10 Things I Learned Pursuing My Childhood Dream

If you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up I’d immediately and enthusiastically let you know that I’d want to be a professional soccer player.

I’ve played soccer ever since I was 6 but I was burned out by the time I got to college so I decided to quit and just pursue my academics. What a stupid decision!

My diet wasn’t the best growing up but I could get away with it since I played so much soccer. Well with soccer out of the picture, something scary happened. I gained 22 pounds in 2 months and I got high blood pressure! I even had a blood pressure monitor that took readings every 20 minutes hooked up to me. Fun stuff…

My best friend knew that I was miserable and was going down a slippery slope so he suggested that I work out to get in shape and try out for professional soccer teams as well. I’ve never set foot in a gym but I had nothing to lose.

After a year of working out and playing soccer about 5 days a week, I was in the best shape of my life. I went from 185 pounds of fat to 185 pounds of muscle and only 4% body fat. My body couldn’t endure that kind of abuse these days but I’m glad I did it when I did.

Here’s a couple of things that I learned:

  • Daily repetition will lead to incredible results. Do something every day and you’ll eventually get better. Want to bench more weight? Work out. Want to get better kicking a ball with your weaker foot? Kick more with your weaker foot.
  • Plans don’t always work out how you want them to so just roll with the punches. My original plan was to try out for professional soccer teams in lower divisions in England and Germany. I sent about 100 emails and got 4 responses. All not what I wanted to hear. So I changed my focus to pro teams in the United States and I got better responses.
  • You’ll have setbacks and rejections but you just have to get over it. I was supposed to try out for teams in Iceland and a team in North Carolina but some people never came through for me. I got some injuries here and there. I never got a professional contract but I’ve come to peace with that and realized that life goes on.
  • While I was trying out lots of people said that they wished they could do what I was doing. I told them that they could and invited them to train with me. They never followed through. That’s the hardest part…actually showing up and doing the work. I can go through life knowing that I tried instead of wondering “what if?”
  • Do it for those who can’t. Do it for those that say you can’t. Do it for those that won’t. I was fortunate enough to have the skill and determination to almost be able to play professional soccer. The majority of people don’t even get that close. A lot of people want to do cool things but they just don’t. They want all the glory without all the hard work.
  • Keep on going even when you think you can’t. My most successful try out was in Miami. I played 5 90-minute scrimmages in the Miami heat that weekend. I was the only field player out of about 100 players that played every minute. It was tough and there were plenty of times that I wanted to get subbed out and take it easy but my coach told me to suck it up and keep going. So I did. That was a feat in itself. It surprised me but I realized that I could actually do it and get through it. Keep going and you’ll surprise yourself.
  • Make the most out of every opportunity. There were players that shouldn’t have tried out. They were horrible. But they had the balls to be out there while others who were much more skilled than them back home weren’t there. I was made captain and I had to take control of the situation. I not only play my position but make up for the lack of skill of my teammates. My team had the least goals against during the try out and that’s something that I’m most proud of.
  • You’ll find a way if you want it bad enough. I was the most disciplined I ever was during that time period. No soda. No fast food. No dates. No girls distracting me. All my time, effort, energy, and money went to becoming a professional soccer player. If it didn’t help me with my goal, I didn’t do it.
  • It’s not all about skill. It’s more about attitude and determination. There were plenty of players who were more skilled than I was during all those try outs but there were very few who were more determined than I was. I never gave up. I was always first to the ball. If I made a mistake, I shook it off. If a teammate made a mistake, I lifted them up to keep going instead of yelling at them like others did.
  • Know your weaknesses and make up for it. Learn to adapt. I sucked at heading the ball. There were also quicker forwards than I was and stronger forwards than I was. I was able to realize this and better positioned myself to put up with them. There will always be someone that’s better than you at something. Figure out what you’re better at than them and use it to your advantage.

A lot of these lessons have helped me in business and life in general. Sure, things didn’t go exactly as I would have hoped but at least I tried and unfortunately that’s more than most people can say.

Any of these lessons resonate with you? Do you think you can incorporate them in your approach to becoming self-employed?

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