Here's a rare scenario: you've been visualizing about a goal for years, forging the necessary mental toughness to persevere and you finally reach that seemingly impossible goal. You're in your prime, at the top of your game, and then suddenly you decide to walk away.
This almost never happens, but it did this weekend and it shocked NFL fans everywhere. Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck unexpectedly announced his retirement. Luck is in his prime and just had a phenomenal season where he won NFL comeback player of the year.
Luck shared some rationale behind his decision at his press conference:
"This is not an easy decision. Honestly, it's the hardest decision of my life. But it is the right decision for me. For the last four years or so, I've been in this cycle of injury, pain, rehab, injury, pain, rehab, and it's unceasing, unrelenting, both in-season and offseason, and I felt stuck in it. The only way I see out is to no longer play football."
While that makes sense, it's the following 12 words that he mentions afterward which sticks out the most to me: "I haven't been able to live the life I want to live."
This simple sentence reminds me of the importance of having a crystal-clear vision of how you want to live life. This essentially serves as your north star and compass for making decisions.
It's important to put your own oxygen mask on first.
It's clear to me that as I listened and read the transcript to the press conference, Luck's identity isn't singularly defined by football nor outside expectations that can sometimes influence people to act in a way incongruent with their principles.
Luck's retirement isn't just a sports story, it's a reminder for entrepreneurs to take an analysis of their opportunity costs.
Here is one simple question to ask yourself when you're contemplating walking away from something.
Is the work worth the reward?
Nothing is free in this world. There's a cost to everything. An athlete might ponder is another year of punishment on the body worth it. A small business owner might ponder is another year of uncertainty, stress, and inevitable setbacks worth it.
In both cases, there's pluses and minus with no default template to use as each case is unique to the individual. However, there are a few guidelines that typically apply across the board. One of those is setting standards for how things will go in order for you to continue moving along.
For me, I value freedom, mobility, and excitement within my business. If I lose the luster or start to feel boxed in--I know it's time to pivot. What about you? Is it family or something else?
As shared in the movie Creed 2, "You gotta ask yourself--what are you fighting for?" Or simply put, what are you working for? What's the reward?
All this starts by defining how you want to live life.