Yesterday, as I was watching the Dallas Cowboys beat the Washington Redskins for only their second victory in 17 attempts without starter Tony Romo, my viewing experience kept getting interrupted. My phone delivers updates from NFL Mobile and over the course of the afternoon, I received updates on player after player with injuries severe enough to keep them out the remainder of the game.
It’s nothing new that football has more than its share of injuries. I have personal experience as a player starting around the age of eight up until eighteen. I saw fellow players with injuries ranging from bumps and bruises, to broken and dislocated bones, to torn ligaments, to a broken neck.
There is an expression that goes something like, “dancing is a contact sport, while football is a collision sport.” And as the bodies get bigger, stronger, and faster, those collisions get more and more violent.
Injuries are a part of the sport. And at the professional level, the players go in knowing this. But they decide that the rewards of a career in professional football are worth the risks they take.
Which brings me to the point of today’s article. What are you willing to risk or give up for your career? And what do you expect to gain in return for your sacrifices?
Your Career Costs More than You Think
While the rewards of your career are clear – money, benefits, enjoyment, prestige – there are many career costs that you pay for these rewards.
Health. In the case of football, the health risks are significant. Other careers that pay well also may have very high risk of injury or death. But for most of us, the health risks of our careers are stress, high blood pressure, and lack of time to exercise and eat well.
Traffic. Most jobs require a commute of some sort. Whether you’re driving, taking a bus, a train, or a plane, you may find that spending so much time in traffic builds frustration.
Travel. Along those same lines, many careers require business travel. A few trips here and there may not be so bad and you might even find them enjoyable. But generally business travel is time-consuming and a hassle. And too much of it will again drain your energy.
Family time. Long hours spent in the office working takes away from time spent with your family. What’s the cost of that sacrifice? Children that you don’t know and who don’t know you. A disconnected marriage. We all know people whose family life has suffered because of career demands.
Personal time. We all need time for ourselves. When you’re pulled in too many directions by different competing forces, you start to feel the stress. You start questioning whether it’s all worth it. And everything suffers.
Are the Rewards Worth It?
While most careers don’t carry as significant a risk of severe injury as professional football, there are always career costs which require sacrifice in some form. And while most careers also don’t have the financial rewards and prestige of professional football, you are always forced to decide whether these career costs are worth those rewards.
I heard an interesting story the other day about Urban Meyer, the coach of the Ohio State University football team. Previously, coach Meyer was the head coach at the University of Florida. At the peak of his career, he left that position because football had overtaken his life. He spent all his time thinking and living football to the detriment of his health and family. And the only thing that saved him was getting away and figuring out a different approach.
Finding the right balance that works for you not only improves yourself and your family life, it may also improve your work. We tend not to perform at our best when we’re too stressed or preoccupied with other thoughts.
Figure out what works and do whatever you need to get there.
Readers, what are your career costs? Are you sacrificing too much? Did you reach that level and decide to make a change?