’ll already be ready with content and a trickle of traffic.
We all eventually transition from one career to another. Even the ultra-wealthy take on multiple job titles throughout their lives. Professional athletes are even more prone to early retirement, sometimes even forced through injury. But having a backup plan will ease the transition, even if you choose to do nothing for a profession.