2012-04-20 / Columnists

Rockaway Walks Fitness Column

Career Transition For Athletes And Everyone
Commentary By Steven McCartney, IPO, HSW, MS

If you ever worked, held a job (blue collar) or played a sport, then you are an athlete. Society and sport help you engage in teamwork and strategies to maximize your competitive performance. In this article we will think like an athlete. Athletes or not, we all need to keep learning (young and old) how to make adjustments to life after sport and exercise, and reduce attrition from daily activities that affect your health, fitness and perception to leisure and recreation. Career counseling and professional development are important to your overall career transitions (activities that promote healthy lifestyle changes and lifelong learning).

The focus for career transitions are continuation, gradual alterations and limiting difficulties in adjustments (review The Wave article “Revisit Your Action Plan and Problem Solving Techniques Daily and Communicate Any Changes”). Personal, social, and environmental factors play a role in adaptation to career transitions.

Five conceptual stages related to career transition (Taylor and Ogilvie) for athletes are: Stage 1 Career Termination; Age (physiological, psychological, and social factors), Deselection (meeting performance criteria or problem with sport organization), Injury (serious or chronic), and Free Choice (most desirable, change in values, motivations, and desire to pursue new interest and goals). Stage 2 Adaptation Factors: Developmental (promote long-term personal and social development over short term athletic success), Self Identity (limited options, self concept does not extend beyond specific sport nor interferes with the development of autonomy and decision making skills, perceptions related to body weight, body image, and eating habits), Perceived Control (loss of control, feelings of helplessness, motivation, physiological changes, and self confidence are associated with depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and dissociative disorders), Social Identity (may include loss of status, role restricted but broad base social identities that include family, friendship, educational and occupational components that provide for better adaption into transitions out of sport), and Tertiary contributors (potential stressors like social economic status, chronic disabilities, marital status, years of competing and level of attainment). Stage 3 Resources (social support and pre-retirement planning); includes Coping Strategies (proactively promoting problem focused techniques to stop denial, mental, behavioral disengagement, and venting emotions such as assertiveness training, time management, skill assessment and development). Coping Strategies are a great way to improve your quality of life for daily living and should be taught early on and practiced daily (professional development). Social Support (contact your healthcare provider for referrals to learn more about social services), and Pre-retirement Planning: Don’t resist planning that in- volves reading materials and workshop opportunities to develop meaningful lives. Stage 4 Quality of Career Transition (does not have to cause distressful reactions; rather the quality or effort applied by an athlete to the above stages in career transition will determine his/her overall quality of life as a lifelong learner). Stage 5 Intervention; is simply maintaining your sense of self worth (acquired as an adult or learned as a youth) when establishing a new broader self or social identity, which is transferable). Your goal will help you align yourself with cognitive (mental training), affective (beliefs and values) and social support (a broader team) to reduce depression and anxieties found among high stress groups such as athletes and retirees. Organizations can help by staying in contact with athletes (alumni), offer seminars on career transition issues and establish resource centers, and outreach on mental skill training (become more proactive and preventive). Everyone who is not an athlete can be shown that sport, leisure and recreation activities can be used effectively in overcoming the challenges of a new career and improve quality of life. It’s important to note that distress from career transition can manifest itself psychologically, emotionally, behaviorally and socially. The adverse effects will stop you from being physically active and self-actualizationing your goals or will hinder your life (health and fitness). So when addressing each area directly and constructively, do so with help from a career advisor, engage in professional development and communicate with your health care providers (review articles “Relax, Rest, and Sleep Well,” “Exercise to Improve Flexibility, Strength and Endurance” and “Eating Healthy Foods”).

This article goes out to “Rockaway Walks” participants and sponsors: The Wave Newspaper, Councilman James Sanders’ Office, St. John’s Episcopal Hospital, Joseph Addabbo Health Center, NYC Parks Department, NYC Department of Environmental Protection, VESID, York College (USS CUNY), Stop and Shop, Office Max, Modell’s Sporting Goods and Healthy Lifestyle Changes Inc. for longevity of the “Rockaway Walks” Program. For questions or concerns you may contact me at stev en_ mccartney@walkprograms.com.

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