Here are some keys to help you navigate transition with your family.
1. Dont 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 dont 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, its more important to focus on dreaming a new dream, than being frustrated with why your family doesnt 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 arent. 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. Dont be upset that your career ended, smile because it happened.