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It’s over, now what?

This time of year, there are a lot of stories about the preparation and aspirations of athletes leading up to the winter games, but what happens after? After living tightly scheduled life revolving around achieving a four-year goal, how do these athletes adapt to suddenly having free time and the ability to plan their own path? And better yet, how can you apply their experience to your own life after you’re let go from a job or leave one to pursue something else? In other words, it’s over. Now what?

Remind yourself that your job is not who you are

Many Olympians feel a tremendous hole after the games end, as if part of their identity is no longer theirs. They go from being on top of the world in their sport and getting media attention to facing the real world.

Many professionals associate their self-worth with their jobs, either because that’s how society views certain positions or because of their own pride. Saying, “I work for [employer]…” or “I am a [job title] may make your heart fill with excitement, but a job doesn’t define your self-worth. It’s determined by your values, your experience and what happens beyond the typical nine-to-five timeframe. At the end of the day, you’ll be known for the person you are, not the position you hold.

Continue to train and prep for next season

After a big competition, most elite athletes treat themselves to some well-deserved relaxation. Then they get back to work, training for the next competition, preparing for a coaching career or simply because they enjoy the sport.

Every professional needs to continue gaining new skills and knowledge to move forward. After all, who wants to hire the candidate whose skills have stayed the same since college?

Look for opportunities to grow as a professional and advance in your career. Many of them are inexpensive or even free. Join local groups to develop your network. Attend workshops and conferences, read books or take online courses to add to your skill set. It will all help prepare you for your next goal.

Give yourself time

It takes time to become a successful athlete, and for many athletes, it takes time to figure out what they want to be afterward. That’s true for any professional facing a crossroads in their career. Don’t fear the future. You may not know what lies ahead but enjoy the experience of having options in front of you.

Many people who leave a job rush to find a new one, even though the new job may not take them in the direction they really want to go. They feel they need to do something right away and panic. Instead, whenever possible, give yourself a few weeks or months to de-stress and think about the right next step. When you do, your transition will go more smoothly.

Find a new job

When their Olympic career ends, athletes often struggle to find new careers. Many put their education or non-sporting careers on hold to compete, so finishing their education and finding full-time work can be challenging. For this reason, the U.S. Olympic Committee created the Athlete Career Education (ACE) program to provide career counseling, training and connect athletes to potential employers.

ACE is available only to current and former Team USA athletes, but we can help you find a spot on a team. Visit or to search for open positions, get help with your resume or interview prep or career coaching. Whether you’re wondering “Now what?” or ready to take your career to the next level, we can help you beat out the competition to find a job that fits you best.


Accounting Principals

We're Accounting Principals--a leader in finance and accounting staffing. In fact, since 2010, we've been part of Adecco Group, a Global 500 company and leader in staffing services around the world. But this isn't staffing as usual. We take quite a different approach than most staffing agencies. A people-focused approach. We believe in forming real relationships with both our clients and our candidates. We want to understand the needs on both sides.