A life committed to sport can result in a strong identification as an athlete and even specifically with the sport that you play. It’s like we put ourselves in a box with a label and that is all we are.
That strong athlete identity can contribute to success while one is still active, but might be very limiting once the sporting career is over.
“Who am I now?” is a question often asked by the retiring athlete that, like many others, associates who they are with what they do.
Identity has a strong influence over one’s actions, decisions and even beliefs. If you identify with being an athlete, then you act like an athlete.
Identity is an “I am” statement and an individual can have several. A person may identify with their job (I am an electrician), their hobby or interests (I am a good cook) or even their emotions (I am depressed).
Your identity has overarching control over everything you do. All too often, people limit themselves by putting a label to who they are or what they do. Their identity may be attached to their behavior.
For example having made a mistake, a person might identify with being a ‘loser’ rather than limiting the label to the action/result. Have you ever heard a parent calling their child ‘naughty’ rather than stating that what they did, (their behavior) was naughty?
A change of identity can have the most transformational impact on one’s behavior and results.
For many years post-retirement I identified with being ‘just an Olympian’. Like that was all I was good for. At that point in my life I didn’t even appreciate how special that label was. When I realized that I was MORE than an athlete or Olympian, and that I chose to identify with being a businessperson… it changed everything.
It completely changed how I spent my time and what was important to me and consequently my results started to change.
My identity was aligned with my goals and my future.
Who you choose to BE precedes what you DO and what you HAVE in life. Often people will wait to ‘be’ – they are waiting for the time when they have done something or have something in their possession. For example, “I’ll BE happy when I have…..”, or “I’ll be successful when I do….” The secret is to be whatever it is you want to be right now, or act as if.
My fellow beach volleyball players chose to BE Olympic Gold Medalists at least a year before the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. The acted like winners, they spoke about winning, and YES, they did win Gold.
Don’t wait to complete writing your book to call yourself an Author.
BE an entrepreneur now to create success in business.
BE a great salesperson to go out and get those sales.
Your actions and possessions will change in accordance with your being and identity.
What does it take to change?
1. Awareness is a start – know where you are at right now. It is important to understand your identity as it can be the difference between attaching to your past results as an athlete or to moving on successfully with a new expanded and well-rounded identity.
2. Be open to change. You need to be open to realizing that how life is today or has been in the past does not have to be how it is tomorrow. You also need to realize that you are MORE than your current identity. Open that box, step out and expand your sense of self.
3.Choose an empowering identity beyond sport. Decide on the identity that fits the kind of results you want to create.
I go through written and visualization exercises with clients to assist this process and to strengthen the connection to a new expanded identity. When integrated at a deeper and unconscious level, it becomes a part of who you are, and you don’t have to pretend or consciously think about it.
To re-create success in a new career requires an individual to identify completely with their new role so that their beliefs, values and actions are all congruent to produce the results they want.
Who do you need to BE now to raise your game beyond the game?