Surrender to Win.
I’m 49 years old and my life pretty much sucks. Or at least it should, according to a study in the National Bureau of Economic Research (Blanchflower and Oswald, 2020) that found that our well-being and happiness generally follows a U-shaped trajectory over the course of our lives.
The research, which studied data from 132 countries around the globe, found that "the U-curve of Happiness" exists everywhere, with the peak of our middle-aged misery tending to be right around 47.2 years old.
Luckily for me, I apparently over-achieved when I hit my “midlife-low” at the ripe old age of 28 upon retiring from the NFL. I was single, had a fancy car, big house, owned a Super Bowl ring, and was well on my way to financial independence. On paper, I was the American Dream. But unfortunately for me, life is not lived on paper. So why the disparity? And how did I manage to successfully navigate my transition and begin living a new, ideal, purpose-filled life?
Well, that decade-long process is a story unto itself, but ended up being the single greatest period of growth and discovery I’ve ever had. The first thing I had to do was get honest with myself about what I was going through. I had to own the grief I was experiencing due to the loss of my football identity, as well as the healthy income that fed my fragile ego and elevated my social status. I felt oddly scared, timid, and insecure, because for the first time in my life I wasn’t in complete control of my destiny. In the end, it was the lack of purpose, significance, and a vibrant community to call my own that left me feeling like I had lost the most important game in my life…on all fronts. But champions tend to do things differently, and I knew on a deep level what had to be done: I had to surrender to win.
Transition is about transformation, and transformation requires a fierce willingness to embrace your truth. As a result, I now know that that life is not about what we achieve, do, or have….it’s about who and what we become in that process. So no matter where you are on the U-curve of Happiness, know that we’re all just one thought, one decision, one simple act of courage away from experiencing the wealth of life’s possibilities.
If you’re in the middle of a career transition, considering retirement, or feel like your self-esteem is too attached to your business card, join me and MEA co-founder Christine Sperber for an incredible week of adventure, discovery, and truth seeking during the June 12 – 19 workshop, “You Are Not Your Title: Finding Joy in a Career Swerve.” The Academy offers a limited number of scholarships and the deadline for registration is approaching soon. And, I’ll be on a free call next week for those who want to learn more Career Swerves: Tuesday, April 26 from 11 till noon PT. Register HERE.
Aaron Taylor is a CBS Sports football analyst, Super Bowl Champion, and College Football Hall of Famer that is passionate about teamwork, resilience, and human transformation. He enjoys bringing honesty, humor, courage, and vulnerability to everything he does, as a way to inspire others to look deeper - so that they can go farther.