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A challenge or opportunity
As an elite athlete, your commitments are demanding yet your experiences are far-reaching. You can benefit from access to tools and resources where other people cannot. You have unique opportunities to meet and network with business leaders, sponsors, employers, customers and suppliers from around the world. The effort you invest in building a network now will be invaluable later on. Make sure you are remembered in a positive way as an individual, not only as an athlete. Get to know people from different walks of life: one day you may walk by their side.
Expect no shortcuts
As an athlete, it is important to know your strengths and weaknesses, and those of your competitors. The same applies to professional life. Review your CV to identify critical gaps that you might need to fill in your education and skills in order to compete. Plan how to coordinate your athletic training with activities that will help you fulfil your potential later on. Seek out people who can advise you, and try to strike a balance between ambition and realism.
A CV (résumé) is a reflection of who you are
Does your CV do you justice or is it just a list of activities? Putting together a CV is an opportunity to reflect on what you are capable of. As an athlete, your background is unique and special in many ways; reflect on your experiences in sport and in life and highlight what makes you special. Think about what you can bring to a company and what makes you the right person for the job? Your CV is your personal advertising campaign. Make sure your CV reflects who you are completely and reflects what you have to offer.
Build a team
The right group of people can help you achieve your career objectives. Athletes work with a team of coaches, experts, more experienced athletes and their peers to gain the edge they need to win. These are all people you selected to help you win. To achieve your professional goals, it is crucial to speak with many people, seek advice and build a team that can help you succeed in your career as you did in sport.
Understand what drives you
Your choice of career should reflect your interests, skills, characteristics and personal values. Being an elite athlete is what you do now, but does it define who you are and what you want to become? Understanding what drives you will help you define who you can be and what you want to achieve in your professional life.
Make a plan
Most of life’s major ambitions are accomplished by setting and achieving goals. You have to build a career from the ground up. As in sport, you have to start with basic techniques, working to perfect them until you gain the confidence to move onto more challenging skills that will help you grow and be more successful. Create a career plan that includes small goals that when brought together will support your larger goals.
Like with an athlete’s pursuit in sport, similar results are achieved in one’s professional career. The earlier you start and the more you prepare, the more likely you are to succeed. As an elite athlete you already have the kind of focus and discipline required to divide your time and energy effectively. Strike the right balance between the disciplines of sport, education and your future career. Set priorities and allocate time to each discipline to win in life.
Be proactive – not reactive
Even the most dedicated elite athletes have “rest-time” during training and competition. So why not use some of this time to set goals and pursue activities that will be useful for your next career? The broader your skill set and knowledge, the more job opportunities that will be available to you.
Take control of your life-long dreams
What direction will your life take when your sporting career comes to an end? While there are people who will advise and support you with options open to you after your years devoted to sport, it is up to you to make your career decisions that will define you for the rest of your life.